THE CRUCIFIXION OF WHO?
WHO DIED AT CALVARY?
WHY ARE WE PERSECUTED?
I DIE DAILY
Who, we ask, is being crucified today? Who must die in us that we may have life more abundantly? If we are to come forth in the full image of our Lord and Savior, whose hands must be nailed to the cross?
There are a number of things by which men strive for perfection, but what we want to notice today is the one we hear about most often. It is the one where the focus is on killing oneself. Suicide would be an accurate way of saying it.
Some have been known to literally take their lives, such as the 39 ill-fated men and women in Rancho Santa Fe who thought they would be "raptured" by UFO aliens in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. This type of misguided venture is rejected by both the world and the church, and rightly so. There is no sound reason for what they did. For certain, when such extreme mistakes are made there is no going back and doing it right.
It is easy to look upon those intelligent people and consider them demented. Most would have endorsed papers to have them committed to an asylum of some sort. However, if we take a moment and examine our own beliefs, we might see little difference between them and what many well-meaning Christians are doing everyday and no one gives it a second thought. Those engaging in similar practices are even admired and encouraged to continue in it. They are sometimes looked upon as martyrs in a modern-day society.
We are probably more familiar with the terms: "Death to self," "Crucifying the old man," "Killing the old man," "Putting to death the old man," "Crucifying the flesh," "Crucifying Adam," etc. Regardless of the term used, the main thought remains "Kill the enemy. Kill that which stands between me and glory. Do penance. Punish self. Kill self!" And in all this, no one gives Gods command, "Thou shalt not kill," a passing thought.
We are amazed to find so many people today who are striving to kill themselves. If it is not that, they are consumed with chasing or running from the devil. Their lifelong occupation seems to be with either battling an illusive devil or beating to death a dead man and twenty years later, they are no better off than when they initiated their everlasting campaign. The truth is, the devil should already be conquered, and our old man should be dead. If he is not dead, and we are still joined as one with him there is no liberty to marry Christ. According to the law, as long as the first husband lives, the person would be in adultery if he were joined to another. Paul wrote along these lines in the seventh chapter of Romans.
We, indeed, may be carnal, for we have a carnal body. What we have is a very real body of flesh; but our spirit is one with Christs Spirit, and our soul is joined to that united Spirit. We are one in that sense, and therefore, have a legal and binding union with our Lord, for our old man is dead.
Reckoning oneself dead is difficult to do, especially when the lusts and passions of the flesh are inflamed. Nevertheless, the point is made clear: "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that OUR OLD MAN IS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be destroyed [to be (rendered) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.], that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that IS DEAD is freed from sin. Now if we BE DEAD with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead (That which is now alive, Christ in us, can be crucified, not that which is dead), and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (the law has no power over the dead), but under grace (the influencing factor and power of grace now works life and supersedes the law that died with the old man)" (Rom 6:5-14).
When a man keeps hammering at a pointless issue, have you ever heard it said that "He is beating a dead horse?" It is the same when we try to die to self, or attempt to kill the old man. Christians are not always as spiritual as they would like to be, so their scapegoat is either the devil or a dead man. With such a mind-set and untiring drive, they pound away at those evasive enemies. Shadows are hard to kill, but it doesnt stop them from trying. They continue beating a dead horse.
It is commonly believed that the devil will dog peoples trails all the way to the grave. And for some, they see him going beyond death and reaching into their mythical concept of hell. Such beliefs are professions that Hebrews 2:14 has not been a working factor in their lives. ("Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil..") As far as they are concerned, it is impossible for the devil and Adam to ever come to nought and die in this lifetime. Another faction presumes that once they kill the old man of corruption, their new man will then rise victoriously in incorruptible life. For that matter, the 39 in Rancho Santa Fe assumed as much, and in their impatience they tried to hurry the process. You say, "How could they have believed such error?" But are we less guilty with what we are attempting? Most likely not.
WHO DIED AT CALVARY?
