“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”
but Christ lives in me;
The clause “Christ lives in me” explains the phrase in verse 19 “that I might live to God.” We do not live the Christian life on our own. Our new life in Christ animates our day-to-day living for God–Christ lives in the believer.
When we become a Christian, we have new life in Him. Our old life in Adam died and now Christ lives in us. This does not mean that our personality no longer exists. It does mean that the presence of Christ lives in us. Paul is not afraid of the personal pronoun “me.”
This phrase may refer to the character of Christ produced in us rather than Christ Himself living in us. Paul is not lawless but lives under a higher law than the Mosaic Law. By his association with Christ, Christ forms a new dimension of character in Paul. The Christian cannot produce the Christian life by conjuring up overt behavior patterns from the self. The problem is that the sin capacity cannot produce the character of Christ. However, Christ can produce His character in us by giving us new life.
The Christian life centers on the Lawgiver rather than the law.
The Christian life is a relationship, not a set of rules. The fruit reveals the nature of a tree. The same tree does not produce apples and oranges. An apple tree branch does not produce pears, oranges and apples. That is impossible. The tree establishes the character of the branches. Our life in Christ reveals the character of Christ.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
The Christian life is not a course of accumulating a big list of prohibitions. That would put us into a religious straitjacket. Many people reject the Christian life because they see it as too restricting.
How would you like to be married to a man who put you in a straitjacket? “Here is what you do every hour on the hour, Monday through Friday.” He has every hour of the day planned for you. That is not living; that is dying. This is not the Christian life.
We do not have to have a set of religious regulations and laws because we have the life of Christ in us. The person of Christ is a mighty power against living in carnality. He influences every aspect of our life and sways every decision we make. If we break our fellowship with Him then we violate Him and His standards. If we live under the influence of His person, we live a spiritual life. That is when we live a powerful Christian life: when we take our hands off the throttle of our lives and permit the Lord Jesus to live His life through us.