“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
There is no doubt about it that we believers have a major identity crisis. We really have no idea who we are in Christ. We don’t know much about the New Creation, the New Man, or the New Covenant. But we do know all about the old creation, the old man, and the old covenant! What I am saying is that we know all about who we aren’t anymore. And it’s really difficult to realize, focus on, and experience our new identity in Christ while we are still looking at the old identity. The old man is really all we know, and therefore, we work really hard in the strength of the old man to improve the old man. How futile is that? I would say that is the definition of religion – man’s attempt at fixing man.
Three Aspects of the Cross
I believe that there are three aspects of the cross of Christ.
- Redemption: this is the aspect that all evangelicals are familiar with. We all know and believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins. The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. Thank God for this!
- Our Co-Death: Paul tells us that we were crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8-11). This means that our old man (the old creation) was crucified with Christ on the cross. That was the old Adam (race) that no longer lives because there is now a new Adam (or race). God put the old race to death on that same cross (1Cor15:22). This aspect of the cross is the topic for this blog post.
- A Living Sacrifice: Paul tells us to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God (Rom.12:1). Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him daily (Lu 9:23). Paul said; “I die daily” (1Cor 15:21). This is the daily work of the cross in the life of the believer to bring about transformation.
Most Christians are only familiar with the first aspect; redemption. Most of us are totally unfamiliar with the other two aspects of the Cross. The second aspect, our co-death with Christ, is totally vital for us understanding our true identity in Christ.
God’s View of the Old Man
God has no desire to “fix” you. It’s sad for me to see the shelves at Christian bookstores lined with books on fixing the old man. “How to be a better_____” books are everywhere! Yet God has no plan for fixing us. He is not a home-improvement kind of God. He does not inspect you and then make a list and hand it to you and say, “okay, start working on this!”. He’s just not that kind of God. His plan does not involve fixing you in any way, shape, or form. He has never tried to fix Adam. His approach is totally different.
The Great Leveler
God doesn’t try to fix Adam, instead He crucifies him! He doesn’t try to fix the house, instead He uses His great Wrecking Ball, the Great Leveler – THE CROSS – to completely demolish the house. Adam was simply “unfixable”. He had to be done away with. Now listen to this:
God didn’t place His Son on the cross so you could get a clean slate and then turn over a new leaf and begin living a good, clean life. He placed His Son on the cross so YOU could be crucified with Him!
The Last Adam is also the Second Adam. Paul calls Him the Last Adam because He was the last one of Adam’s race. He crucified that old race on the cross. He is called the Second Adam because He is the first one in a totally NEW race. The first step in realizing and stepping into your true identity is a revelation that you have been crucified with Christ. The old you is now deceased. The person you know (as you) is dead as a doorknob! You are dead. Can I say it any more clearly? You are a corpse. The old you is all white, stiff, and decaying. Dead, Dead, Dead!
Now if this is true (and God says it is), then I simply must ask you a question:
Why are you spending all of your thoughts, energies, and time trying to repair this dead person?
Why are you attempting to fix yourself and why are you trying to fix others? By the way, this is what we do in the name of Christian “ministry”. I was involved with this for many years. Dead people trying to make other dead people look good. This is religious embalming. Trying to make dead people look good. You know, you can apply the makeup and comb the hair, but a corpse is still a corpse!
I would like to start a new slogan. Remember a few years back the slogan and campaign called: What Would Jesus Do? There were bumper stickers, t-shirts, billboards, and the like. W.W.J.D. was all over the place. The premise was to think before you speak or act. When you find yourself in a particular situation, ask yourself; “what would Jesus do?”. This concept revealed a huge lack in our understanding of the New Covenant. In other words, Jesus isn’t here, but if He were, what would He do? Very sad. No understanding whatsoever of our new identity in Christ and the fact that we are in Christ and He is in us.
Anyway, I would like to start a new slogan:
W.W.D.M.D – What Would a Dead Man Do?
The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, ask yourself – “what would a dead man do?”
There can be only one answer to this question: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Lindy Combs said:
Simply: Thank you Jesus.
Thanks I really enjoy the way you unpack the Truth. Instead of WWJD it could also be WDJD. What Did Jesus Do? The Cross is not so much do, as it is done.
