Romans 6b

I Am Crucified with Christ- Nevertheless I live!

The quote is from Galatians 2:20, where Paul gives us a summarizing statement of what Romans 6 describes.  “ I am crucified with Christ”- this is a fact and is the basis for our justification. My old nature was crucified with Christ. The ax was laid to the root of the tree that produced the sins, our old sinful nature. God has made a way for you and I to resist sin, but the responsibility for resisting is ours. Paul then states the next truth, which is: ‘ nevertheless I live, -Paul confirms his old nature is still alive, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ This is Christ in us which is sanctification. This progressive work is made possible by the resurrection. Paul in this verse tells us how we live the Christian life- ‘ the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”This is how the justified live- by faith.  Justification is righteousness imputed into my account which is the basis for salvation- my sins forgiven and forgotten and I am adopted into the family of God. Saved by His death.  But much more, Christ is in me and the life I now live- this is the sanctification process- I am saved by His life. Every day we must remember these truths Jesus shared with us in John 14: ‘Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of these miracles themselves. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’

It is on these truths we must think on- ‘ Sow a thought-reap an act; Sow an act- reap a habit; Sow a habit- reap a character.’  This is the process of sowing and reaping- of cultivation. We must cultivate holiness, for God’s Word tells us – be holy as God is holy. Some of our Lord’s most powerful teaching was on the night of his arrest when he taught about the vineyard, the vine, the branch, the fruit, the gardener.  The Lord describes the process of cultivation and the role of each involved. And in other places, the Lord taught us the parable of the sower and the seed, the vineyard owner and the workers. All these and the illustrations that Paul used are to allow us to visualize the process and realize we have responsibilities and must do our part- not in salvation or justification but in those works God has ordained we should walk in. Paul states it this way in his letter to the Philippians: “ ….continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Also the writer of Hebrews writes:  “ Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”( Hebrews 12:14) Work, make every effort to be holy- sounds like we have some work to do doesn’t it?

In  Romans 6, Paul uses the word – know, three times. Know ye not; knowing this, knowing that..  This leads one to believe ignorance is a key factor in hindering us from living the life of victory.

We are responsible to know these things – to study to show ourselves approved. To be doers and not hearers only.

Paul also uses the word- reckon- (kjv) ‘count’ ( NIV) This means something is true and we are to believe it is so- even though our ‘feelings’ do not agree with the truth.  We believe these truths, we believe them by faith. These are spiritual truths that are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

And one more important word- yield. What does yield mean to you? If it means anything besides complete surrender, you have not understood this word.

These three words are extremely important- for these three words are what our responsibilities are.   In addition we must remember all of these things are – in Christ.

Let’s see if what I am about to say resonates with you as to what you have experienced in your Christian walk:

If I were to ask you how are you doing in fulfilling the commandment of the Lord – ‘ to be holy, as God is holy.  How would you respond or grade yourself?  Well I am not living in gross sin- but I am not perfect. I am doing the best I can. But you see- that is what we have settled for, even come to believe is the best we can hope for.  A life of moral mediocrity. A life not unlike the one the Israelites lived for 40 years in the wilderness. A life between Egypt and the Promised Land.

We tried living the Christian life in our own power, having been set free from sin- but the victorious life seemed to elude us, didn’t it?  Until finally we felt it was no use.   Then one day- we read in a book , or heard in a sermon or another Christian told us- quit trying and start trusting….let go and let God.  That was the answer and for a while- it seemed to work, but alas, we fell again and we were devastated that we would exist until we died in this life- in between Egypt and the Promised Land.

Herein lies the problem:  what am I supposed to do? And What is God doing or already done?  How do I make the two fit together?    As we will discover- we have found the enemy and it is us!  The seat of indwelling sin is in the heart. Mark 7: 21-23 tells us this fact. Jesus tells us in these verses: “ For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” No wonder Paul says- I know that within me dwells no good thing.  Jeremiah 17 tells us about our hearts- “ The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart…” This is why we must daily, sometimes often ask ‘Search me, O God  and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” ( Psalm 139)

God’s primary way to search our heart is through His Word, which is alive and powerful and sharper than a two edged sword, dividing asunder the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ( Hebrews 4) Combined with the prayer of Psalm 139 we arm ourselves for the battle.

Let me warn you right now of the cunning strategies of the enemy:  satan will try to confuse you on the issue of what God has done for us and what we must do ourselves. God has indeed made provision for us to live the holy life- but He has also given us definite responsibilities. The enemy has been using the strategy of deceit since the Garden of Eden. God tests our faith to create confidence and give us experience. Satan tempts us through our flesh to cause us to sin. Within each tests is the temptation- and thus the battle of the old nature vs. the new nature, the flesh against the Spirit.

