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The third cross: Taking up our cross daily as disciples

With the third cross our entire inner being can be transformed into the image of Christ.

By taking up the second cross we are finished with serving sinSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More with our mind. This must be active in us if we are to receive grace to live a life that is hidden with Christ in God, that comes into effect with the third cross. (Colossians 3:3-4) When the second cross is active, the Holy Spirit comes to us and writes laws and commandments in our hearts and minds – laws that liberate us from doing our own will; laws that go beyond the manifest works of the fleshConscious sin; things we know to be sin before we do them. These are not “accidents” but deliberate sins, and they are to be repented from and “put off” at conversion: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness,... More. (Galatians 5:19-21)

In obedience to the Spirit, we take up the third cross, which is the cross that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. Jesus’ exhortation entails a deep salvation, much more than receiving forgiveness for committed sins (the first cross), and putting off manifest sin (the second cross). This is what a life of genuine discipleship is all about. Through this cross we partake of Christ, who is God’s wisdom, with the result that we are conformed to the image of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:21-25; Philippians 3:7-11)

Paul writes about meeting the law of sin in our members that go against the will of God. (Romans 7:22-23) This inclination to sin is also called “sin in the flesh” or “my will,” and is also present in a convertedTo make a decision to turn away from sin and darkness, from the power of the devil to the living God. We repent from our former sins, cast off our old life – a life which enjoyed living in the passing pleasures of sin – and lay hold of a new mind – a mindset that is determined to resist... More believer who has received forgiveness, and who has stopped committing manifest sin. This is what John means when he says that we all have sin. (1 John1:8) Paul, who had the mind to follow Christ, found that this law was working in his members, and cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24. Immediately afterwards he provides the answer: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the fleshSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More the law of sin.” Romans 7:25. The answer lies in looking at how Jesus did it.

Our “self-will” (or self-life) is the sin in the fleshSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More that we have all inherited. As a man, Jesus also had inherited this self-will, and was tempted, but His firm resolve from the very start was, “Not My will, but Yours, be done!” (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 10:5-7) He had to learn obedience, because He also had a human nature. (Hebrews 5:7-8) God’s Spirit pointed out the sin in His flesh, and Jesus agreed with the judgment. In this way sin was condemned in Jesus’ flesh, and He opened a way that all His disciples could follow, which we can call the way of the cross. (Romans 8:3-4; Hebrews 5:7-8; 1 Peter 4:1-2)

Jesus tells us how this done when He says that a disciple must “take up his cross daily” and follow Him. (Luke 9:23) Here Jesus is not referring to the first cross, the cross of Calvary, where we cannot follow Him as a sacrifice for others’ sins, nor was it the second cross, where manifest sin is put off, because Jesus never sinned and didn’t need to put off sin. The cross Jesus is referring to is the third cross, a metaphorical “inner cross” that He Himself made use of every day of His life on earth. It was upon this cross that all sin in His flesh was “crucified” when it had received its judgment. This self-denial caused sufferingThe Bible often mentions suffering. Though this can refer to outward, physical suffering, in the New Covenant it mostly applies to the suffering that occurs when you deny your own sinful lusts and desires and put them to death. It is an inner suffering that occurs because your lusts are not being satisfied, rather than a physical, outward one –... More in His flesh, but brought about death to sinTo commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought. (James 1:14-15)... More, so the inclination to sin was never translated into actual sin in thought, word or deed. This happened daily, until all sin in Jesus’ flesh was condemned, and He could cry out, “It is finished!” when He was crucified on Calvary. (John 19:30) That is why He exhorted His disciples to follow Him by taking up their cross, and hating their own lives (or self-will). (Luke 14:26-27) (Read the Essentials topic “Christ manifested in the flesh” to learn more.)

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1.

