Twice the Apostle Paul uses this phrase, “Yet not I, but “. In his epistle to the Galatians he wrote:

“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.” (Gal. 2:20)

This testimony of the great apostle belongs to all who have been saved and made members of the Body of Christ, and identified with Him “who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification.” Each one can say, “I was crucified with Christ.” This is clearly brought out in Romans 6:3-4:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into His death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

This applies to every believer, and the baptism mentioned has not one drop of water connected with it.

When Christ died on the cross He not only died for our sins, but we died with Him. His death was our death. His resurrection our resurrection, and now His life is our life. We reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, and by faith we can say, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” This great truth is expressed in a separated life, a surrendered life, a life lived in the faith of the Son of God.

Once more Paul used “Yet not I, but …” when he wrote to the Corinthians:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am; and the grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15: 10)

He had mentioned himself as a witness of Christ risen from among the dead. He saw the Lord, and his whole life was changed. He was as one born out of due season, a type of Israel’s regeneration yet future, when “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” That great vision on the road to Damascus made of Paul not only a believer in the Deity and Messiahship of the Lord Jesus Christ, but he became the faithful servant of the Lord. It made him humble. Though he was by the will of God the great Apostle to the Gentiles, the one to whom was made known the truth of the mystery and to whom was given an abundance of revelations, yet he called himself “the least of the apostles” and “less that the least of all saints.” He boasted that he had labored more abundantly than the other apostles, but he added, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” He ascribed it all, not to himself, but to the grace of God.

These two expressions, “yet not I, but Christ” and “yet not I, but the grace of God,” describe the entire ministry of Paul. Two things he magnified and glorified, extolled and exalted: Christ, and the grace of God. In all things, in all his messages and personal testimony, an exaltation of Christ and complete effacement of self are the great leading marks. He made his boast in Christ. He magnified Him and the grace of God which had been bestowed upon him.

How little of this self-effacement we see today. How many exalt themselves, boast of their attainments, their service, their ministry, their converts, instead of glorying in an all-sufficient Savior and the all-sufficient grace of God. The “Soli Deo Gloria,” to God alone be the glory, is often forgotten. May the Lord help all of us in all our service for Him, of whatever nature it may be, to magnify Christ and the grace of God and to seek His glory only.