We have, once again, passed the time on the calendar when millions observe in various ways the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some unwittingly call it Easter and others the Passion and Resurrection. Certainly the cross and empty tomb are at the heart of biblical theology and the central cornerstone of Christianity and the New Covenant. But is the death and resurrection of Jesus only to be recognized and observed once a year? No. It should be at the very core of our daily life.
Theology of the Cross
Why did Jesus submit Himself to be crucified and suffer death? True Christian theology is settled on the matter. He died to take upon Himself the sins and deserved judgment of Israel and receive the Father’s wrath upon that People. Why? To be the atoning sacrifice to redeem and forgive Israel and bring them back into a covenant relationship with the God of our fathers. Jesus Christ tasted death for us so we might have new life.
But there is also another important application of the death and resurrection effective for our daily life. It is the every day identification and experience of the cross.
The Cross and the Flesh
The cross and crucifixion can be applied to every part of our fleshly, sinful nature. The Apostle Paul was keenly aware of his own daily struggle – a war within between his own flesh and his desire to please and obey “the law of God” (Romans 7:25).
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.” – Romans 7:18-23
But Paul rejoiced that through Christ Jesus, who was sent by the Father to “condemn sin” (Romans 8:3), that war could be successfully handled.
Paul wrote elsewhere, “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20) and his daily application, “I die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31). What Paul realized was that through the cross, we have been “freed from sin” (Romans 6:18) – that relentless, powerful inward temptation to pursue our own life apart from the Spirit of the Living God. As the old hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel, it; Prone to leave the God I love” (“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”).
But the fact is, since God has condemned this raging sinful flesh, we can be crucified with Christ daily. When Jesus died, He put you on the cross with Him and your “old self was crucified … so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).
Experiencing Daily Death
If you seek to experience the living water of eternal life on a daily basis, you must first die. What is it that needs to be put to death in your sinful flesh? What is still alive in your heart that needs to be killed? Lust, adultery, lying, deceit, theft, envy, slander, pride, coveting….? How about self-pity, self-esteem, self-vindication, self-glory….?
Ask God daily to reveal what needs to be crucified in you. And when He does, simply ask Him to crucify that part of you that needs to be put to death. Ask that you experience a more full identification with the crucified Christ.
Beyond that daily death, be sure to ask that the Holy Spirit fill that area of your life with new life. Ask God to replace that old sinful flesh and all its desires with the exact opposite:
“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.” – Galatians 2:20
Be sure to take the next step and begin to practice that new life through obedience.
Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv