Jesus died on the cross to bear on Himself the sins of all mankind. By repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21), lost sinners can partake of the saving benefit of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and become, effectively, crucified with Christ. Our old man/woman of sin dies, and we experience a new life, because now “Christ lives in me.” The newly born-again believer begins and continues living this new life by “faith in the Son of God.”
My personal experience of salvation by God’s grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:5,8), came in February, 1969, at McChord Air Force Base in Washington state. I believed in Christ’s sacrificial death for my sins on the cross, repented of my sins, and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Spiritually speaking, I was crucified with Christ. My old man of sin died at the cross, and I began a new life as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
From that day forward, as Paul wrote, it has been no longer I who live, but Christ living in me, all of that by faith in the Son of God. The Scripture became very real to me: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11-12). There is true, eternal life in the Son of God!
But I pose the question, both to myself and to all believers reading this today: “Am I really, genuinely ‘crucified with Christ’ as far as how I’m living my life?” Does my daily lifestyle match my theological position of being crucified with Christ? Let’s consider that from the Scriptures.
To be saved and to pass from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18), everyone at some point in their life must come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 9:15).
Notice that Jesus said that any disciple of His must “take up their cross daily.” That speaks not just of a point-in-time coming to Christ for salvation (which we must), but also of a daily life of denying ourselves, an ongoing dying to our self-interests, and a life dedicated to following Jesus—an each-day attitude of “not my will but thine be done.”
By our faith in the Lord Jesus, His cross is able to change us dramatically as far as our relationship to this world we live in. Remember that heaven is our true home—“Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20)—and we are foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13).
The old saying that our enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil is not a direct quote from the Bible, but it is Scripturally sound. The world can get such a grip on us that it can stifle our spiritual interests and commitments (Mark 4:19). The apostle John properly exhorted us to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
But you say, how can I break that grip that the world has on me? The answer, the power to break the world’s hold, is in the cross. The apostle Paul spoke of “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Jesus' offering of Himself on the cross at Calvary loosed life-changing and world-conquering power. Picture yourself taking your bondages to the world and your flesh to the foot of Christ’s cross and leaving them there. You’ll walk away free and will experience Jesus’ promise that His followers are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:11,14). Christ’s cross has the power to break the world’s hold on us.
My fellow believer, are you struggling with some work of the flesh that you haven’t been able to conquer? Bring it to the cross! The Scripture tells us that Christ died on that cross “to make the people holy through His own blood.” The blood that Jesus shed on the cross for you has the power to make you holy, living in daily victory over the power of your flesh.
How? Obey the rest of the verse: “Let us, then, go to Him.” Go to the One who died that horrible death for you, to make you holy. What you can’t do on your own, He can do! Remember the comforting words of the apostle (1 Peter 2:24): “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” His cross and His blood have all the power you need to overcome the works of the flesh.
Think of the order of events in Jesus’ life. He went to the cross for our sins, died and was buried, and arose again to new life. This is the saving Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).
Our spiritual experience is intended to follow exactly the pattern of our Lord. We go in repentance and faith in Jesus to the cross of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins—we are “crucified with Christ.” We too are then buried—in our case, “buried with Him through baptism into death.” And from that watery grave of baptism we arise “to live a new life.” Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and arose again. We in turn “die” to the old man or woman of sin at His cross by repentance and faith … then we too are buried with Him through baptism … and we too arise from the baptismal grave to walk in newness of life.
Because of Christ and the power of His cross, we believers in Him are not now what we once were. Before faith came, we were lost in sin, without God, in the kingdom of darkness and serving our father the devil (John 8:44). But now, having come in repentance and faith to Christ and His cross, now we are new creations in Christ. The old has passed away; the new has come. Now we are sons and daughters of God (2 Corinthians 6:18), heirs of eternal life in His presence.
Jesus endured the horror and torture of the cross for our sakes. Why did He do that? How was He able to go through that? The Scripture tells us: “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross.” Beyond the cross Jesus foresaw the salvation, the eternal life with Him, that His self-sacrifice would bring to lost sinners.
Because of Christ’s death for us on the cross, we too can look ahead to the joyful prospect of eternity in the indescribably glorious presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep that eternal perspective always in your mind and heart. That will help you draw on the Lord’s strength, enabling you to “run with perseverance … [and] not grow weary and lose heart.”
Are we perfect yet? No, clearly not. Have we already attained all that the Lord has for us? Again, clearly not. But Jesus’ death and resurrection for us have given us access into God’s grace and His family. What a holy honor and privilege. Further, He has put His Holy Spirit into our very bodies, making us temples of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and enabling us to bear godly fruit in our lives unto the Lord (Galatians 5:22-23).
Let’s obey the apostle’s exhortation and keep pressing toward the mark, the goal, the finish line, of all that the Lord has for us to do and to be. Jesus died for us and rose again. In grateful thanks to Him, how can we do any less than to deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him!
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©2020, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.