The Spiritual Nature of Identification with Christ

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 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” (Gal. 2:19,20).



There is nothing more extraordinary, in this extraordinary man, than the way in which he always identifies himself with Christ, and especially with Christ crucified. Christ and Paul so coalesce, so to speak, as to become one man on the Cross. It takes both Christ and Paul to make up “Christ crucified.”

Christ is apprehended, is bound, is accused, is condemned, and crucified for Paul. And
then, Paul is arrested, is accused, is condemned, and is crucified in, and with, Christ.

It is this mystical, this transcendental, this evangelical coalescence and identification of Christ with Paul, and of Paul with Christ, that the Apostle so labours to set forth in his glorious doctrines of the suretyship and the substitution of Christ. That is to say, the imputation of Paul’s sin and guilt to Christ; and then, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and the impartation of Christ’s holiness, to Paul.

[“For He [God] made Him [Christ Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21]

My brethren, I can very well believe that these great experiences, and the great doctrines of the apostles are so Divine, and so deep, that your half-evangelized heart does not as yet fully and joyfully respond to them. Paul’s tremendously strong doctrines concerning Christ, and His Cross, may somewhat stagger you. But that is because the holy law of God has not yet entered your heart and your conscience, to your complete prostration and condemnation. When God’s holy law comes home to you, in all its burning holiness, as it came home to Paul; and when God follows up that by “revealing His Son in you” [Gal. 1:16] as your alone atonement and your righteousness, you will then become as mystical and as evangelical in your anthropology, and in your Christology, as Paul was himself. Aye, you will become as evangelically startling and magnificent in your language about Christ, and His Cross, as Luther was himself.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, I can very well believe that Paul’s so original, so passionate, so powerful, and so cross-concentrated faith, both staggers and angers some of you to-day. But these great doctrines do not stagger, nor anger, any one of you, half so much as they staggered and exasperated Paul himself at one time.

But now, and by this time, for Paul “old things are for ever passed away, and all things are become new” [2 Cor. 5:17]. So now, that Paul is now crucified continually with Christ, Who loved Paul, and gave Himself for Paul.

“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11).


This article (originally titled “Crucified with Christ”) was featured in the periodical, The Overcomer, July, 1930.

Definitions from Webster’s Dictionary [1828]:

Coalescence: noun “The act of growing together; the act of uniting by natural affinity or attraction; the state of being united; union.”

suretyship / SURETISHIP” noun [from surety.] “The state of being surety; the obligation of a person to answer for another, and make good any debt or loss which may occur from another’s delinquency.”

Imputation: noun “The act of imputing or charging; attribution; as the imputation of crimes of faults to the true authors of them … Sometimes in a good sense” [Rom 5:1].

Transcendental: adjective “Supereminent; surpassing others; as transcendental being or qualities.”

Background Scriptures Col. 1:24-29; John 14:20; Phil. 3:3-10; 2 Cor. 5:21 John 15:1-8

Introductory and concluding Scriptures (NKJV) and bracketed references added.

Dr. Alexander Whyte (1836 – 1921) was a Scottish clergyman. He was educated at the University of Aberdeen and at New College, Edinburgh. He entered the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland, pastoring in Glasgow and Edinburgh and later served as principal of New College from 1909-1918. Whyte wrote much, but it is as a preacher that he will always be remembered.(

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