"Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)
The teaching in Romans 6, 7 and 8 is a wonderful encapsulation of the Gospel, the good news about the grace given us by a loving God. But we can believe all the doctrine in Romans 6, and yet experience a great contradiction of it in ourselves.
This is because the doctrine of Romans 6 cannot be appropriated without the application of the cross. We can read it and understand it and try to walk in it, but still fall short. The reason is simple. The Holy Spirit will not commit Himself to the flesh or natural life.
If we are occupied with ourselves; our spiritual growth; our work; our being used by God, we are not in the full value of an open heaven. It is easy to slip unconsciously from giving glory to God to glorifying our work. When this happens, the spiritual atmosphere changes.
However, when we are in spiritual union with Christ through death, burial and resurrection, when we are on the other side of the cross, we come into the realm of divine fullness. This means we take possession, not just doctrinally nor theoretically, but actually.
Most disciples understand the truth of the Gospel. We contemplate it and recognize it as a wonderful gift from God. In our hearts we embrace it, but we just don't have its fullness. We have not come to the position that we are what we are supposed to be. And what good is the doctrine, the teaching, the interpretation and all the rest if we are not there?
We can't have any of it without the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that is where the cross always leads us. If Jesus is not in His rightful place as Lord, we must go back to the cross. The cross is the only place we can right a wrong.
When the Holy Spirit is in charge, we don't have to organize something to get it going. We don't have to plan and devise and scheme to make a work of God happen. It just goes when it is under the government of the Holy Spirit.
But that means we have to withdraw our earthly touch from His work. Jericho is an excellent example. Joshua was a great general who knew how to take a city with his army. But he had to withdraw his earthly touch and take Jericho God's way.
To emphasize the contrast between the worldly way and the heavenly way, God used Rahab, a harlot, as the key to the whole situation. The taking of Jericho was bound up in a woman who had no standing or status in the world. That is sovereign, and that is grace.
And that is why we must go to the cross to appropriate the Gospel in our lives. We still have much of the world in us pulling us down and away from the heavenly way. So long as worldly ambition and worldly longings dominate, we cannot have a heavenly vision.
The carnal influence is in our blood. We try to mix Christianity with the world, but it doesn't work. We have good intentions and pure motives, but when we apply the framework and form of the world to do the work of heaven, it always falls short.
We must come inwardly and spiritually to the place where we see clearly that there is no profit whatever in us. We can produce and accomplish nothing worthwhile by ourselves. We must learn how to depend entirely upon the grace of God instead of our own natural ability.
When a ministry becomes our ministry, the Holy Spirit removes Himself from it. Unconsciously, we begin to utilize a technique or particular type of prayer that works for us. We confine ourselves to that method and unintentionally place our confidence in what we know, rather than rely totally upon God.
Because we understand Romans 6, we feel we are expected to walk in its fullness. This insidiously leads us back into the performance mode we walked in all our lives. That walk takes us away from the cross.
Like Joshua, we must lay down our natural ability and tune our spiritual ears to hear the leading of the Lord. We should forget our independent ministry, for independence ultimately steals glory from God. We don't lose our individuality, we simply lay down our independence.
Every Christian wants to be victorious, but there is no such thing as independent victory in the life of a Christian. Actually, there is no such thing as an independent Christian. A Christian never loses his totaldependence upon Christ.
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) But we can do nothing Christian without Him.
We must understand also that we have no personal power against the spiritual realm, the opposing forces that actuate this world. We have no personal authority, no hope of overpowering that incredible strength.
Something must happen first to deliver us from ourselves, from our own strength, our own sufficiency, our own hearts. The cross must first do its work.
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..." (John 6:63)
Until we apply that Scripture to our lives, spiritual progress ceases. But as soon as we get to the other side of the cross, our spiritual life is energized and we walk in the buoyant, victorious, resurrection life of grace and glory. At that point, Romans 6 becomes a reality.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Which side of the cross am I on?