Crucified With Christ – The Mystery of Our Death in Christ
Crucified with Christ? What does that really mean? “Death in Christ” is a crucial revelation that must be understood if we are ever to be free. In order to start understanding our death in Christ, read these Scriptures from Paul:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:5-11).
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
Crucified With Christ – Reckoning Oneself to Be Dead
Let us go ahead and name the greatest hindrance to being free to serve God - SIN. Isn't it strange that the Bible tells us we are all sinners, that there is none righteous, and that all have fallen short of the glory of God, yet most of us do not like to admit our struggles with sin? But this is an issue we must face and, with the help of God, conquer if are to be truly free.
In this section I will run the risk of being misunderstood, but I trust you will bear with me before you draw your conclusions. I know all too well that within myself there is no ability to be sinless. I also totally understand that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God and that my salvation is not due to any work or merit of my own. Without doubt, you also know and understand these truths in your own experience. However, the Scriptures we have just reviewed tell us that we are no longer alone. We have the Spirit of God indwelling us, the nature of Christ influencing us, and the law of God instructing us.
I have often heard Christians, in an attempt to show humility, say that they are just sinners saved by grace, that they just can't keep from sinning every day, but that their sin drives them to God in prayer for forgiveness. In fact, this sounds very much like the issue Paul addressed with the Church in Rome, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2). I have always wanted to shout, "Well stop sinning, and pray thanking God for victory!" For I believe that while in ourselves we have no choice but to sin, as that is our nature, in Christ we have the ability to not sin, as that is His nature. The choice as to which nature we follow is now ours.
Read the following Scriptures that support this conclusion:
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Romans 6:11-16).
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2)
"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:12-13).
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Galatians 5:16-18).
"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:27).
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived" (Colossians 3:2-7).
Crucified With Christ – Put Off the Old Nature, Walk in New Life
We could continue with such passages that instruct the believer to put off the old life (or the old nature) and to walk in the new life (or the new nature). It seems to be obvious that what Paul is saying is that once we have become crucified with Christ, we then have the ability through the power of the Spirit and the nature of Christ in us to choose not to sin. Both natures dwell within us, and they war against one another. But it is up to us to choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is up to us to live in the light and not in the darkness. It is up to us to die to our old selfish nature, and allow the nature of Christ to live in us. When Paul says that he no longer lives but Christ lives in him, this is a statement of his choice. When Paul says that he dies daily, that is a statement of his choice. When Paul says that he keeps his body under subjection, that is a statement of his choice. We must not use the excuse that we are sinners by birth, as true as that may be, because we have been born again, and that birth is unto righteousness!
What I am proposing is not the doctrine of a second work of grace where one proclaims he is totally and finally sanctified, and therefore can no longer commit sin. What I am proposing is a work of grace that allows him to proclaim, "By the grace of God, I am able not to sin!" In the eyes of God, my old nature is dead, crucified with Christ. When Paul declares that I am to reckon (consider) myself dead, he is stating that I am to see myself as God sees me. This will require self discipline, self control, and the breaking of old habits. The old nature will not give up peaceably. It has been in control too long to go without a fight. But every battle fought and won over the old nature causes it to weaken, and the new spiritual nature to grow stronger. But until we acknowledge the conflict, declare war on the enemy, and take up the full armor of God, we will live in defeat. And there is no place in all of Scripture that declares that we are to live defeated!
The Bible tells us that to whom we submit ourselves to obey, it is to him that we are slaves. We must not submit ourselves to sin, but we must submit ourselves to Christ. While I do not believe it is prudent to list steps in this process, these four truths must permeate our hearts and minds before we are free from sin.
Crucified With Christ – Reckoning Oneself to Be Dead
Understanding what it means to be “Crucified with Christ” is perhaps the most important of all principles for believers. Until we are free from the bondage of sin, we will never be free to serve God.
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:13-16).