When Christ exclaimed from the cross, “It is finished!” He meant more than most Christians realize.
A Finished Work
By now in our study, you should understand why the “old” had to die so something brand new could come. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, the “old man,” the man he used to be had been crucified along with Christ on the cross. Crucifixion means death, and as we have seen, biblical death means separation, not ceasing to exist.
Joined to Another
To be identified with Christ’s death means that we believe that we have been separated from who we used to be so we can be joined to another-the life of the resurrected Christ. As we have seen, the believer now has a choice between operating in the flesh or in the Spirit-living as though his old man was still very much alive or allowing the resurrected Lord Jesus to live out His life through him. In the first, sin still reigns. In the latter, Christ reigns. In the first, sin is his life. In the latter, Christ is his life.
Once again, at the moment we receive Christ and are born again, we are transferred from the line of Adam (the life we were born into) and placed into the (and life) of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). We have now entered into His eternal life (John 17:3) which extends to eternity past and eternity future. We share His life as we walk in the Spirit.
Our Old Man Lives On
Since we are now “in Him,” and He is eternal, what happened to Him in the past happened to us. Therefore, when He died on the cross, we (our old self) died with Him. When He was buried, so were we. And when Jesus was raised to newness of life, so were we (Rom. 6:4). Never forget that the old man from our former days still lives on in the flesh. This explains why we struggle with some of the same things we did before we were saved. The difference now is that its power over us has been broken.
What a solution! Not only did God, through Christ, save us from our sins, but He replaced the old person we used to be with the life of His Son, who would live His life through our bodies and our personalities. The righteousness within us now is Christ’s. It wasn’t bestowed on us or given to us. It’s not a thing at all. It’s now part of who we are.
A Finished Work
Do you get it? Do you see the magnitude of this wonderful truth? You’re not becoming more righteous. You’re not a work in progress. Jesus, along with His righteousness, resides within you. When Jesus uttered the words “It is finished” just before He died, He meant more than we realize. He made us a finished work. There’s nothing in us to be fixed or improved. He meant that He had already blessed us with every blessing we could ever desire (Eph. 1:3). When we received Christ, we received everything we would ever need. It’s ours right now (2 Peter 1:3). We don’t need to ask God to bless us. He already has, more than we realize. When we stumble in our spiritual walk, it’s not because we’re insufficient in any way. Our problem is that we’re still learning to walk in light of the truth of who God has already made us to be. We’re still learning to drive our new Lamborghini.
To better understand the process we call “maturing,” picture a sculptor with a chainsaw, an ice pick, a file, and a hammer carving away at a huge block of ice. Thirty minutes later, the ice block has been transformed into a beautiful glistening eagle. Someone asks in amazement, “How do you do that?” The sculptor quips back, “I just chip away at everything that doesn’t look like an eagle.” Now picture yourself as the ice block with God as the sculptor. In this case, the goal isn’t an eagle. It’s Christ. God simply chips away at everything that doesn’t look like Christ. He has been there all along, but whatever had been obscuring Him had to be removed so that Christ could be formed in you (Gal. 4:19).
I am convinced that Christian maturity isn’t adding Christ-like qualities and knowledge as much as it is allowing God to chip away at us as we learn to walk in light of the finished product within us. Salvation, therefore, is a matter of believing the truth and allowing that truth to set us free. Christ has already set us free, but we have refused to believe it, so we hang on to the things that used to drag us down. We pray for deliverance when Christ has already delivered us. We pray for strength when Jesus has already given us His strength. We ask for power when Christ has already given us the same power that raised Him from the dead. We simply refuse to believe it. This is why so many people are turned off by what they see masquerading as new life. It’s nothing more than the old life with Jesus added to make them look better.
Now that you have a fuller understanding of what it means to identify with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, it’s decision time. Are you content with things as they are, or are you hungry for the greater things Jesus promised? If you’re ready to kiss comfortable Christianity good-bye, are you also ready to swallow your pride and admit that you’re the miserable and powerless wretch God says you are? If you’re ready, it’s time to bow to the Father, and make these words your own:
NOT I BUT CHRIST.
Grading the Quiz
True or False
- Someday my righteousness will finally measure up to God’s expectations.
- We Christians are right to see ourselves as a “work in progress.”
- I need Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help me live the Christian life.
- The “new creation” of 2 Cor. 5:17 is like a spiritual renovation for me.
- My standing before God is constantly improving as I mature.
- As Christians, our “old man” died with Christ and is gone forever.
- Through Bible Study, prayer, and obedience, we can become more righteous.
- True Christians still have sin dwelling within them.
- God’s Word declares every person born into this world as “useless.”
- All people are born with a fear of God.
- God sees people as basically good but needing a lot of help.
- Christian maturity results from conforming the flesh to the image of Christ.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
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