Ex. 17:14 π Ex. 17:16 π Psa. 51:6 π Isa. 53:6 π Zech. 3:1 π Zech. 3:2 π Zech. 3:3 π Mt. 16:22-23 π Mt. 16:24 π Jn. 6:47 π Jn. 8:32 π Jn. 8:34 π Jn. 15:19 π Acts 5:3 π Rom. 6:3 π Rom. 6:6; 2nd; 3rd; 4th π Rom. 6:10 π Rom. 6:11; 2nd; 3rd π Rom. 6:13 π Rom. 6:16 π Rom. 8:13 π 1 Cor. 15:45 π 1 Cor. 15:47 π 2 Cor. 5:21 π Gal. 1:3-4 π Gal. 2:20; 2nd; 3rd π Gal. 4:19 π Gal. 5:17 π Gal. 5:19-21 π Gal. 5:22-23 π Gal. 5:24; 2nd; 3rd; 4th π Gal. 6:12 π Gal. 6:14; 2nd π Col. 1:20 π Col. 2:8 π Col. 2:20 π Jas. 2:1-4 π Jas. 3:14-15 π Jas. 3:17 π Jas. 4:5 π 1 Pet. 2:24; 2nd π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 1 Jn. 5:18
We have seen that the Adversary was conquered at Calvary and cast down from his throne of power, but also that he is left at large whilst the proclamation of the victory is sent throughout his dominions, for the purpose of giving the choice of masters to every human being. How bitterly the Adversary resists to the utmost the work of the Holy Spirit in men, as their eyes are opened to the truth, and one by one they accept the Redeemer as their Lord and King, and are translated into His kingdom! But far more keenly does he resist the full enlightenment of the believer, and his knowledge of the deepest meaning of Calvary which sets him free from the false claims of the evil one, and makes him so possessed by the Holy Spirit that he becomes an equipped and aggressive warrior in the army of the Lord, able by Divine power to snatch the prey from the mighty in the name of the Victor of the Cross.
We have already described some of the means by which the arch-fiend holds his subjects under his power; blinding their minds; causing them to walk according to the desires of the flesh and their own thoughts, kept in a false peace, or incited to oppose the truth; misled by counterfeits of the true sons of God, or else by the spirits of evil taking possession of men's bodies, or holding them in strong delusion, and the believing of a lie concerning spiritual things, because they would not receive the truth.
But ere we pass on to see how souls are liberated by the message of Calvary, we will first briefly note some of the ways in which the Adversary furthermore resists the full deliverance of the soul, after the light of the Gospel has dawned upon him, and he has received the seed of the Word into his heart, and realizes the true peace of the one who has accepted the Saviour. The Adversary knows he has lost one of his subjects, but that the soul will never cause much loss to his kingdom if he can but retain some hold of him, and prevent him entirely escaping from his power. To this end: -
"Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to deceive the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part..." ( Acts 5:3; top )
It was in the time of Pentecost, when all were placing themselves and their possession entirely at the disposal of the Lord! Ananias looked on, and possibly did not want to be singular, so not realizing the character of the God he was trifling with, he laid part of his possessions at the Apostle's feet, pretending that it was "all"! Peter filled with the Spirit, discerned the truth, and his stern words at once unveil the source of the sin! Satan had "filled his heart to make him "keep back part." It would have been better not to have offered at all, for God only wanted voluntary surrender, and absolute honesty of purpose towards Him.
"Truth in the inward parts" ( Psa. 51:6; top ) is necessary for realizing the deliverance offered by the Lord. An honest attitude to God, an unreserved surrender to Him, with true purpose of heart to be His fully and for ever. But "keep back part," whispers the evil one, for to yield all to god means to lose all.
But "all for all" it must be! Not because the Lord desires to take all away, but the "All" of Calvary's triumph is given on the condition of the surrender of "All" to Calvary's Victor, because the "All" the Lord gives is from heaven, and the "All" the soul resigns is of earth. Keep back part for self, is therefore the tempter's whisper, as he enlarges upon the terrible consequences of committing all to God; for something kept for self gives place to the devil, and keeps the Redeemer from His Throne in the heart, and the full control of His Kingdom in the redeemed one.