What does Scripture mean by the word –‘heart’?  The word heart is used in Scripture in various ways.  Generally it denotes the whole soul of man and all its faculties. These we will see all work together in doing good or evil. The mind reasons, discerns and judges.  The emotions express their likes or dislikes. The conscience determines right from wrong and warns us. The will chooses or refuses.

Look at the first occurrence of sin. Adam and Eve’s desire overcame their reason. Their desire to eat the fruit overcame the reason they were not to and they listened to the enemy who knew of their desire and use that desire to deceive them. From the story of the first sin-  you realize  the tipping point is when you allow desire to overrule reason. You see desire works in the emotions. James describes the cycle of sin:  we are tempted when we are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires.(James 1) In fact in one’s deceitful, unsearchable heart, evil desire is constantly seeking out  temptations to satisfy  our insatiable lusts and evil desires. After all where was Eve standing when the serpent approached her?  She was standing by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She was drawn there by her desire to know good and evil.

Not all desires are evil. And God wants to give us the right desires in our heart. We must make sure our desires are toward glorifying God and not satisfying the lust of our bodies.

But when we commit sin it is because desire has come in through our emotions, our affections to overrule our reason and conscience to influence our will and in the final step commit sin.

“Watch and pray, lest you fall in temptation.” (Jesus speaking,Matthew 26)

“ Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” ( Proverbs 4- Solomon speaking.)

So let’s look at what God has provided, already done, and what is our responsibility, what we are to do.  Paul is going to show that Christ’s victory at Calvary liberates us not only from sin’s penalty  but also from sin’s power. The doctrine of sanctification is the theme of the next three chapters. In Romans 6 we read of the freedom from the power of sin; in Romans 7 we discover the freedom from the law’s condemnation and in Romans 8,we read of the life in the power of the Holy Spirit. This life, a life of spiritual maturity is the life Paul referred to in Galatians 6, ‘the life he now lived in the flesh, ‘the not I, but Christ liveth in me’ life. ( Augustine’s quote)

At the end of Romans 5, Paul tells us when the law was added, sin increased. But where sin increased, grace increased more.  Paul then addresses what he knows some will use as license to abuse grace with the false reasoning- that if grace increases as sin increases – shall we sin more- that grace may increase more?  Paul ‘s two word answer is emphatic:  God Forbid!

Let’s take a look at Lazarus’ death for a moment for it reveals a process that gives us a glimpse of this truth.  Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days when the Lord Jesus came to his grave. ( John 11).  He called Lazarus to come forth and Lazarus came forth after the stone was rolled away still entangled in his grave clothes. Lazarus came to life at the command of the Lord’s Word. I would remind you the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining.  Still wrapped in the grave clothes, Jesus commanded others to “ Loose him and let him go.” (therein begins the sanctification process- the loosening of the grave clothes..)

Lazarus was dead. He came to life at the command of the Lord’s word. He was raised from the dead to walk in newness of life. And in John 12, we see Lazarus seated with Christ.  All of these are true of each of us who are born again. We were dead in sin and trespasses, then we heard the Word of God the incorruptible seed  and we were born again to walk in newness of life, raised up and seated in Christ.   As for the grave clothes- these were the attire of the old man, and we are to put off the old and put on the new.  Thus begins the cultivation process in our lives known as sanctification, where one is loosed from his/her old nature and let go. For it is for freedom that Christ set us free

Let us grasp these truths and believe them as factual and actual and not give into our feelings and the desires of the old nature.  We cultivated un-holiness for years with our sins which became habits. Which if we do not watch and pray we will fall back into and these sins which so easily beset us are like the old grave clothes that entangled Lazarus and impeded his new walk.

We must believe the reality of this truth that our old nature is crucified with Christ. How can anyone overcome a stronghold of sin cultivated and developed over years of habit? It is a fact of history that one Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified. It is also a fact, according to God’s Word, that we were also crucified with Him.  Paul says we died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Paul then develops the idea of this truth  because we were baptized into Christ death our old nature was crucified with Christ so that sin would no longer reign in our bodies.

Paul says this is a fact, we must know and reckon to be true. Dying to sin is not something we do, but something Christ has already done. The impact and value of what Christ has done is that it is also done to all who are in Him. Our individual dying to sin is something we make true in our experience by reckoning this fact to be true.   *If you are not experiencing victory over an area of sin in your life, it is because you are not reckoning this fact to be true. For anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7).  Having been justified, we are now to live by faith. For the just shall live by faith.

