As Easter soon approaches, my thoughts have been on that terrible ordeal Jesus underwent upon the cross to pay the price required to cover my sin and everyone else’s sin. Crucifixion is a terrible, slow death that is very painful. In Bible times, it was meant to act as a deterrent to anyone contemplating breaking a law. Sadly, Jesus was undeserving of such a horrendous execution, but in the end, the Bible tells us He gave up the ghost (Luke 23:46). He didn’t die as a result of being crucified. He literally gave His life on purpose when He was ready. The Bible quotes him as saying, “it is finished”, and it truly was. He had accomplished what He came to this world to do, to take the punishment mankind deserves. In doing so, He took away all the blame attached to each one of us, freeing us from any penalty if we will accept Him.When He gave His life He paid the price our sin required. By satisfying that terrible price, we were able to receive total forgiveness. Total forgiveness is hard for us to understand because we can’t forget the hurtful things done to us. We may say we forgive someone who has wronged us, but don’t you find yourself remembering what happened from time to time? We never feel free from that terrible burden.
Until the full consequence of sin is realized, we cannot be free. We must examine ourselves to obtain full disclosure of our motivation and our wicked desires. No one else is to blame. The decision to sin is always our choice. The Bible says, God always provides a way of escape from giving in to the temptation of sin. If there is a way of escape to avoid sin, and we don’t take it, then our sin is by our own choice. We choose to sin.
What Does The Bible Say?
The Bible says in the Book of I Corinthians Chapter 10, verse 13 (KJV):
“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.”
If God makes a way to escape temptation, then we must look for it to avoid sin. It’s a lot like looking for an entrance to a building that is unfamiliar, or an entrance that is not situated where a door would be obvious. This could be caused by the position of the building on the lot or the location of the door away from foot traffic paths. If you truly want to avoid sin or anything else or someone, you work at finding a way to avoid it. If we seek to avoid sin, then we will keep looking for an escape from sin. The Bible teaches us that God is faithful. He demonstrates His love and care for each of us every day. He provides a way of escape from sin. It is up to us to take it and flee from the temptation.
Yet, when we sin by breaking His law, He doesn’t give up on us. He already paid the price God’s Law requires through His death on the cross. Forgiveness for us cost God His Son. Jesus paid God’s penalty of death. You see forgiveness is not without a price. Jesus’ death on a cross set us free from God’s punishment. When we sin, we have only to confess our sin in true repentance. God accepts our repentance and forgives us because we are one of Christ’s because He paid our sin price.
What about unbelievers?
Unfortunately, unbelievers in Jesus have no hope of forgiveness unless they repent, confess their sin, and ask Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. “Lord” has the meaning of being supreme over one who accepts Him and His authority. Apart from Jesus, there is no hope of forgiveness for sin and no hope of a place in Eternity with Him.
How do we become that person who is crucified with Christ?
“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.” Romans 6:6
We confess our sin and recognize we are forgiven and cleansed because Jesus paid the price God required for sin. God puts our sin as far away as the east from the west and remembers it no more (Psalm 103:12). Because of Christ, we will be found faultless before God the Father.
True repentance includes change. We desire to be more Christ-like. Sin is abhorrent to us. It is distasteful to us. It is ugly. We realize we have nothing good to offer apart from Jesus. We want that inner change that reveals the new nature God has given to each Believer.
Charles Spurgeon wrote a sermon called God’s Law in Man’s Heart based on Hebrews 8:10:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” Hebrews 8:10
“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:15-17
In his sermon, Spurgeon wrote that God gave his chosen people the Law, then Jesus condensed the Law to one word, “love”. It is the Holy Spirit living in the saved heart that gives us understanding and brings conviction of sin, and an understanding of our own sinfulness. We can go through the motions of confessing sin, but until the Holy Spirit breaks our heart over our sin, nothing will change.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26
When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we learn that our position is one of holiness. We have been made holy, but we also realize sanctification (being made holy) is a process, one we will always be undergoing. As the Holy Spirit continues to convict us of sin, we are to confess it and repent of it, then relinquish it. We try to stop sinning because we have a desire to be clean for Him. But that is not enough. We must constantly be on guard to crucify self, because we can just as easily pick it all back up again.
When Christ’s forgiveness becomes a reality in our life, when we understand it comes from nothing we did or could do, then we become willing to be “crucified” with Christ. We will gladly crucify our own desires, demands, and expectations so we can embrace God’s will. Strongly aware of our sin, we renounce self and self interests to serve Him.
Our focus changes from self to others. Others often times frustrate us because they cannot embrace this “crucified” life that we want for them. Ministering to others is a challenge, sometimes thankless, and usually lengthy. Conviction and change is different for each person. God is in control and we must not forget that. Let us be faithful to stay the course in ministering to others.
“And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
Sometimes we seek to focus more on others than on ourselves. We want to decide for ourselves what we will do for Christ. Rather than quickly obey, we try to get wise counsel, opinions from others about our course, even waiting to see what develops in case God has changed His mind. God wants us to follow Him without hesitation or delay.
Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest (November 11):
“Beware when you want to confer with flesh and blood, i.e., your own sympathies, your own insight, anything that is not based on your personal relationship to God. These are the things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.”
Not my will be done but His. I was bought with a price. I am no longer my own. All I am I owe to Him. Therefore, I no longer want the world to be an influence to me. I surrender my will, my desires, and my ambitions. We must come to the place of constant yieldedness to Him. We must strive for absolute devotion to Him.
It takes prayer and Bible reading to understand what the will of God is. God gives us a desire to please Him not by duty or fear of punishment, but because we love Him. He has saved us! He continues to preserve us as His very own. Since He has written His law on our hearts, we love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We are thankful to be called one of His own!
The Crucified Process
Allowing the self identity to be crucified is daunting. Think of what Jesus went through. He was given a brutal beating that left Him half dead, then he carried His wooden cross through the streets for a time. He walked to His death place. Then his arms were stretched upon that cross, pulling them out of joint. Nails went painfully through His hands and feet. Then the cross was lifted upright where gravity would pull Him downward draining the air from His lungs. To breathe He had to push upward with His feet that were nailed down.
Crucifixion is not an easy death. Nor should we be slack in crucifying that sin nature of ours. We must despise our sin so much, we never want it to be a part of our being again. When it surfaces, it should break our heart, so we will want to seek God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those who we have offended. No sin is too small to be overlooked.
Christ paid the penalty for our sin. We didn’t deserve His sacrifice. Let that be a reminder to us when others sin and their sin touches us. Forgive them. Let not others sin become a stumbling block to you. Let not their sin so overwhelm you that you cannot forgive and restore the repentant one. Forgive even the unrepentant, so you can pray for them. That’s what Jesus did. It is recorded in Luke 23:34 that Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
When you can forgive others the wrong they do to you or to someone you love, then you will genuinely care for their salvation. Jesus commanded His disciples to love others.
“These things I command you, that ye love one another.” John 15:17 KJV
When we show love to others, we are demonstrating Christ’s forbearance and love.
You cannot love your neighbor as yourself until you let go of your own expectations. You must demonstrate the grace God gives you to others. We are all sinners but with Christ, we have been cleansed, forgiven, and restored to a right relationship.
Always yield to God – put aside your own way to go His.
Embrace all that God brings to you, for if He is part of it, it’s bound to be good!
“For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 2:15-17 KJV