The above heading is a good question to ponder in relation to our study. Have we given it much thought, or have we asked the question "Who was it, exactly, that died at Calvary?" The obvious answer is Jesus of Nazareth, for this is common knowledge throughout the world. However, it is not the given name of the man we are looking for. We want to know who He was. Or to put it more clearly, which man died upon the cross? Was it the old man or the New Man? With Him being the pattern for our own lives (Heb. 8:1-5, 9:24-28, 10:10-1), it would behoove us to know His identity.
Since there are only two men in the earth, with each having many members, we ask again was it the "old man," or was it the "NEW MAN" who was crucified? Was it the "first Adam" or was it the "LAST ADAM"?
We must say it was Jesus THE LAST ADAM. It was THE MAN FROM THE HEAVENS. It was Jesus Christ THE NEW MAN! It had to be THE NEW MAN. Otherwise, His death would have done the world no good. There would have been no benefit for a tarnished man of sin to die on our behalf, for the first man was a failure in every sense of the word. He was incapable of bringing godliness into the world. Unlike the New Man who was victorious in all things, the old man missed the mark at everything he put his hand to do. Furthermore, with the mark of sin in his soul, he could have never raised from the dead. His just wages would have been death, to never see the light of day again.
The first Adam could not keep from sinning. It was his nature to sin. With skewed vision, he couldnt hit the mark of holiness if his eternal destiny depended upon it. The Last Adam, however, could easily abstain from earthy temptations, for He came from above and not from below. He was not of the self-serving earth, but of the life-giving heavens. Only the one from above could pass the test and atone for sin. Only the best, the perfect, the unblemished Lamb, could be offered up as a sacrifice on our behalf.
Have you ever wondered what it was exactly that Jesus died to? In His death what was He leaving behind? Rather than a breath of fresh air, food, and drink what was He being deprived of in death? Was it by chance all the niceties of the world that many of us strive for in this life? I think not. He was not being cut off from worldly things, all those things the Gentiles seek (Mat 6:32-33) . It was much more.
Jesus was Gods anointed Son in the earth. He was the Prince of Life. Everywhere He went, people were healed, blessed, and even raised from the dead. He was the shining glory of God in the earth, and He gave hope to all who heard and saw Him, except the Pharisees, of course. Although He was their hope, they couldnt see it.
What He lost in death was His God-hood. His glory ceased to shine. His sun went out. His ministry ended. The meetings from offshore boats were no more. Hillsides blanketed with thousands who came to hear His words of life crumbled. It all came to a halt. In death, He lost His Kingdom, His mother, His friends, and every thing dear to Him. It all vanished. He laid down His indissoluble, incorruptible life.
For a short time He was clothed upon with the apparel of corruption, but there was something unique about the life that flowed through his veins. Being from the heavens and robed in sinless flesh, Jesus had blood of great worth. For that matter, a price cannot be placed upon the blood of any man. The closest we can come in weighing its worth is a life for a life one man being equal to one man. But the value of this Mans blood reaches far beyond the scope of our imagination. Its pouring forth introduced everlasting atonement and irrevocable redemption for ALL MEN. One Mans blood had the worth of every man, woman, and child that ever was or would ever be. Such a great price He paid all His blood for all humanity.
Due to its high value, it was a simple matter to buy the pearl of great price. He had the wherewithal to buy the field with the hidden treasure. The inexhaustible riches of the Sons blood was payment enough for the whole world. What value!
If it had been the old man who died at Calvary, nothing would have come of it. His blood would have been insufficient to even atone for himself, much less for the whole world. With such a sowing, more of the old man would have been the fruit of his death, nothing more. But praise God! It was not the old man! It was the New Man!
The world had already been overrun with the harvest of the old, and it was time for the New. The world was in dire need of the New Man. The seed sown in death had to be the New Man, or else we would again have the stroke of death laid upon us in its harvest.
Paul said this about sowing seed: "But some will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body." (1 Cor 15:35-38).
