“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18.
Freedom from sin
This message, or gospel, is now available to all Jesus’ disciples – those who want to be freed from sin. For “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed,” Jesus Himself said. (John 8:36) True liberation is found on the cross. We experience freedom when we are crucified with Him, suffer with Him, and become like Him in His death. The devil can do nothing when the lusts have been crucified, for this is the very source of power.
This is what is so good, that when we are tired of ourselves, we know that we are “sold under sin” – we are bankrupt – so we come to Him, allow ourselves to be crucified, and experience His death beginning to work in us over all these lusts and desires. (Matthew 11:28-30)
The power that has been given to us through the message of the cross is a power with which we can put all things in order according to God’s wisdom. Gradually, as time goes on and we are walking in the light God gives us, putting to death sin in our flesh as it is being revealed, we notice that the life of Jesus is coming forth in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:10-12) Where we were bitter and demanding before, we become a blessing. Where we were anxious and discouraged, we become full of faith and power for action. Where we once were judgmental and full of spite, we learn to forgive and edify. Instead of causing arguments and strife when our feelings are hurt or our opinions defied, we become examples in mildness, kindness and patience. As our own lusts are denied, we acquire the virtues of Christ.
We get more desire for what is good; we think in another way to how we did formerly. Perhaps egotism had previously kept us bound, but when we humble ourselves by denying our own will, we sense that a death over sin is happening – a liberation from sin. This is the death of Christ – the “dying of the Lord Jesus” that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 4:10. Where there was previously unrest and stress, there is now rest and peace. Life becomes peaceful; we are free from “stressing” to obtain the honor and greatness of this world and from all the worldly fretting, which comes from the desires of the flesh.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.
What power was manifested by the life Paul lived! Paul was gripped of the message of the cross, and the possibilities a “crucified life” gave him, following Jesus who was perfected through sufferings. We can partake of exactly the same power and the same abundant life. The gospel places no limitations on what we can attain of the life of God. If we love the message of the cross, we will get to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection …” Romans 6:5.
A member of the body of Christ
On the cross we can have fellowship with one another, and with all who are also on the cross. The true church is a church on the cross, where the enmity is put to death, and we are united in one new body, which is called the “body of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
It is only through the cross that the enmity can be slain, and all can be united in love and goodness. On this glorious cross, we put on something new, which is “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians 3:12-13.
When the message of the cross is active in our personal lives, so we live a “crucified life,” we experience a blessed life in every circumstance, a glorious future awaits, and we experience fellowship with Jesus Christ and with all the other disciples who live an active, crucified life.