- Overcomer Literature Trust
THE MOULDING POWER OF THE CROSS
By Gordon Watt.
In Philippians 3 v10 we read, “Sharing the likeness of His death”. Our Lord Jesus Christ has just one mould for producing Christian character and that is the Cross. We cannot reach our goal except in the way in which He reached His goal, and the Cross is the mould through which He puts each one who is to represent Him here and reign with Him hereafter.
The Cross is the only place where we get rid of dead things that hinder us and hinder Him, and the place where we enter into an ever deeper conformity with Him, sharing in the likeness of His death, having His image impressed upon our character. Our Lord never trespasses against the law of personality. In the new creation the Cross does not produce the same spiritual character, but a variety of natures, each bearing its own mark of individuality.
The mould of the Cross works in this way. God has taken the old creation and has condemned it in Christ and is now at work on a new creation. There is no place in the plan of God for the betterment of the old creation. He does not bring about some kind of transformation of the old nature so as to produce some kind of resemblance to Christ in Christian character and conduct. There is only one place for the old creation and that is the Cross. But it is not enough for us to say it is there crucified with Christ. Crucifixion was a lingering death, and while we stand once and for all upon the fact that when our Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross He took more than our sins with Him, He took our old nature and dealt with the source of all sin, there has to be the daily working out of the victory which Christ has won for us. There has to be the daily dying to this old self. The Holy Spirit has to work into us the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in all its wonderful power and purpose.
In I Corinthians 15 v31 we read, “I die every day”, and in 2 Corinthians 4 v11, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal bodies”. There has to be the daily dying, the daily working out in our own lives of the victory won for us on Calvary. The Holy Spirit has to be continually at work in our lives with the Cross. The old habits, the old nature are continually attempting to reassert their supremacy, and the only way in which the new creation can bring our lives to victory is by our allowing the Holy Spirit to work the purpose of the Cross into us day by day. In the face of every display of the old life we learn to die daily, to hand ourselves over to the Holy Spirit for the working of the Cross in us.
As the Holy Spirit works out the power of the Cross in us, the real life of Christ is imparted, the very life that is in the heart and nature of Christ. It is this which creates the spirit of revival, it is this life which convicts sinners.
Notice how Paul rejoiced, he never shrank from the Cross, he never shirked the consequences of witness. 2 Corinthians 12 v9 reads, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore will I boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. And so, as the great apostle entered into the meaning of the mould of the Cross, he proclaimed this as the great necessity for the development of Christian character and the building up of the Body of Christ, for the accomplishment of the purpose of God on earth, and for making certain the life of victory. Partaking with Christ in the sufferings of the Cross is the way into the partnership with Christ in everything that He has to give us.
Hebrews 2 v18 reads, “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted”. Let us never forget this. “Because He Himself suffered . . . , He is able to help”. He will never let us go alone and whether He keeps you at ‘home’ or takes you to the uttermost ends of the earth, He will never let you go alone. The way is too rough for us to be allowed to go alone.
Remember that this is what we are called to, “God has called you into fellowship with His Son” (1 Cor. 1 v9). We cannot avoid it if we are to be true to Him. We are called to be partakers of the Cross if we are to be partners in the crown.
Satan will always try to make us shirk the Cross, to keep us from the painful element in witnessing and to choose another position that seems to be less inconvenient. That was the temptation that was hurled in the face of the Lord Jesus upon the Cross, “Save Yourself, and come down from the Cross”. That is still the bait by which the Devil seeks to lure us away from the path of the Cross. It is the challenge that he is continually flinging in our faces. Satan never drove Christ to the Cross. By every possible means in his power, he tried to keep Him from that moment. He instigated Herod to kill all the little children in Bethlehem. All through the ministry of the Lord you can see the track of Satan. If the Devil left Him for a season it was a very short season. There was almost never a moment after that temptation that the Devil left Him alone. He tried to drive Him over the brow of the hill, to stone Him, to drown Him, and to force Him upon the throne when the people were aroused by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. I believe he tried to kill Him in the garden, and when he could not do that and found that Christ was bound to fulfill the purpose for which He had come to the earth, which was to go to the Cross, he heaped insult upon insult upon the Son of God and tried to brand with shame what God meant to be the instrument of victory.
We will find that the offence of the Cross has not ceased, and upon those who stand for the Cross and who follow the Cross, the hatred of Satan will be concentrated just as it was upon the Master. ‘Save yourself. Shirk that little bit of work. It is too painful, it is going to cost too much. Forget it. You will get on all right. Shirk it, save thyself, and come down from the Cross’. But if we are ever to know the depths of God’s grace, if our lives are ever to be raised to the level on which God means them to be, in order to touch the conscience of that world outside, it will only be as we are willing to go into the mould of the Cross, cost what it may, and yield ourselves to the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit.
The Cross is the gathering point for the children of God. It is the fixed point where the children of God can always find the most perfect assurance of safety and the most continuous spring of power. Without the Cross as a mighty factor in our lives, we shall never reach the divinely revealed goal, we will be imperfect.
Listen to the man who poured himself into the mould of the cross as he tells us what it means. Romans 6 v5 reads, “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection”. We do need to be careful not to emphasize the truth out of proportion. Not to preach what I call the death side of the Cross and to forget the life side, but also never to emphasize the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and to lose sight of the Cross. That is what many are doing to-day, forgetting that the constant reassertion of the self-life can be dealt with only by the Cross and can be kept under only by the Holy Spirit through the Cross, and that only in the measure in which we enter into the death union with Christ can we know the resurrection life of Christ.
Look at Romans 6 verse 8, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him”, a life over which death can have no dominion, a power that nothing in the world can destroy, a hope of which nothing can rob us.
Romans 8 v17 reads, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory”, and Ephesians 2 v6, “Seated with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”. We share His seat in the heavenlies to-day in the place of victory. Revelation 3 v21 shows that we are going to share His throne and, notice in those letters to the churches, the greatest of all the promises is made to the one who overcomes in the church of Laodicea, because there is no atmosphere so difficult for us to witness in, to overcome in, as the atmosphere of the church at Laodicea, the church of the present day. And the overcomer is going to share in His throne.
In Philippians 1 v7 Paul writes, “All of you share in God’s grace with me”. That is the power for confirming the truth of the Gospel by our sufferings, our co-passion with Christ. It means strength for the day, the accomplishment of life’s purposes, giving to the world the testimony of the power of a living Christ and victory that is full and complete. In 2 Corinthians 4 v7-10 he writes, “But we have this treasure in jars clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry about in our body the death of Jesus, so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body”. Every time we are hard pressed and not crushed, perplexed and not despairing, persecuted and yet realizing that we are not forsaken, struck down and not destroyed, we are winning, we are living the victorious Christian life. We are sometimes most victorious when we are being submerged yet coming up with a smile on our face and with trust in our heart, perplexed but not despairing, pressed down but not crushed. Every time we live like that we are putting ourselves into the mould of the Cross and the Cross is doing its work and proof is being given that Christ is in you and the life of Jesus is being shown forth.
From: ‘The Meaning of the Cross’.
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