He resists the removal of the filthy garments spotted by the flesh.
"Satan standing at his right hand to be his Adversary." ( Zech. 3:1; top )
This is an Old Testament picture of the attitude of the Adversary to every soul who desires deliverance from his realm and rule, and admittance to the fellowship of God. Joshua is seen standing before the Lord clothed in filthy garments, with Satan as his Adversary. ( Zech. 3:3 ) Even so does the does the devil resist every child of God as he stands before the Lord seeking to be clothed with a change of raiment. Clothed in the garments spotted by the flesh, the redeemed one stands in dumb helplessness before the Lord. The simple words "The Lord rebuke you, Satan" ( Zech. 3:2; top ), are spoken and the foe is silenced. He can only look on, and see the grace of God, as the command is given to those who stand by to take the filthy garments away. The iniquity is caused to pass away, and the soul is clothed in the righteousness of God, and given a place of access to the Presence of the King.
The soul seeking deliverance is here shown the way of victory over the Adversary! We must not contend with him ourselves, but just as we are, stand before the Lord in our deep need, and let him rebuke the evil one. The work is then done for us, as we cease from our own efforts in order to let God work, and apply to us the power of Calvary.
He uses others to tempt us from the way of the Cross.
"Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Pity Yourself, Lord...' But He turned and said unto Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan: you are a stumbling block to Me." ( Mt. 16:22-23; top )
When the soul has yielded all in full surrender, and in dumb helplessness ceases from his own works to let God work in him, he knows by the Holy Spirit that he must take the Cross, and deny himself, if Christ is to see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. But "Pity yourself" cries the Adversary, through the lips of even servants of God, who have dimmer visions of the things of God, and know not the eternal loss to the soul who listens to their pleas.
"Pity yourself" the enemy whispers again and again, as the Holy Spirit detaches the soul from the things of earth, to give it the gold of heaven. But "Get behind me, Satan," the redeemed one must cry as he looks behind the human voice, sees the Adversary of God, and determines by the grace of God to take up his Cross, and follow after his Lord to Calvary.
He inflames the life of nature into division and strife.
"If you have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, [it] is earthly, natural (or animal), devilish." ( Jas. 3:14-15; top )
The Apostle James uses very strong words in this passage, as he points out that all "jealousy" and "faction" have their source in the life which he calls "animal" "devilish!" Satan is shown here to be the real power working through the fallen life of nature.
When the believer has pressed on, and taken the Cross, he will surely come face to face with something in his path which will arouse to its depth the life of nature. Possibly when he has taken the Cross for himself, and consented to a path of self-effacement, circumstances arise when "loyalty demands that he should stand up for a friend!" The spirit of faction comes in, or jealousy for others, and the Adversary triumphs. The Apostle says that the wisdom which is from above is "without partiality." ( Jas. 3:17; top ) Oh that the children of God would take the words to heart, and remember that all division, all faction, all jealousy for the "own," in friends, or denomination, is instigated by the evil one to keep the believer in the sphere lying under his rule, and consequently unable to wield over him the authority of heaven.
These are but a few of the devices of the Prince of darkness to keep back the soul from the full deliverance of the Cross. Full surrender to God, and absolute honesty of purpose; a ceasing from self-effort, and a standing before the Lord in dumb acknowledgement of need; a taking of the path of the Cross, and refusal to pity self; a turning from the faction and divisions of earth - all this there must be if the soul is to know the victory of the Cross, and enter into the life of overcoming on the throne.
But let us now go to Calvary, and consider what it means, and see how souls are actually translated out of the realm of darkness, into the sphere of light, in the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
We will think of the Cross as a "gate" between the earthly realm of Satan, and the heavenly sphere of life in Christ Jesus.
