. . . on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. . . . As sure as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.  (Hosea 6:2-3)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  . . .  The death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Rom. 6:5-10)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal. 2:20)

And I pray that you . . . may have power . . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  (Eph. 3:17-19)

 

United with Jesus in a death like His?

Crucified with Christ?

What is Paul trying to say here? Didn’t Jesus pay the penalty for sin so I wouldn’t have to? Isn’t that what repentance and new life is all about?

As one little boy is quoted as saying, “Repentance is about more than being sorry. It’s being sorry enough to quit.” Repentance is only the first step, though. When Paul speaks about being crucified with Christ, he’s talking about crucifying his old nature, his self. That’s the part that’s stubbornly independent, and the hardest to eradicate. It’s the self-ish, self-absorbed, self-reliant, self-righteous, self-satisfied aspect of the human personality that needs to be nailed to the cross. In order for Jesus to do His best work in me, I need to become selfless. 

Jesus came not only to die for us, but to restore us to the relationship for which He designed us before the self got in and took over. Self is a four-letter word that erodes the character He wants to restore in all who come to Him. Self doesn’t willingly move over or move out to make room for God. It has to be cleared out with honesty and intention, or it won’t budge. It will simply rationalize its presence, with our cooperation.

Crucifying the self is painful. It feels counter-productive to purge the urges that come naturally. But when self dies, the empty space can be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God.

The thing is that, unlike physical crucifixion, crucifying the self is an ongoing process. Those aspects are so entrenched, it takes more than one attempt. Before we know it, some part of the self has oozed back in, and needs a fresh eviction. It takes regular evaluation and enlisting God’s help to keep working at it. His patience is more than equal to the task, which usually takes a lifetime (at least it is in my case.)

No matter how much I could love myself, God’s love is so much more. It’s a love that surpasses knowledge, and can only be fathomed by experiencing it personally. Knowing this love comes from growing in my relationship with Jesus, by the power of His Holy Spirit within me.

There are many who want to know Jesus as Savior. He calls us to make Him both Savior and Lord; to put ourselves in His hands, with our minds and hearts fully engaged in relationship with Him. To know Jesus like this is to not only have be crucified with Him, but resurrected with Him. It’s being brought back from the living death of unforgiven sin and separation from God, into the fullness of life in, through and for Him.

When I have been resurrected with Jesus, the tomb that had been my eternal destiny — one devoid of hope, of love, of any relationship with God — that tomb will remain empty because of what Jesus has done, and my response to it. I have been brought from death to life, life in Him, and my life can never — and should never — be the same.

He has restored me to live in His presence. Why would I want to live anywhere else?

 

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