By Tom Ballinger The Lord provided the "cross of Christ" in order for the believer to reckon upon. This reckoning produced godly lives. It worked. It provided spiritual power enabling believers to henceforth live not unto themselves (2
Cor. 5:15) but live unto God (Rom. 6:10). It allowed them strength to live unto God (Rom. 6:11) and enabled them to yield themselves as instruments of righteousness unto God as those who were alive from the dead (Rom. 6:13).
Those in Galatia started out under Paul's ministry doing so well. They knew they had died with Christ and were buried with Him. This Divine fact, they not only knew, but they counted it as being so. Hence, they did run so well, but they were hindered. (Gal. 5:7). When they listened to the "leaven" of the Pharisees out of Jerusalem they became troubled and quit relying on the power of God which was derived from the "preaching (i.e. the principle) of the cross."
The cutting of the foreskin and living under the Law dealt only with Adam. The restrictions of the Law dealt with the old nature on the basis "thou shalt not." Paul's message was one that got down to the root of the problem, the very death and burial of the old Adamic nature. The Pharisees made a provision for the flesh. They .insisted on cutting it and restricting it. But the "preaching of the Cross" reveals that in God's reckoning, Adam and all that pertains to him was left in the grave. By the death of the Lord Jesus Christ the whole of the Adamic race was completely wiped out. Hence, this should be the believer's reckoning also.
The "preaching of the Cross" demanded a great deal. It called for men to live not unto themselves but unto God. For the cross meant the end of Adam's proud flesh. It was crucified and buried.
The "gospel" of the Pharisees dealt only with the outward man, cut ills flesh. restrict his activities with laws. Their "gospel" made a provision for Adam. Paul's did not. Their "gospel" allowed Adam to still live for his own pleasure. The accent was upon self and the Adam-life.
Paul accentuated the death of Adam and consequently living unto God as One who is alive from the dead. The "cross of Christ" to which Paul called men would have nothing to do with this world. He says,
"But God forbid that 1 should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).
The world was dead to Paul, and Paul was dead to the world. A dead world has no attraction, nor is a dead man attracted to the world. The principle of the cross worked for Paul.
The Apostle Paul called men to be followers of him. No longer living unto self "but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." (2
Cor. 5:15). Attempting to live unto God and yet allowing a place for Adam, does. not work.
Paul tells the Galatians that those who are really Christ's "have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). That is to say, the principle of the cross has touched the "affections and lusts."
The believer was a "new creature in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17). The old things had passed away. The old way of dealing with Adam was gone. All things are new, the provision for living unto God was that of knowing that the "cross of Christ" was the end of the Adam-life.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15).
The "preaching of the cross" meant the end of the journey for Adam's proud flesh. But the "cross" which the Judaizers preached was "another cross" which went along with "another gospel." Their cross was not opposed to the human race. It was friendly to Adam. It let Adam live. The "cross of Christ" did not!
The "cross of Christ" which Paul preached must touch every phase of the believer's life. He insisted upon it. All natural endowments must be touched by the cross. The "cross" leaves its mark. The "other cross" of the "other gospel" left its mark - circumcision of a portion of flesh. But the contrast with Paul's gospel was the mark of persecution.
"From henceforth let no man trouble me: for 1 bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Gal. 6:17).
If the cross is allowed to touch every phase of the believer's life it will leave its mark. It left nail prints in the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. It left the marks in the body of the Apostle Paul, and it will also leave its mark one way or another on us today.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST TODAY
The "principle of the cross" also finds its place in the present dispensation of the grace of God. This principle transcends dispensational boundary lines.
The cross is the declaration from God that all that is of Adam (the old creature) must die. Nothing
-,vhich relates to Adam can pass beyond the cross. It all ends there. It is by means of the "cross of Christ" that God has made a way of escape for us from the old creature. It is as if God gathered up in the Person of Christ all that was of Adam and crucified him. Thus in Christ all that was of Adam was done away with.
