Romans 6:6. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
I’ve found over the years of ministry that actually many Christians don’t know. They know that Jesus died FOR them (Romans 3-5), but they don’t know the glorious truths of their co-crucifixion with Christ. They have no idea that they died WITH Christ.
Maybe you know that you have been forgiven by the cross. And your grateful for that forgiveness. And rightly so. But is that enough to sustain you through the perils of spiritual warfare?
Believing that “Jesus died for me” is only the first step in our sanctification. And if we stop there we are often left living only in gratitude rather than graduating to living in faith. Many Christians battle sin by saying “I must be grateful for my forgiveness and therefore stop sinning.” Or they say, “I must now do so much for God because he did so much for me.” But look closely again at these two statements. Are they the fullness of union with Christ? Are they really faith? Or are they works? Aren’t they an attempt to pay God back? Aren’t they just a subtle form of self-righteousness?
The Christian life is empowered by knowing not only that Jesus was crucified for us, but also that we were crucified with Jesus. Jesus said that he came to give us life, abundant life, his very own life. But this new life in Christ can only be possible if first there is a death. Your death. My death. And, praise God, this death has already occurred. We know that our old self was crucified with him. When we place our faith in Christ we are united to Christ. We are baptized into his death Paul says. On the cross we were IN Christ and therefore we died WITH Christ.
This is what we know, what we trust, what we believe – that the old self, the sin nature, is dead. Not sick. Not dying. Not hanging on. Not in a coma. Dead. We believe that our relationship to sin is now the same as Jesus’ relationship to sin – dead and defeated. That this work is DONE. Forever.
I know we don’t often feel like we died with Christ. And we definitely don’t always behave like our sin nature is dead. Each time we sin again it screams that it is still alive and well. But faith is trusting in what God says about who we ARE by his imputed righteousness. Faith is trusting our position in Christ, rather than our condition as a continuing sinner. Faith is believing that we are no longer slaves to sin, even though that addiction is still hanging on. Faith is knowing that we died on that cross on that Good Friday, and that we have been resurrected with Christ on that Easter. Faith is trusting these facts of the gospel, not our ever changing feelings.
OK, but if I died on the cross with Jesus, and my sin nature is dead and gone, then why do I still sin? Great question. As Christians we are no longer controlled by the old sin nature (it is dead). Rather, we are now controlled by the Spirit, Christ’s nature. But we do still have what Paul will call the Flesh living inside of us – remaining selfish desires, or “indwelling sin.”
But here’s the difference: the old sin nature has died once and for all. But the flesh is something that we are still slowly crucifying.
Galatians 5:24. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh (ongoing) with its passions and desires.
Read that over and over until you get it. It’s important. You cannot crucify your flesh unless you believe God has already put to death your old self.
The cross is the only way to deal with sin, and the cross has already happened. It is finished! If you are dealing with your sin in any other way than your union with the cross, you will fail. Self-denial, training, resolutions, revival, confession, Bible study, spiritual experiences – these will not end sin in your life. Only the cross will. And it has! There is nothing left for God to do that the cross has not already accomplished. All that’s left is for you to actually believe it. To trust that your old self is dead. That sin has no power over you. That you are alive in Christ.
“To live is Christ” means your sin has already once and for all time been dealt with by the cross. Do you know this? Do you believe this? Once you do, you can start the painful process of crucifying the flesh and its selfish desires by faith in God’s saving grace.
How have you been dealing with your sin? By the cross?
You in Christ
Do you know (believe) that you died with Christ on the cross? That the power source of sin in your life, the old man/nature, has been put to death?
Christ in you
How does knowing that we are not enslaved to sin actually allow us to break free from sinning? Think it through.
Playlist: Crucified with Christ