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Am I Crucified with Christ?

Galatians 2:19-21 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I was redeemed, born again and saved from hell not to be simply wait to die so that I could go to heaven, but for the purpose of living for God.  Are we teaching, preaching and discipling new believers with this in mind?  Are we reminding our members and ourselves of this enough?

Dustin Lee Honken, Wesley Ira Purkey and Daniel Lewis Lee—do you recognize those names? These three men were the first men executed by the Federal Government in more than 17 years this past week.   Their crimes were heinous, and if anyone was deserving of the death penalty they were. But what do you think they were thinking as they prepared for death? Were they angry? Delusional? Bitter?  Or perhaps were they aware that this is it! This is the end of my life and I am about to stand before my Creator? I don’t know much about them, but I can guarantee you that they were not worried about their income taxes, or their wrinkles, or some bill they had to pay, or what their neighbors thought of their grass, or how to impress the cute neighbor that just moved in next door. Their thoughts were all about the end of their life and standing before God in a matter of hours.

I have been crucified with Christ means is that I have been to my own funeral! It’s over—the curtain has fallen and Dean Barley is no longer living——he has died. His vain, self-serving pursuits and idiotic attempts to promote and protect himself are gone——he is gone.  A new man is living in the body we once called Dean—-and the man acts a lot more like Jesus than Dean! This is being crucified with Christ.

I live a new life by faith in Jesus, and the motivating influence of what I do is not personal ambition or gain, but by “faith” living a life that proves He has redeemed my life for the purpose of glorifying God and living a new way!

Being made holy and of use to Him requires death to self.  But not just death, also the new resurrected life that follows that death. Some folks remain in the death state and never experience the new, boundless resurrected life for which Christ came and then complain about their boring life. The Christian sanctified life is anything but boring!

The process of sanctification is not an easy lesson to be learned, but rather a tremendous battle to win! Within our minds and souls is a diabolical struggle that tempts us to resent the demands of Jesus Christ to be holy.   When the Holy Spirit begins that process of sanctification and we soberly begin to count the cost,  the struggle really begins within our soul.  Being made holy, or being crucified with Jesus, is a series of  events where God will remove all those things about me that hamper me from being the spiritual athlete He wants me to be. It’s painful, requires determination and demands a daily “work out”, if you will, to allow Him to remove the fat and replace it with the muscle.   It requires death to self and the new life of Jesus to take over. 

Oswald Chambers put it like this, “Am I willing to be myself and nothing more? Am I willing to have no friends, no father, no brother, and no self-interest— simply to be ready for death for Him? That is the condition required for sanctification. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us falter. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ on this point. We say, “But this is so strict. Surely He does not require that of me.” Our Lord is strict, and He does require that of us.

Am I willing to reduce myself down to simply “me”? Am I determined enough to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, and all that I think of myself? Am I willing and determined to hand over my simple unadorned self to God? Once I am, He will sanctify me completely, and my life will be free from being determined and persistent toward anything except God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  When I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me— it is Himself in me (see 1 Corinthians 1:30)."

Sanctification means nothing less than the holiness of Jesus becoming mine and being obviously exhibited in my life.  The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is "Christ in you . . ." (Colossians 1:27). It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification- imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God's grace. Am I willing for God to make sanctification as real in me as it is in His Word?

Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ to me. It is the gift of His patience, love, holiness, faith, purity, and godliness. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy- it is drawing from Jesus His holiness .  Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.

Have I been crucified with Christ and have I been conformed to His Character? This is now the fourth week of camp and I tend to look a bit more introspectively in regards to not only which people (staff) allow me to be at peace the most, but also which ones remind me how far away I am from where I want to be in my walk with Christ.

The things I value most in the staff, volunteers, and even the campers are probably the same things you value in your fellow workers, students or friends. But as I pray for my mind and attitude to be conformed to His mind and attitude, I am beginning to appreciate more and more what God longs for as well. With that said, I realize that I find great peace in being around adults, staff and campers that are:

  1. Humble

  2. Servants

  3. Full of smiles gentle touches

  4. Ever saying good things about someone else

  5. Ready to help me or someone else any way they can

  6. Never attempting to manipulate me or others 

  7. Genuinely interested in what I have to say

  8. Uninterested in unkind talk about anyone  else

  9. Full of laughter, wonder, and excitement!

I am drawn to people like this because that’s the kind of a person I want to be and it represents the perfect man—Jesus. It is what sanctification will produce within me. And truly, the closer I draw to Him, the more I am sanctified, the less I “fit in” here and the more homesick I am for my eternal home… Are you homesick?? Homesick at camp is one of the toughest ailments to cure and the quickest to spread!  But if I am doing my job properly, and if every staff is living a life dedicated to Jesus Christ, campers and staff will leave this/my/the Vineyard camp homesick for the Kingdom of God.

Isn’t it noteworthy that none of us, Christian or non-Christian,  enjoy being around people that are the opposite of the sanctified;  we are repelled by the arrogant, self-serving, haughty, unkind, lazy, rude, dull and the gossipy type. But am I striving to allow Him to make me into the kind of person that I see as the ideal? 

I understand better why people hated Jesus so much. He lived what He talked about and proved that it was possible to be the very man we all crave to be but seem to be unable to become. And that’s the part of the gospel that we often fail to proclaim. The only way to realize the ideal life, the one for which we were created, is to put to death the old habits of/and life and allow a new life to be created  anew within us. It is NOT a matter of God merely trimming my branches, but pulling up the entire tree and planting a new one or grafting us into Jesus!

It’s not bit by bit that I can be reborn, but in the very moment I admit I am not the man I want to be and am not likely to ever achieve the traits and graces I admire in others that I begin that process of being sanctified. Then, and only then,   can I begin to be one that draws others to Him—-not on my merits, but rather on my acknowledgment of what a wretched man I was without Him.

What is the “test” for sanctification? How can I know, for sure,  that I am on the road to perfection—which is the end result of sanctification?  Jesus offered these “Congratulations” to those that were sanctified—we call them the beatitudes.  They are simple and unsurprising, but they contain the  “dynamite” of the Holy Spirit. It offers a picture of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His unhindered way with us.  Is this test something we can pass or attain on our own?  Try it. You will either discover that Jesus has set a standard that is totally impossible and the test is unreasonable, or you will find that you must surrender to Him and allow Him to produce within you that which only His Holy Spirit can instill within you.

So here’s the test:

1. Do you realize how poor and bankrupt you are without Him? That is, do you see your own depravity outside of Jesus Christ? “Congratulations, you know that you are the poor in spirit, 

2. Is your heart broken because of all the pain and suffering you see all around you?   Congratulations, you know how to mourn.

3. Do you seek to never promote yourself, but always to lift up the good deeds and accomplishments of others?  Congratulations for being meek.

4. Do you pant, hunger, yearn for a place where things are honest, transparent and godly?

Congratulations, you want what is righteousness

5. Do you never seek personal justice or to get even, but are always looking out for others to get what’s fair?  Congratulations, you are merciful.

6. Is your life transparent and your motive truly for God’s glory or the help of others. Congratulations, you are the pure of heart, 

7. Do you desire to bring harmony and a laying down of arms in conflicts?  Congratulations  are a child of God——a peacemakers. 

8. Do some people treat you badly for being honest, doing the right thing, speaking the truth, loving those that are not like you or quite unlovable?  Congratulations, you’ve passed the final test.

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