Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Message of the Cross: How shall we respond?

Once we have heard and understand the message of the cross it remains only for us to choose how we shall respond to the message. So how should we respond to the message of the cross? Let us consider the counsel of Paul.
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be 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 lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:1-18)
The message of the cross is the message that we have been freed from sin. We are no longer the slaves of sin, bound to obey its lusts, but we are now free; free to stop sinning and free to give ourselves to righteousness. Through the cross we have been crucified with Christ; crucified to the world, crucified to our old way of life, and crucified to sin.

Through the cross we have been given a precious gift; the ability to say "no" to sin. Previously we were slaves of sin dutifully obeying its will, but now we have been set free, free to say "no" to sin and "yes" to God. Because we have received this free gift through the cross, Paul charges us to "not let sin reign in your mortal body." Our response to the message of the cross is to put an end to the reign of sin in our mortal bodies. Paul further confirms this when he says,
"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:12-13)
Now that we have been set free from sin through the power of the cross we must now put to death the deeds of the flesh; to put an end to sin in our bodies. The cross has made us able and now, through the help and power of the Holy Spirit, it is time to cease from sin and begin to live a life of righteousness.

What a glorious gift we have been given. What incredible good news is ours through the cross. What hope we now have; a hope of righteousness. Given this good news and our new and holy calling in God, Paul commands us,
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Paul commands us to "walk worthy," not that we might become worthy, but because we are already worthy. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has made us worthy of Him, His kingdom, and His calling. Seeing that we are worthy, let us walk in a way that demonstrates that worthiness. Let us walk in a way that outwardly expresses the righteous and worthiness we have in our spirits; let our outward expression reflect the inward reality we have in Christ. We are worthy, so let us act like it.

This is our response to the message of the cross; to put away sin and to live the new life that has been purchased for us by Christ. Our response is to live righteously and holy before God that we might fulfill what was spoken by God so long ago, "be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:45)

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

1 comment: