Crucified With Christ
"Self," says William Law, "is not only the seat and habitation, but the very life of sin. The works of the devil are all wrought in self. It is his peculiar workshop."
Self Must Die – But How?
In Romans 6:6 Paul terms self "our old man." What does the apostle mean by "our old man"? Simply "our natural self," with all its principles and motives, actions, corruptions and belongings; this natural self which we find to be such a burden; this weary body of sin and death we carry about with us, always hindering us, always tempting us to lend a ready ear to its indulgence.
The Word of God states that our old man was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). It is the past tense in the original. The whole system, root and branch of our natural self, not as God made it – for God made it in His own image, perfect, spotless, stainless – but our natural self as sin and Satan and self have marred it, has been crucified with Christ.
See what the natural self is as described in Scripture: "…the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isa. 1:5-6).
Some of us, by the grace of God, have learned that this is a true description of our natural selves; but some have not yet learned it. The old Adam never changes; no medicine can heal the disease, no ointment can mollify the corruption; it can only be got rid of by death.
Crucified with Christ
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him" (Rom. 6:6). "What liberty the soul enjoys when once it realizes that we have God’s authority for saying it – that self was executed upon the cross. This is the great triumph of faith; and it is a fact that can only be realized by faith, for it is against our sense, and against our everyday personal experience. But we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). And we have God’s Word and warrant for it, and on that we may build to any amount. To read in the blessed Word of God that our old man is crucified with Christ – to know it is a fact, because God has said it – this is liberty! This is peace! And this is life and joy!"
Jesus Himself was the "corn of wheat." He "fell into the ground…." He died. As a result of His sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection, there has been accomplished the promised fruitage of the world’s redemption, and the salvation of the souls of men. Such was the purpose and plan of God for His beloved Son (Acts 2:23).
Now it is the purpose and the plan of God that all who are His sons, by faith in Christ, should also "die" – not for the sins of the world, which Christ alone could do – but for our deliverance from the domination of "self," which is ever in opposition to the will of God.
For the full enjoyment of our salvation, and for the fulfillment of our life’s purpose as God wills it, it is not enough to know, and to accept the fact, that Christ has died for us as our substitute upon the cross, and has thus borne the penalty of our sins. That is only the initial step of our salvation. It is essential, if we would be "alive unto God" (Rom. 6:11), and if He is to be glorified by the fruitfulness of our lives, that a further step be taken. We must be freed from the bondage of self that we may "serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life" (Luke 1:74-75). This can be accomplished only as we definitely, willingly, and practically reckon ourselves dead with Christ upon the cross.
Only as we yield ourselves to be crucified with Him, to die with Him, to be buried with Him, and to be raised with Him in resurrection power, to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4) can there be deliverance from self.
"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25).
However reluctant we may be to face it, however neglectfully we may treat it, the fact remains unaltered and unalterable, that if the life of complete victory over self, the world and the devil is to be to us a present possession, and a practical experience – self must die!
This, manifestly, is a very personal matter. It is very individual. No other can act in this for us. It is a transaction which must take place through a personal dealing with God. Let the words of Jesus be reiterated for emphasis – "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).
Faith Reckons on God’s Word
Let us pause and consider seriously the extraordinary importance of the fact that God has put us to death in the person of His Son and that, in His reckoning, we "are dead" (Rom. 6:6-11; Col. 3:3).
Now it is for us to simply and sincerely take God at His Word – to believe what He has said, and to practically apply that to our self-life – to identify ourselves with Christ upon the cross, and reckon ourselves to have died with Him, to have been buried with Him, and to have been raised with Him – and to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).
"There is a great difference between realizing ‘on that cross He was crucified for me,’ and ‘on that cross I was crucified with Him.’ The one aspect brings us deliverance from sin’s condemnation, the other from sin’s power."
