9 Cross of Christ
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Chapter 9

The Cross of Christ

"But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5 v 8.

God's unchanging character and holiness makes it impossible for him not to judge sin and rebellion against his authority. God cannot overlook sin for he is just in all his ways. He will pour out his just wrath upon those who persist in their rebellion against him. The self-willed person who ignores God's warnings and offer of pardon has to be dealt with. God's purpose is to bring in a kingdom where righteousness dwells. He is patiently reaching out to this rebellious world for the sake of those who will accept his offer of pardon. But this patient waiting will not go on forever. God has set an appointed time for the end of the church age, the seven year tribulation and the millennial kingdom.

Even though God is full of love and mercy he is not able to express these at the expense of justice. God must deal with sin before he can show love and mercy. God cannot override one part of his character at the expense of the other. The idea that God will let sinners go free because of his love and mercy is not true. The penalty of sin has to be paid to satisfy God's justice before pardon and forgiveness can be offered. That is why God himself stepped into the world. He paid the penalty for sin himself, satisfying that part of his character that demands justice.

The Old Testament prophets had prophesied the coming of a Messiah. He would undo the power of sin to which Adam and Eve and their descendants (you and I) had fallen under. Isaiah (circa 740 B.C.) 9 v 6 reads, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 7 v 14 reads, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us)." John 1 v 1,14 reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word (Jesus the Son) was made flesh, and dwelt among us...". The Old Testament prophets wrote that God himself would be the Savior from sin. Isaiah 43 v 3,11 reads, "For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior... I, even, I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Savior." Isaiah 49 v 26 reads, "...and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob." Hosea 13 v 4 reads, "Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no savior beside me."

In Exodus 3 v 13-15 God reveals the name he is to be known by to Moses.

Verse 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

Verse 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Verse 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

When Jesus dealt with the Pharisees in John 8 v 53, 56-58 he revealed his identity. The Pharisees in verse 53 asked him who he was and Jesus answered in verses 56-58.

Verse 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

Verse 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Verse 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and thou hast seen Abraham?

Verse 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

The Pharisees then took up stones to cast at him because they understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. Reading John 10 v 33, "The Jews answered him (Jesus), saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou being a man, makest thyself God."

God Sets Aside His Glory

Why would God condescend to a human level and allow himself to be put to death? What was his purpose in lowering himself and entering this fallen world of self-willed people? The dilemma was that sin brought an infinite penalty upon people who possess eternal souls. Only someone who was human but had never sinned would qualify to pay an eternal penalty. Only someone who had an infinite life within him would qualify. Since all mankind is under the penalty of sin someone outside of the fall would have to enter and pay. That left only God the Son eligible, and only if he would take on a human body and live a sinless life.

In Philippians 2 v 5-10 Jesus temporarily veiled his divine glory (John 17 v 5) and came to earth to meet us at our point of need.

Verse 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Verse 6 Who, being in the form of God (the same nature as God), thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (willingly set aside his glory)

Verse 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Verse 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Verse 9 Wherefore God (the Father) also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Verse 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

In 2 Corinthians 5 v 21 it says, "For he (God the Father) hath made him (Jesus the Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made (receive) the righteousness of God in him (Christ)." In 1 John 4 v 10 it says, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfied God's just wrath) for our sins."

Receiving the Righteousness of God

In Romans 4 v 3,6 it says, "...Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness (given the righteousness of God to his account). Even as David described the blessedness of the man (Abraham), unto whom God imputed righteousness without works."

Here Abraham received the positional standing of being righteous before God based on repentance and faith in the coming Messiah. The word imputed means to give to someone something which does not belong to them. In this case Abraham was given the righteousness of Christ. It can also be pictured as having the righteousness of Christ credited to your bank account. Abraham was declared righteous by faith over 400 years before Moses brought the Law and the Ten Commandments. For the Law and the Ten Commandments were never meant to be kept as a means of earning salvation. Galatians 3 v 24,25 says, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified (declared not guilty) by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." The law was given to reveal the power of sin inside each of us. For as soon as one understands the moral law of God our rebellious sinful nature acts in opposition. It reveals sin and hopefully brings people to repentance and faith in Christ. God intended everyone to despair of trusting in their own righteousness or seeking to come to him on their own terms.

