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As Romans 8:13 declares, if you through the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live. We think this means that the Spirit gives us power to put those deeds to death, but the reality is not that we put to death the flesh, but that through the Spirit we are to do it. This may seem subtle but it is important, very important. Now, what does this mean, through the Spirit?
Well let’s think about that for a second. Those led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). The Spirit is leading to the cross and all the sons of God are to follow Him there to their own cross. We think to put to death the deeds of the flesh means to do it ourselves, that we crucify our flesh ourselves, but again, let's begin to think more clearly.
When we think of going to the cross, of taking up our cross, of following Jesus we think we do it, like we go running to it, but that winds up having us just bring those things we want to end to the cross, and not all of us, or not those things Jesus wants dealt with first. We pick and choose which part of our flesh will die. That isn’t what the “crucified life” is all about.
Now some of us know better than that and we think we let Him do it, but this winds up just being us praying harder and going up to the altar every week and wondering why we still want to do those same old things. With both scenarios it is still we doing it in sense.
However, the bible says we have already crucified the flesh, and that we just need to walk in that (Galatians 5:24-25). That is where the misunderstanding takes place, going from the position in Christ to the condition in life, and beginning to realize, to make real this crucified life in our daily walk. The truth is that this should be a daily walk to the cross.
Now consider this about crucifixion. Crucifixion is not putting yourself to death. Rather, it is yielding yourself up to death at the hands of others. The crucified victim doesn't get to choose his own death (John 13:37-38, 21:18-19). You don’t kill yourself, you let yourself die; you let yourself be killed. The truth is that you are already dead (Colossians 3:3); the role of others whether they realize it or not is to help you to reckon it so (Romans 6:11).
This is a big difference that people just don’t seem to get. When Jesus says follow me He means to the cross and into the hands of people who want you dead, it is the other people and other situations that kill you, but of course this is used by God to bring resurrection life.
Just as it was with Jesus, to be able to see and understand the resurrection power there must first be the cross, and before the cross there must be the garden. The question is in that garden will you plant the seed of surrender (not my will but thine be done) or the seed of self. You surrender and suffer death in the church community, or you barricade yourself in your own flesh at home. You visit the garden every day, friends. There are always new crops to harvest.
Consider John 21:21-22 – looking at others and their cross is not the Way in it is looking for a way out. Live out the truth of 1 Peter 4:1 – believe it and receive that cross when it comes, carry it, follow Him, and have life. If we win the battle of the mind we will win the battle with sin. It is time to stop sinning and start winning.