By Ross Gilbert
What you understand and believe about the cross, and what happened there 2,000 years ago, will determine how you live today. If all I believe is that I am a forgiven sinner, if I only know about the forgiveness of my sins, then ‘I’ haven’t really changed. And my life’s goal will become to do all that I can to clean up my life. It starts with us spending much of our time trying to figure out what a life should look like in order that we might please God – through our behaviour.
We create models and lifestyles of what is appropriate and acceptable and what is not. What activities to do, what music to listen to, what clothes to wear, how to talk, which emotions are acceptable, and which are not.
We then look to motivate and inspire people to follow these models with a promise that God will be more pleased with you and reward you with blessings if you follow them well. The subtle implication being that if you don’t, God will be displeased and disappointed with you and will withhold His favour from your life. But is that really what God has in mind for us? Is this really the message of the apostles to the early church? That we would spend the rest of our lives on some self-improvement pursuit?
I think God had something else in mind.
The first half of 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die.”
What does it mean to be ‘IN’ somebody? To help you better understand, think about this: where was your life two months before you were born? Where was your life two years before you were born?
Hebrews 7:9-10 tells us,
“And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
So let’s go back in your family tree, back to Adam. We were all IN Adam, so that means when Adam sinned, we sinned. When Adam died to God, we died to God. When Adam was condemned, we were condemned. When Adam became a sinner, we became sinners. And that means WE NEED A RESCUE PLAN!!!
We find our rescue in Romans 6:3-6 where it says,
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 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.”
So, because we are now IN Christ, when Jesus died, the old me has died. When Jesus was buried, the old me was buried. When Jesus was raised, I was raised as a new creation. It is not saying “die to self” or “crucify self”, and it’s not an allegory.
You were spiritually present in Jesus on that cross,
nearly 2,000 years before you were born.
You don’t need to fix the old you! And my hope for us is that we will receive the fact that our old self has been crucified, that he or she is not coming back, and that you are already a brand new creation - a new creation that God has already made holy and acceptable. The best part is you don’t need to do anything to make this happen.