This is the process of nature, whether of physical things or spiritual. The body of everything comes from a seed sown. The body, however, is not the end of the principle of sowing and reaping. First the seed, next the stalk (or the body), and from the stalk comes many more seeds in the likeness of the original seed. From there the cycle continues with the Life of the original Seed coming forth in an ever increasing, progressively changing body.
Although it was the same Man and the same Life, the resurrected body of Jesus was not the same one sown into the earth, it had changed. That Holy Seed, the Last Adam, did not come out of the grave with the exact-same body. God gave Him a body of His own choosing, a glorified one that could eat and drink and move about as a spring breeze. This, however, was still not the end to what our Father was doing with that single Seed and Body. Jesus remained in that realm for only a short time for forty days and nights. He was then taken up and a cloud received Him. After ten more days He was given yet another body, a body akin to the one that received Him a cloud of many members.
During the forty days before ascending, we cannot help from wondering if He was tested. For instance, it has been universally recognized that the number forty is associated with a period of probation, trial, testing, etc. E.W. Bullinger also says that trials can bring forth enlarged dominion, or renewed or extended rule (Numbers in Scripture). This clearly became a factor due to His forty days in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry. Jesus came from the wilderness with an enlarged dominion and extended rule, and it continued to be enlarged until He laid it down at Calvary.
Was He tried for another forty days, and then laid down His life as before? We cant help from seeing a parallel as His life and death unfolds. His first baptism in death was in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. This symbolized his death to come. After He was raised out of the baptism of death, He went straight to the wilderness to be tempted for forty days. He came forth with an enlarge dominion.
His second baptism in death was upon the cross by His friends ("And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." (Zec 13:6).
After His resurrection from that death, He remained again in a wilderness (the world) to be tempted, or tested, for another forty days.
The new life and dominion He had in His glorified body was laid down when He was taken up in a cloud ("Up; hupsoo, to elevate (lit. or fig.)" (Strongs). This is the same word Jesus used in John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted UP from the earth, will draw all men unto me...signifying what death he should die." Again, we see Him lifted UP, and no doubt drawing all into that same place and unto Himself). We would think that such a rapturous thing would not be laying down ones life; but we must consider, He was leaving a kingdom unparalleled in the history of mankind. He was leaving one of the very things He died for, but it was for a good reason. He was being true to His humble nature. Rather than continuing His reign in the form of one man, as glorious as it was, He would not usurp it unto Himself alone.
Paul must have known something of this when He wrote, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together...we shall also reign with Him..." (Rom 8:17, 2 Tim 2:12).
If He had not laid His glorious rule down, it would not have been passed along to us. Although He had a resurrected, glorified body, if He had remained, He would have been over there somewhere, with us over here somewhere. We could have never been joint heirs with Him in that glory. We could be governors, captains, soldiers, or servants, perhaps, but we could never inherit the power of an endless life.
Each time He surrendered one glory, He gained a greater one. Each time He relinquished the dominion that was rightfully His, it was enlarged and His rule extended. Thus, the number forty in scripture.
The body with which God clothed His Seed was one like all men are familiar. It was natural, and that natural body was lifted up from the earth to die. From there the earth and hell received Him. He preached to the prisoners and set them free. When He finished His work, He rose victoriously from the grave with both a Spiritual and Physical body.
Although it was flesh and bone, His resurrected body had no natural limitations. That same body was again lifted up from the earth, but different from the first time. Rather than the cross, it was into the heavens in a cloud. Ten days later Jesus made another descent into the earth; but this time it was in the earth of the 120 who were looking for Him. He released them from hell, as it were, and that corporate body, plus additional thousands of many members, rose up alive in the earth. Their rising, of course, were the clouds Jesus told Caiaphas he would live to see Himself coming in. Each saint came forth as a particle of water to make up the clouds. They came forth in the same image of Jesus prior to His death, with the Living Spirit housed in earthen vessels.
Although many droplets of water, or seeds, we are all of the ONE SEED, as Paul told the Galatians (3:16). Many members but one body, and the cycle continues. In the same way the Seed of the Last Adam laid down the life and glory He possessed, so shall those in that same image as they take up their cross and follow Him.
