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« I Was Free Born | Main | A Cause Bigger Than Yourself »

Crucified for Life

Galatians 6:14  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.

The central, symbolic image of Christianity is the cross; the singular act that lies at the heart of the gospel is the crucifixion.  The cross is the instrument of death; the crucifixion is the means by which that death is executed.  The cross stands for the ultimate power of the legal system; the crucifixion stands for the final point to which the law can touch a human life.  

Jesus Christ submitted to crucifixion on the cross as God’s divine statement against sin.  Sin could do no more to Him, sin could demand no more from Him, sin could take Him no farther than to crucify Him on the cross.  On the cross and by the crucifixion, God’s anger was spent; sin’s penalty was satisfied; and Satan’s power was cashed in.  

The cross served as the absorption of the wrath of God against sin, even as an electrical ground system has an appropriate current-carrying capability to serve as an adequate zero-voltage reference level. In an electronic circuit, a “ground” is as an infinite source or sink for charge, and can absorb an unlimited amount of current without changing its potential. God’s anger was not lessened by the cross because it was his own flesh; it struck the form of the mangled Son of God with full force. 

Isaiah 53:3-4 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

By whom was Jesus stricken, smitten and afflicted?  By God Himself!  That’s why we must regard sin with such hatred.  God did not soften the blow against sin.  It was not the decree of Pilate, the betrayal of Judas, the malice of the priests or the brutality of the Roman soldiers that drove Jesus to capital punishment.  It was God who orchestrated the entire scenario.  And why did He do it?

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 Subtract the cross from Christianity and you render it null and void.  Eliminate the crucifixion from the cross and you reduce Christianity to an impotent religion, no better than any other pagan faith.  

Ultimately, the cross and the crucifixion were about the holiness of God.  It was the only way that our pathway to God could be realized and our position or relationship to God could be restored.  Something happened at the cross that had repercussions in heaven, in hell, and in our lives on earth. 

Col 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV) 

Col 2:13-15 (NIV) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  (NIV) 

Col 2:13-15  (TLB)  You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.  (TLB) 

In the text I read to you, the scripture refers to three crucifixions:  The cross of Christ, the crucifixion of the world and our own, personal crucifixion.  

I.  First, I want to show you why the cross of Christ is so important. 

            Because life is so daily, because our time is occupied by staying in the race, and because we are constantly bombarded by the attacks of the enemy, we often overlook the tremendous power and value of the cross of Christ. 

            The power of the cross is evident from the very start.  The first trophy was the poor, penitant fellow-sufferer on the tree.  The next trophy was the centurion who was compelled to confess, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

            The death of Christ was the greatest achievement that was ever accomplished in this world.  Its influence and results are as far reaching as the uttermost parts of heaven, earth and hell.  As the climax of man’s sin and failure is seen at the Cross in the crucifying of the Lord of Glory, so Christ’s greatest triumph has come by His Cross. 

1.         Victory over the law.

Colossians 2:16-17 (KJV) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Romans 3:20 (KJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 2:16 (KJV) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

There is no benefit, as pertains to salvation, to the observance of the Mosaic law. 

2.         Victory over sin. 

Hebrews 9:26 (KJV) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (KJV) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  

The cross destroyed sin in principle.  The cross showed the path to destroy sin in its practical aspect.  The victory is there if we will avail ourselves of it. 

3.         Victory over death. 

Hebrews 2:14-15 (KJV) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  

2 Timothy 1:10 (KJV) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 

What should the Christian philosophy toward death be?  If we are to take God at his word, there is nothing to fear, nothing to cause sorrow when a believer departs this life.  It is a time of rejoicing because the saint who leaves this life enters into the joys of the Lord. 

4.         Victory over the devil’s works. 

1 John 3:8 (KJV) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  

What is the work of the devil?  1.  Deception.  2.  Accusation.  3.  Fiery darts.  (Trials, temptations, irritations) 

5.         Victory over Satan himself. 

Genesis 3:15 (KJV) And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  

Revelation 12:10-11 (KJV)  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

6.         Victory over all enemies. 

John 12:30-33 (KJV) Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

All men are drawn to him either for grace or judgment.  Christ’s death, burial and resurrection qualifies him to judge.  Acts 17:31 

Isaiah 63:1-6 (KJV)  Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.   For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.  And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.  And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

The victory of the cross will not be complete until the Great Tribulation is over and the Battle of Armageddon has been fought and won.  The shadow of the cross stretches from the beginning of creation to the end of time.  With that much victory, surely there is enough victory for you today!           

II.  Second, not only was Christ crucified on the cross, the World is crucified to us. 

I submit to you that the only way we can survive in this world is if we consider the world crucified to us.  

Daniel 1:3-8 (KJV)  And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;  Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.  Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:  Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

The test. 

Daniel 3:15-27 (KJV)  Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.  Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.  And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.  Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.  And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

III.  Third, not only was the world crucified to us, we are crucified to the world. 

2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)  Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We crucify ourselves by saying no to the flesh.

We crucify ourselves by submitting our egos to the will of God.

We crucify ourselves by imposing spiritual discipline on ourselves.

We crucify ourselves by a continually repenting heart.

We crucify ourselves by not charging God with abuse when we are attacked. 

Why crucify ourselves? 

A human being can execute himself in many ways.  A gun, a rope, a knife, a jump, a needle, an overdose of pills, etc.  But did you ever wonder why Christ used none of these methods in order to end His own life?  He chose crucifixion, an act that must be carried out by at least one other person.  A person cannot crucify himself.  Once he has nailed one hand to his cross, he has no means to nail the other.  

You cannot crucify yourself without also feeling like you have been victimized by someone else.  You will always be tempted to assign blame to someone else for your pain and suffering.  And, in one sense of the word, you will always be correct.  It does take someone else. 

So, the real issue always comes back to you and the intents and purposes of your heart.  Crucifixion must be an act of submission, not the result of assault and battery against your will. 

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.

But, I want to proclaim to you that crucifixion is not about death:  it is about life! 

Galatians 2:20 (KJV)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 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.  

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