IS THE CROSS STILL
by R. Edward Miller
". . . So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8
When God calls us to Himself and plants the new nature in us,
He is conscious of the fact that the old nature is still there.
The old nature, with a carnal mind, is enmity against God to such
an extent that it hates Him. It will neither subordinate itself
to Him, nor please Him. Romans 8: 7-8. But God has an answer for
this: The Cross.
By the workings of The Cross, the old nature is destroyed. Nor does God ask us to do it, but He says, "I will do it." Christ did not crucify Himself, neither will you; God will do it. Christ said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24. This is an order for the redeemed and not for unbelievers.
When Christ was crucified, God gathered up everything that belongs to human nature and identified it with that wonderful second Adam. Paul says: "I'm crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20. We are dead to sin but there is still another work to be done. This doesn't mean that we have to be born over and over again; but God tells us: "Take up your cross (your cross and not someone else's) and follow me." Romans chapter seven states that sin reigns in our bodies. The old man must be crucified so that the body of sin might be destroyed so that from now on, we are not slaves to sin. Romans 6: 7-12
The more He destroys this sinful body, all the more we will be freed from its dominion. Sometimes, God will let us know why certain things happen to us and what He is doing, but many other times, it won't be this way. Often, He will seem to be unfair, and we will ask ourselves: "What have I done?" I will tell you what we did, we have prayed: "Lord, change me!" He joyfully heard that prayer and answered it. Then, things begin to happen and we cry out: "Why - where did I fail?" It's God who is working, breaking the things that have bound us.
God wants us to develop. He does not want us to be mediocre Christians, fearful of taking up His Cross and following Him. There are Christians who get angry, become resentful and bitter and run away from the circumstances of life. They would even dare to give up their jobs, abandon their wives, homes or any other thing that irritates them.
Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." Many are the things that will come into your life, to afflict and attack you. Many are the things that the Lord will let the enemy do in your life, but this is only to reach a goal: destroy the old nature. We must understand that the enmity against God does not admit reconciliation; it must be destroyed.
God will have a Church without spot or wrinkle. He will work in such a way that will present us without blemish. He will work through afflictions, problems, trials and temptations to destroy our high pride and our great ego. He will achieve it by the things that He will permit in our lives, till we get to that place where together with Paul we say, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20.
To take up The Cross means to accept it, not to run away from it, not to resist it, not to hate it, nor to become bitter against it. It is to have confidence that God is doing His work well. Trust that God will achieve His aims. He will not stop when we say it hurts. He will persevere in the fulfilment of His promises to us. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous", but, we must not forget the second part of the text, ... "The Lord delivereth him out of them all." As soon as the Lord's work is done, suddenly, the means He used, will be over, without Him giving importance to how much time it took. The Cross was a very slow way of causing death. If the legs of the condemned were not broken, he could be slowly dying from three to seven days. It was for that reason that they were surprised to find Christ dead so soon. They did not kill Him; He gave His life up.
God is determined to bring us to victory, to make us more than victorious in Jesus Christ. Whatever our cross may be, whatever is working deeply in the roots of our nature, that is God at work. What did they tell Christ on the Cross?: "Save Yourself!" If you are the Son of God: "Descend from the Cross!" That is what we also hear, "Why should you suffer?" If you are saved and full of the Holy Spirit, "Why must you go through this?" This is a doctrine that we now hear in many churches: that a true Christian who walks in faith, should not suffer. The enemy hates The Cross because he knows very well the power of its workings.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1) while the old nature becomes weaker, the house of David will be strengthened.
We are justified by faith. We have access through faith to His Grace where we stand firm and rejoice. Not only that: but we glory in tribulations! We not only glory in what God has done but in what He is doing as well. We should not think that God only works in Church. He works more at home than we imagine, at work, and in the street. He does not only work when we have had our time of prayer or when we find ourselves in His Presence.
Often, we think we do not belong to that Church without spot or wrinkle. The enemy tries hard to discourage us, frighten us, he makes us look at ourselves, and of course, we are an unfinished product. God has not yet finished: the resurrection is still to come! There are more victories in view as He delivers us from the binding ties of sin and iniquity.
The more we go forward in Christ, we find that God is fulfilling His purpose, and what used to destroy us, does not longer affect us. And how did He do this? He did it by bringing things into our lives, which provoke anger and fury. We learn to cry out: "God save me from this: I can't stand it, I'm weary!" And other times, an experience takes us to a place where we simply say: "This is enough!"
If we want to be victorious Christians, we must accept The Cross. Instead of becoming angry with other brethren because they are the ones who sometimes drive a nail into us, we should kiss the hand of those who hurt us. We say: "I want to die!"
God is dealing with us in such a way that we will be presented without blemish in His Holy Presence on that day. For that reason, we are able to rejoice and sing, and bless God, for the working of The Cross in our hearts.
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