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When God caused His only Son to be born of a woman into this world, He broke the barrier between God and man, between the holiness and purity of the Father and the fallen weakness of sin controlled humanity. The Son of God became the Son of Man. Through His life, death and resurrection Jesus led the way and "took [our] captivity captive and gave gifts unto men." As a result of having our captivity to sin and Satan broken, we have received the greatest gift of all, the freedom we have been given by the Father placing us into His Son, Jesus Christ. Anything short of this is to remain in our bondage and sin as "only human." There is only one cure for this kind of double minded and unstable Christian that says he believes in Jesus, yet lives in the pleasures of this world system, and that is the personal cross. Jesus stipulated that taking up one's cross is a requirement for following Him. (Mark 8:34, 10:31)

How often do we hear the phrase in our churches, "Jesus paid the price for your sins so you don't have to." In a sense this is true, but is that all that our salvation means to usa free ride into la-la land where we live happily ever after? There is much more to salvation than this. Are we to continue living in lives filled with self will, isolated from the fullness of the abiding presence of the life of God?

So what work does the cross of Christ do in us as members of His body? It severs us from the world and all its carnality through death. Paul wrote, "But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Galatians 6:14 KJ2000) So are we left in death as the body of Jesus was left to rot in that tomb? No, life in Christ overcomes death just as it did in Him. He told the disciples, "This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father." (John 10:17-18 MSG) As we lay down our lives, we also are raised again in newness of life. He lay down His life and even in that state of death, He took it up again. Death had no power over Him. So it is in us as we lay down our lives in the world and take up our lives in Christ. With Paul we too can say, "For me to live is Christ."

Jesus went on to say, "And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:38-39 KJ2000) The work of the cross within us is designed to weaken our natural man until we are totally given over to the life of Jesus in us. Jesus said, "The flesh profits nothing." Paul said, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing...." (Romans 7:18 KJ2000) Apart from Christ we can do nothing of eternal value. We should rejoice in the cross we have to bear for the joy that is set before us. (See Hebrews 12:2)

Many of today's Christians, like defiant spoiled children, would rather avoid the chastening hand of their Father and so they avoid this passage of scripture, too. I, Michael, once knew a brother who had a son named Danny. Danny was acting up and being disobedient one day and Dave said, "Danny go get my spoon" (for he was going to paddle the boy). Danny got the spoon and hugging it said, "It is my spoon, too." This is the attitude in a son that warms the heart of a loving father.

How often have we heard the saying, "It is a great life if you don't weaken"? Paul saw his weakness as a God thing and something given him by Jesus,

And he [Jesus] said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJ2000).
But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14 KJ2000)

God opposes the proud. He puts those who are His through many trials to get them where they no longer put faith in their own strength and abilities so He can give grace to them in their humility. We are made into His perfection in our weakness. We also become instruments of grace to others in our trials. Paul wrote of his own walk saying,

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:10-12 KJ2000)

Is our momentary comfort so important that we are willing to sacrifice our eternity for it? Jesus said, "He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto [into] life eternal" (John 12:25 KJ2000)

Straighten Up and Die Right!

In Hebrews we read, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto [into] salvation." (Hebrews 9:27-28 KJ2000) As it is in Him, so it is in those of His body who are in Him. Our first death has already taken place in Jesus on the cross. There is no second death for those who are in Christ. "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death." (Revelation 2:11 KJ2000)

Our judgment is already in the works. We are being set in order, which is what judgment means. Jesus not only bore our sins on the cross, He bore us. In Him we first descended and then ascended, leaving all our load of sin behind. He bore us not only on the cross, but bore us into everlasting life in Him. "Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6 KJ2000)

The real shocker is that as the cross of Christ goes ever deeper, it not only separates us from our families who are outside of Him, but it eventually separates us from religious sects and denominations we once belonged to. This is what Paul was alluding to when he wrote, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision [the religion of the Jews] avails anything, nor uncircumcision [the religions of the Gentiles], but a new creation." (Galatians 6:15) We are cut-off from everything that is carnal and of the flesh; from all the divisions of Christendom that have been built by and are under the control of man as we are made into His new creation in the Spirit.

Does this mean that we can't have Christian fellowship? Not at all, but what is true fellowship? John wrote in His first letter to the saints,

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7 KJ2000)

It is all about walking with Him, the Light that lights every man who receives Him. (See John 1:9-12) True fellowship is reserved for those who walk in His light together as He is in the light, not those who belong to the same religious club.

First death must come to our old man of sin, then resurrection life in Christ. In this alone can we walk in the One who is the Light of men. In Paul's letter to the Romans we read,

Know you 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 death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11 KJ2000) [Emphasis added]

The translation above does not do verse eight any justice, nor do most other translations. The Greek does not put our lives, after sharing His death, into the future (although this is true), but rather the present. The verse should read, "Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we also live -- co-survive with Him." Vincent's word studies says:

Shall live with (συνζήσομεν)
Participation of the believer's sanctified life with the life of Christ rather than participation in future glory, which is not the point emphasized. Compare Romans 6:11.

Verses 10 and 11 get it right. "For in that he [Jesus] died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through [in] Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:10-11 KJ2000) All too often, the teachings of Christendom relegate the most important things that apply to our lives in Christ either into the future or to the past. We should now be walking "alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord" as the original text describes.

In Romans 6, we see that the baptism of one who has believed into Christ is no mere sacrament where our outer self gets soaked and prayed over by some holy man. It is to be an outward sign to the world that we are baptized into Christ's death and cut off from the world, but not that alone. We are raised up out of our watery graves just as Jesus was raised up into the glory of the Father that we might walk here on earth in His life. "Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we also live with him."

This is the message of the cross which Paul preached -- co-crucifixion to sin and co-resurrection into the life of Christ from where we can boldly say, "[He] has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6 KJ2000) "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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 KJ2000) Yes, our lives are now hidden in Christ's faith and in His life. (See Colossians 3:3)

This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul meant when he said, "I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2 KJ2000) To know the crucified Christ in co-crucifixion is also to know a co-survival in His life. When we stray from this simplicity and start teaching about other things, it gives place for the flesh and our carnal minds to get into arguments and divisions. There is no place for endless theological debates and receiving one another in doubtful disputes when the members of Christ's body are dead to the flesh and the lusts thereof. They have found the sufficiency of Christ both in His death and resurrected life of the Spirit. They walk in the light as He is in the light.

And such confidence are we having through the Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to evaluate anything, this evaluation originating from ourselves, but our sufficiency has its source in God who also made us sufficient as those who minister a testament, new in quality, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Wuest)

Chapter 6 | Table of Contents | Chapter 8

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