I respect you immensely, but just being real I do disagree with you a little about the “living sacrifice” paragraph. Not that the idea isn’t there in (Rom 12:1), but more so what it really means. I see it saying the same thing as in (Rom 6:11) where we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin & alive to God in Christ. The Greek for reckoning there is “logikos” which means to calculate, to come to the logical conclusion, etc. And that is a faith operation which certainly goes on continually in the Christian walk.
We are also told to in (Rom 6:19) present our members dead to sin, and “Logikos” shows up too in (Rom 12:1) as the word usually translated “reasonable”, as in our “reasonable service”. I think the “living sacrifice” is to come to the logical conclusion & rest in the truth our bodies are to be considered already part of the once, for all sacrifice of Christ.
So too in Luke 9:23 the word “daily” seems to have been added. It’s not in all manuscripts. And in context weren’t they on the way to Jerusalem and His Cross. Wasn’t Jesus telling them to follow Him with their crosses, because He knew they were going to be co-crucified with Him.
Finally I think Paul “dying daily” in (1 Cor 15:31) in context was very clearly in terms of his persecutions, trials, stresses, oppositions, danger from many sides, etc. Verse 30 says he stood in jeopardy every HOUR. I don’t think you can arbitrarily make verse 31 it about “dying to self.”
BTW, one of my biggest objections to the “dying daily” and dying to self, dying to ego ideas, in general is it seems to be a pagan notion of self-effort that stands counter to the finished work of the Cross. I hear & read it constantly from New Agers. Why would we try to die to ourselves daily, when we’ve already found in Romans 6 & elsewhere we need to believe our old man has already died with Christ.
Love Ya in Him,
Thanks so much for your comment!
In response, I must say two things:
1.) I clearly stated that this particular blog post is about the second (2) aspect of the cross, not the third. That is for another post. I have yet to explain or unpack what the living sacrifice is all about. Give me some time bro!
2.) I never mentioned “dying to self” or any other such notions in the post. I think you read that into the statements I made about aspect number 2 that I have yet to explain.
Actually, I don’t believe in “dying to self” or ego or anything like that and I never use that kind of language. You may have to wait for the next post (or so) before I explain my take on that.
Actually, I thought going in “dying to self” wouldn’t be your take which is why I said I had a little disagreement. Maybe I should have said possible disagreement, but forgive me to for jumping the gun. I didn’t mean to be putting words in your mouth.
Sometimes I do write to clarify and solidify things in my mind.
And, of course you covered #2 beautifully.
I really enjoyed this post and do agree with our being dead and buried with Christ. I do have a question though. What did Paul mean then by ‘dying daily’ and he said ‘I beat my body…’ and what is the difference between ‘ dying to self’ and the ‘daily work of the cross in the believer?’ I have been rethinking and revisiting so many scriptures, beliefs, and traditions lately and when I read the above comments they too really got me to thinking.
Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog!
As I told Dean in response to his comments, I will be covering the third aspect of the cross in my next blog post. There is lots of confusion over that whole matter of “dying to self” and so forth. I hope that my next post will help to clear up some of that confusion.
Please stay tuned for the next one!
Lindy Combs said:
Well, I am a new kid on this block, please tell me what waking up dead every morning is like? I mean that corpse DOES NOT JUST stay dead, it wiggles around trying its best to come back alive! No daily crucifixion? but…Paul said “I die daily”…hmmmm….can you tell….I just don’t get it?
I even checked in Strong’s about die and it led me to #575….”a dying off” which causes me to think that this “die” is a choice we must make each day to reckon the old man dead OR HE WILL RISE right back up into our flesh.
You are making a very good point/question here.
I will be addressing that aspect of the cross in the next blog post.
But until then, it’s very important to realize your NEW identity in Christ. This new identity does not include the old man since that is part of your OLD identity and that person was crucified on the cross. The first step in learning to live by the new life (person) in Christ is to realize (reckon), consider that the old man (person, identity) is now dead. Yes, you may see him try to get up and do things again, but the first step in the renewing of your mind is to realize and believe that he is dead according to the mind of God. This means that the old man (including sin) no longer has any power over you. It’s kind of like a zombie! The zombie is dead but still trying to feebly walk around. But he really can’t harm you because he is decaying! Just one whack with a little stick and his arm falls off! The “stick” you have is your reckoning that the old man no longer has any power over you.
