Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crucified with Christ

Gal 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...

An article from the Washington Post, dated Friday, April 6, 2007 reported on a bizarre ritual that is conducted every year on Good Friday in the village of San Pedro Cutud, Philippines. There a group of "devotees" have themselves nailed to a cross as part of a Lenten ritual re-enacting the crucifixion of our Lord.

Using 4 inch nails soaked in alcohol to prevent infection, seven men were attached by hands and feet to their crosses in this year's re-enactment, a rite that now draws thousands of tourists and spectators. It has been going on for at least 21 years, that being the number of times one of the men has been participating. Prior to their crucifixion, the men also beat themselves bloody with scourges, intending by that "to atone for sins."

Obviously, given the repeat participant, they do not take this rite all the way to its original model's conclusion -- ie, that the men so nailed die there.

The Roman Catholic church of the Pilippines officially opposes the ritual.

So would anyone who understands the Scriptures: the status of Christians having been crucified with Christ is clearly positional. None of us have ever been nailed to a cross, not even the apostle Paul who penned the words in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ..." We have no record of him ever having been nailed to a cross, but we do know that he died by decapitation, as was appropriate for his standing as a Roman citizen.

Gal 2:20 "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. "

Positionally our sin nature has been crucified -- when Jesus was on the cross and all our sins were poured out on Him and judged, that nature was overcome. Permanently. The sin it produces no longer can be held against us and no member of the human race will ever be judged for his sins (Revelation 20:12 says they will be judged for their deeds -- their ergon, not their sins) Its power over us was positionally nullified and we were given a new nature that is perfectly righteous, one that cannot sin.

When God looks at a believer, He sees His own perfect Righteousness, given to us at the moment we believe, on account of what Jesus did on the cross. Why is that important? Because there's nothing we did to earn it, nothing we can do to lose it and nothing we can do to make ourselves one bit better than we already are. In God's eyes we are perfectly righteous. And not because of anything we did or did not do (beyond believing in Christ).

I consider that to be pretty darned freeing. When one comes to the point of living in that as truth, there is no cause for condemnation, no cause for fear or worry or anxiety, no cause for guilt or remorse. We are members of the Royal Family of God, of His Church and of His Bride and we're never going to get out of that.

"But wait!" you may be saying. "If I'm so perfectly righteous, why don't I act like it? I have plenty of fear and impatience and worry and anger. I sin. Daily. What's up with that?"

What's up with that is that we have to make a distinction between our position in Christ (perfect Righteousness) and our condition on earth, which is something else again. Because even though we have a new nature, and possess a perfect righteousness which we can never lose, we're still living in the same old corrupt bodies we came into the world with. An outer man that is decaying day by day (2 Co 4:16). We've been promised eternity in heaven, but we're not there yet. We've been promised a new and perfect resurrection body, without sin, without decay, the perfect house for the new perfect nature. But we don't have it yet.

We're still in the old one, which has that sin nature that sets itself against the Spirit, the new nature and the things of God. The only difference now is that the thing no longer has to have power over us. We no longer have to obey it as we did when we were unbelievers. Now we can choose to live in the new nature under the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Or we can choose to go back to that dead thing, that corpse hanging on the cross, the old nature. We can give in to it, even though it's been crucified and is powerless. It's like we were married to a terrible scumbag husband who died. Afterward we remarried the greatest man in the world, king of the land, in fact: a new husband who loves us more than life itself and will never abandon us. But our ex has risen from the grave, a gruesome zombie who keeps hanging out at the back door of the palace, knocking and knocking in hopes we'll come out and spend some time with him. And sometimes we do.

Don't look at that analogy from the viewpoint of the new husband, look at it from the viewpoint of the adulterous wife. Because that's us every time we go slumming with the zombie ex-husband. And how stupid is that??

Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

How do we crucify the flesh? We regard it as dead. Instead of going slumming with the zombie ex-husband when he comes to call, we live by means of the Spirit (Gal 5:25). How do we do that? Well, for one thing, we name, cite, or acknowledge our sins when we realize we've committed them (I Jn 1:9). And for another, we feed and strengthen our new nature by the daily renewing of our minds through the inculcation of His Word...