STEM Publishing : Magazines : The Christian’s Friend : 1897 : Crucified with Christ
I believe the great hindrance to divine joy in the soul arises from the imperfect way the crucifixion of the old man is apprehended. The believer at first, for full peace, believes that God has raised from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the judgment which lay on him, so that the man that was under judgment is really gone from the eye of God in judgment. The believer is now before God, not in the man who was under judgment, but in the Man who has glorified God in bearing the judgment; and, consequently, there is not a cloud between his soul and God, because the man who caused the distance has been removed in judgment.
Often a believer, though tasting of peace with God, when he finds the working of sin in him, tries to correct it as if he could alter himself, overlooking the great and stupendous fact that God Himself has removed the man in judgment in the death of His own Son; He has laid help upon One that is mighty – His own arm brought salvation – and if a believer is really at peace with God, it is because his old man has been crucified with Christ, and altogether set aside in judgment on the cross. If he were clear as to the fact of our old man being crucified with Christ, instead of trying to correct himself, he would look to Christ to set him free from the intrusion of the flesh “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What becomes us now is to have Christ before us, and not the correction of the old man. The snare of trying to improve oneself is very common, and it is important to see that, however well-meaning it may be, it is really a denial that our old man has been crucified, and a revival of that which has been set aside in the cross. It is plain that if you are clear of the old man you can have no man before you but Christ. “If Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin”; and the more sensible you are of how ready the flesh is to intrude, the more you are cast upon Him.
It is inconceivable that one could have any just apprehension of God’s grace, and yet continue to expect anything from the flesh, or in any way to deal with it. It shows how little the revelation of His grace is really accepted in its greatness; because if I know that God Himself has in the cross removed the man who offended, how gladly should I accept His grace! What fruitless sorrow has one known for months and years in the attempt to improve oneself, until wearied out we cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then we find there is only one relief, and that is found where we ought to have sought it at first. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our lord.” Nothing can be more certain for the believer than that one man is gone in judgment, and that Christ alone remains. When I have put on Christ – the best robe – the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Not only does the blessed God see me on this ground – one from which He never can change or be diverted – but I now, by the Spirit of God, see myself on that ground, and I can say, not only “our old man is crucified,” but “I am crucified with Christ”; and if I am crucified, how can I refer to myself in any sense? If we observe the history of Christians, we see them trying to improve themselves – their tempers and their evil tendencies – plainly showing that they do not believe in the absolute and simple revelation that “our old man is crucified with Him.”
Nothing is of deeper importance at the commencement of our Christian history than that we should accept, with some apprehension of its greatness, that the man that was under judgment is removed from the eye of God in judgment. We have to ponder, in order to realize the magnitude of it, and when we do believe it as a truth, another thing of equal importance is made known to us – that not only is the old man completely removed from the eye of God, but that by the Holy Ghost we are in Christ a new creation by the power of God. If we keep these two together we have a great start; one man is gone and Another is brought in, and this is established to us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Now we enter on our new history. Properly, we are not occupied with the flesh; though the flesh is still in us, “we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit”; and our attention is largely given to walking in the Spirit. We have now a new exercise, even to sow to the Spirit, and of the Spirit to reap life everlasting. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” This shows us how intent our eye must be on Christ; we have nothing to do with the man that is gone; and the more we realize this the happier we are – judicially freed of the one, and by the Spirit of God established in Christ. Everything we do now is done with reference to Christ; and not only is the body the Lord’s, but “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” – we have to act according to His pleasure in the very management of the body, just as a slave would use his body according to the wishes of his owner.
It is remarkable that Romans 12:2 refers to the body: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . . be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But in 2 Cor. 3:18, We all beholding the glory of the Lord – are transformed; it is the same word (transformed) as in Romans 12, and is only used twice in Scripture in reference to us – once as to the body, and secondly as to what is imparted to us – what is received from Christ; we are “transformed into the same image.” This I might call the exercise of our daily life; our history here is not merely seeking to glorify Him in our bodies, but we should be growing in moral correspondence to Himself, and that by association with Himself; so that the two great truths we started with would be confirmed to us more and more every day – the old man gone from the eye of God completely and for ever, and we established in Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. J. B. Stoney.