While so many are trying to kill the old man to put on Gods glory, our Pattern did it differently. He gave up the glory of the New Man when the time came. The old man was not an issue, for Jesus was not of that order He was from above and not below. He who was in the express image of God was obedient unto the death. He died to the glory He possessed.
Our dear friend, J. Preston Eby, said something along the lines of what we are speaking today: "The problem has been our focus. It has been upon OURSELVES. The focus has been upon OUR death so WE can live. It has not been upon HIS death so HE can live in us." He then carried our attention to some very basic, but very overlooked verses in Pauls second letter to the Corinthians.
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of THE LORD JESUS, that the life also OF JESUS might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (2 Cor 4:10-12).
Whose death is it that is working in us? Who is dying? Who is being put to death? It is, of course, the Lord Jesus. "Oh, dear God!" you say, "Dont tell me that what little Life I have of Christ must die!"
Indeed I am. That is exactly what I am saying, or rather, that is what Paul said. I only bring it to your reverent attention: We are always bearing about in our bodies THE DYING OF THE LORD JESUS, that THE LIFE ALSO OF JESUS MIGHT BE MADE MANIFEST in our bodies. If we expect the Life we now have of Him to ever be seen in a greater measure and His dominion to be enlarged He must first die.
It is THE DYING OF THE LORD JESUS, and it is HIS LIFE ALSO. It is not our death, and it is not our life. It is HIS! There is something to be said about the man of sin being crucified, which I hope to approach later in this study, or the next; but let us keep our attention to the point at hand. Our misconception has been that our old man, our self-man, had to die before the New One could surface. This is a plausible thought, for this is what we have been taught, and it sounds reasonable, but the apostle spoke otherwise. He said it is THE DYING OF THE LORD JESUS, that THE LIFE ALSO OF JESUS MIGHT BE MADE MANIFEST in our bodies.
WHY ARE WE PERSECUTED?
It is becoming increasingly clear that it was the holy, righteous man in Gods image who was nailed to the cross. It was not an old, carnal, dead, irreverent sinner with blemishes. When we are persecuted and crucified, it is not because of the unrighteous works of sin in our flesh. Unless we are rebels, living only for ourselves, and are reaping our just rewards, our crucifixion is due to righteousness in our lives. When Jesus said to "Take up your cross and follow Me," He meant exactly that. We are to take up our cross and let the new man die, so the life of the new man might be made manifest.
But, please, let us not get overly anxious. There is an appointed time for this death. It is surely working in us at this very moment; but the end comes when we can say in all truth "It is finished," and like Him, we give up the Ghost. Whatever we are in Him, or what we have of Him, it should continue until the hour comes, and our hearts and words echo His own "Nevertheless, Father not my will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42).
We must not lose sight, however, of the process of spiritual things in our mortal bodies. Jesus did not die before the proper time. By the time He rode into Jerusalem to die, He had finished His course, the process was coming to a close, and it was time for His death. If He had gone to the cross at birth, at the age of twelve, twenty-one, or even at the mature age of thirty the purpose of God would have been aborted. Very little would have come of it. We, likewise, should also be patient and wait for the time of the end.
It would do us good to remember, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt 6:34). There is the right amount of evil for whatever is necessary for our growth. We cant speed it along by subjecting the new man to the cross before it is time, and beating the old man shall do less.
I DIE DAILY
Paul spoke more of life and death than any of the other writers of the New Testament. Both subjects seemed to have been branded deeply into his being, so deeply that he said "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Gal 6:17). In his first letter to the Corinthians he even told them, "I die daily" (1 Cor 15:31).
In times past when applying this verse to ourselves we interpreted it to say: I die daily as I crucify the old man. I die daily when I refuse to give place to my flesh. I die daily by putting to death my will. I die daily when I go to church on Sunday rather than playing golf, watching the Super-bowl, or going on a picnic.
