Christianity 201

September 4, 2016

I Have Been Crucified with Christ

 by Russell Young

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NIV) A person’s understanding of this verse makes all the difference in his appreciation of the gospel.

Recently a well known television preacher stated that “having been crucified with Christ” means that in the mind of God our crucifixion has taken place.  That is, as far as God is concerned we are dead.  Accordingly, we can no longer sin and will not be held accountable for any sin.  Does this make Biblical sense and why would God entertain this perception?  He would have to accept something that has no basis in fact.  It is impossible to find any scriptural foundation for such thinking.

Crucified with ChristWhat does Paul mean?  The crucified person is dead! He has no life!  The result of crucifixion is end of physical life.  Paul’s teaching is that as far as he is concerned he has made the determination, by choice, to consider his physical body to be dead.  Such a death does not refer to a physical reality since Paul was still alive.  He had made the commitment to not allow his body to be his master, to not submit to its interests. The death to which he is referring is a matter of his will. After having reflected on the sin-producing power of the body, he had agonized, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from the body of death [that brings about death]?  Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7:24 NIV)  It was Christ who would rescue him.

The old life in the body or flesh is the cause of a person’s sinning.  He or she is constantly tempted to satisfy its demands. Unlawful appeasement of the flesh is sin and every person who walks this earth, starting with the family of God, will be accountable for the things done while in the body at judgment day. “For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one might receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10)

Paul’s teaching is that believers must consider or reckon themselves to have been crucified, or to have died to the body.  His statement was that he no longer lived, that he could no longer entertain the interests of the body, but that he was endeavouring to let Christ live in him.  Christ did not sin and if Christ is living in him, he will be victorious over sin.  To the Colossians Paul revealed that it is Christ in us who is our hope of glory. (Col 1:27) He also related that it is necessary to defeat the sinful nature which brings about death. “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13 NIV)

Paul also said that he now lived by faith in the Son of God.  To live by faith means that he had been persuaded of the life and ministry of Christ.  Since he has been so persuaded, he has abandoned his own life and has allowed Christ to live in and through him.

In another place Paul considered the issue of death and baptism. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or, don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized 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.” (Rom 6:1-4 NIV) The new life about which he wrote is the life of righteousness experienced as Christ lives in us.

The baptism about which Paul spoke is symbolic of the believer’s death and resurrection.  This symbolism, representing a pledge to maintain a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21) leading to the hope of resurrection with Christ needs to be more fully appreciated.  The person being baptized must know that he has considered and has acknowledged death to sin and self, and is making a pledge to that end.

If it was perceived by God that the confessor’s death had happened, as the preacher claimed, there would be no need for judgment and a sureness of the confessor’s resurrection would exist; however, even Paul attested to the fact that he wanted to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings so that “somehow” he might attain to the resurrection. (Phil 3:10-11) In spite of theological teaching to the contrary, Paul was not certain of his own eternal state. His physical life had not been completed so opportunity to entertain the interests of his natural spirit still existed.

In Romans Paul wrote of the need for the believer to share in Christ’s sufferings if he or she is to share in his glory and to become heirs with him. (Rom 8:17) The suffering to which he is referring has been revealed as the struggle to overcome temptation. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18 NIV) We are heirs with Christ as long as we suffer in the pursuit of victory over temptations- “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12 NIV)

Christ admonished his listeners of the need to carry their cross.  He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”(Mk 8:34 NIV) The cross is an instrument of death and the disciples’ death must be to self interest of all sorts, for victory over sin and for service for the kingdom. If the cross is being carried, it is readily available to crucify the body in one’s mind once more when it starts to resume its own life. If, “in God’s mind” he considers a person’s body to be dead, there would be no reason for the believer to carry his cross.

The implications of a person’s understanding of his or her crucifixion are serious and have eternal consequences.  Like Paul each of us is to consider that his body has been crucified if he or she is to avoid sin and by faith -persuasion- is to allow Christ to live through him or her.

