"I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Galatians 2:20-21)The Hebrew understanding of death means to be separated rather than annihilated. Consider what James says, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:26) It is the separation of the body and the spirit, of faith from works, that produces death. God has brought the process of death into our lives that we might be separated from one thing so that we might draw close to another. In the previous verse Paul says, "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God." (Galatians 2:19) In our death we have been separated from the law that we might live by faith. Later on, Paul will say, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24) In death we have been set free from our bondage to the lusts and passions of the flesh that we might pursue the will and desire of God. Finally, Paul will write of "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14) We have been separated from the world and are no longer under its sway, power, of influence. In all these cases, our identification and unity with Christ in His death has separated us from our former life that we might receive new life in Christ.
This new life is not like our old life. We have not simply been raised from the dead to resume our old way of living. In our previous life we were lead around by the lusts and passions of our flesh, we were immersed in a world system that was running head-long away from God, and our religion was at best a feeble attempt at keeping some sort of law or religious code. This life failed us; it failed to produce right living within us and the kind of life abundant that Jesus came to proclaim.
Our new life is lived by the power and reality of Christ in us. Christianity is more than a religion and a series of beliefs. When we are born again we become new creatures and Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, comes to live within us, to empower us, and to enable us to live life abundant. While we cannot see Him, we live by faith; a faith that is ensured of all the things He has told us and one that counts Him faithful who has promised.
If we have died and have been separated from our old life, then we ought to leave that life behind. That which is dead ought to be buried and left buried. We must now move on rather than continually trying to resurrect that to which we have died. If we have died to the law, why do we continually try to surrender to it once again? If we have died to our lust and passions then why do we continually try to make room for them and to placate them in our lives?
Paul's message is this: if we could have achieved righteousness and life abundant without death, then we wouldn't need Jesus. Jesus' death testifies to us that we could never make it on our own. Life, righteousness, and sanctification are well beyond our reach. We need a savior and that savior is Christ. Therefore, if those things we have died too were too week to aid us, why do we seek to return to them? Let us leaved them dead and buried and let us move on with Christ.