IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST I GLORY II
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” – Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
We bring to you the second part of the article on the above subject which we started last week. Please read on.
For the Saint
Many Christians do not understand the fact that the cross has a relationship to them after they are saved. We often think unbelievers are the only ones who need to learn about the cross. That is not true. The cross needs to be operating in our lives today. You and I must be living sacrifices. We must be able to say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ (death): nevertheless I live (resurrection); yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (identification)” – Gala 2:20. The Word of God teaches us that the cross of Jesus Christ is the secret of an abundant, victorious, joyous Christian life. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? It seems incongruous that something as ugly, painful and shameful as the cross be the means of such blessing.
The Lord Jesus Christ was a carpenter before He started His public ministry. Perhaps the greatest work the Carpenter ever did was to transform the cross into a powerhouse for God. Before Christ was crucified, the cross had been an object of shame, weakness and defeat. Now it is a symbol of glory, power and victory. Jesus Christ so completely transformed the cross that you and I can live victorious lives to the glory of God.
This is one of the major themes in the Book of Galatians. Paul was dealing with the problem of legalism. The Galatian churches had been invaded by a group of legalists. We call them Judaizers. They said, “It’s perfectly all right to trust Jesus as your Savior, but you need Moses as your guide. Unless you keep the Law of Moses, you simply cannot be a spiritual Christian.” We have
people like that today. They set up artificial standards for measuring the spirituality of others. They always want to add something to faith in Christ.
But Paul pointed out in Galatians that we have been delivered from the Law; we are now overcomers because the Holy Spirit within applies the work of the cross to our lives. For example, look at Galatians 1:4, 5: “Who gave Himself (Christ) for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world (evil age), according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Christ’s death on the cross assures us of deliverance from this present evil world, or evil age.
John wrote to a group Christians and said, “Love not the world” – 1 John 2:15. Paul wrote: “Be not conformed to this world” – Rom. 12:2. We are living in an evil world system. All around us is an anti-God, humanist atmosphere, which proclaims, “Glory to man in the highest. Man is getting better and better. He will become his own god.” We are delivered from that system of thought through the cross.
The cross of Jesus Christ crucifies the world. Galatians 6:14 says, “By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” It is interesting to note that the world has nothing good to say about God or Christ. Friendship with the world means enmity with God – James 4:4. If we are not careful, we will begin to think the way the world thinks. “Be not conformed to this world” – Rom 12:2. Or as one translator has put it: “Don’t let the world . . . squeeze you into its own mold” (Phillips).
Worldly Christians abound today. Why? Because they have never allowed themselves to be crucified with Christ. What did the world do to Jesus? It crucified Him. The religious world, the political world, the military world and the business world crucified Him. But on the cross Christ crucified the world. The world is dead as far as we believers are concerned.
The cross also delivers us from another of our enemies – the flesh. Look at Galatians 5:24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Think about that. The flesh within us is pampered by the world around us. Wherever you look, you see something that pampers and entices the flesh. Pick up almost any magazine and turn the pages. The ads are trying to sell you something to pamper your flesh. So often they are decorated with nothing but sensual things to capture your attention.
The subject of crucifying the flesh takes us back to Romans 5 and 6. Romans 5 deals with Christ’s death for lost sinners. Romans 6 talks about how Christ’s death applies to believers. Romans 5 discusses substitution – He died for me; Romans 6 discusses identification – I died with Christ. Romans 5 tells us that Christ’s death removed the guilt and penalty of sin; Romans 6 tells that His death took care of the power of sin.
In Romans 5 Paul was talking about imputed righteousness – that which is put on our account. We call this justification. In Romans 6 he was talking about imparted righteousness – that which is part of our daily living. We call this sanctification. This is why Paul said in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He was telling us how to have victory over the sinful flesh. You do it by realizing that when Jesus died, the old nature was crucified.
Did you ever stop to think that crucifixion is one form of death you cannot inflict on yourself? You can shoot yourself, drown yourself, hang yourself, stab yourself, poison yourself or gas yourself, but you cannot crucify yourself. You can only be crucified. Therefore, how can you crucify the flesh? You must surrender. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodied a living sacrifice” – Rom 12:1.
The old nature has been crucified with Christ, but we also have been resurrected with Him to walk in newness of life: “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” – Gala 6:4. It takes both the crucifixion and the resurrection to assure victory in the Christian life. You need both Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Besides delivering us from the world and the flesh, the cross also delivers us from the Devil. Jesus said said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me” – Join 12:31-32. This took place on the cross. Satan is an absolutely defeated foe. At present, he is permitted to go to and fro on the earth because God has some purposes yet to fulfill, but Satan is a defeated foe. God has delivered us into the kingdom of His dear Son – Colo. 1:13.
You and I cannot defeat Satan in our own power. He is wiser and stronger than we are. He also has a great many helpers in his demonic army, and they are seeking to defeat us in our Christian lives. We cannot defeat him, but we can overcome him through the cross. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” – James 4:4.
Do you Experience the Power of the Cross?
We have been delivered from the world, the flesh and the Devil by the cross. This leads us to our third question: Do I experience the power of the cross? You may say, “I thought the cross was a picture of weakness.” That is only true from the physical point of view. Because Christ transformed the cross, that power of God is now available to us through it.
We need to understand that when we lose our lives for Christ’s sake, we ultimately save them. When we surrender ourselves to God, His power is released in our lives. Then we can realize victory over sin and suffering. If you
are suffering today, go to the cross. Jesus suffered there, so He knows how you feel and He knows how to comfort you. Only the cross of Christ can transform suffering into glorify.
Perhaps you need to be motivated for Christian service. Are you serving the Lord simply because it is your job or because it gives you something to do? Are you serving Him because you feel guilty? Go to the cross. Nothing provides grater motivation than realizing what Christ has done on your behalf. His love for you stimulates your love and service for him. And when you grow weary, the resurrection power of the cross will provide the strength you need.
Once you know the Person of the cross and understand the purpose of the cross, you can experience the power of the cross. Christ delivered you from the world, the flesh and the Devil when He died on the cross. Now you must apply these benefits to your life in order to live victoriously. God forbid that I should boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” – Gal. 6:14.
This article was inspired by Back to the Bible – a nonprofit ministry dedicated to Bible teaching, evangelism and edification of Christians worldwide.
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