In Romans 5 v l we read, "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." By Jesus taking upon himself the wrath of God against sin, God will no longer pour out his wrath on those who come to Christ. Colossians 2 v 13,14 reflects it in another way. It says, "And you, being dead (spiritually dead) in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (given spiritual birth) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (our penalty for not keeping God's law perfectly) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

In Roman times when a criminal was put in jail a certificate of debt was drawn up and nailed to the cell door. The criminal, when he served his time, would be released and across his certificate was written "Tetelestai", which means "paid in full". This picture reflects the predicament of man, for each of us has a debt of sin for offending God's holy character. However there is no way of ever paying it. When Jesus died on the cross paying the penalty on our behalf, he said "It is finished". The word he used was "Tetelestai". Jesus opened our cell door through his payment and pardon is offered.

The word "redemption" describes another aspect of Christ's

payment for sins. Ephesians 1 v 7 says, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." The word redemption means to set free from slavery by paying a ransom. Jesus had to shed his blood as the ransom payment to free us from the power of the sin nature and slavery to Satan. This is important to understand. When one repents and sincerely receives Christ, he is born again by the Holy Spirit's power. He will not face the wrath of God against sin for Jesus took it on his behalf. The power of the sin nature has been broken and Satan no longer has dominion or authority over him.

The word propitiation is a wonderful word. It means that God's rightful wrath against rebellion, self-willed living, and acts of sin was poured out upon Jesus on the cross. God's wrath and judgment was fully satisfied by Jesus. That is what it means when we say that Jesus paid the penalty for sin. Now your heart might be stirring a bit saying, does that mean I can go free? Can I enter into heaven? Is God willing to forgive me? Can the slate be wiped clean? Can the past be undone? The answer is yes! Because of this payment God can now offer pardon for sin, freedom from the power of sin, and freedom from the power of Satan! However, for you to receive this gift (Ephesians 2 v 8,9) you must repent of your self-willed life, acknowledge your bondage to sin, and receive the payment made by the Lord Jesus as your own. This implies abhorring self and asking Jesus to save you and break the power of sin in your life.

We live in a time of apostasy (departure from the truth) where the false gospel of receiving Jesus into your heart is preached. This is a false gospel because repentance and realization of one's lost condition are essential before real faith in Christ can occur. God is not able to save anyone by just an intellectual belief in Jesus, nor by just receiving Jesus as Savior unless there is true repentance. Repentance recognizes your sin as an affront to a Holy God, as a hindrance to others seeking God, and as leading your soul into hell. Repentance involves a heartfelt conviction of your sin, recognition of your rebellious inner attitude towards God, a fear of God's judgment, and a willingness to turn away from sin and yield to Christ. Repentance is absolutely essential to real salvation and God calls for it. Luke 24 v 47 reads, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Acts 20 v 21 reads, "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." In Luke 5 v 32 Jesus says, "I came not to call the righteous (those who thought they weren't sinners), but sinners to repentance.

It is important to understand that "believing in Jesus" implies repentance as the first step. Intellectual assent to a set of historical facts does not save. Salvation that God speaks of implies repentance and faith. They are two sides of the same coin and you cannot have one without the other.

So how do I obtain salvation. First you must come to repentance, second, you must agree that Jesus died for you and paid your penalty for sin, and thirdly, you must surrender your will (Revelation 3 v 20) and yield to your kind and gracious Savior Jesus Christ. If you have acknowledged your need and prayed sincerely holding nothing back a full pardon will be given. However this is not all. Upon repentance and faith in Christ the Holy Spirit comes to cleanse and indwell you. The Holy Spirit confirms our pardon and empowers one to break the practices of sin. He begins the work of maturing one to bear fruit for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5 v 17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." This is the experience which Jesus referred to in John 3 v 5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water (repentance) and of the Spirit (indwelling Holy Spirit) he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." When the Holy Spirit indwells a believer the inner rebellion and power of the sinful nature is put to death. However, this release from bondage must be claimed by faith, trusting the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of a new life in you. If we re-assert our wills we will find ourselves doing what is called sins of the flesh. Though we are positionally set free, we are still in our earthly unredeemed body, which is the seat of fleshly desires. Its rebellious desires are contrary to God's will. We are set free positionally but we still face the opposition of the world system, the flesh and the devil. The only way of beginning to experience this freedom from sin is through yielding our will to the Holy Spirit.

