The Cross Obscured / The Cross In Your Life
Derek Prince
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The Four Aspects of the Cross Series
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The Cross Obscured / The Cross In Your Life

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Part 2 of 2: The Four Aspects of the Cross

By Derek Prince

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Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

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The Cross Obscured – Part 3

Jesus is the high priest of our confession. Tremendously important. If you have no confession you have no high priest. But the confession that you make, which is taking the word of God and making it personal, Jesus become responsible to see that it’s fulfilled.

“Therefore, we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that God exalt us in due time. Having cast all our care upon Him, for He cares for us, we are sober, we are vigilant, because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by our brotherhood in the world. But, the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after we have suffered a while will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

At least you can say amen. Let’s say that last verse together.

“To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Once more.

“To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Just once more and we’ll know you mean it.

“To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Now, in the previous two afternoons I’ve been taking themes related to the cross, which is the theme of this convention, and I’m going to briefly recapitulate what I’ve been saying as a lead up to what I want to say this afternoon.

The first afternoon I pointed out that Satan’s primary weapon against us is guilt. And, as long as he can keep us feeling guilty we’re not going to do him any serious damage. But that through the cross Jesus stripped Satan of that weapon because He became the guilt offering for the whole of humanity. And when He poured out His soul and His blood on the cross, our guilt was expiated. Paul says in Romans 8:1:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Are you in Christ Jesus? Then there is no condemnation for you.

And then yesterday I pointed out that by one sacrifice Jesus has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. He did not have to offer many sacrifices, He offered one sacrifice and sat down at the right hand of God. He sat down because He was never going to have to do it again. By one sacrifice He has made total, perfect provision for every need of every descendant of Adam in time and eternity. Everything is ours through the cross and without the cross nothing is legitimately ours.

“He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

So with Jesus it’s all things through the cross and without Jesus it’s nothing. And there is no middle ground. You’re either an heir of all things or you’re shut out from everything.

Now, Satan is very astute in his own twisted way and he imagined that when Jesus was crucified he’d gained a tremendous victory. But he discovered to his chagrin just the opposite, that the death of Jesus on the cross was the basis for his total defeat. And through the cross Jesus administered to Satan a total, eternal, irreversible defeat. I want to say those words again. A total, eternal, irreversible defeat. Do you think you could say them with me? I want them imprinted on our mind.

“A total, eternal, irreversible defeat.”

Just turn to the person next to you and say that right to them, looking them right in the face, without any embarrassment, without being apologetic.

“A total, eternal, irreversible defeat.”

If you didn’t find somebody, twist them ‘round and make them look at you. That’s right.

Okay. Now, if you were in Satan’s position and you discovered that through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross everything you had been seeking to achieve was defeated and all your claims were canceled and all your power was taken from you, what would you do? Well, the only option left to Satan was to obscure the work of the cross, to keep God’s people from realizing what had been accomplished for them on the cross. And this is precisely what Satan has sought to do for nearly 2,000 years. I would say all the main problems of the church come when Satan is able to obscure for us and for our understanding what Jesus has accomplished for us by His death on the cross. And this really is the theme of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. In the third chapter of Galatians, the first verse, he brings this out into the open.

“O foolish Galatians...”

Do you think some of us here could be foolish this afternoon? Maybe this could apply to some of us.

“...who has bewitched you...”

That’s amazing, isn’t it? If you read a little further on you’ll discover that these believers in Galatia had received the Holy Spirit and they saw God working miracles in their midst. Paul still said to them you’ve been bewitched. I’ve studied this word, it’s the correct word, it’s not a metaphor, it’s the right word. It means actually to smite with the eye. Some force has bewitched you, blinded you, made you unable to understand what God has done for you.

Now, how did Paul know that they were bewitched? He says:

“...before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified?”

What was the evidence that they’d been bewitched? They could no longer see the reality of the crucifixion of Jesus. A satanic power had moved into that once vigorous, spiritual church and robbed them of the understanding of the cross. Two results follow which always follow wherever this happens. We see them in the next two verses.

“This only I want to learn from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”

Notice they had received the Spirit. What was the diagnosis? They were relying on works of law, they were no longer relying on the sovereign operation of the Holy Spirit. We call that in technical language legalism, to say it in one word. Legalism is a term that Christians tend to use to criticize other Christians but I’d like to offer you two simple definitions.

First of all, legalism is attempting to achieve righteousness with God by keeping a set of rules. Where it says in the New Testament in the writings of Paul “the law” in most passages, but not in all, the word “the” is put in by the translators. Paul has primarily in mind the law of Moses but it’s not restricted to that, it applies to any law. Legalism is attempting to achieve righteousness with God by keeping a set of religious rules.

I was speaking to a congregation about half this size some time back in the United States and I said quite casually—I mean, I didn’t think I was saying anything remarkable, but I said, “Of course, Christianity is not a set of rules.” I looked at the faces of the people and I think they would have been less shocked if I’d said there is no God. That simple statement, Christianity is not a set of rules. And we don’t achieve righteousness with God by keeping any set of rules.