March 10, 2011

Temptation Eyes

Actually this is just about temptation, but I wanted to see how many out there are old enough to remember the title of the old Grassroots song.

We’re going to begin this however at a different place than usual; starting at a motivational (i.e. not a faith blog) web page that I doubt many of you would ever get to.  Erin Williams has a life-coaching blog where the following three paragraphs appeared on Monday under the title, Deliver OURSELVES From Temptation.

In a recent interview, a high-profile celebrity who has been happily married for over two decades was asked, “So…how do you do it? Your personal life has survived the scrutiny that so many other stars has not…what is the secret to having a lasting marriage in Hollywood?” The icon stated simply, “I consciously avoid situations that might create cause for concern for me or my family. I deliver MYSELF from temptation”. Although this statement is referencing one person’s strategy to protect himself from potentially engaging in infidelity, let us consider how this practice might affect our own personal battle with good ol’ temptation.

Let’s face it. Chances are, we will be faced with temptation our whole lives in one form or another. Just as we are trying to quit drinking, we are invited to the best blow out party of the year…just as we start a new diet, grandma makes her famous enchiladas…just as we commit to a relationship, the hot co-worker wants to put in some overtime with us. Staying on track when we have chosen a path is hard enough, however, being constantly bombarded by hazards that add to our potential for failure makes it an energy-consuming workout just to stay the course. While we cannot completely eliminate temptation from our environment, we CAN manage our exposure to it.

The point is that we need not only be concerned with creating quality of life, but also with protecting it. When we set goals or make commitments we are creating the structure of how we want to live. We then must do what is necessary to execute and maintain that vision. Finding ways to eliminate temptation to stray is time and effort well invested. If we have set a family budget, for example, and know that we can’t go to Target without being tempted to buy things we don’t need…why not make our life easier and save ourselves the inner struggle by getting our supplies somewhere else? If we have committed to a healthier lifestyle, why not remove the foods or substances from our space so we are not having to stare at what is not on our options list? If we are married, why not opt-out of situations that might find us struggling with desirous thoughts for another? Finding ways to avoid temptation might take a little creativity but we can be sure of this…it takes a lot less energy and effort than getting back up on the wagon after we have toppled over. Make it easier on yourself to honor your commitments by managing your exposure to temptation.

~Erin Williams

Ernie Curtin is an Episcopal (Anglican) priest in Newton, Pennsylvania.  The following is but a small portion of a much longer article I encourage you to read, which appeared today at his blog Transformation Meditations as a reading for Lent.

…In Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness we see the pattern of temptation the devil brings.

First, the devil attempts to convince us to meet a legitimate human need by wrongful means. So, the devil recognizes Jesus’ hunger and tempts him to use his divine power to turn stones into bread. This is the corruption of miracle into magic through an appeal to power.

Jesus meets this temptation by quoting scripture. So, the devil switches tactics and quotes scripture. He misquotes it, to be sure. But, the fact that the devil quotes scripture at all can be very confusing to people, especially religious people.

Jesus fights fire with fire and uses scripture to correct the misuse of scripture. That is why it is important not just to read the Bible but to study the Bible and to memorize the Bible. The devil will use false teachers to misquote the Bible in order to confuse the faithful and scandalize unbelievers. Jesus sets the pattern for us to counteract this temptation by his careful and insightful use of scripture.

The third temptation is the same appeal Lucifer made to the angels. It is the appeal he made to our first parents Adam and Eve. It is the distortion of worship.

That is why the first commandment God revealed to Moses deals with worship. The devil always seeks to redefine worship and to confuse the meaning and purpose of worship. In a very simple and crude manner he appeals to the human will to power. He encourages us to approach worship with the question: what’s in it for me?

The devil only needs a tiny foothold in our conscious awareness of the call to worship. He only needs to intrude a small deceit to produce ever expanding levels of frustration.

~Ernie Curtin