"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Sins Taken Away, Life Given
When a sinner comes to Christ, all that was against him is perfectly cleared away forever, so that he can stand without fear before a righteous God. Our sins, death, and the judgment are taken away from us.
On the other hand, He gives us something: "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). This eternal life is a present possession, and comes to us in the new nature that we receive when we are born again. This new nature is holy, it loves God, and because it is born of God it not only does not, but also cannot sin (1 John 3:9).
The Christian has three distinct "I"s—his personality (human nature) by natural birth, his old sinful nature, and his new nature from God. Romans 7:20 shows all three. Paul explains that he is no longer connected with the old man but the new. To paraphrase: "Now if I (the old nature) do things that I (the new nature) don't want to do, it is no longer I (myself) doing them, but sin (as a foreign body) that dwells in me."
Changing the "I"
The changing of the "I" from the old man to the new man is most important. Though in God's sight we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) at the moment of conversion, our understanding of this fact and its blessed effect in our lives may take many years to be fully realized. When we are finally grounded in the fact that the old man has been crucified, and by faith acknowledge that "I" am a new person in Christ, a thousand things that were snares and temptations to the old "I" will fall away. May we firmly grasp the truth that "I" am no longer a sinful man with a new life, but rather a new creature in Christ Jesus who still has indwelling sin.
It is a wonderful step for a believer when practically he finds that his thoughts, his feelings, his pleasures are changed, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because the new "I" delights in it "after the inward man" (Romans 7:22).
Keeping the Focus
The only way to attain to this truly happy state is by daily seeking to please Christ, daily seeking to live the new life, always looking on myself as a Christian. The whole question is, "To what do I now yield my body, soul, and spirit?" Is it to the old nature, the foreign body that still dwells in me? No; I will yield them to God. I love truth, I love holiness, I love the Lord, and I will serve Him with my tongue, my hands, my feet—with everything I am and have. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).
This is not the work of a day. It may be that you have been identified with the old nature for the last thirty years, and it has had sole control over you. It is only by keeping it in death—day by day—that our members will learn to forget the sway of the old master and become accustomed to the new.
—Adapted from Plain Papers for Young Believers by A.T. Schofield.