And then the second diagnosis follows in the next verse:

“Are you still so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

Relying on the flesh. The technical, religious word for that is carnality which is simply taken from the root words for flesh.

So here are two problems, legalism and carnality. What’s the source of those two problems? The fact that the cross has been obscured, that they’ve lost sight of what was really accomplished for them by the cross.

If you are not willing or able to accept righteousness by faith as a gift of God, the only alternative in human thinking is to keep a set of rules. There are many different sets of rules. Basically, sets of rules are one of the things that most divide the church. I am, you could say, in a sense, a kind of Anglican. I’m not sure that all Anglicans would be proud of me but that’s what I am, confirmed by the Bishop of Oxford in Eton College Chapel. What more could you ask than that? So the Anglicans have one set of rules. The Baptists have another, the Catholics have another, the Presbyterians have another.

If I’m made righteous by keeping my set of rules, then anybody else who keeps a different set of rules is not as righteous as I am. See what the problem is? You don’t keep our rules so you’re not really righteous. We’re righteous because we keep the right rules.

And then the tragedy comes in the 10th verse. This is the final diagnosis.

“For as many as are of the works of law [not “the law,” law] are under the curse...”

So, the three results of the obscuring of the cross are, first of all, legalism; second, carnality; and in the end a curse.

I simply offer my opinion. I travel widely, I minister in many different nations to Christians from many different racial and denominational backgrounds. In my personal opinion—and I’m subject to correction by God or by man—most professing Christians are ensnared in those two problems, legalism and carnality. They go together because when you seek to be made righteous by a law you’re making yourself righteous by what you can do. I keep this rule, I keep that rule, I don’t go there, I don’t do this, so I’m righteous. And if that be true then there is a curse resting over a major part of the professing Christian church. That’s a shocking statement but I make it very carefully. This is a subject which I’ve meditated on and prayed about for several years. But, if I’m right, just for a moment be willing to accept the possibility that I’m right, what is the use of praying for a church that’s under a curse? What can we do for a church that’s under a curse?

I want to go back to the Old Testament for a moment, it’s very simply stated in just one or two verses of Jeremiah 17. Jeremiah 17:5–6:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.’”

What a picture of somebody under a curse! Blessing will come all around but in the midst of all the blessing he’ll be like a dry bush in a parched place. Could it be that the church is like that? You see what God is pronouncing a curse on? Somebody whose heart departs from the Lord. He’s not speaking about somebody who’s never known the Lord but somebody who has known the Lord and whose heart departs from the Lord. The evidence is that he’s gone back to trusting in man in what he can do, in what he can accomplish by his own cleverness, his own ability and his own righteousness.

You say why does God take such a serious view of that? I want to tell you that I am sharing out of my own experience. This is not a theory, I’ve been this way, I’ve made this mistake and it was very costly. And, I look back on it with great regret. But one thing I believe I can do is warn others.

You see, if you’ve begun in the blessing of God, if you’ve begun in the supernatural grace and power of God, if you’ve known what it is to have the Holy Spirit move and work through your life and produce the results that only He can produce, and then you go back to your own efforts and the best you can do with your little plans and organization and programs, what are you saying to God? “God, it was nice to have the Holy Spirit with us but we think we’ll do better without Him.” You’re snubbing God. That’s why He pronounces a curse.

Now, I am not an expert in church history, far from it, but I would say that the majority of the significant sections of the church, denominations, whatever you want to call them, all owe their original origin to a sovereign work of the Spirit of God. That’s why they made an impact on history. Without that they would have never made the pages of a history book. How many of them today are operating in that sovereign, supernatural grace of God? I would say the majority are not. We have gone back to relying on our own selves, our ability, our plans, the way we think. I believe the story that was related just before I spoke is one of countless testimonies that revival will never come to people who do things their way, who rely on their own wisdom and their own ability, and are not prepared to let God intervene.

Almost invariably the choices that God makes are not the choices that we would make. So, we can either have our way or God’s way but we cannot have both.

The 13th and 14th verses of Galatians 3, in the marvelous wisdom of God—and I’m always impressed by the fact that Paul didn’t sit down to write a theological treatise, he sat down to write a letter to people he cared about about problems happening in their lives. But the structure of Galatians is so perfect. So after Paul has diagnosed the problem—the cross obscured, legalism, carnality, a curse—he comes to the remedy.

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us—for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO IS HUNG ON A TREE’—that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we [Jews and Gentiles] might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

There is a way out for the individual, for the group, for the body of Christ. There is a way out. It’s through the cross. There is no other way of release from a curse except the way that God has provided. On the cross Jesus became a curse. The curse of the broken law in all its horror and all its fullness came upon Him. And if you could picture Him hanging there between heaven and earth, rejected by His fellow men, rejected by God His Father, stripped naked, bleeding, under a sky from which the light has receded, you’d have some concept of what it is to be under a curse. But He was made a curse that we might be redeemed from the curse.

