The Twin Tracks of the Christian Life
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)
The apostle Paul describes the Christian life as “the life I live in the body,” but Paul says that he lives this life “by faith in the Son of God.” The Christian life is lived “in the body” and “by faith in the Son of God.” These two statements give us a good handle on the Christian life.
Two Statements on the Christian Life
1. Your Christian life is lived “in the body.”
You will always feel the pull of the flesh. You will find yourself lacking courage, losing heart, and lamenting your failures. You will experience sickness, weakness, and eventually death. You may struggle with depression, anxiety, doubt, fear, and loneliness. This flows from the fact that the Christian life is lived in the body. But that’s not the whole story.
2. Your Christian life is lived “by faith in the Son of God.”
Christ is for you and with you. His Spirit lives in your body. That means you can look to him and count on him in every circumstance of life. Christ’s presence is what makes it possible for you to live this life in the body, and his power is appropriated as you exercise faith.
Think about the Metra train going into Chicago. It runs on twin tracks, just like the Christian life. Just as the train needs two rails to get to Chicago, you need to grasp these two realities “living in the body” and “living by faith” to make sense of the Christian life.
Five Descriptions of the Christian Life
1. The Christian is at peace with God and at war with sin.
You have peace with God because you are in Christ. You are at war with sin because you are in the body. Grasp the one without the other and you really haven’t taken hold of the Christian life.
2. Christ lives in me by the Spirit, and sin lives in me by the flesh.
The Christian doesn’t live in sin, but sin lives in him. He is not in the flesh, but the flesh is in him. There is never a day when we do not need the cleansing blood of Christ.
3. The Christian is done with sin, but sin is not done with the Christian.
There’s been a decisive break with sin: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9). Yet, “if we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8).
4. The Christian lives in the power of the Spirit and experiences the weakness of the flesh.
Don’t expect life in the power of the Holy Spirit to feel like standing on the podium, taking a bow for your triumphant performance in the Christian life. The power of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for you to persevere in the challenges of life you are facing.
5. In Christ you are a new creation, and your struggles continue to be shaped by your experience, environment, and temperament.
All of us are tempted, but our temptations are not the same.
The Outcome of the Christian Life
You live by faith, so trust Christ for the outcome. In the battles and struggles that you face this week, you can say, as a Christian, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The Son of God is with you and he is totally for you.
You live the Christian life by actively exercising faith in him whatever you face.
Living by faith means you don’t despair. When you feel completely defeated and you wonder, I’ve failed so many times. Will I ever win this battle? Look to Christ. The Son of God is with you. He has not left you. He is at your right hand.
Living by faith means you don’t presume. The Bible describes believers as “saints” (see Ephesians 1:1), and this is wonderfully true. But it’s a dangerous thing to affirm yourself as a “saint” and then forget that you’re also a “sinner.”
A believer is a “saint” because he or she is “in Christ.” Without Christ we’re completely lost. We have no standing before God without him. Our new life flows from him, our hope rests on him, and all our good is in him, “by the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
So where there is faith, there will be hope and humility—humility that knows we have nothing without Christ and hope that, in him, we have all things.