But who are the captives of Satan to pass through the gate of the Cross? They cannot do this of themselves, for no man can lift himself out of the horrible pit of sin. Ah, there is complete provision to meet the need! The Lord Jesus Christ not only died on the Cross of Calvary; not only offered Himself as a propitiation for sin; not only conquered the Adversary there, but when He ascended into Heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High, He received of His Father the gift of the Holy Spirit, Whom He sent forth to bear witness to Christ; to take of the things of Christ, and reveal them unto all who are seeking after Him. It is the special office of the Eternal Spirit to reveal Christ to seeking souls; to breathe into them the new life of God; to lead them into the apprehension of the truth - the truth which will make them free ( Jn. 8:32; top ) - and to apply to them the separating and delivering power of the death of Christ, as they accept and appropriate the deliverance.
Assuming therefore the captive to be conscious of his need, and desirous of deliverance, the Holy Spirit unveils the death of Christ first -
In relation to sin.
"His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed." ( 1 Pet. 2:24 )
"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away..." ( Rom. 6:6 )
"you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ( Rom. 6:11; top )
The soul under the burden, and in the bondage of sin, draws nigh to Calvary where the Holy Spirit unveils to his wondering gaze the Prince of glory haning upon the tree, becoming a curse for all who were accursed under the curse of sin. As the soul believes the word of God, and accepts the Saviour, the Spirit at once applies the power of the blood, and it obtains "peace through the blood of the Cross." ( Col. 1:20; top ) The burden of sin passes away and the Spirit bears witness to his spirit that he is a reconciled child of God, being born of the Spirit, Who imparts to him the gift of life - new life, the very life of the Son of God.
But the words of the Apostle Peter also show that the Saviour and the sinner were one in the sight of God, as the Redeemer hung upon His Cross. The Apostle says that He bore our sins on the tree, "that we having died unto sins might live unto righteousness!" ( 1 Pet. 2:24 ) And Paul writes to the Romans that they must know the fact that "our old man - the entire old creation - was crucified with Him." ( Rom. 6:6 ) It was the sinner who died when the Substitute died! Died in Him to sin, and to the sins which He bore for him! It could never be that He bore our sins, and died for us, purely that He might forgive us our sins, and leave us still under their power, and hence under the old thralldom of Satan! It is through sin that Satan holds the world, and each individual under his power. Christ therefore was "made to be sin on our behalf" ( 2 Cor. 5:21 ), and "the death that He died, He died unto sin" ( Rom. 6:10 ) so that the sinner might in Him be "dead indeed unto sin" and hence, shut out of Satan's realm, be "alive unto God in Christ Jesus!" ( Rom. 6:11 ) The words of the Apostle therefore make it quite plain that He bore our sins on the tree so that in Him we should die to them, and live a new life "unto righteousness." ( Rom. 6:13; top )
"For this purpose was the Son of God of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." ( 1 Jn. 3:8 ) The Adversary holds his captives in bonds by keeping them under the bondage of a guilty conscience over the sins of their past, or the power of the "body of sin" ( Rom. 6:6 ) manifested in the bondage of sin. But when the sinner sees that the Lord bore his sins on the tree, and took him there also, the devil is rendered powerless, for the believer stands now on redemption ground - on the basis of "dead indeed unto sin" ( Rom. 6:11 ) and therefore dead to the one thing which gave the Adversary power over him; and as he stands steadfastly on this basis, the Holy Spirit of God can now carry out the purpose of the Cross in the destroying of the "body of sin" according to His will, and hence the believer be freed from the service of sin. ( Rom. 6:6; top )
But there are few to whom the full Gospel message comes at once so clearly! To many the first light is simply the forgiveness of past sin, as they apprehend the word of the Lord, that "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" ( Isa. 53:6 ), and "He who believes has everlasting life." ( Jn. 6:47 ) But when this is so, the need of deliverance from the bonds, as well as the guilt of sin, is certain to press upon the pardoned sinner sooner or later; oft-times by the bitterness or realizing the truth of the Master's words, "Every one that commits sin is the bond-servant (or slave) of sin." ( Jn. 8:34; top )
When the soul learns the meaning of the Cross in deliverance from the bondage of sin, whether it be at the time of conversion, as it was at Pentecost, or later, it then enters upon the first stage of the overcoming life, and upon a path of victory it never knew before. The Cross is the gate into a life of liberty from the power of sin.