I hope this makes sense. But I will definitely go into this in more detail in the next post.
Lindy Combs said:
It makes sense. Absolutely. The “zombie” picture made it clear. It is looking through the Adamic eyes, the old man. The dead trying on its own to resurrect itself. Oh my!!! That is the story of my life.
But…BUT…I do not know the life of living the walk in Christ. I have soooo doubted my salvation.
Eager for your next post.
Thank you for your speedy response.
Bless you, bro,
Dave Wilmarth said:
Brother Milt, Thanks so much for the teaching. This flavor of truth is so yummy. Our sweet Lord’s blindness to our old nature is almost too good to be true, but it is, and you’ve explained it so simply and powerfully.
One of your blogs last month, The Problem With Solutions, had the same feel to it, and was the topic of a good part of one of our meetings as I shared the highlights of it with our homies. Many of us struggle with guilt and condemnation and the recipe for freedom is in simply agreeing (reckoning) with God’s truth.
Are you familiar with the work of Larry Crabb? I’ve been devouring his books for years as they have been extremely useful in the sheperding/counseling work I do. Essentially, Crabb says that we need to forget about working for a “better life” and
work at resting in Him.
Keep the awesome stuff coming!
Love, Dave Wilmarth
Thanks so much for your comment and the encouraging words!
I have heard of Crabb but am not that familiar with his work. However, I would suggest another author to you that specifically uses the message of the cross in his counseling with great success. I have only read one of his books so far:
The Handbook to Happiness
Dr. Charles R. Solomon
I love the saying, “WWDMD.” I never did like WWJD all that much. Brings a great deal of stress as we try to be perfect. We have been crucified and resurrected with Jesus Christ! The hope of glory! Looking forward to your next post about dying daily. Curious to see what your take on it is.
Lindy Combs said:
Feedback welcome here: This morning I had a verse “jump” off my Bible’s page as I was studying and chain referencing: John 5:24. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me HAS everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.” How much more dogmatic could it be. Then I had another Aha moment later as I meditated on that verse: “Human emotions are for relating on a human level…that is the old man, Adamic nature, the human level, struggling and trying to make “death” work right.” WOW! Being seated in heavenly places puts us in a very advanced position beyond our Adamic condition (now dead) having become the new creation …for our emotions to have a whole new expression. To be dead, actually DEAD…no maintenance of SELF, that is to have truly graduated into the Spirit realm out of emotionally based living.
Am I making sense here?
Coming out of a pentacostal/charismatic background, I’ll pushback a little and say pretty much every church I’ve been to acknowledges we were crucified with christ and the reality of the new man. That propositional truth is not really an issue for many believers in those streams as best I can tell. The rub comes in how we apply that and harmonize it with other concepts and realities of our walk.
I guess I just feel what people need is practical help living this out, not just more scriptures and head knowledge of how christ can live through us and we’re a new creation. As best I can tell Paul understood this challenge, hence why a lot of his writings were dedicated to practical help learning to love one another.
I mean on paper, the holy spirit helping us to live like christ can seem so much different to living by the indwelling life of christ, but if im honest i just don’t see much difference out there in the real world. It mostly just seems like different ways of describing the same thing.
Perhaps you’re speaking more to other evangelical streams though.
Thank you for your comment!
I would agree with you that most Christians know and agree with the truth that we have been crucified with Christ. After all, it is plainly stated in the scriptures. Agreement and intellectual assimilation are not the problem. The problem is that we do not have a living revelation and daily experience of that truth. And I think that covers most believers whether they are in the charismatic or evangelical camps. I have been in both camps and I did not have much of an awareness nor did I reckon myself to be crucified with Christ. I am speaking of a daily awareness and experience. This is the first step to transformation as far as I can see it.
The application will be covered in my next post. But first, we need to realize that our old man is dead and no longer has any power over us.
Thanks again for your input.
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“Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Our life is in His life, we then find, “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Thanks Milt for expressing how are identity is only found as we are attached to the vine, and rest in His grace.
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