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. The centrality of the cross in our daily lives

THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS IN OUR DAILY LIVES

 

Introduction.

From 10 March to 29 September 2013 we did one of the most critical series’ that we could ever do on the life of the church. For 7 months we focussed on the theme ‘Dying to Live’ with a sub title, ‘Experiencing the power of the cross.’ Why the cross, and what is it’s outworking in our lives? To put it in other words. The most important questions that anybody can ask is: ‘why was Jesus crucified? Who sent Him to His death? Why did He suffer so much? And, what does it have to do with me?

In our series that we did we were together trying to make sense of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

So, the moment you become a born again believer, you have positionally died with Christ, which means that Christ’s death became your death, and that because you have died, your life is now hidden with Christ in God and that you are now able to say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When you die to the first Adam who brought death into the world, you now live for the second Adam, Jesus Christ who came to give us life. But the pathway to life is the pathway of the cross. That is why we can say that we are ‘dying to live.’

 

This morning, we will share in communion during the sermon. Through this sermon I want to remind those who were part of that 25 sermon series about the truths we learnt, and challenge those who were not here in 2013 of the implications of the cross for us as a believer on a daily basis. What does it mean that I have died with Christ? What did I die to? Now, I do not have time to elaborate on the whole issue of position and experience. You can go and read all about it.  But simply to say, that on the basis of your death in Christ to various issues, you have a responsibility to make dead those things that do not fit with Christian living, and to align your practical living with the death and life of Christ. So, what are we dead to?

1. We are dead to sin:-

How do we know that? Romans 6:2 (ESV) 2 .…How can we who died to sin still live in it?” But yet we know that we are caught up in a daily struggle against sin, and with Paul we cry that the things we should not do are the things we do and the things we should do we do not do. The path to victory is to make dead. We saw this in Romans 8:13 (ESV)13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” So, we are called to live up to our position in Jesus Christ. You are a child of God, live like one. Christian we are obligated to it, we are debtors to it. I purposely skipped verse 12 for effect so let’s look at it now: Romans 8:12 (ESV) 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”

So the success of Christian living starts when we understand our position in Christ and then apply our position in Christ, by living up to who we are. It is like visiting a foreign country that drives on the opposite side of the road. If you do not remind yourself that you are in a different kingdom than what you were used to the temptation will be to drive on the wrong side. But born into us as humans is the capacity to remind ourselves of our position and then to act accordingly. The same works in the Spiritual life. I am dead to sin, let me not drive on the side of the road where sin is prevalent otherwise it will kill me.

2. We are dead to Satan:-

We know that Jesus Christ conquered Satan on the cross of Calvary. Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” But just as with sin, we have an obligation as we know that while Satan has been conquered and that he has no power to condemn us, at the same time he is living and active and goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy, and therefore we have an obligation to put on the whole armour of God so that when the day of evil comes we can stand. Our responsibility is not to bind the devil, as you cannot, but to resist the devil on a daily basis and we know according to the Word of God, that he will flee from us. We can resist and fight with the greatest confidence because we know that He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world, and that our armour is a spiritual armour and that our strength is in the Lord. But you cannot sit back and ignore the forces of evil.

3. We are dead to Self:-

We did not do a sermon on this, but we have touched on it in the next part which is about the flesh. But the verse we all know so well here is Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So, in Jesus Christ we are a new creation. Our perspective of everything has changed. Our worldview and our self-view has been changed at the cross of Calvary. That is why Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;…” Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Christian, our view of Christ has changed, our view of others have changed and our view of self has changed, all because we died and are a new creation. On the cross of Calvary the ‘Old Man’ has been taken off and the ‘New Man’ has been put on, but there is something that happens daily, and we find it sandwiched in a section where Paul teaches us about the ‘Old man’ and the ‘New man’. Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Yes, the old has gone, the new has come which is our position. But that which has to take place on a daily basis is the renewing of the mind. By the daily renewing of the mind, we still keep taking off the ‘Old Man’ and we still keep putting on the ‘New Man’ not to become a new creation but because we are a new creation. This is a life by faith.