The Cross, and the works of the flesh.
"Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." ( Gal. 5:24; top )
Here we come to Calvary, and see the death of the Saviour dealing with the passions and desires of the "flesh" as well as the bondage of sin. We have already seen that the Adversary keeps his subjects in his power by simply working in them to fulfill the desires of the flesh. But onto the Cross the Saviour carried the sinner in His own Person, and as the redeemed soul apprehends this it finds the power of the Cross act as a circumcising knife to the flesh. Therefore, the Apostle says those who are Christ's" - united to Him in His Risen life - "have crucified the flesh" - have been to Calvary, and yielded to the Cross the "flesh," to be kept crucified by the power of the Spirit of God day by day.
The soul has already apprehended death with Christ to sin, and therefore to the old sins already blotted out in His precious blood, and the Holy Spirit is already in possession of the redeemed one to cause him to live unto righteousness. But "the desire of the flesh fights against the Spirit, and the desire of the Spirit fights against the flesh," for "these are contrary one to the other." ( Gal. 5:17 C.H.) The Apostle James writes, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously." ( Jas. 4:5 ) It is therefore His work to bring the believer experimentally into the deliverance of the Cross, but He needs on the part of the one He indwells, the whole will set on His side, and complete trust in Him to do His work, as well as implicit obedience to His rule. The Cross of Calvary is the triumphing power. "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh," ( Gal. 5:24 ) must be the continual faith of the soul, as "by the Spirit" he accounts the "flesh" crucified and thus refusing to yield to it, "makes to die" its "doings." ( Rom. 8:13; top )
This steadfast appropriation of the death with Christ on the Cross, in dependence on the co-working of the Divine Spirit, is the more necessary when - as the believer stands by faith on the fact of death with Christ - the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to the soul the depths of the fallen life of Adam, against which He has waged war from generation to generation. ( Ex. 17:14 , 16; top )
The word "flesh" used in Scripture seems to cover a very wide range, and to narrow it down into less than the meaning of the word of God will limit our experience of the deliverance of the Cross, and rob us of the fullest life of God. The list of the recorded "works of the flesh," includes not only the grossest sins in the physical realm, but sins directly and Satanically spiritual such as "idolatry," and "sorcery," as well as sins of the heart and disposition, such as "hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions and heresies!" ( Gal. 5:19-21; top ) When all the grossest side has been dealt with in the life of the Christian, have "emulation," "variance," "strife," "factions," "divisions," over religious views, and also over the teaching of "holiness," no place among the consecrated people of God, even among those who have really apprehended their death to sin in Christ; and are truly indwelt by the Spirit of God?
In practical experience it therefore is true that although the soul may see in one moment its death to sin with Christ, and gladly and joyfully realize freedom from the mastery of sin, yet the indwelling Spirit of God must work deeper and deeper into the life, revealing the "flesh" - the entire fallen life of Adam - in every degree of its subtle working, even when it looks sanctified, and is dressed in the garb of holiness. Then as the Spirit reveals, the believer must ever stand on the basis of the Cross with the definite faith that "those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh" ( Gal. 5:24 ), and cast himself upon the Spirit of God to enable him to walk step by step "in the Spirit," and thus be delivered from fulfilling the desires of the flesh day by day. "Led by the Spirit" the fruit of the Spirit will then be manifested unto the glory of God. The precious fruits of "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control." ( Gal. 5:22-23 C.H.; top)
But in actual experience is there no "fight"? Yes - after the will is surrendered, and the choice of a complete break with sin made, and maintained in every hour of temptation, there is conflict between the Holy Spirit in His strong desire to conquer the flesh, and the flesh in its innate involuntary resistance to being conquered! The deciding factor is the will of the surrendered believer. "To whom you yield yourselves, his servant you are," writes the Apostle Paul to the Romans. ( Rom. 6:16 ) If the redeemed one steadily asserts his position as dead to sin with Christ, and affirms steadfastly that "those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh," (or "lower nature" - Weymouth - Gal. 5:24; top ) - refusing at the same time to heed its demands - the Holy Spirit brings to bear the power of the Cross upon the "works of the flesh," and deliverance and victory becomes experimentally true.
