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Lesson of the Cross

"For the love of Christ constraineth [compels] us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3). By nature, we are self-centered and proud. "Lowliness of mind" and "esteeming others better" than ourselves is foreign to our fallen natures. How can this essential transformation of our characters take place?

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5). And when we do this what will we learn? The ultimate example of humility. Jesus, the exalted Son of God and all powerful Creator of everything in the entire universe, volunteered to take the position of the lowest, most worthless and vile human being on the face of this earth.

Reading further in this passage from the second chapter of Philippians we find that Jesus took seven steps down as He stooped to save mankind. His position as God He counted as worth nothing if the creatures He loved were to be eternally destroyed. Rather than see us lost, He made Himself of no reputation. He could not save us from sin by remaining isolated in His heavenly "ivory tower." He had to come to the sewer of His kingdom were the sin problem was located.

Not only did He come to this sin cursed world and live among fallen men and women, but He stepped down even lower. "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself."

Before Christ left heaven, humility was already at work; humility is a fundamental element His character. But this "humbling" was necessary for the full salvation of mankind. It would have been insult enough for the majestic King of the universe to condescend to live as one of the most pure of His created beings. But He stepped even lower, becoming a slave to the traitorous race (the literal translation of the Greek word for "servant").

In taking upon His sinless nature our fallen sinful nature, He completely identified with those in rebellion against Him. In His descent from the throne, He didn't stop one or two rungs short on the ladder, afraid to be completely associated with those He came to save. Unwilling that any should be lost, His love drove Him to the very depths of humility.

"He became obedient unto death," and not just the first death which is common to all men, but "even the death of the cross." Christ's death paid in full the penalty for every person who has, or ever will live on this earth. He "tasted death for every man"—the equivalent of eternal destruction (Hebrews 2:9). He was willing to give up everything for those He loved, even though they hated and cursed Him to His face (Romans 5:6-10).

Before our own characters can be transformed, we must learn the lesson of the Cross. Our pride, arrogance, and ambition must be laid down at the foot of Cross. Self must be crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) so the new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) can walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), free from its former bondage to sin (Romans 6:14-22). This is the work that our High Priest is accomplishing for us in His heavenly ministry.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. … For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law [under condemnation by the law], but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid! Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants [Greek = "slave"] to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin [slaves to Satan], but ye have obeyed from the heart [appreciated] that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:4, 14-18.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16).

See articles related to this subject: "No Greater Love"; "He Tasted Death for Every Man"

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