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6. Crucified with Christ:

 

The Cross in Everyday Living

Carrying your Cross

Luke 14:27 'Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.'

Today, the cross of Jesus is for many just a nice Christian symbol worn round people's necks on a chain. But the cross was really a grim place where our Lord was cruelly murdered outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Crucifixion was marked by shame, weakness and death, and for you to 'carry your cross' means partaking of all three.

1. Shame. A condemned man carrying his cross through the crowd to the place of execution was laughed at, jeered at and spat upon before being stripped naked and hoisted up for all to see. Jesus endured that for you.

2. Weakness. Crucifixion put its victims into a place of total weakness and helplessness. Jesus 'was crucified in weakness' (2 Corinthians 13:4).

3. Death. The cross didn't just mean torture, it meant death. No-one survived crucifixion, not even Jesus, who 'became obedient to death—even death on a cross' (Philippians 2:8).

Salvation: past, present and future

Your salvation has three aspects—past, present and future—and the cross concerns all three.

This is salvation from the penalty of sin, namely, God's judgment. You need never fear having toCross face his judgment when you die, because Christ has borne it already on your behalf. Because of the cross you are safe—you have been saved.

This, too, is because of the cross. Its blessings for you are not just in the past but extend into the future, guaranteeing that you will escape the presence of sin in the age to come.

The present aspect is the most important one for you right now, because that's where you are. So let's see what it means to live by the cross day by day. But first we'll look at these three aspects in tabular form to help make them clear.

 

Learn
by heart

Galatians 2:20  'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.'

Heart

GiG6: The Cross In Your Life
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I WAS saved…

I AM BEING saved…

I WILL BE saved…

…from the PENALTY of sin…

…from the
POWER of sin…

…from the PRESENCE of sin…

…when I put my faith in Jesus

…day by day

…when Jesus returns

Crucified with Christ

Galatians 2:20 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.'

This amazing statement explains the role of the cross in your everyday life. Paul, who wrote it, is saying that his old, pre-Christian life came to an end and that he's now living a new, resurrection life 'by faith in the Son of God.' This is to be your experience, too. The cross, rightly understood and applied, does four things for you:

1. The cross breaks sin's grip on you

Since the bearing of your sin cost Jesus so much, you naturally want to stay as far away from sin as possible. Temptation will always be around, but you can rise above it.

Suppose a man is an alcoholic. Whenever drink is available he just has to have it. Then he dies. You canJesus on the cross take a bottle of whisky to the morgue and stick it under his nose, but he won't show any interest now because he's dead.

In the same way, you were a sucker for sin. But death has taken place: you've been 'crucified with Christ', spiritually speaking. Your old life came to an end when you were baptised as a believer in him. This doesn't mean that, like the corpse in the morgue, you're immune to temptation. But you can remind yourself in moments of temptation that your life is now a resurrection life:

Romans 6:3-4, 6-7, 11-14 'All of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin…In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.'

'Count yourselves dead to sin,' says Paul. That is, act as if you were literally dead and unresponsive to temptation. Death has, in fact, taken place. It was Christ's death, of course, not strictly yours. But as a Christian you are united with him and, in that sense, his death was also yours.

2. The cross brings God's strength out of your weakness

2 Corinthians 13:4 'He was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.'

Jesus was crucified in weakness, but he rose again in strength. The two are connected: he couldn't have risen from the dead if he hadn't first suffered and died.

There is a principle here that applies also to you: you can't be truly strong until you become weak! This means adopting a positive attitude towards everything that God allows to come your way to make you weak.

A Christian man felt called to preach, but he had a terrible stutter. He prayed hard that God would remove it, but he didn't. So instead of giving up the idea of preaching, he decided to start anyway. His stuttering was difficult for both him and his listeners to cope with. But that way, there's no way he could take the credit for the results. No-one could say they were because of his way with words and his perfect diction. It just had to be God at work through him—and it was.

You, too, need to stop relying on your natural personality, skills and abilities and learn to rely totally on the power of God. Jesus said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:5), so anything that reminds you of your own helplessness is to be welcomed.

Paul learnt this lesson. He was privileged to have outstanding revelations from the Lord, but he also suffered what he calls 'a thorn in my flesh'. First, he wanted it removed, but then came to see it as the cross at work in his life, taking him from weakness to power:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 'To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'

3. The cross makes you fruitful

John 12:24 'I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'

The cross: changing the worldHere, Jesus is talking about his forthcoming death. Only by yielding to the cross could he multiply his life in the millions of people who have since believed in him, including you.

The same applies to you. If you're to be spiritually fruitful you must be willing to 'die' and say goodbye to self-centredness, pride, love of attention, ulterior motives-and anything else that panders to the old, sinful nature. You won't fuss and complain if no-one seems to notice the serving you've been quietly doing. Instead, you'll rejoice, because the Lord knows about it and its his approval that matters. It's that kind of serving that will make you fruitful.

4. The cross is the only path to glory

'Glory' means honour, splendour and everything that's wonderful. It's all those marvellous features that go with the presence of God.

As a Christian, you'll enjoy the future glory of the age to come, when you'll be in the Lord's presence for ever. But you can also experience that glory to some extent here and now as you carry your cross. Carrying it may well mean enduring scoffing, persecution or discrimination because of your faith. Peter mentions both the future and present aspects of glory:

1 Peter 4:13-14 'Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.'

Your temptation will be to shortcut this process and win glory some other way. Jesus faced the same temptation to bypass the cross. The devil offered him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if he would just worship him (Luke 4:5-7). Jesus resisted, knowing that one day they'd all be his anyway—but only via the cross:

Philippians 2:8-10 'He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.'

The cross is still the only path to glory. So live fully for Jesus and bravely endure the scorn of those who have no time for him. Keeping an eye on the glory will sustain you through the sufferings of the cross, just as it did for Jesus:

Hebrews 12:2-3 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.'

 

Jesus crucified
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