Thus does the believer become a victor over sin, and over the life "after the flesh," which the Adversary seeks by all means to nourish and retain, knowing that if it is continuously kept under the power of the Cross, the redeemed one escapes from his thralldom and claims.
The Cross and this present evil world.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ...gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world." ( Gal. 1:3-4 )
"The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." ( Gal. 6:14; top )
Another stage of the overcoming life meets us here. Through the Cross we have deliverance from the power of sin; deliverance from the works of the flesh; and now deliverance from the world which lies in the evil one; the love of the world, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And once again it is clearly shown to be by the apprehension of the death of the sinner with the Saviour. By His Cross, nailed there with Him, the world is crucified to me. It is a dead thing with which I have nothing to do. I am henceforth "not of the world" ( Jn. 15:19; top ), but a citizen of heaven. It is not only crucified to me, but I am crucified to the world. I am no longer of any account in the world, or to the world. The gulf of death has been fixed between us. I have left the world in spirit, and passed to the other world through the gate of the Cross, as I shall leave it finally when this mortal shall put on immortality.
The context of the passage in Gal. 6:14 Shows that Paul included not only the world lying in the evil one, and separated from God, but the religious world - in so far as the elements of the world are in it. How subtle the "world" is we all know! Its main characteristic is seen in the desire to escape the Cross, and make a "fair show in the flesh." ( Gal. 6:12 ) It reveals itself in the desire to be a success in the eyes of the religious world; and in thousands of ways needs the ceaseless light of the Spirit to reveal its snare. The Apostle James refers to it when he mentions the giving place to wealth and position in the very assembly gathered to worship God, by Whom there is no respect of persons ( Jas. 2:1-4 ); and Paul when he points out the "philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men," which he says are "after the elements of the world, and not after Christ." ( Col. 2:8 ) The Apostle's one remedy for dealing with these things is to tell the Colossians that they had "died with Christ from the elements of the world," therefore they did not belong to this present world, and the "childish lessons of outward things" ( Col. 2:20 C.H.; top), were only meant as means to the end of leading the children of God to the knowledge of the things in the heavens.
The Cross and I myself.
"I have been crucified with Christ; yet I life; and yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me; and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me." ( Gal. 2:20 C.H.; top)
In these words we have in concise and clear language the deepest secret of the Cross, and the way of escape from the Adversary and his power. Here again we find the sinner on the Cross with the Saviour, but this time with the innermost purpose fully shown. Deliverance by death with Christ, from the claims of sin, the desires of the flesh, the elements of this present evil world; all represent the negative side of escaping from the things which have given the Adversary his hold upon us, but now the purpose of the Lord in carrying the sinner to the Cross is revealed. It is that Christ - the Risen Christ - may dwell in the one He has redeemed!
Now the meaning of the Adversary's bitter fight against the Cross, and his ceaseless efforts to hold the believer in the bonds of sin, or the flesh, or the world - is exposed. The prince of darkness cares little for the child of God, but he fears his Conqueror - the One Who brought him to nought by His Cross, and he dreads the hour when the truth dawns upon the redeemed one, and the living Christ is revealed in possession of the soul.
