March 18, 2019

Why the Cross Still Matters: Identification

“I have been crucified with Christ; 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.” Galatians 2:20 


In talking about why the Cross matters, we’ve established that Jesus died as our substitute, redeeming us from the penalty of sin. Sadly, that’s where many believers stop. Today, the Apostle Paul reveals the importance of our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” 


Paul realized that his old, sinful self was nailed to that cross. As followers of Jesus, we need the same realization. Although we weren’t there 2000 years ago, we died and were buried with Christ through faith. Romans 6 states this reality over and over again: “We died to sin” (v 2), “We have been baptized into His death”(v 3), “buried into death”(v 4), “united with Him in the likeness of His death”(v 5), and “our old self was crucified with Him”(v 6).


Jesus, Himself, instructed believers to live each day in this reality. In Luke 9:23 He says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Denying self means yielding your personal desires and agenda to God’s will. Identification with the death of Christ is essential to authentic discipleship. German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, put it this way, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”


Uniting with Jesus in death means we can also identify with His life. Romans 6:11 tells us that we are, “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” By agreeing with God that our old self is dead and buried with Christ, we can enjoy the victory of His resurrection in everyday life. Will you consider the death of Jesus on the Cross as your death to self? Or, are you still living by your own agenda? Yield those desires completely to the risen Lord. Then you will have the identifying marks of His disciples: submission, service, and sacrifice. That’s why the Cross still matters.