Dr. Couch, what do we do with Galatians 2:20? Have you noticed the similarity with Romans 6:6?
ANSWER: Yes, there is a similarity but too, there is a difference. Romans 6:6 reads: "Knowing that our old man was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin."
"Crucified (once and for all) with Him" is an Aorist Tense. It is completed and finished action. In our Position before God, we died with Christ. Our old self was crucified and judged but still active and causing us grief in the Christian walk. Paul attests to this when he writes: "I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate" (7:15).
Galatians 2:20 goes from this statement about Positional truth to the daily Experience of the believer as he walks about here on earth. Paul uses the Perfect Tense which reads: "I have been progressively crucified with Christ …" In other words the action started in the past and comes up to the present. The result is impacting us now.
On the Perfect Tense, the great Greek grammarians Dana and Mantey say this: It "shows the progress of an act to a point of culmination with its finished results. It implies a process that reaches its consummation, into a finished state. It can be shown this way:
Start>>>>>>>>>>>>>Culmination in the Present.
Putting it all together, Galatians 2:20 reads
I have been crucified with Christ (with the present impact being) it is no longer I who am presently living (Present Tense), but Christ is presently living (Present Tense) in me; and the [life] which I now am living (Present Tense) in the flesh (in this body), I am living (Present Tense) by the Son of God, the One who distinctly loved (Aorist Participle) me and who distinctly gave Himself over, delivered Himself up (Aorist Participle) for me.
The verse starts with Positional truth and then progresses to Experiential truth concerning daily living out the Christian life! This is about the mysterious work of Christ living through the believer. It is impossible to fully understand or explain. We are new creatures. But too, there is the struggle in the Christian walk because there is conflict going on with the flesh. He deals with that in chapter 5. Paul writes: "I say, be continually walking by means of the Spirit, and you will not carry out the lust of the flesh" (v. 16). If we walk by the Spirit then "you may not do the things that you please" (v. 17). "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another" (v. 17a). "If we are in the new Position, living by means of the Spirit, then let us also in our Experience be walking by means of the Spirit [and not by means of the flesh]" (v. 25).
Can believers transgress in the flesh? You bet they can! Paul writes, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass …" (6:1).
I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch