The Overcomer Trust

  • 10 Bydemill Gardens
  • Highworth
  • Wiltshire
  • SN6 7BS UK

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By Alan Cooper.

            In the New Testament there are two distinct view points of Calvary. In the Gospels we are shown the externals - the plotting of Christ’s foes, His arrest, their false testimony and the mockery of the trial, the sentence of death. The crowds and their hatred, the actions of the soldiers, the scourging, the spitting and cursing, the act of nailing Jesus Christ to a Roman gibbet and the blood shedding. All of which may be summarized in the term crucifixion.

            In the Epistles, however, we are introduced to a different view point, the reason for the Cross. Paul never writes of crucifixion, he writes of THE CROSS. The outward expression of sin at Calvary was to him anathema, but when God showed him the deep underlying reason for the Cross, his heart responded to it and his life was henceforth lived in a glowing joy because he had been accounted worthy to receive such a revelation, and preach such a cause. The Cross was his sole message (1 Cor. 2 v2), his sole glory (Gal. 6 v14).

            By ‘the Cross’ we mean that act of God, in Christ, co-incident with His crucifixion, by which He reconciled the world to Himself, made an end of sins and made it possible for the sinner to be utterly delivered from the guilt, penalty, power, presence and author of sin, and be welcomed into a newness of life, entirely foreign to human conception, acceptable to God and of eternal duration.

            This basic work is one act but manifold in its out-working. By the Cross Christ has secured for us a seven-fold deliverance.

            1. From the accusation of conscience because of sin (Heb. 9 v14). This is perhaps best expressed by a picture from the New Testament. Peter had denied his Lord and had received from Him a look, the intensity of which only he himself knew. This awakened Peter’s conscience to the enormity of his sin and he went out and wept bitterly. Christ died, taking that sin to the Cross, rose again, ascended and sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to make real what Calvary had made possible. That deliverance had been realised by Peter is seen in the fact that, in Acts 3 v14, he accuses the Jews of that very sin of which he himself had been guilty, but does so without the slightest accusation of conscience. The blood-shedding and the Holy Spirit’s application of it had cleansed him completely, where nothing else could have reached him and fitted him for service amongst sinners such as he himself had been.

            2. From the controlling power of indwelling sin (Rom. 6 v6). The Cross does not mend a man, it ends him. Christ died not only for me, but as me. He died not merely to remove something from me, or to redeem me merely from some condition into which sin had brought me, but took me, representatively, fully and finally, to the Cross.

            In the estimation of God therefore I have been crucified with Christ and am as if I no longer live. I may be high born or low born, rich or poor, cultured or coarse, religious or profane, but no state of mine will alter God’s reckoning concerning me. As a believer I have been crucified with Christ and nothing I possess will be of any count with God; it all had to go to the Cross as part of the fallen nature inherited from Adam. Since this is the fact - God’s fact - then that sin which besets me at every turn, demanding control of me in thought, word and deed, has also been crucified with Him and has no further authority over me. Its reign is reckoned to have ended at Calvary, where a new dynasty began - that of the Lord who ended it and began His own reign there and carried it through into risen power.

            I therefore side with God - He has reckoned, so will I. Christ has died to sin - so will I reckon myself to be dead indeed to it. God reckons I have been raised with Him, so will I and will claim from Him my right as a believer to live in newness of life, life risen, beyond the power or control of sin, able to walk and not sin. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves”, never others. Daily life will demonstrate this to us. If we say we cannot sin, we shall find ourselves to be liars, but we can say, in this living union with Christ in death and resurrection, that we need not sin any longer, its control has been removed and a new one, in a new inward creation, established.

            3. From the response of our members to outside temptation to sin (Rom. 8 v13, Col. 3 v5). Besetting sins are attacks made upon those particular members within which will most readily respond to sin, either from weakness or from long habit of yielding. If I have died with Him, then my members have all died too, in God’s reckoning.

            When I find any one member pressing its claim to self-pleasing or self-gratification, I must hand that over to the Spirit to be dealt with, that it shall no longer respond and bring me into slavery to sin. The mind that plans without God, the lips that speak both blessing and cursing, the hands that greet while the heart despises, the feet that wander into strange paths, the eyes that will look where they have no right to look, the ears that long to tingle with delight at some titbit of scandal, the intellect that prefers its own grasp of things rather than submit to God’s rule, the proud heart, all these and every other not mentioned here must be brought to God at the Cross, there to be put to death as they are discovered in His holy light. It does not necessarily follow that God will take every talent from us, but He will take away those which are not conducive to His glory in a surrendered life and will quicken those He can use most, and we shall be in full agreement with Him, in all His actions in us, if we are living in fellowship with Him.

            4. From the allurements of the world (Gal. 6 v14). A right view of the world shows that it had nothing for the Son of God but a manger, a cross and a tomb. The world will deal in like manner with every one who takes sides with Him to-day. No Christian need ask the question, ‘Ought I to go there, or to do this or that’. Only live as one dead to sin and alive to God and the world will settle such queries. Looking at the world through the Cross one may see a system in which He has no place, and which, when He came into it, resented His advent and speeded His departure from it.

            We are not ‘of’ this world. The death of the Cross has separated us from it. Therefore it cannot lay any claim to us in any way. While we must live in it, yet we can, by His life and power, live as those who are but pilgrims passing through it. If anyone would think of going back again into it, such a one must pass over the Cross and grave of Christ, treading them down in doing so. Let me press this fact upon any who still find the world attractive and clamouring for a place in their heart.

            5. From the hold of the devil (Heb.2 v14). Throughout the earthly life of Christ the devil sought to cause Him to swerve from the pathway leading to the Cross. By enticements, by threats, by subtlety, lying in wait - by every conceivable means - he sought to retain his hold on mankind and to obtain a hold on Christ. But each effort was a failure and, in the Cross, Christ won a victory that completely routed the forces of hell. He won this for us and as we enter by faith into the death-resurrection-union with Him He imparts it to us, as and when the need arises.

            The wiles of the devil are revealed clearly in the Word of God and need not be enumerated here, what we wish to emphasise is that in the Cross there is deliverance from each and all of them. Note some Old Testament types of this: The Ark as it were rising out of Dagon’s temple in victory, Jonah rising from the depths of the sea and from the belly of the great fish, the three young men coming untouched out of the fire.

            6. From the works of the devil (1 John 3 v8). These may be defined as wrong relationships between man and God, and between man and man. Cravings of body, rebellion in soul, blindness in spirit and all that horrid tangle of life arising out of them may be undone by the reconciliation of the Cross. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might ‘undo’ (Greek) the works of the devil”. If we are willing to bring to Him those that affect us, just as they are, and confess our share in the work of tangling, He will straighten everything out to His glory, and at every point deliver us and adjust our tangled lives to His perfect life. No sin has ever taken Him by surprise as it has done us. The Cross has dealt effectively with all of them. Let Him then take them in hand.

            7. From selfish to selfless service (2 Cor. 5 v15). One vision of that Cross and the exceeding greatness and exceeding selflessness of the love underlying it changed Paul from a religious bigot to a self-sacrificing missionary. The culmination of the effect of that vision is expressed in the words, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren” (Rom. 9 v3). Everyone who has seen the deep implications of the Cross has been so changed, by the impartation of that holy passion manifest in the life of the Lord Jesus, that they no longer live unto themselves, but “unto Him Who died for us and rose again”.