There are two kinds of crucifixions every Christian must come to accept for themselves. The first has to do with what Jesus went through for us. To be crucified was not a quick, clean death. It was gruesome and lengthy. But this is what God required of His Son. If you are Godís son or daughter, you are not excused. There is a cross for each of us to carry as well. Carrying a cross is not easy nor is it delightful. In fact, it is the hardest thing we will ever do. No one wants to suffer; in fact, we avoid it at all costs. Weíve been taught that Jesus suffered and therefore we do not have to. But Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23) The cross Jesus is referring to is one of continual self denial. It is walking away, throwing away, and letting go of anything in our lives that delights our sinful nature. As difficult as this may be at times, it must be done or we have no part in Christ. There is no room for selfishness, pride, greed, prejudice, bitterness, unforgiveness or hate in our lives, if Godís Spirit lives in us.
When we give our hearts to God, it is not just a little prayer we pray and then we go on living just like we did before. If we truly gave our hearts to God, there will be a willingness to change. When I gave my heart to Christ that was the day I chose to put to death my sinful nature. It doesnít stop here; every day I have to choose who I am going to live for: Naomi or God? The true test comes when I am tempted to be selfish, unforgiving or bitter. When any of these feelings rise up in me, I have to purposely do the very opposite and be giving, forgiving and loving to others. When everything in me wants to dwell on wrongs done to me, I must forgive and exit them from my thoughts. It is not a pleasant experience to my sinful nature. But the more I choose to obey Jesusí words, rather than my own feelings, the less of me lives. The victory over our sin will only come when we do not yield to it.
DONíT TAKE SIN LIGHTLY-JESUS DIDNíT
When we struggle with a particular area of sin that seems difficult to overcome, we must not take it lightly. Sin has an agenda. That agenda is to enslave us (Romans 6:6). When it enslaves us, we feel captured, in bondage, with no hope of escape. We donít see how we can be set free from it, so we casually fit it into our lives accepting it as just the way we are.
Iíve heard people say, about their sin, ďOh, thatís just my personality; or I canít help it, thatís just how I am.Ē If we looked into their hearts, we would see this is pure apathy; when they stand before God, none of these excuses will save them. Jesus has told us how to overcome strongholds of sin in our lives. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29) In this passage, we learn the seriousness of our sin and the consequences we will face if it isnít dealt with. This isnít to say that whoever sins will end up in hell; rather, if we have made a habit of a sin that we are not dealing with, we will face consequences for it. We can be righteous in every area of our lives, but if we donít deal with that one area that we are holding on to, we have no hope of salvation. Jesus has taught us, through the above passage, that we are to ďgouge out and throw awayĒ or in other words ďtake hold of with everything that is in you and cast from your lifeĒ whatever it is that is sending you to hell. Like the eye that has been gouged out, that person will not be capable of lusting with his eyes. He took drastic measures. In the same way, we must be extreme in dealing with the sin we are facing. When we confront the issue of sin in our lives for what it is instead of just a habit, it is our first step to freedom. When we take drastic measures, like this, there will be no returning to it because it has been eradicated from our life. Get rid of the thing in your life that is causing you to stumble. It may be pleasurable right now, but is it worth going to hell over? Once this area has been dealt with aggressively, there is little chance for it to return. This is how to crucify your flesh.
We must not neglect our spiritual lives. Sometimes, we can put so much emphasis on what we look like on the outside, that our heartís issues get put on the back burner. When our lives are said and done, what is going to matter most is what went on inside us. Do you belong to Christ? Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24) This is why sin is so appealing. With it come passions and strong desires. If it were not backed up by these two, it would not be such a huge struggle. Examine your heart. What are your passions and desires? Do they contradict Christís teachings in anyway? If so, they must be crucified.
When we stand before God, the sweetest words we can ever hear are ďWell done, My good and faithful servant!Ē