I think the thing my flesh hates most about the cross is that it is so daily. If I could be good most of the time and then indulge myself in sin once in a while, maybe I could be a Christian and my flesh could have some fun once in a while. Attitudes like that are completely antithetical to discipleship. Jesus commanded, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Every day in every way the cross must be the vehicle through which I am empowered. Without the cross, there is no resurrection. Without the resurrection, Christ does not live in me. If that is the case, then I am just a sinner trying to please God by my own sinfulness like the rest of the world. God cannot be pleased with our flesh. That’s why Jesus had to go to the cross. That’s why we have to go to the cross.
It has been awhile, but I am blogging my way through the book Born Crucified by LE Maxwell. The next chapter is The Cross Day by Day. On my blog, I warn believers of the possibility of laying down our lives during the great tribulation. But what about laying down our lives now by surrendering our flesh to the cross day by day? If we are completely surrendered to God now, that won’t change when the great persecution comes; but if we are not completely submitted to the cross of Christ, that won’t change either when the great persecution comes. While I’m tempted to post the entire chapter, I will stick to some excerpts to keep it brief. Those who are interested can purchase the book at a decent price.
THE FACTS OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE indicate that most believers wander for some time in
the wilderness of Romans 7, in the land of a mixed and divided affection, before they enter into
the life of victory in Christ. The great apostle himself reveals the tragic breakdown of his own
inner life subsequent to his conversion, when he cries out in an agony of despair, "O wretched
man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24.) He then learned
what he later wrote in Romans 6:11 — "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,
but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." He came to see that God’s deliverance from
the thralldom of a loathsome self-life is not through resolution, but through reckoning on
cocrucifixion with Jesus Christ.
Sooner or later most of us as believers awaken to a sense of our sinful selfhood. We, too, would
live for Christ. We hunger and thirst after righteousness, but, alas, how tragically self-will thwarts
the flow of the living waters. The stream of our life is mixed and muddy. We fight and pray and
struggle. We redouble our resolutions. We see that we must experience an inner crucifixion; that
the Cross must be at the heart of our Christian lives. We try to crucify ourselves, but all to no
avail. Self cannot, will not, crucify self. In utter self-despair we sign our own death sentence,
sinking into our death-union with the Crucified. We let go and let God, yielding ourselves in total
self-surrender. Once and for all we take by faith the position God gives us of death and
resurrection with Christ.
Such is the beginning of a life of Christian victory–but it is only a beginning. This death-position
once taken must then be learned. The life of the Crucified must be received moment by moment.
There is the Cross once and for all, and there is the "cross daily." It is a lifelong process. "If any
man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke
9:23). The early disciples must often have seen the long procession of murderers and criminals
on their way to crucifixion, carrying their crosses.
Here is the section that is particularly driving home for me as I read through the book this time.
The Bishop of Durham sums up the daily cross as: "Some small trifle of daily routine; a crossing
of personal preference in very little things; accumulation of duties, unexpected interruption,
unwelcome distraction. Yesterday these things merely fretted you and, internally at least, ‘upset’
you. Today, on the contrary, you take them up, and stretch your hands out upon them, and let
them be the occasion of new disgrace and deeper death for that old self-spirit. You take them up
in loving, worshiping acceptance. You carry them to their Calvary in thankful submission. And
tomorrow you will do the same."
Does the cross cut so deep as he describes here? My own preference in wanting my way in a certain small item in my daily routine must be taken to the cross. A little interruption in my day that I didn’t plan on which irritates me must be taken to the cross. I’m behind in my duties and start to feel overwhelmed, this too must be taken to the cross. Am I taking these things to the cross with thankfulness that the cross is there? Can I do that day after day with every little thing that irritates my flesh?
Dr. J. G. Fleming tells how, in the days of the Boxer uprising in China, Boxers captured a mission
school, blocked all gates but one, placed a cross be-fore it, and sent in word that anyone who
trampled on that cross would go free, but that anyone who stepped around it would be killed. The
first seven, we are told, trampled on the cross, and were allowed to go free. The eighth, a girl,
knelt before the cross, and was shot. All the rest in a line of a hundred students followed her
Remember that this story above may come upon the world soon. Perhaps there will be widespread persecution before the great tribulation here in the United States. Or we may not see this until the great tribulation. But one thing is certain, if we have denied ourselves by taking up the cross daily, we have already signed our death warrant. We have nothing to fear from death since it has been defeated. Let us give ourselves to the cross now in anticipation of dying in the name of Jesus sometime in the future.
Have fun and stay crucified ~ Galatians 2:20
-The Orange Mailman