The Mystery of the Cross II
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Hebrews 10: 12-14
Sunday 13th April 2014
Last week, in the first part of the message, ‘The Mystery of the Cross’, we agreed that the cross is the very centre of the Christian faith and that without it, Christianity does not exist. It is a symbol of ultimate power, not just an emblem on chapels or to be worn around our necks. It represents the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of God. If we despise and minimize the cross, we disconnect ourselves from its power. An understanding of the work that Jesus did therefore is pivotal. The cross is the place of the most significant exchange in the history of mankind. It is at the cross that the sinless, perfect Son of God became sin in order that we may become righteous in God’s eyes. He became everything that mankind could become; he became sorcery, lies, malice witchcraft, homosexuality, sickness, poverty in order that we could be delivered from sin and live victoriously. The punishment that was placed upon Him is that which we were deserving of. The message of the cross is the power of God and therefore, we can be confident that we have not been called to live powerless lives but that our lives should be an expression of the fullness of the power of the cross. We examined a particular example from the book of Numbers of disobedience to God on the part of the children of Israel, following which Moses was instructed to make a bronze serpent which was representative of the work of Jesus, bringing healing to those who looked upon it. We understood that in order to live in the power of the cross, we had to (i) recognise that on the cross, Jesus paid the price in full; (ii) have faith in Christ and His finished work; and (iii) recognise that our function is not to seek to earn or finish the work of salvation but to ensure that it is established in our lives.
Today, we will continue on our journey of understanding. Hebrews 10:12-14 (MSG) says, ‘As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.’ Here, we can see that Christ made a single sacrifice for sin. It was a perfect sacrifice: as both priest and sacrificial offering, he offered himself. His sacrifice was once and for all; for all time. Having achieved everything that needed to be done, he sat down next to God. In the Tabernacle there were no seats which is a reflection of the truth that the work of the priests was unending. Jesus however, sat down once he had offered himself as his work was done. He did everything necessary for everyone, for all time. He brought an end to the dominance of sin, both in time and in eternity. He also provided for every need for everyone, again, both in time and in eternity. Everything you could possibly need, whether spiritual, physical or emotional is available to you so long as you are surrendered to Jesus. In perfecting the imperfect, we can understand that everything concerning us has been perfected by Him and provided for us on the cross. We must catch this truth and operate in it as everything around us will be suggesting otherwise. In failing to operate in the power of the cross, we fall into the trap of believing and paying attention to only that which is tangible and disbelieving and ignoring the intangible. If you walk by flesh, or your physical senses only, you will inevitably despise the cross. The presence of a problem or a challenge does not invalidate the work of the cross. If I send you a cheque for a million pounds but you do not pay it into the bank, you do not obtain the value of it; this does not however mean that you have not been given a million pounds.
Let’s look at three truths about the cross:
1. The cross is the basis for God’s total provision for us for time and for eternity. Romans 8:32 says, ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.’ Notice here ‘with Him’, namely that everything that we need is ‘with Him’, rather than by our own efforts or by our own wisdom. God has given ‘with Him’ all that we need.
2. The cross is the basis of Christ’s total defeat of Satan. The cross represents Christ’s total, permanent and comprehensive defeat of the enemy on our behalf. In the ultimate substitution, Christ took on the enemy in battle and won. At the crucifixion on Calvary, so severe was the clash in the spiritual realm that the forces of nature were affected, there was an earthquake and the darkness fell. There is nothing that Satan can do to change the fact that the overwhelming victory was won for ever. On the basis of Jesus’ victory, you have power over Satan. You must live and walk in this consciousness of complete victory. Satan is a defeated foe. That understanding allows faith to rise up in you and face whatever the enemy throws at you with the certainty of victory.