Peter writes that we must arm ourselves with the same mind which was in Christ. By taking up our cross daily as Jesus did, and by the revelation of the Holy Spirit whom God sent to us after Jesus overcame all the sin in His flesh, all of His own will, the Holy Spirit can continually show us new areas of our human nature, our flesh, which need to be cleansed. Gradually our old nature is replaced with the virtues of Christ, and we become more and more attuned to God’s voice and will. By taking up our cross daily, our human spirit is freed from the flesh through the blood of Christ, and is the driving force in this new creation by the Holy Spirit.

It is possible to have victory over fleshly lustsThe desires that we experience that go against God’s will. In other words, a desire for anything sinful. See James 1:14. Also called “sin in the flesh.” Although the expression “youthful lusts” is  often thought of in connection with sinful sexual desires, lusts include anything that go against what is good and right in God’s eyes. (2 Timothy 2:22.; Galatians... More, have a good conscience and live a respectable outward life, but without taking up our cross daily it remains soulish – earthlyRefers to everything of this earth, as opposed to heavenly things. Example: Earthly treasures/heavenly treasures. The earthly things pass away (are temporal), but the heavenly things are eternal. (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:2; 1 John 2:17)... More. Any spiritual progress is only possible by taking up our cross and there putting to death our own will, the sin that we have in our flesh. The word of God divides between soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12) When this occurs, we enter into a deeper salvation and transformationThis is the process of sanctification, in which we our sinful human nature is gradually exchanged for divine nature when we in obedience to God’s will deny and put to death the sinful lusts in our flesh. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:3-4)... More of our entire inner being into the image of God. This cross lifts us up from reacting in a soulish and earthly, human way, to becoming more and more spiritual, partakers of the divine natureGod’s nature, or divine nature, is perfectly pure and it cannot be tempted by evil. We are promised that we can be partakers of the divine nature by fleeing the corruption in the world that comes through our lusts. As we gradually overcome our sinful human nature it is replaced by divine nature – God shares His own nature with... More!

Jesus was the first one to go on this way of the cross, and He invites us to become His disciples and follow Him on the same way. The death over sin that He used is now something we make use of. “… always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord JesusThis most often refers not to the physical death Christ died on the cross of Calvary, but to the death of the lust to sin in His human nature, which task He fulfilled while He lived on earth as a human being. (2 Timothy 2:11; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:3)... More, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:10. When the “death of ChristThis most often refers not to the physical death Christ died on the cross of Calvary, but to the death of the lust to sin in His human nature, which task He fulfilled while He lived on earth as a human being. (2 Timothy 2:11; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:3)... More” is active, the wisdom and understanding that is of the world and which comes from below – that is to exalt oneself – is brought to nothing. Our human glory and honor according to this world vanishes in the eyes of men, because the wisdom of this world is to want to be something and have a name. (Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 1:19) But this cross sets us free from this world, as the life of Christ increases in our lives. Through the cross we are prepared to become the bride of ChristThe bride of Christ are all those who have purified themselves as He is pure and have been conformed to His image. (Romans 8:29) They cleanse and purify themselves of all sin and are true followers of Christ. The Bride is another term for the church of Christ.... More, the New Jerusalem that descends from heaven. (Revelation 21) Those who are earthly remain on the earth, but those who overcome by taking up their cross daily press on to perfection (Philippians 3:12-14), and bear the image of the heavenly – they become heavenly as Jesus is heavenly, and will receive a body which is the same as His glorified body. (Philippians 3:17-21)

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The message of the cross – Introduction

The cross is one of the most well-known symbols of Christianity, but its significance lies far deeper than the cross of Calvary.

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2

What is “The cross?”

Scripture actually speaks about three crosses.

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3

The first cross: The cross of Calvary

This is the cross that leads to the forgiveness of sins.

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The second cross: Crucifying the old man and the flesh with its passions and desires

This “crucifixion” is necessary if we want to become disciples.

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The third cross: Taking up our cross daily as disciples

With the third cross our entire inner being can be transformed into the image of Christ.

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What is the result of taking up our cross?

A glorious future in the knowledge of Christ.

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