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of April 1997
Next up-date: 1st May 1997 (God willing).
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world". Galatians 6:14.
What's that in plain English!!??
It is written in another place:
"For if we have been planted together 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 henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him". Romans 6:5-8.
These two Scriptures together tell us that the death of Jesus upon the cross at Calvary was a picture of a much greater reality. A picture into which we can and must enter if we would be Christians (Christ-like). Christians are not physically 'dead' with Christ, but remain in this world to practise their calling. However, at conversion we have spiritually 'died' and been 'resurrected' into a new life - one that measures with that of the man Christ Jesus! We are in "the likeness of His resurrection". It is this to which we are called.
Paul wrote: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". Philippians 3:14. And, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus..." Hebrews 3:1.
On the cross some 2,000 years ago the man Christ Jesus was showing the depth of His self-sacrificing character, and if we follow in His footsteps then we too will be willing to self-sacrifice by putting others before ourself.
He laid this down as a principle in these words:- "Then said Jesus to His disciples,' If any man [or woman] will come after Me, let him [or her] deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life [or his 'old man'] for My sake shall find it'". Mattew16:24-25
He put aside His day-by-day desires right back when sin entered the universe and dedicated His life to helping others out of their difficulties. This was not a new experience for Him but a continuation of His normal existence although it had not been clearly seen by others before that time. He and His Father (our "God"), share the same character and are anxious to give this experience to any one of us if we are willing to accept it as a gift.
"But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the 'old man' with his deeds, and have put on the 'new man', which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him". Colossians 3:8-10.
To "glory" in the "cross" of our Lord is to do as He did. John 14:12. It is to put one's own ideas and desires to one side when another requires assistance. This can be done temporarily in our own human strength, in the enthusiasm of moral values, for "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". John 15:13. But Jesus laid down His life for His enemies!! Romans 5:8.
The list of Christian virtues requires that we too be willing to sacrifice 'unto death' if need be, not for our friends, but for our enemies. To put off "anger, malice, filthy communications, lies" etc., as written above (Colossians 3:8) requires a superhuman strength, a strength supplied from without. And this is what our text explains. For it is "by our Lord" that we receive this power. This is what distinguishes the Christian from the mere moral man or woman. He or she is 'made' into a Christian by the gift of a new life. The 'new man (or woman) of verse 10.
It is all summed up in the prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing". Luke 23:34.
Crucified with Him:
This means that we have been changed by the power of God into a new creature by the giving away of our "old man" and the accepting of the gift of a "new man". The result, and evidence of this change, is the desire to be as selfless as Jesus.
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