Sanctification - Our New Position and Relationship

Sanctification is the process of moving from the sinful self-willed bondages of the past to yielding to the Holy Spirit and bearing fruit. Proper spiritual fruit bears witness to one's salvation. In John 14 v 15-17 and 26 Jesus says,

Verse 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Verse 16 And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.

Verse 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.

Verse 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things...

In these verses there are many wonderful promises. The Lord Jesus when he ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives (in Acts l v 2-12) sent the Holy Spirit (in Acts 2 v l-4) to indwell the twelve apostles and the believers gathered. Subsequent to this, every repentant believer is given the Holy Spirit to indwell him at the moment of repentance and faith. In John 14 v 16 the Holy Spirit is a person not a force. He is a Comforter and eternally secures a believer by indwelling him forever. Jesus paid for all your sins on the cross, past, present and future. Even the sins you will stumble into in the future are paid for. What a tremendous gift and as I like to say, "we have the freedom to fail."

All people until they are born again are characterized by God as spiritually blind. When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell, he gives spiritual sight. The Bible begins to come alive because the Spirit begins to reveal it properly through study and teaching by mature believers. The Holy Spirit also begins to change our desires and appetites, from doing our own will and feeding the flesh to seeking God's will and yielding to the Spirit.

In John 15 v 3-5 which Jesus spoke to his disciples.

Verse 3 Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Verse 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Verse 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In these verses Jesus makes a foundational point with regards to walking as a Christian. You must abide in Christ. In his analogy Jesus is the vine, the Christian is the branch and the Holy Spirit freely going through the vine into the branches produces fruit.

Galatians 5 v 22-25, lists the fruit of the Spirit,

Verse 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience) gentleness, goodness, faith,

Verse 23 Meekness, temperance (self-control): against such there is no law.

Verse 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh (its power is dead) with the affections and lusts.

Verse 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Yielding to the Spirit will produce the good fruit. However one can short-circuit their fruitbearing by known sin. Exercising our own will over God's known will quenches the Holy Spirit's power. Stumbling into sin by thoughts, attitudes, deeds or tongue contrary to the character of Christ, quenches the Holy Spirit's power. Reading l Thessalonians 5 v 19 it says, "Quench not the Spirit." As a Christian this does not affect our standing before God for our salvation is secure. However, it does affect our relationship with God. It is kind of like a few clouds obscure the light of the sun. The pure light of God is diminished in our lives. Our proper response when we stumble into sin is l John l v 9, where it says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". We confess and by faith yield to the Holy Spirit so our joy, peace and self-control is restored. This process is not related to our salvation experience when we are born again, but to our daily walk with God and our experience of fellowship with Him.

This process of sanctification is on-going and lifelong. God has promised to chasten and discipline us during this process. His purpose is to conform us to be Christlike in attitude and behavior. Sanctification also reveals if our faith is genuine through our response to the trials and temptations of life.

Reading Hebrews 12 v 6-8,

Verse 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Verse 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Verse 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God has promised that a true born again believer will not practice sin. If you are really a son of his he guarantees to discipline you. Therefore a professing Christian who does not bear proper fruit and habitually practices sin, would reveal a lack of genuine salvation.

A real Christian hates sin and desires to be free of the old patterns and bondages. He wants to experience the freedom that Christ gives and bear fruit. Because he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit a pattern of understanding God's word and holding to sound doctrine will also be evident. The differences between professing Christianity and real Christianity will be examined in the next chapter.

Walking After the Spirit

Romans chapter 6 is foundational to walking in the power of the Spirit. When one repents and puts his faith and trust in what Christ has done, the Holy Spirit baptizes that person into Christ. Our new position in Christ is our basis for freedom from sin.

Romans 6 v 1-7 says,

Verse 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Verse 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Verse 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Verse 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Verse 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Verse 6 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.