Today the believer is to reckon upon the "cross of Christ." During the Pentecostal dispensation we note that the believer was reckoned crucified, dead and buried, and raised to walk in newness of life. In present truth of the Mystery a new dimension is added for the believer to reckon upon. The added dimension is that of being ascended together with Christ and made to sit together in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Pentecostal truth carried the believer as far as walking on resurrection ground. Truth of the Mystery carries the believer to the celestial realm "far above all heavens" (Eph. 4:10) to the right hand of God in heavenly places (Eph. 1:20). This new dimension carries the member of the Body of Christ beyond resurrection ground to that of ascension and into the very "holy of holies" in heavenly places.
The believer is now to reckon as being so the fact that:
1. He is dead (the Adam life) (Col. 3:3).
2. He is buried (Col. 2:12).
3. He is quickened (Eph. 2:5).
4. He is raised up (Eph. 2:5).
5. He is made to sit (Eph. 2:6).
To count this as actually being so, supplies the believer with "the power of God." This is what He has provided. It may sound or seem strange to those who endeavor to hold Adam in check some other way. Some believers practice rituals and ordinances. Adam likes to do this. Much of the Adamic nature likes religion with all of its forms, rituals, trappings, ceremonies, and observances.
Adam appreciates "touch not; taste not; handle not;" (Col. 2:21). He will adhere to the "commandments and doctrines of men" (Col. 2:22).
The Apostle Paul shows the principle of the cross which supplies the "power of God" is still operative after Acts 28:28. It is dramatically pointed out in Col. 2 and 3 that the corrective for mere externalism is "the cross of Christ."
The following phrases most assuredly point to the "cross of Christ."
"Ye are circumcised . . . by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:11).
"Buried with Him, in baptism . . . ye are risen with Him" (Col. 2:12).
"And you, being dead . . . Hath He quickened together with Him " (Col. 2:13).
"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ. . . " (Col. 2:20).
"If ye then be risen with Christ . . . where Christ sitteth on the right Hand of God" (Col. 3:1). "For ye are dead" (Col. 3:3).
These references certainly carry- with them the same thoughts as did tae reckoning of the "cross" in the Pentecostal Dispensation.
The Apostle mentions the "circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh." This circumcision is a cutting off the entire body of sin. The whole of Adam has been cut off, circumcised. This cutting off of Adam was in association with "the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:11). This was not when He was circumcised at the eighth day after His incarnation. Rather, it was when He was crucified. This was the great circumcision. It was when He was cut off from the living.
Present truth speaks to the heart of the believer and tells him that he too was circumcised "in Christ."
The member of the One Body is to reckon on this circumcision just as the Pentecostal believer reckoned on the fact that he was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be rendered inoperative (Rom. 6:6). The "circumcision made without hands" cuts off the believer from the control that the world, the flesh, and the devil has over him. He is to reckon that all of his Adamic nature has been cut off, circumcised, and cast aside.
Paul further asserts that the member of the One Body was "buried with Him in Baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him." Here we have death, burial, and resurrection. This was "through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:12). The believer is to have faith in "the operation of God." Note that it is "ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God." "The faith" is a reference to the believer's faith in this "operation." The believer is to have faith that the operation was successful. God says it was a successful operation. He indicates that a real circumcision of the whole body of the sins of the flesh was successfully dealt with "by the circumcision of Christ." God insists that in the death baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ we died with Him. Also it is said that we are "risen with Him."
These facts are to be counted as being so. We are to believe it because God says it is so. This is reckoning. This reckoning works. It supplies the "power of God" (1
Cor. 1:18) in the believer's life. The "old man with his deeds" and propensities can be "put off" (Col. 3:9) only through this principle. This principle is the "preaching of the cross" (1
Cor. 1:18). Through faith in this operation the believer can actually "seek those things which are above" (Col. 3:1). Faith in the "operation of God" empowers the saint to "set (his) affections on things above, not on things on the earth." This transfer of affection is an absolute impossibility apart from reckoning.