4. We are dead to the flesh:-

We know that if we live according to the flesh we will die, but praise God that in Jesus Christ we are dead to the flesh. Galatians 5:24 (ESV) 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” The flesh has been crucified. Now we all know what the works of the flesh are. They are according to Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now when temptation arises in these areas, the simple solution is to remind yourself once again of your position. Don’t drive on the wrong side of the road, it will kill you. So what is your position? Well, of course it is being dead to the flesh, but the antidote is to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh or the body, by the Spirit. You see this in Romans 8:13 (ESV) 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” According to Galatians 5 you will only get it right if you walk by the Spirit according to verse 16, if you are led by the Spirit according to verse 18 and if you live by the Spirit according to verse 25. The joy is that the Spirit will bring about spiritual fruit in our lives which are Galatians 5:22 (ESV) “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,…” If you drive on the right side of the road, that is what the Holy Spirit produces as those are signs of the new Kingdom and they therefore belong to a ‘New Man’.

I believe it is opportune at this time to remember the Lord’s death in communion, as we come to realise the significance of the cross for our daily lives.

5. We are dead to the World:-

Well again we are positionally dead to the world which is that kingdom which is controlled by Satan. It is Satan’s system which rules this world and is opposed to God and His Kingdom. That is why conversion is coming out from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light. Before we died with Christ we were slaves to the world’s system, the world’s theology, the world’s agenda and the world’s methods. Now that we are in Christ we can say with Paul that 14far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14 (ESV). How do I conquer the world? I conquer the world by declaring enmity against Satan’s system, as I know that he who becomes a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God. How do I do that, well, simply behave like a new creation.  Look at verse 15-16; 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” If you walk by the rule of living as a new creation, under the rule of Christ then you will know peace and mercy.

6. We are dead to racism:-

This is actually a ‘by the way’ one, but what it exposes is just how many areas in our lives we actually experience the Power of the Cross. You name it, and for you as a Christian the death of Christ has dealt with it. What do we know about racism and the cross? Well, Ephesians 2:14 (ESV) teaches that; 14He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:16 (ESV) 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."

Now we know that this refers to Jews and Gentiles, but at the end of the day it impacts all groupings, for in Christ, due to the cross there is no male or female, Jew or gentile, slave or free man, but we are all one in Christ. You might say, okay but that is we all are in Christ, but what about those of another race who are not in Christ. Surely as a new creation we will act according to the Sermon on the Mount where we are told to even love our enemies, and to bless those who curse us as our desire is to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. So next time you have those racist thoughts, simply remind yourself, that the death of Christ on the cross destroyed the dividing wall of hostility and reckon yourself dead to racism.

7. Dead to the law:-

Oh how we love the Law. The Old Testament sings its praises. Paul says in his inner man he delights in the law and Jesus reminded us that not one jot or title of the law will pass away. But yet Paul tells us clearly in Romans 7:4 (ESV) 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” So, how do we understand this seeming contradiction, because we have to celebrate the law in one breath and reckon ourselves dead to the law in another breath? Well, it is not too difficult. The law is necessary otherwise we will not know what sin is, but sadly at the same time the law encourages sin in our lives as we tend to do the things we ought not to do based on our nature. But, there is an aspect of the law that we are clearly dead to and that is the condemning power of the law. Now, we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are now married to Jesus, we belong to Him and our loyalty is to Him. Law will show us that we are sinful, but Christ through His death freed us from the law and therefore the law cannot condemn us. Sure, we are not Israel, and therefore we are not bound to all their ceremonial laws, and all their laws as determined by their elders. However, Christ said that all the law and the prophets hang on a new commandment and that is that we will love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and therefore we will always keep this in mind as we deal with the law. And if anything we are planning to do or tempted to do is in conflict with either of those too, we make dead the temptation, by keeping our position in mind, and we obey the New Commandment.

8. The final Word.

 

Christian, Christ did not just die so that you can escape hell in future, He did not die to give you every Sunday off for your entertainment, He did not die so that you can go away for Easter weekend. Christ died in your place so that you may live now, not only through His resurrection but through the cross. Just think if we can be victorious on a daily basis regarding sin, Satan, self, the flesh, the world, the law and then all issues like racism what a glorious life we can enjoy. What more is there to life than that? If you were to study these things in detail, you will discover that there is not a area in your life that is not dealt with on the cross. When Jesus died, we died, so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us. Oh how I pray that those who worship with us at Logos will become fully victorious Christians, who enjoy life on a daily basis because you enjoy death on a daily basis.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Communion Church:  – 03 July 2016