Take Up Your Cross

A cross is really just an instrument of death. In the days of Jesus in the flesh, whenever someone was accused of crimes against the nation (rebellion against government, disruption of peace etc) death by crucifixion was considered capital punishment (i.e it was the highest form of punishment). It was execution because a person who was crucified had a guarantee of not coming out alive. It was guaranteed death.

Before we can state what it means to carry your cross (that’s what “take up your cross” really means), we have to understand what “the cross” in Christianity really means.

Galatians 5:24 says,

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”.

So the cross represents the killing of the flesh with its feelings and desires. Can a dead person feel anything? Can a dead person desire anything? The answer to both of these questions is no. Two things that all dead bodies have in common is that they don’t have the ability to feel anything and desire anything. In other words, you know you are dead to self when another person insults you, and you don’t feel the need to respond or react at all. You know you are dead to self when the praises of others don’t move you at all. You know you are dead to self when the things you could not live without before Christ (drugs, alcohol etc.) now disgust you.

All the things I mentioned are possible once you have died to self. It is because a dead man doesn’t have feelings, and a dead man has no desires.

Galatians 2:20 in the Basic English Version says,

“I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me”.

Paul here was saying that he had been put to death on the cross with Christ and yet at the exact same time he was alive in Christ.

How is this possible ? It is because everyone who has surrendered their lives to Christ has two natures. First, the old self (man) with it feelings and desires and the new man which is born again into the image of Jesus Christ. This concept (the dual nature concept) is found throughout the new testament especially in the epistles of Paul.

The reason why crucifying your flesh (i.e killing your old self) is so important is that, your two natures are polar opposites. Whatever your new man likes, your old man hates. Whatever your new man hates, your old man likes. This is because, when you allow your flesh man (the old man) to be alive at the same time as your spirit man (the new man) there will be a war within your members. This was one of the major focuses of Romans 7 especially from verse 23.

Romans 7:23 says,

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members”.

(Read also Gal 5:17)

So Christians who have not crucified the flesh have a dilemma to deal with which even the unbeliever doesn’t have. The unbeliever has only the nature of the flesh because their is no desire to please God. So when a sinful desire comes such as stealing, telling lies among others; almost 100% of the time they will yield to it without a fight.

Now, what does it mean to take up or carry your cross ?

Galatians 5:24 which we read earlier says,

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”.

In other words those who belong to Christ Jesus have already crucified (past tense) the flesh with the affections and lusts. That is the revelation.

A cross is a rather heavy and bulky object. You cannot carry one and forget that you are carrying it. That is why in Luke 23:26 they asked Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross of Jesus with him. The cross was heavy enough on its own besides the bones on Jesus back that were exposed.

So to carry your cross means to keep yourself in continual remembrance that you are dead to the world and the things of the world. Dead to the lust of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) by faith.

Galatians 6:14 says,

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”.

So whenever the temptation to sin comes, remind yourself that the man who used to do those things is dead when you gave your life to Christ. If you believe that from your heart, if you are convinced and you act based on that conviction (because faith without works is dead), you will not sin.

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