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.

August 23, 2016

For Many of Us, September is a New Start

In North America at least, September marks the beginning of a new season. So I’m taking the liberty of using an early January article from a very popular Christian writer, and importing it into the present calendar situation. Because I’m currently reading Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, I decided to see what online writing by him was available, and found this at his ministry blog. He posts a new article about once a month. Click the title below to read this at Dutch Sheets Ministries.

Strengthen Yourself In The Lord … sharing a personal lesson

The new year is such a wonderful time, offering us the opportunity to look back on the road we’ve walked, and then dream with God to set bigger goals and tread higher ground. As this pivotal year has drawn to a close, troubles abound in our nation and abroad; even so some still find themselves joyfully celebrating great victories in the Lord. God has blessed us with His goodness and hope for what lies ahead. While reflecting upon these things, the Lord reminds me of a paramount principle He long ago seared upon my heart. It is a fundamental truth that can help us stay in God’s will and fulfill His intended purpose for our life.

Horses and Chariots

When an alliance of enemy armies threatened Joshua and the people of Israel in their quest to possess the land promised to them, God encouraged them not to be afraid, promising to deliver the enemy into their hands. But the assurance of victory was accompanied by a set of critical instructions for maintaining their success. The Lord told them to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots they had acquired as spoils of war (Joshua 11:6). To hamstring a horse is to cut a particular tendon so as not to kill or completely maim the horse, but certainly render it useless for engaging in battle or pulling chariots of war. Disabling the horses and destroying the chariots was God’s way of ensuring Israel would not become self-sufficient and dependent on their own military strength and ability for winning future battles. Instead, they would be reminded to trust Him.

The Lord set this safeguard in place because there was a tendency among the people of Israel, as there is within all of us, to lean on Him in times of great need, yet fall back on our own abilities and strengths when our struggles wane. Psalm 106 illustrates this unfortunate truth. After God so powerfully delivered Israel from slavery, they quickly forgot His miraculous works and did not seek His counsel (verse 13).

History repeated itself after Israel’s conquest of Jericho when they set out to take Ai, a small and seemingly weak city. Having become overconfident and self-sufficient after miraculously winning the battle at Jericho, they did not seek the Lord’s counsel for taking Ai. Attempting to go against the enemy in their own strength and ability, they suffered a most humiliating defeat.

Friends, especially after we’ve experienced times of great success, breakthrough, or promotion, we cannot forget our source of strength! We must rely on the Lord even more, with all the “more” He entrusts to us.

Lean On The Lord

In this season, God is attempting to give us a greater understanding of His authority and strength for breakthrough in our personal lives and family, for all of our labors, and for this nation as a whole. But we won’t grasp the concept of operating successfully in God’s delegated authority if, even unconsciously, there is any form of self-sufficiency in us. We must recognize that each day we need God’s wisdom for our decisions and His strength for everything we undertake.

There are times in life when we are traveling upon what seems to be familiar ground. In those instances, it is important that one not give place to presumptuous self-sufficiency with a “been there, done that” mentality. Even in the seemingly easy times, we must be careful to heed the words of Proverbs 3:5-8:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.

Boast In The Lord

There are other times when the Lord will take us into situations where we feel a degree of intimidation, facing challenges that seem beyond our natural abilities. Following the example of the Apostle Paul, we go to the Lord and say, “Lord I want to glory in my weakness, because You then can be strong in me,” (2 Corinthians 10:17; 12:10; Psalm 20:7; Joel 3:10b).

Our greatest asset can be our area of weakness if we allow it to drive us to God, His vast wisdom, His limitless ability and His magnificent strength, rather than trust in our own.

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me.”Jeremiah 9:23-24a

“…The people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many…” – Daniel 11:32b-33a

The Lord desires to accomplish great exploits through those who take time to know Him intimately and hear what’s on His heart. He will cause them to rise up in great strength and take bold, strategic action that leads from victory to victory, bringing glory to His name.

New Strength For The New Year

Let’s make this simple yet vital principle our plumb line for moving into the New Year: trust God, not ourselves. In doing so, we won’t forget the Lord after witnessing great miracles. We won’t let our guard down or act in presumption after experiencing victory. And we won’t become like a weakened Samson who awakened from sleep thinking, “I will shake myself free and overthrow my enemies as I’ve always done,” not realizing that the Lord had departed from him (Judges 16:20).

In this New Year, God is releasing grace to trust Him more. Lean into it, take hold of it. As you strengthen yourself in the Lord, He will add strength to your abilities and release creative thoughts, wise solutions, divine appointments, great favor, good contracts, and timely sales. Struggling ministries will soar in God’s strength and families in need of help will experience breakthrough. The Lord will even bring good from your past defeats. In this coming year, let’s work hard and be diligent, being mindful of His faithfulness, and look to Him for all we need.

My friend, put your trust in Him!

February 14, 2016

God’s Commands: More on The 613 Commandments

Today’s post by Russell Young is a response to the February 3rd post, The 613 Commandments.


ten_commandments

There seems to be a great deal of confusion over whether or not the believer needs to obey God’s commands. This should not be so because the Word is quite clear if it is examined.