3. The cross is an expression of God’s unchanging love for you. Romans 8:35 says, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’ Paul goes on to assure us that in all these things we are more than conquerors and that nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing, not even the worst sin possible can separate us from His love as revealed on the cross. There is nothing that you could do to make Him love you less. The cross is an expression of God’s perfect and complete, unchanging love for us. Romans 5: 8 says, ‘For God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ We must embrace this understanding and live in this consciousness. Perfect love casts out fear and doubt. Walk in the consciousness of God’s unconditional love for you, in the understanding that every nail with which His body was nailed to the cross, the whipping, the mocking, the taunting, and the crown of thorns and the piercing of His side, was all a demonstration of how much He loved you.
Bible historians have indicated that the extent to which Jesus was beaten was capable of resulting in death even before He was nailed to the cross. He held on however, as He knew that in order to achieve the perfect redemption of mankind from the curse of the law, it was not enough for Him just to die, He had to be crucified.
Satan understands that as long as you fail to walk and live in the consciousness of the power of the Cross, there is no victory. This is why he does his utmost to deflect attention from, and therefore cause you to despise, the cross. Satan delights when we minimise the cross and rely on our own efforts as by doing so, we excuse ourselves from the power of the cross. When you are alive to its power, you can take every problem and every issue with which you are faced to the cross, the symbol of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and know that whatever the cross says by way of response is the final word in the matter.
Let’s look at 5 deliverances of the cross:
1. You are delivered from this present age: The cross brought about your freedom and deliverance from this world system. Galatians 1:3-4 says, ‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.’ We are therefore in this world but not of this world. This world system and its ways of doing things are powerless over our lives. Our passion now should be to seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ensuring that our lives count for eternity. In Romans 12:2 we are instructed to ensure that we do not conform to the ways of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Galatians 5:1 says, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ In that we have been liberated from the ways of the world, we must hold fast to the liberty and refuse to be entangled with this world’s system.
2. You are delivered from the Law: It is amazing just how many professed Christians are still living under the law whereas we have been instructed to live under God’s grace. Living in accordance with the law brings about a performance mentality which despises the cross by its self-reliance. Galatians 2:19-21 says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Here, Paul establishes that if we are seeking to live according to the law, we are essentially saying that Christ died for nothing. God has not called us to live by our own efforts but in His grace. We often fall into the trap of thinking that because we pray and fast, God owes us something; prayer and fasting are good things but they do not entitle us to anything. Prayer and fasting change us, not God. Similarly with our service, we think that because we serve the Lord, it means that He is obliged to bless us. Our service, our prayers, our giving, everything we do must flow from our love for God, rather than a sense of performing in order to earn our blessings.
3. You are delivered from self: Ego, pride self, were crucified on the cross. The ‘I’ therefore is no more. Galatians 2: 20 says, ‘. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God’. For this reason, it is no longer about what I want but what He wants. It is okay to have dreams and ambitions and it is okay to desire success, but if the objective revolves around you and your own satisfaction, there’s a problem. Anything that you pursue to satisfy yourself will eventually become an idol. You were crucified with Christ and the life that you live now is by faith in Him.
4. You are delivered from the flesh: Galatians 5: 24 says, ‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’ God has made provision for you to live above the passions and desires of the flesh. The responsibility however is for you to crucify the flesh; no-one can do it for you. You have the responsibility to curb the tyranny of the flesh with the word of God and nail it to the cross. Paul said, ‘I die daily’ (I Corinthians 15:31); each of us must take that step. It is not pleasant and it is not enjoyable but it must be done.
5. You are delivered from the world and the influence of ungodly people: Paul said in Galatians 6:14, ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.’ We have been delivered from the influence of this world. A ship can be in the midst of the sea but it is a problem when the sea is found in the midst of a ship! Similarly the church, we can be in the world but the world’s values cannot be in the church. We have been delivered completely from this world’s values.
Through the cross, there is provision for all that we need. We have victory over Satan and his works and we are empowered to walk in the unfailing love of God. We are delivered and set free forever by the power of the Cross.
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