“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”
and the life which I now live in the flesh
Paul now has a new life in Christ in contrast to his pre-salvation life. The “flesh” here is not the sin capacity but simply life in his human body.
The action of the two words “loved” and “gave” in Greek grammar precede the phrase “I now live.” Christ first loved me and gave Himself for me before I could “now live.” It is crucial to understand this point. Christ does not live His life through us but we live His life when we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us. At the point we reject our ability to live up to the law and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, we live by faith.
It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life.
We did not find the power to live before we became Christians because we did not have His life to live. We cannot live the Christian life until we have the empowering Christ to enable us to live it. We may try to copy other Christians but is mightily irksome to do so because we cannot live the Christian life in our own power.
Now that Christians stand crucified eternally before God, we have a new life. This implies we should live our Christian life in appreciation for what Christ did for us [“love” and “gave himself” for us]. We should be willing to waive all rights because of what Christ did for us. “I relinquish all my rights. I am dead positionally to my sin.” This is as hard for a believer to accept as it is for a non-Christian to believe John 3:16, yet this is something we must believe.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:5-14).
It is not that I reckon myself dead so that I am dead. The reckoning process does not kill our sin capacity. However, I am dead positionally–that is, dead to the legal consequences of my sin– so I must believe that I’m dead to sin. Biblically, we always base faith on fact.
We cannot crucify ourselves. Dying to self will not free us from sin in itself. We do not have to “feel dead” because we are dead to sin as far as God is concerned.