The Lord said that He did not come “to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Therefore, they still have relevance; HOWEVER, Christ came to fulfill them. It is the manner in which He fulfills them that has brought on so much confusion. He said, “Anyone who breaks the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

The manner in which the Lord accomplishes the Law and the Prophets is important. It is often accepted that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross provides one’s eternal salvation but this is not so. The writer of Hebrews has recorded: “For this reason [to cleanse our moral consciences from acts that lead to death] Christ became the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may [not will] receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he had died as a ransom to set the free from the sins that they had committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15, NIV) Accordingly, the sacrifice of Christ relieved the believer from the consequences of the sins that he had committed while under the first (Old) covenant and became the mediator of a new covenant.

The Lord’s “mediation” is not by words only, it is by His life. Paul wrote of a “mystery” that had been kept hidden and was now being revealed and that mystery is “Christ in you [the Holy Spirit], the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) The Christ who had lived a sinless life in the body that the Father had prepared for Him in the womb of Mary is the same Christ who is prepared, if obeyed, to live a sinless life in the body of the believer. The ONLY passage that references “eternal salvation” states that it comes through obedience. “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9, NIV) It is common to mistake the need for obedience as an issue of “works” while it is really faith in practice.

To further understand the means in which the Law and the Prophets are being fulfilled, Paul wrote: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4, NIV) That is, Christ is prepared to met the righteous requirements of the law in us. He was victorious in the flesh of Jesus and He will be victorious in the believer but it does demand obedience. His ministry must not be seen as having been completed; He is living personally and intimately in all of those who have confessed His lordship. (Romans 5:9-10)

Are we under the law? Absolutely NOT! We are now servants to Christ however, and are under His lordship. How does this satisfy the law? His convicting work though one’s conscience will lead him to avoid sin or to repent and confess it when sin occurs. What a wonderful Saviour! What a wonderful God! What personal love!

It is those who are led by the Spirit who are NOT under the law. (Galatians 5:18) It is those who are led by the Spirit who are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) And, it is those who are led by the Spirit who will reap eternal life. (Galatians 5:7) The Law and the Prophets must be fulfilled, but it will be accomplished by Christ in one. Paul taught that you are to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) and that he was given “the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:16)

Those who reject His leadership will suffer judgement for their rebellion and disobedience in light of His provision, starting with the household of God. The One who is in the believer will be his Judge.

The law must be completed but the Spirit enlightens, leads and empowers the obedient for its accomplishment. The believer need not walk around under the oppression of the law because Christ will satisfy it for the obedient. As Paul has recorded, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV)

Doesn’t this make your heart rejoice?

 

July 29, 2012

The Three ‘C’s of Temptation

(The Message)I Cor 10:13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

I love David Peach’s blog name: Genuine Leather Bible. This is his first time being featured here at C201, be sure to click through to read: All Temptation is Common, Controlled and Conquerable.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.—1 Corinthians 10:12, 13 (KJV)

I am often amazed at how God works in the lives of some people. They may have been heavily involved in certain sins before their salvation. But the day they got saved God took that sin out of their lives and they had victory over it immediately. When talking with them they say that they are no longer tempted by that old habit. It is amazing to see God’s power in their lives over sin.

However, we know that God does not always work that way. In fact, many of us struggle constantly with besetting sins. It seems like if we could just get victory over that sin then we would never have any problems.

Why doesn’t God work the same way in everyone’s life? When talking to those who do get immediate victory it seems like they think everyone gets the same type of victory “if they are truly saved.” Do they think I am not saved because God didn’t work the same way in my life as He did in theirs? While they would probably say “no” to that question, I have seen some who act as if that is the way they believe. God’s great grace can become a source of pride in their Christian walk.

Certainly not everyone who has had immediate victory over a sin act this way. Many give great praise and honor to God because they know God has worked in a special way in their life.

[Recently,] the pastor in church was dealing with 1 Corinthians 10:1-14. He pointed out three great truths that we can draw from verse 13.

Common

First is that temptation is common. Your case is not unique. While we may not all be tempted in the exact same way, we all endure temptation. We must fight the sinful thought of, “God, I know what Your Word says, but my situation is special.” No, we need to simply trust God and obey Him. This great truth helps erase self-pity. God doesn’t hate you. God is not putting you through something you cannot overcome with His help. He is there right beside you.

Controlled

The second truth is that temptation is controlled. God is faithful. He will be with you through the temptation. He knows what you are going through and His goal is to bring you through it in holiness. The Bible says multiple times to be holy because God is holy. He wants us to become more like Him. He is with us each step of the way to bring out holiness in us. This truth erases our fears. Temptation itself can inspire fear, but we don’t have to be afraid because a faithful God is with us according to this verse.

Conquerable

Finally, temptation is conquerable. By His grace we have the power to overcome the temptation. Not in our own power, but through the power of Christ (Philippians 4:13). He has provided a way of escape. We don’t always see that way of escape. We begin to feel hopeless. However, when we remember a faithful God has promised to provide a way out of the temptation and testing, then this truth erases our doubts.

We should be grateful to God for the way He has worked in our lives. Whether that is an immediate conquering of sin, or a slow process of sanctification we should be thankful. Don’t take pride in the grace God has given you. Nor should you feel defeated if you don’t get that immediate victory. Remember that a faithful God knows everything that is going on in your life today.

[Adapted from a message by David Cross at Faith Baptist Church in Jefferson City, TN.]

Scripture portions quoted at Christianity 201 are always in green because the Scriptures have LIFE!

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