I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me – and gave Himself up for me.
At rebirth, we come into union with Christ, and I cease to exist as His life begins in me. My old life in Adam is crucified and left nailed to the cross. My new life starts to grow. The new-life in-Christ takes time to grow – much time. The new life in Christ takes a lifetime of growth.
At the same time, the old self endeavours to get down from the cross and resume control – and a battle ensues between the old sin nature and the new life in Christ. Although crucified with Christ, the old life desires to get down from the cross and reign supreme. A constant tussle for supremacy between the old and new rages for the rest of our life. This ongoing battle between the two will never cease – until death, or Christ’s return. It will be a tussle that will last for the rest of our lives – while we inhabit our fallen body.
Sometimes it’s not an easy decision for a believer to submit to the Holy Spirit of Christ, for the old nature lusts against the new life in Christ. The flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit – (that is my human spirit) lusts against my human flesh. Often a tug-of-war ensues between the old sin nature and the new life in Christ, but the old life and the new nature can never live in harmony with each other.
We can prevaricate and postpone the day when we submit unsparingly to the cross, but in the end, we need to make a definite commitment to walk the way of the cross. We finally need a conclusive act of submission to the Spirit of God - a yielding to Him.
The time must come when we make a commitment – that all of 'self' must GO. All that is of me must go, All that I am must be nailed, once for all, upon the cross, and from that point on, we begin to realise the egotistical immensity of our self-life.
As the Lord starts to fine-tune, hone, and mould us, we realise the size of our self-image. As we submit to Him, He uncovers areas of self that we were unaware even existed. As the Spirit fashions and forms, He will bring us under the authority of the cross, and we must be prepared to firmly fasten our most treasured attributes onto the cross.
As we learn to die daily to all that is of self we begin to bear in our body His death in us. As we sacrificially yield all we are to the cross, Christ’s life starts to be formed in us, and in the measure that the Lord Jesus starts to increase, so the old 'me' must decrease. By the power of Christ’s life working within, He becomes all as I diminish to nothing.
Austin Sparks made this profound observation: Everything which demands that we accept a fresh measure of the meaning of His death, means that as we accept it, there will be a larger measure of Him in risen life – so that the meaning and value of Christ risen, as an inward life, is a reproduction of Him in us – and there is no other way. The increase of the number of the Lord’s own, is not by joining something to the outside, it is by coming to the cross and dying – that is the only way. There is no Christian on any other ground, than that HE died with Christ, and has been raised together with Him.
All believers are united with Christ at rebirth... a permanent, unbreakable, eternal union. From that point onwards He must increase and I must decrease, for we are identified with His death and with His life.
God’s long-term plan is that Christ is all and in all – and we are to be in Christ. As I cease to exist so the life of Christ begins to grow and develop in me. As my old self ceases to exist – so my new life in Christ begins to grow.
My old life in Adam is crucified and left nailed to the cross as the new starts to grow. The new growth in the 'new life in-Christ'.. takes time. The new life takes time to grow – much time – a life-time of growing in grace.
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