Living the Crucified Life
Allow me to introduce you to Sarah, a woman who received Christ when she was a child and has tried to walk with him ever since. Although she faithfully attends church and serves the Lord in various ways, a problem has dogged her steps for the last 20 years. It’s a sin that she just can’t seem to bring under control. Each morning, she begins her day by promising not to give in to temptation. But at night, she hangs her head in shame and again confesses her failure to the Lord. These thoughts keep running through her mind: Why can’t I overcome this? What’s wrong with me? I thought the Christian life was supposed to be different. This situation is all too common for many believers—maybe even for the majority. Sarah is right about one thing: this is not the way the Lord wants us to live.
“I have been crucified with Christ,” wrote the apostle Paul, “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Maybe you’ve heard this verse before or even have it memorized. But are you living it? Since this is the key to experiencing a fruitful Christian life, we need to figure out how to put the concept into practice.
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?
Before receiving Christ as Savior, each of us was ruled by a sin nature, which we inherited from Adam. However, when Christ came into our lives, sin’s authority over us was broken. Although we still have the same body and personality, Jesus now lives within us through the Holy Spirit. What we cannot do in our own strength, he does in us when we yield ourselves to him (rom. 8:3-4). Victory over sin is gained, not by trying harder but by letting Christ’s resurrection power flow through us.
What happens when you live the crucified life?
I truly believe our identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection is the answer to every struggle we face. When you genuinely accept by faith that Christ is living through you, every aspect of your life will be transformed.
A new allegiance toward God.
Once we are believers, life is no longer all about us—our interests, pleasures, and desires. Jesus is now our Master. Though we often balk at the idea of giving up control, yielding our will to the Lord is one of the most freeing decisions we’ll ever make, because God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey him. Either our lives are resting in his almighty hands, or they are in our own. Who do you think is better able to hold them?
As we let Christ rule in us, our method of handling daily pressures will change. Although God may allow these difficulties to continue, he never wants us to be crushed by them. In a little book entitled They Found the Secret, I discovered a wonderful example of how Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China, was transformed when he let Christ carry his burden. Because he was feeling overwhelmed by the mission’s responsibilities and problems, the letters he wrote home were filled with defeat.
But a missionary friend responded with a question that put everything into the proper perspective: Is Jesus worried about all these things? He reminded Taylor that when one’s life becomes Christ’s, the believer no longer has reason to worry, because nothing is too big for Jesus to handle. When Taylor took these words to heart and let Christ live through him, he was changed. Even though the challenging circumstances remained, instead of responding with anxiety and stress, he trusted in the Lord and rested in him.
Perhaps a good way to determine if you’re letting Christ live through you is to examine how you handle burdens. Don’t you think Jesus knows what it takes to live in this world with all its stresses and responsibilities? He absolutely does (Heb. 4:15-16). That’s why he invites us to come and take his yoke and find rest for our souls (Matt. 11:29). Remember, your peace is not dependent upon circumstances. Since the Holy Spirit lives within each believer, peace is readily available whenever you choose to take hold of it by faith (Gal. 5:22-23).
Those who participate in the crucified life experience a new dynamic for living. Christ’s almighty power flows through his people so they can accomplish all that he’s called them to do. Whether our tasks are menial or extremely important, he will strengthen us to do them and have a good attitude in the process.
Yet all too often, instead of depending on him, we rely on our own knowledge, abilities, and experience. But everything achieved in our own strength amounts to nothing in eternity. Whenever you think you can handle a particular job, that’s when you should humble yourself and rely on the Lord. And if a task that he calls you to seems too big, step out in faith: ask God to work through you, and believe that he will.
Victory over sin.
Resurrection power is never more evident than when Christ frees us from bondage to sin and destructive habits. Whenever we, as believers, fall for Satan’s lies and yield to his temptations, our only avenue to freedom is through the crucified life—as we take up our crosses and deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24).
It is crucial to realize that you walk around with Almighty God inside you. There is nothing Satan can throw at you that Jesus cannot defeat. By choosing to let him handle the temptation, you’ll experience his victory. But trying to fight in your own strength will end in failure. Every one of us has crashed and burned when we’ve relied on self-effort. For some of us, the smoke’s been rising to heaven our whole life. But if you rely on Christ, he’ll rush in with his supernatural power and bring victory over whatever temptation you’re facing.
Stability in your Christian walk.
Though life is filled with ups and downs, believers don’t have to live on a roller coaster of victory and defeat. When we let Christ live through us, our souls are governed, not by circumstances, but by the one within. If you exercise the life Jesus has provided, he’ll give stability that transcends your situation.
How do I live the crucified life?
Positionally, there are two aspects to our identification with the death and resurrection of Christ: we have died to sin and been raised to newness of life. However, our actual experience of this truth depends upon our cooperation with Christ in putting it into practice.
Take up your cross daily.
Living the crucified life is not a onetime decision but a continual process of taking up your cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Minute by minute, you must choose this difficult but sanctifying path by obeying him.
Recognize your own inadequacy.
Believers who have surrendered to Jesus realize that they can’t live the Christian life on their own. All our renewed efforts to change and improve ourself result in nothing but failure. This is because the old self can never be improved. The solution is to crucify it and let Christ live through us. He is our only hope for a fruitful and victorious existence.
Ask God to overcome areas of continued defeat.
What habits or practices have a grip on you? God wants you to have victory, and he’s given you everything you need to be free in Christ. If you’re struggling in a particular area today, pray the following prayer, and watch what God will do in your life.
Father, by the authority of Your Word, I have been crucified with Christ and raised to newness of life. I accept this by faith, and today I choose death to this sin that has a grip on me. Sin’s power has been broken and is no longer master over me. Today I am going to let Your Son respond to this area of defeat. By faith I will exercise the life and power that are mine in Christ Jesus.
The article was selected from In Touch magazine.