His Victory

His Cross and our cross

The same cross - or two different kinds?

See also From Bondage to Freedom

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it..." Luke 9:23-24

The cross of Christ -- like the bloody knife used in Old Testament days to slay the unblemished sacrificial lamb as a temporary atonement for sins -- was an instrument of death. Consistent with God's eternal law and justice, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice: "The Lamb that was slain" for our redemption.

Since His cross alone could free us from bondage to sin and self, there is no other cross by which we can be saved! We have no other instrument to "take up" in our daily battle against the forces of evil and our own human nature. Instead, His cross has become our cross through our union with Him!  We don't fully understand this mystery now, but by His grace  -- and through faith -- we can know that we have indeed died to our old sinful life and share His resurrection life. As Paul wrote,

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." Galatians 2:20

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.... For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:1-9

But saying that our cross is the same as Christ’s cross does not mean that its victorious work in us is comparable to the atoning death He suffered on our behalf. The two events -- His death on the cross and our death to sin and self -- are different. Yet, they are eternally and wonderfully linked.

On that cross, Jesus bore the full weight of His Father's wrath for the sins of all people -- past, present and future. His unimaginable agony is something that no true believer has to experience, because the full requirement of His justice was fulfilled when God's judgment was unleashed on His beloved Son.

Many have suggested that we were "saved" by the physical agony Jesus experienced on the cross. That's not accurate. The reality of His death alone couldn't satisfy the legal judgment (or sentence) against this sinful and rebellious humanity. We were saved because Jesus became our sin-bearer -- the ultimate sacrifice for all times. The horrors of that holy wrath was far greater than the physical torture of crucifixion alone.

We were saved from the horror of eternal judgment because Jesus took our place. We deserved the legal sentence He endured. Facing the full force of His Father's wrath, He atoned for our sins and redeemed us from bondage. As Isaiah prophesied centuries earlier:

"...we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5

Having shared in the triumphs of His death and resurrection, we are now called to share His self-giving Life and suffering. While Jesus bore the agony of the cross alone "once for all," we must trust in the victory of that cross day after day. Facing life's trials, we can "reckon [ourselves] dead to sin" and alive to God -- free to walk with Him in the wonders of His resurrection life that He might be honored through our lives:

"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man [former fleshly self] was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
    "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.... Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:5-11

While today's culture encourages compromise and self-gratification, our Lord reminds us of new life! By faith, we "abide in Him" who gives us grace and strength for each battle:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

His yoke! His cross! His victory! He offers to share it all with us -- as we trust, follow, abide and delight in Him. And when we fail, sin or forget to thank Him, He convicts our hearts, brings us to repentance, and guides us back to His own narrow path. Along the journey, He reminds us of the daily choices that keep us in His peace and presence. Here are just a few:

  • Thank Him for His daily grace, strength, wisdom and provisions -- especially in the midst of suffering.

  • Remembering that "you are not your own... you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

  • Walk with Him in humility, knowing that only by His gracious life in us can we obey and follow His way.

  • Be sensitive to the convictions of the Holy Spirit and respond with genuine repentance. For though He declares us legally "dead to sin," the "born again" [regenerated] believer can and does sin. But unlike unbelievers, we grieve -- not primarily for the human shame of doing wrong -- but for our disobedience to our Lord, whom we love. Paul deals with this puzzling paradox in Romans 7:4-24 and 8:1-11.

  • By faith, always be ready to face hostility, accusations and persecution, for:

"the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

  • Respond to hostility with His gracious love, trusting Him to live His life through us -- to His glory!  

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:56

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