Beware of Self-Deception
If the difference between Christ dying for us, and our dying with Him has not been recognized, acknowledged and applied, it may safely be affirmed that self is still the dominating factor in the life. To prevent what must be a sorrowful forfeiting of our privilege, and an equally sorrowful wastage of highest opportunity, there is a needed word of warning: "Be not deceived!" (Gal. 6:7).
Whatever we may think or feel, however "religious" we may be, if we do not recognize, acknowledge and apply this truth, then our self has not yet been crucified with Christ. Not yet have we fallen into the ground and died. Consequently we are abiding alone. There cannot be from that life the fruitage which glorifies God, nor any definite corroboration of our being disciples of Jesus: "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples" (John 15:8).
Result of Dying with Christ
"If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." There is no doubt about the result of the dying of self. Fruit is assured. But let it be noted that it is "fruit," not "works" that is the product. "Works" there will be, but then the worker will be "not I but Christ" (Gal. 2:20). As the fruit is "the fruit of the Spirit," so also shall the working be "of the Spirit," for "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
The Holy Spirit will then have unhindered opportunity to produce His fruit in us and through us. Till self has been crucified, and found its grave in Jesus, our works can only be such as are wrought in the energy of the flesh. Such works may be very abundant, very wonderful, and very beautiful. They may seem very self-sacrificing; they may be done in the name of the Lord and in some sense, they may even be beneficial.
But here again, let us be warned by the Word of God to "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1), and to see that all our works are wrought in God. Let us not be deceived by the subtlety of Satan’s snares. Let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). When he cannot counteract the truth of God, he most surely will counterfeit or camouflage it. Thus it is that he permits those who bear the name of Christ to freely preach about the cross, to pray about the cross, to sing about the cross, to wear the cross and to worship the cross. Anything about the cross will suit his purpose so long as he can prevent us from being "crucified with Christ" upon the cross.
William Law says, "Until you are ‘renewed in the spirit of your mind’ (Eph. 4:23), your virtues are only taught practices, and grafted on a corrupt bottom. Everything that you do will be a mixture of good and bad; your humility will help you to pride; your charity to others will give nourishment to your own self-love; and as your prayer increases, so will the opinion of your sanctity. Because till the heart is purified to the bottom and has felt the axe at the root of its evil (which cannot be done by outward instruction), everything that proceeds from it partakes of its imprint and corruption."
My Sins Have Slain My Savior; Now I Must Slay My Sins
"Symptoms of the Self-life" as detailed by G. D. Watson, may be noted with profit:
1. A disposition to look at everything with an eye to how it will affect ourselves.
It is an instinctive, wide-awake, looking out for Number One…
2. The self-life is always unwittingly magnifying itself…
3. Another symptom of self, as especially mentioned by John Wesley, is that of touchiness. Touchiness always seems to be on the alert to take slights and offences at the least occasion. It is amazing how many there are who profess to be dead to self, yet manifest a terrific sensitiveness at being slighted. Another terrible feature of touchiness is that it can never bear to be rebuked or corrected. The strongest mark of genuine humility is to be able to be reproved and corrected, even severely, with a meek and thankful spirit; but where self is alive, at the very slightest reproof, there is self-defense. Nothing can possibly cure such a miserable spirit but the fullness of the humble and gentle love of God.
4. Another sign of self is that of imposing on others – monopolizing their time, their interests, and their sympathies. Self will push its claims and petty notions and whims on other people.
Death to Self and Life in God
"I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith and love, and every grace: might more of His salvation know, and seek more earnestly His face.’Twas He who taught me how to pray, and He, I trust, has answered prayer; but it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.
"I hoped that in some favored hour, at once He’d answer my request, and by His love’s constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest.
"Instead of this He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart, and let the angry powers of hell assault my soul in every part. Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed intent to aggravate my woe; crossed all the fair designs I schemed, blasted my gourds, like Jonah’s (Jon. 4:7), and laid me low.
"‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried: ‘Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?’ ‘’Tis in this way,’ the Lord replied, ‘I answer prayer for grace and faith. These inward trials I employ, from self and pride to set thee free, and break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may’st seek thy all in Me.’"