The Cross of Calvary # 9
"To this end Christ died, and lived again, that He might be Lord" (Romans 14:9)
Crucified With Christ
"I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God, I have been crucified with Christ ... no longer I, but Christ" (Galatians 2:19-20).
Paul does not hesitate to refer to his own experience, for he does not preach a gospel to the Romans or to the Galatians which he has not proved himself, and all the he has written to the Romans concerning the death with Christ, he turns up in this passage in his epistle to the Galatians.
To the Romans he said "we" and "our", but to the Galatians he said "I"! "I" died unto the law", "I have been crucified with Christ."
In these words we have embodied the deepest meaning of the deliverance of Calvary, and the more simply we take the message, the more quickly shall we prove the word of the Cross as the power of God to deliver.
This "I" which has been the central spring of every human life since the fall; this "I" cries Paul, was "crucified with Christ", and the law was the means of bringing me to that place of death - the place where I acknowledged my hopeless condition; the place where I found out that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; the place where I ceased from my struggles,and cried out for help from another; the "law" brought me to that place where I died to the law by sheer inability to obey it, and from there I fled to hide myself in the death of Christ, and now I have died with Him.
We need to remember that no word of God is exhausted in one application. As we are led on by him, find the message of the Cross opening out with an ever widening meaning, to meet an every deepening need. At first we apprehend out death with Christ simply in relation to the bondage of sin. With our eyes on the crucified Lord dying for us, we listen to the declaration of Paul in Romans 6, "our old man was crucified with Him", and reckon ourselves dead unto sin, and cast away" anger, passion and malice ... evil-speaking, and reviling", and all the manifest "works of the flesh". Then we prove with joy that the word of the Cross is the power of God to all who believe, and find that the living Christ is "able to save completely them that draw near to God through Him".
But sooner or later we find out that we need a deeper deliverance. Our lives are still in some measure self-centered, although we reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and find deliverance from the manifest works of the flesh. Self-energy, or self-complacency in service; self-pity when we are suffering; self-seeking in desiring the praise of men; self-introspection and self-judgment in hours of trial;self-sensitiveness in contact with others; self-defense when we are injured, and sometimes, above all and through all a self-consciousness that makes life almost a burden, are some of the indications of the self=center within.
In the energy of self, desiring to be wholly the Lord's, we may sometimes consecrate ourselves to Him, and with new vigor seek to work for Him, oblivious of the source of our activities, until we are spent out, or, finding little spiritual fruit from all our labor, our eyes are opened to see the uselessness of all our "creaturely activity" for Him.
It is at this point that the Spirit of God brings the word of the Cross with a fresh and blessed message of deliverance. A deliverance that, to some lives, has meant greater consequences than the freedom from the bondage of sin which they proved in earlier days.
The Lord Jesus in His call to the Cross, touched the core of the trouble in every life when He said, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself." The Lord did not say his sins, nor certain exterior things, but He Who knew what was in man, struck deeper than actions to the very center of a man, and said "himself."
Let a man renounce himself and see himself as crucified with Christ, and quickly another Himself - the Lord Christ - will take the central place in the heart, and quietly bring all things under His sway.
"Each one of you saith I," wrote Paul to the Corinthians about the cause of the contention in the Church; and instance after instance is given in the Scriptures of the "I" in its various forms.
"Is not this great Babylon which I have built?" cries Nebuchadnezzar. "I will say to my soul ... take thine ease," says the one whose delight was in earthly treasure. "I am not as the rest of men," is the self-estimation of the moral man. "I am holier than thou," the inner thought of the self-righteous. "I am rich... and have need of nothing," the attitude of the self-satisfied; and "I am" of this one or that one, the "I" of the Christian who walks "after the manner of men." "For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another I am of Apollos; are ye not men?" writes the Apostle.
But "I" crucified with Christ, was Paul's charter of freedom. With the message of the Cross he met every difficulty of the Christians of his day. "We who died." "All died." "For ye died," was his reiterated statement, as he dealt practically with the children of God, about their attitude to sin, and the elements of the world in the Church of God. And the souls to whom he wrote, knew that he lived it out in his own life. He did not say "I have been crucified with Christ", and seek the highest place, even when he might have "claimed honor" as an Apostle of Christ.
"I am nothing" he wrote to the Corinthians, and I "am less than the least of all saints", to the Ephesians. "No longer I" was the whole spirit of his life, as he counted all things loss for Christ, and became as it were, the off-scouring of all things for His sake.
(Continued with # 10)