Our daily experience with regard to sin is determined – not by our reckoning but by our will. However our will must be influenced by the fact that we died to sin.  Now do you understand what Paul is saying in Galatians 2:20?  “ I am crucified with Christ..” Fact. The Word of God says so. “ Nevertheless, I live.” Yes we are alive, but now we have dual natures, and old nature and a new nature. We are to put off the old and put on the new- by an act of our will by reckoning this statement to be true that our old nature was crucified with Christ. Now in Galatians 2:20, Paul describes how the justification took place in that we were crucified with Christ-but the sanctification process, which is ongoing, is made possible by the other fact we must reckon as true is that as we were placed in Christ at the cross, we were raised to walk in newness of life with the life of the resurrected Christ being in us.  I in Christ at the cross = justification. I died with Him. Christ in me at resurrection the sanctifying process begins.  The cultivation of the holy life in which I have certain responsibilities can be compared to  the farmer  who cultivates a crop. The farmer must depend on God to provide seeds that  germinate, soil that provides nutrients, sunshine and rain in the right balance- but the farmer must till the ground, plant the seed and so forth.  Thus it is a joint venture, as is the Christian life.

Before you and I were saved, we were in the kingdom of Satan and sin.  “We followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” ( Ephesians 2:2) We were slaves of sin. We were born into this kingdom of sin. But praise God, we have been set free from this kingdom of sin, rescued from this kingdom of darkness and turned from the power of satan to the power of God.

But my question is if we have been delivered from this kingdom of darkness and the realm of sin, why do we still sin?  *Though God has delivered us from the reign of sin, our sinful natures still reside within us.  Paul would state that he knew within him dwelled no good thing. We read in several passages, regarding the old man vs. the new man, the old nature and the new nature, the spirit vs. the flesh. Battles continue in spite of the fact the war has been won. The losing side is waging a guerilla war and will not stop fighting until our Supreme Commander returns to this battle field we call earth. God uses this adversity in each generation of Christians to mature our faith.

If we do not reckon our old nature dead. If we do not make it a daily habit to take up the cross and crucify the old nature, we will find ourselves not making the Lord Jesus – King and seated on the throne of our hearts. We live by faith in the fact that we are crucified with Christ. For we must learn to live by faith for it is by grace through faith that we are saved and the just shall live by faith.

You see, you and I cultivated the habits of sin and practiced them for years. We followed the ways of the world for so long, that if we are not watchful we can fall into those old patterns and remember our enemy resides within. Our very hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. That is why we are told to guard our hearts. Search our hearts is our prayer to the Lord as  we beseech the Lord to search our hearts and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.  * This is a prayer that is in the will of God, so we know He hears us. How do we  allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts?  We get into the Word of God, with the determination to be a doer of the Word and not hearers only. This allows the Holy Spirit to  wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God

For almost a decade, I traveled the same route to my job from my house.  Then I left that job and started a business that was in a different location.  On more than one occasion I found myself thinking about other things and before I knew it , almost like I was on automatic pilot I was following my old route to my old job.  I am to watch and pray. I am to be on guard.

AA told me to watch out for the wrong kind of thinking, which they referred to as ‘ stinking thinking’.  I am to set my mind of things above. For you see I am now cultivating a new way of  thinking, for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.  “ Sow a thought- reap an act. Sow an act- reap a habit. Sow a habit- reap a character.”  **A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will real eternal life. Let us not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.** ( Galatians 6)

I am to be separated from sin, and I do this by being consecrated to God. And by being consecrated to God, I will be conformed to the image of Christ.

How can we sow the right kind of thoughts? How do we transform our minds? How can we be changed?

Listen to these instructions: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,  ARE CHANGED INTO THE SAME IMAGE FROM GLORY TO GLORY, EVEN AS BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD.” ( 2 Cor.4)

How can we be transformed to be like Christ?  Very simply- we stand face-to-face looking into the glory of Jesus Christ, we shall be changed into His image. As take our eyes off ourselves( a key) and fix them on the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change us in ever increasing glory into the image of the Lord Jesus as we choose to obey His Word.  This is the spiritual process of growth.

Here is a  check list to ask yourself:

*Does this glorify God?

*Is this consistent with the Lordship of Christ?

*Is this beneficial to me and helpful in my spiritual maturity?

*Does this help others positively and not hurt others?

*Does this bring me under any enslaving power or habit?

Are you cultivating holiness? Be ye holy as the Lord is holy.