It is good not to sin or to give place to the devil, as Paul also wrote (Eph 4:26-27), but these two verses were not written in the context of dying daily, as some suppose. The New International Versions translation of 1 Corinthians 15:30-32 brings dying daily into focus:
"And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day I mean that, brothers just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?"
The wild beasts were not lions, bears, or bulls that were common in Romes sports arenas. The beasts referred to were human beasts. They were his religious persecutors, those who stoned, whipped, and slandered him and his doctrine. They were men who rejected his word of truth. They relinquished their reasoning, and submitted to the heartlessness of beasts. They were the beasts David prophesied concerning Jesus in the Psalms, "Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me" (Psa 22:12-14).
One thing stands obvious with both Jesus and Pauls dying. The death they suffered had nothing to do with the old man. It had nothing to do with forsaking the flesh or dying to self but it had everything to do with the death of the New Man and living in God. Neither of them had to crucify themselves. Their battle was not with the Adamic man within but the Adamic man without. That Adamic man without happened to have been those who hated the living God and everything He stood for. Their death was not self-inflicted. It was not suicide. They did not do penance, flagon themselves, or persecute their flesh to any degree. They didnt have to go looking for death, but neither did they shirk from it when it came to them.
Simply stated, their death was the death of the NEW MAN, brethren, and not the old. It was because of their testimony of the New Mans Light in the face of darkness that brought on the dying. Now we understand a little more why Paul said "I DIE DAILY."
Paul had a battle with his members, as he wrote in Romans chapter seven. This, however, was something he could be delivered from by the power of Jesus Christ. He wasnt trying to kill himself, but he certainly sought deliverance from the passions of his body.
No amount of persecution, self-inflicted pain, or denying oneself of fleshly desires will rid the person of human wants and natural cravings. Can one overcome the desire to eat good food by fasting? I personally havent seen any success in that area. Subjecting oneself to the law will only bridle the desires, and make it appear as though his nature is Christlike, but they are not. The law, as Paul wrote, will certainly bring pain to the carnal man, and his joy fades in its glaring presence. His freedom from guilt dies when he sins in the light of the law. The law pronounces him guilty, and he is condemned by his own conscience; but still, this is neither crucifying the New Man nor dying daily. It is merely a revelation of sin that abides in the members of his natural body.
These things are battled in the flesh and conquered by the power of the Spirit of Life. As we are joined in loving obedience to Christ Jesus, all such wickedness is destroyed by the brightness of His coming (2 Thes 2:8).
We strive to abstain from sin when tempted. We want desperately to be delivered from every vestige of it; but there is a vast difference between this and dying daily. The Christians at Corinth were certainly admonished not to sin: "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." (1 Cor 15:33-34).
Abstaining from sin is a joyous and righteous manifestation of the New Man, while dying daily is the persecution because of the New Mans righteous manifestation. In case you missed this point, let us say it again. Abstaining from sin is a joyous and righteous manifestation of the New Man, while dying daily is the persecution because of the righteous manifestation of the New Man.
We often attribute every hardship we encounter to dying daily, which truthfully, is very seldom the case. When we suffer for the SAKE of RIGHTEOUSNESS, then we die; but please remember, dear ones of Christ, it is not the old man who is dying it is THE NEW MAN.
In closing, please know the origin of the seed for this study. It was planted in my spirit when our dear friend and longtime fellow sojourner, Walter Arvizu, first shared this mystery. It was his anointed words that unfurled the veil for us to see that it is the New Man being crucified in us rather than it being the old man. When this truth was illumined in him, our Lord also told him that men would not receive it at first, and he would be persecuted for the sake of this word. This was certainly the case in the beginning, for who had ever heard such a thing? But now is the hour to declare every word that proceeds from the mouth of our Father and they who have ears to hear will hear what His Spirit is saying. It is time, brethren, to lay our Godly lives down and to give up the ghost if so required. Compared to this, it was easy to have the old man to die, for he deserved it; but oh, the New Man what an injustice! Can we bear it? We can and we shall!
Elwin R. Roach
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