The believer’s relationship to Christ according to this passage is two fold, fist He is delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law to serve Christ, and secondly he is indwelt by Christ’s sent Holy Spirit in order that Christ can live through him. The first of these two concepts is rather easily understood, however the second is a bit more complex for me to wrap my mind around.
First, notice what he says in the last portion of vs. 19. He says that this is done that we might “live unto Christ.” This verse reminds me so much of Romans 12, were Paul exhorts the believer’s to present the entirety of their person to Christ to use as He sees fit in light of the doctrinal truths that he has just established are true about every believer. He says that it is our reasonable or logical service. It makes sense in light of God’s lavish display of grace and mercy, in every facet of our salvation that we would do nothing less than present our bodies to His service. This is one way that one could view the sense of this passage. I was freed from the law and I have a responsibility to live unto the one who freed me. In other words, I am a debtor to Christ in light of what He did for me. While this concept is a Biblical concept, that is not really the sense of this passage. What Paul is saying is more along the lines of II Corinthians 5, where he says that any man in Christ is a new creature, and that God has given to His children a ministry of reconciliation, and has committed to their trust the word of reconciliation, or also in Ephesians 1, where we were elected and predestined to be “holy and without blame before Him in love.” God saved, elected, and predestined us to be something, and these passages lay out the content of what we were saved to be. That is what he is saying. We were delivered from the law, made dead to it, so that we could live unto Christ. Are you living unto Christ recognizing, that this is why He saved you? He did not save you primarily so that you could be delivered from hell, though this is a wonderful benefit of our salvation. He saved us so that we might be redeemed channels of Christ-likeness. He is restoring man to His original design. We are going to be the first-fruits of His creatures. We were saved to live unto Christ and bring glory to Him, by reflecting His righteousness in our lives as we let Him live through us!
Secondly, Paul says that that even though he died to the law, he still lives. This life and death is our spiritual identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. When Christ died and rose from the dead, every believer also died with Him, freeing them from the law, and rose with Him, free them to walk in newness of life. It is our crucial position in Christ that enables us to experience this kind of victory over sin and display of His righteousness. Paul then goes on to say that “Christ lives in him, and the life that he now lives in the flesh, he lives by the faith of the Son of God.” In Romans 6:3-13 Paul says, brothers do you not know that you were: “baptized into Jesus Christ…baptized into his death…buried with him.” Since this is true of you, “even so we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing this…our old man is crucified with him…that the body of sin might be destroyed…that henceforth we should not serve sin…he that is dead is freed from sin…if we be dead with Christ…we believe that we shall also live with him…death hath no more dominion over him…he liveth unto God” Since these things are true about you, “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord…Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof, Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God…and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” While Romans 6 gives us the “why” of how we are able to now live in victory over sin and display the righteousness of Christ in our lives, John 15 gives us the “how” which is exactly what Paul is saying in Galatians 2 when he says that “Christ lives in me.” It is by Christ alone that we can live this way. He is the one who lives through us, and He has left us His indwelling Holy Spirit to enable us and to do this work in us.
Consider the following passages: In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul says that we are to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” But then he says that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” In I Thessalonians 5:23-24 He prays that God would sanctify the church wholly and that they would be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He then closes that prayer by saying “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” In John 15:5 Jesus identified Himself as a vine, and believers as branches. He then said that: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” In Philippians 1:10-11 Paul prayed that the church would “Approve things that are excellent; that that they would be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” In II Corinthians 3:18 Paul writes that we behold the Lord in His word, and are “changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.” In Galatians 5:16-18; 22-25 Paul writes: “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” These passages are just a few among many more, that make it crystal clear that the flesh could not bring righteousness to a sinner by the doing of the law, and the flesh cannot bring practical righteousness to a believer through the works of the law. Paul sums up the argument of the section this way in Galatians 3:3. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
The law was never given to bring righteousness to a man. It was given to demonstrate the righteousness of Christ as He fulfilled it in its entirety, and to establish the unrighteousness of a man as he walks in this world apart from Christ. Here is the amazing truth about the law. As a man walks in the Spirit, which is abiding in Christ, being filled with the Spirit, and having the word of Christ dwell in him richly, he is both dead to the law and Christ is living through him. The fruit of this Christ-centered life is a Christ filled life. The fruit of this Christ-filled life is Christ’s righteousness in the life of the Spirit-filled believer. This Christ-filled life is a life that fulfills the law. Put simply, the law is no longer a believer’s judge; he is free from the law. The law now vindicates a believer as righteous before others. As Christ lives in and through a believer, the believer’s character, thinking, and conduct begins to reflect more clearly the righteousness of Christ whose righteousness is all that posses!