The Apostle Paul knew the secret, and voiced his yearning over his converts in the words, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." ( Gal. 4:19 ) But as much as Paul longed for this end, the Adversary feared it, for he knew that once the secret of the Cross, and the mystery of the indwelling Christ was apprehended, the believer would know the way of passing out of his power, and being kept by the power of God in the place where the "evil one touches him not." ( 1 Jn. 5:18; top )
"No longer I" ( Gal. 2:20 ) is the very central point of deliverance. "I" - the man himself submerged, so to speak, in the Christ upon the Cross, to make room for the Risen Christ to dwell in him, and live his life for him! "I" - not only dead to sin; not only the flesh crucified; not only dead to the present evil world; but "myself crucified." "Let him take his cross, and deny himself," said the Lord Jesus to His disciples. ( Mt. 16:24 , etc.; top) "I myself" on the Cross with the Christ; henceforth not to be taken into account, acknowledged, or given any place, but reckoned out of consideration at all. When the soul apprehends this meaning of Calvary, the Holy Spirit has brought him into the full power of the Cross, as it affects the mainspring of action. The mainspring of "I" seems to lie even deeper than the heart, for we have found that the heart may be cleansed in its desires and motives, and yet "I" be plainly seen. The soul may be in the position of "dead to sin," and the "works of the flesh" may be crucified in a great degree, and yet "I" as the center be seen in the most subtle way! In short the believer may realize every aspect of the Cross and be an overcomer in all these aspects, without having apprehended the crucial, and central meaning of the Cross which the Adversary most dreads - that apprehension of death with Christ which may be said to bring about the ever deepening and continuous submerging out of sight in the crucified One, of the "himself" in toto, that Christ may be revealed within, and the life of Jesus be manifested in the mortal body.
The truth is that there are deeps - abysmal deeps - in the death of Christ which no human being can fathom. "Baptized into His death" ( Rom. 6:3; top ), is no mere figure! His death took place on the Cross. The Christ hanging there had in Him potentially all those who would afterwards believe into Him, and be truly baptized into His death. The Spirit of God must open to the believer these deeps of Calvary, and plant him ever deeper and deeper into Christ's death. Thus more and more the bonds of sin are broken; the desires of the flesh are crucified; and the elements of this present world fade further and further away, as the child of God finds himself joined by the Holy Spirit, in actual identification, to the crucified One on His Cross, for identification is not a figment, but a real spiritual fact which is to be wrought into every one of the redeemed, by the working of the Divine Spirit. A true union in death with Christ must of necessity precede a true union with His life. There are no theories in God's dealing with the world. Every word used in the Scriptures concerning Calvary and the believer's death with Christ, to sin, the flesh, the world, and the devil, stands for a spiritual verity which is to be actually brought about in the surrendered believer by the Holy Spirit. The finished work of Christ on the Cross in all its aspects (excepting that of atonement) is to be wrought into the redeemed one for his actual deliverance, and translation into the sphere of the Spirit in Christ Jesus. The righteousness imputed to the pardoned sinner, is to be imparted by the in-working of the Divine Spirit.
It is when the believer is united to the crucified Lord on His Cross, that the "soulish life" - the life of the First Adam (see 1 Cor. 15:45 , 47 ) is hated and renounced, and the believer learns to live moment by moment, drawing upon the life of the Lord from heaven. What "I have been crucified with Christ" meant to Paul, is shown in his succeeding words, "the life which I now love in the flesh [body] I live in the faith of the Son of God" ( Gal. 2:20; top ) - a life lived in continual dependence upon the Risen Living Christ dwelling in him; drawing upon Him for all things, and not from the source of himself.
This is the deliverance of Calvary which the Adversary most fears for the redeemed one to know, for it draws the believer right out of his reach, into the hiding place in the crucified Lord, thus making way for the Christ Himself to possess the earthen vessel, and manifest His life and power. Then the Living Christ in possession of the believer leads him on into the fellowship of His sufferings, and conformity to His death, whilst He correspondingly quickens him with His risen life, and leads him on into knowledge of the ascension life with Christ in God.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!