Second danger & answer
5d. Baptised into Christ (3)
Christ lives in me Married to Christ The flesh crucified The world crucified Preaching Christ crucified
Here we have one of the best known verses in the New Testament. We need to note that when Paul says crucified it means co-crucified with Christ. It must also be noted that no one can crucify themselves! Someone else has to do it. When we are born from above we are immersed into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ by an act of God Himself, we have no part in it Jn.1:12-13.
For Paul it was: 'not I but Christ ' in the matter of living the Christian life. "Christ liveth in me ". That is Christ was the source of his life. Paul was, to change the picture, a branch in the vine and was utterly dependent on Christ, through the Spirit, in order to live the life that God wanted of him here on the earth. Not by a list of rules and regulations, or by the works of the flesh, but by the life that was from above. All his springs were truly in Him from above, and it was lived by the faith of the one who was crucified and gave Himself.
Can we say the same with Paul? It is one thing to sing this as a song, but quite another thing to know the reality of it day by day. God has baptised us into Christ's body so that we can live His resurrection in our bodies on this earth now! Rom.8:9-15.
Paul's letter to the Romans is a master piece of exposition of the gospel from start to finish. So any brief comment here would be inadequate, but for our purpose we make the following comments.
After explaining our baptism into Christ and being freed ( =justified) from sin, Paul turns his attention to the Law.
Paul's argument is clear and concise. As long as a woman is married to a man she is legally bound to him and to no other. Any other intimate relationship is counted as adultery. The only way she could be married to another was if her husband died, she would then be freed from the law of her first husband.
We were married to the Law, under its servitude demanding of us a standard we could never meet. But on new birth we died with Christ to the Law and were married to Christ. Now we must be careful here, when we talk of being married to Christ we are not speaking of how some of the mystics claimed a 'married' relationship with Christ, the details of which are best left unsaid at this time, and was in reality a deception. Rather we speaking of that spiritual union by this baptism into Christ that takes us out of the body of sin and places us into the body of Christ.
This discussion of Paul's is to do with our relationships, firstly with the the Law, and then into another covenantal relationship with Christ on new birth. But we could not be in covenantal relationship with Christ until our relationship with the law was ended.
The application to the true believer is straight forward. By this baptism into Christ's death we have become dead to that which held us in bondage, namely the Law, that which tried to make us find acceptance with God by our own righteousness. This death has freed us from those obligations, which we could never have achieved anyway; this is in order that we can now serve God in newness of life and not in the oldness of the letter. For it is the letter that kills but the Spirit brings life. II Cor.3:1-6
The early church nearly divided over the issue of keeping Moses' Law as a necessity for Christian living, this is dealt with in the epistle to the Galatians and we shall return to this theme later in this series.
The teaching of the Galatian letter is that we are saved through the finished work of Christ; we can add nothing to it. Attempting to add to that complete work of Christ for salvation, or of living the life of faith negates all that. If we attempt to add anything to find acceptance we would then be fallen from grace. Gal.5:4. Very strong words indeed.
The Gnostics, who claimed that 'secret knowledge' was necessary for (what they called) salvation, were walking in the flesh: they rejected the all-sufficiency of Christ and His death and set up a system of flesh based works. Thus they brought people into the bondage of worldly rules and regulations of the flesh.
They who truly belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with all its desires. This includes the works of the flesh that try to gain favour with God, and find merit in self effort. To belong to Christ is to surrender all to Him and enter into His finished work. The works of the flesh have to cease.
We have already said a lot about the world. All that is in the world is the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. I Jn.2:16. The devil's deception in the garden of Eden was on all three levels as previously noted.
The philosophy and vain deceit, which Paul here speaks of, is of the world and is not of God. Anyone caught up in this is following the rudiments of the world and not that of the Holy Spirit. It has to be brought to death via the cross of Jesus. The cross brings this to an end. Paul simply refused to glory in anything else, we only need read his testimony in Phil.3 to see this. The cross brings all this to death in the believer, so that we do not trust in anything or anyone else but Jesus.
The vain philosophies of men has its roots in the rudiments, or elements (Col.2:8), of the world: the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. As part of this completeness or fulness we have in Christ, by being baptised into Christ, a co-crucifixion to the world and, its elements thus the world’s philosophies have nothing in us.
To the Gnostic sin is the lack of knowledge, it is ignorance and that ‘secret knowledge’ is the key to salvation. This is totally opposite to what we have seen. In fact it was the desire and partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in direct disobedience to God, which resulted in sin!
True salvation is to know God and this is only found in Jesus Christ. We enter this by this baptism into Christ. Jn 17:3. This was only made possible because of the cross. Through Jesus' redeeming work at Calvary this complete work of salvation was accomplished.
The cross therefore is the central message of the gospel. It is a message of a crucified God. It the central theme of the gospel in Paul's day and has been ever since. The cross is the power of God unto salvation, not secret knowledge! To preach any other message, even in the wisdom of man would be enticing words and lead one into deception of the severest kind.
Eternal life is not having secret knowledge but having the Son of God in one's life.