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Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Crucified Lifestyle

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Jesus said to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

It is one thing to embrace a concept, but it is another to practice it as a lifestyle. Belonging to Christ requires following Him according to His Word (John 10:27) and patterning one's life after his servanthood.

He gave his life for the world, an ultimate act of service. Those who follow Him must also give their lives in service to others. This means setting aside selfish behaviors, denying the impulse to impress others, showing compassion to the suffering, and attending to the material needs of those in want. The crucified lifestyle involves dying to the sinful nature and replacing it with the life Jesus offers. 

The crucified lifestyle is not another legalistic work, but the exchange of the corrupting ways of the old life for the life of the Spirit that dwells within. Paul strikes the contrast: "for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow wickedness, there will be wrath and anger." (Romans 2:8) Galatians 5:21 says "that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Our sinful ways bring much pain if not restrained. Those who come to love Jesus discover that He is the way of life. Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b).

All life finds its expression gradually, from crying for its mother’s milk to becoming an adult. We are continually learning, practicing, and adjusting choices.

Each phase of life has its own functions and desires and must be trained, that is, brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. Our rebellious nature resists replacement by the life Jesus Christ offers. To live the new life requires a crucified experience. The cross brings death in a most humiliating way. 1 Peter 5:6 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

Lucifer deceives Eve and uses her to make Adam join her in disobedience against God's command. The result is death, for sin brings death. Paul expresses the angst of our condition: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

God in love gives a means of redemption in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through Him alone we are able to exchange the old life for the new. It is God's will that each “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:23-25)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)