Verse 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

In verse 1 Paul asks whether we should keep practicing sin after we received the new birth. The answer is a resounding no. He begins to reveal the position and freedom in Christ that occurs in the new birth. In verse 3 Paul says that the spiritual birth is likened in the picture of baptism. The "old you" is put to death as you go under the water. The "new you" in Christ is alive as you rise out of the waters of baptism. The "old you" who was enslaved to sin and under the power of Satan is put to death and rendered powerless. In verse 6 and 7 it says that the power of sin has been broken, that we are freed from practicing sin. In other words our position is freedom from obeying sin.

It is important not to confuse Spirit baptism with water baptism. Spirit baptism happens the moment one repents and puts their faith in Christ. This decision is between each person and God. God gives no one any special power to zap people with the Holy Spirit through some religious ceremony. The outward ceremony of water baptism only symbolizes what has already happened inwardly. It follows that observing an outward ceremony does not mean there is the inward reality of Spirit baptism. The fruit of one's life will reflect the true inward reality. The author himself was confirmed and baptized but had no inward reality until I personally repented and surrendered to Christ 14 years later.

Water baptism is not part of salvation but a first step of obedience in sanctification. It is a declaration before the world that you have renounced self and embraced Christ. Groups that teach that water baptism has any merit in salvation should be separated from for this is serious false teaching. A maturing believer does not want to identify himself with any false teaching.

Reading further in Romans 6 v 11-14,

Verse 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Verse 13 Neither yield ye your members (body) as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Verse 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

In verse 11 Paul says, "reckon yourselves dead unto sin". This is our faith response to our position of freedom from sin. At the new birth the inner man becomes the seat of the Holy Spirit. However, our mortal bodies (flesh) still remain unredeemed and prone to the lure of sin. This body of flesh will not be removed until we receive our immortal bodies at the rapture. Romans 8 v 22,23 reads, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

For the present we battle against the world system (goals values and philosophies contrary to God's word), the flesh and the devil, each of them in opposition to God's will. Walking after the Spirit is the process of claiming victory over these enemies by faith. This victory is obtained by learning to yield to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes our position in Christ a reality in daily experience.

In verse 12 it speaks of our mortal body being the seat of lusts which are in opposition to God's will. Paul is saying that you are dead to sin so you do not have to obey its lusts. In verse 13 he gives the command of yielding to the Holy Spirit who will put to death the lusts of the flesh and produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5 v 16-25). Paul then leads into verse 14 by saying that sin will not control or reign over a true believer and if one does yield to the flesh, we are under grace. Grace means that we have the freedom to fail and not lose our salvation in Christ. Confessing our sin and yielding to the Holy Spirit restores our walk with Christ. As we confess our sin we acknowledge with thanks that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin 2,000 years ago. Before I even stumbled into it. This freedom to fail removes the fear and guilt that comes with failure. It motivates one to yield to the Holy Spirit to experience that freedom.

Reading Romans 6 v 16-22 Paul speaks of the struggle we still experience with the flesh and our position of freedom we need to use as a foundation.

Verse 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Verse 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Verse 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Verse 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Verse 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Verse 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Verse 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

One thing which happens when you are born again is a new vision of the awfulness of sin in yourself and others. It's like realizing that you are much more sinful than you ever thought. The Holy Spirit reveals the tyranny of our old master. We've been born self-willed and trained up that being assertive, prideful and independent is virtuous behavior. The struggle of our old patterns of living versus yielding to the Holy Spirit begins. The analogy of a child learning to walk by falling down, getting up, falling down, over and over in a small way reflects the initial struggles.

Our old flesh rises up and demands our yielding to sin. The Holy Spirit says by faith yield to me and the deeds of the flesh will be broken. This process of walking by the Spirit is the key to experiencing our freedom from sin. In verse 19 Paul alludes to the beginning steps of that walk as one of yielding to the flesh more often than yielding to the Holy Spirit. Just as a child learning to walk falls down often in the process so also a young Christian falls often in learning to walk in the Spirit. As the young Christian feeds himself on the word of God and renews his mind according to what God says, and seeks to obey, he develops spiritual strength and muscle to walk properly.