This is the principle of exchange which is the whole basis of the cross. Because Jesus took upon Himself our rebellion, He also endured all its evil consequences. All the evil due to us came upon Jesus that all the good due to His perfect obedience might be offered to us. He was punished that we might be forgiven. He was wounded that we might be healed. He was made sin that we might become righteous with His righteousness. He died our death that we might share His life. He endured our poverty that we might share His riches. And He was made a curse that we might be redeemed from the curse and receive the blessing.

My personal impression, and I want to submit this to the leadership, is that if you can accept what I’ve said—and for many of you it was probably new and shocking—there is really not going to be any permanent progress in our praying until we have dealt with the curse. I’ve dealt with it in my own life. I came to the point where I saw that I had grieved the Holy Spirit of God. I was involved in a work of God—I don’t need to specify it—which was initiated by a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit but it wasn’t many years before we had committed the Galatian error and gone back to the best that we could do with our own little plans, ideas, principles and programs. May God forgive us. I have sought the Lord for forgiveness myself. I believe He’s forgiven me. I’m conscious of His blessing restored to my life and ministry. I thank Him for it. I have a deep, I would have to say, compassion for people who are struggling to be good and to do the right thing and please God but they are a bush in a barren place because they have done the thing upon which God has pronounced His curse. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying the situation is hopeless. What I’m saying is there’s only one remedy and it’s God’s remedy.

Would it be acceptable to you if I were to lead the people in a prayer acknowledging our sin? Is that right, I don’t want to impose anything on you.

(Other speaker:) I was just going to ask our dear brother to minister as he felt free in the Spirit.

(Back to Derek) Well, then what I would like to do, if you can accept what I’ve said, see, I know it’s a startling diagnosis. I’ve lived with it. To me it’s not startling, it’s so obvious that I wonder that people can’t see it. It wasn’t always obvious. I would like that we together, first on our own behalf and then on behalf of the church in this nation, would confess that we’ve grieved the Spirit of God. I said trying to describe it somewhere we’ve treated the Holy Spirit like a waiter in a restaurant. When we needed Him we summoned Him and after that we said, “We can manage all right without you. If we need you, we’ll call you back.” Some of you may resent that statement, it may not be true of all of you. But I’m prepared to stand here and confess that as our sin collectively, the church in Britain.

Brothers and sisters, I’ve read the journals of John Wesley years ago, early in the 1950s. I have the greatest admiration for the Methodists but frankly, if John Wesley was right, most of them are wrong today. Have we improved on John Wesley? Are we doing it better than he did? Jesus said judge them by their fruits. How do we compare with the Wesleys?

This is not to bring condemnation on anybody, it’s just to bring us face to face with the facts. One thing I’m persuaded concerning revival is God cannot do it until He brings us to the moment of truth. I would like to stand here and pray on behalf of myself and you brothers and sisters here and the church in our nation that God would forgive us for the sin of carnality and legalism and grieving the Holy Spirit. And, that we could then claim forgiveness because Jesus on the cross endured that curse that we might be redeemed from it. This is not condemnation, this is good news. I do believe that if we could pray this prayer with faith it would change the spiritual climate in Britain. I honestly believe that and I’m a sober minded person, I’m not over emotional. A few people have charged me with that.

If you’re willing to join me in that prayer would you stand where you are? I would like you brothers to stand with me if you would. I do this reluctantly because I’m basically a disciplined person, I come from a totally military family, I’m given my orders, thirty minutes, thirty minutes it will be. But I just feel that somehow we’ve got to break through.

(Other speaker:) I was saying to Derek it would be lovely if one or two of us representative leaders really stood with Derek in this and just accepted all he’s saying and make complete confession that we’ve really tried to use the Spirit much more than we’ve let the Spirit use us. If we stand before you as Derek is praying as a representative capacity, it’s just to say, “God, will you please in our hearts, our ministries, and the rest of the church and those who’ve got this gift of leadership, just make room for the Spirit, that we may be free from the curse of our own man-made efforts.”

(Back to Derek) I want to thank God for these brothers on the platform. It’s the first time I’ve been together with most of them and I sense in them men of integrity and women of integrity, whose sole motive is the glory of God. We need to thank God for leadership like that and to stand by them and support them.

“Now God, you’ve heard the words that I’ve spoken. And Lord, if my words were true, if it was a correct diagnosis, given by the Holy Spirit based on the scripture, then Lord, we want to accept our responsibility before you as members of the body of Christ. And particularly, those of us in leadership. And we want to acknowledge, Lord, that we have made the Galatian mistake. We began in the Spirit, some of us centuries ago, but Lord, we’ve turned back to our own petty efforts, our own little plans, our own carnal methods. And God, we confess that as a sin. We confess as a sin that we have really snubbed the Holy Spirit, treated Him like a waiter in a restaurant. Lord, we are ashamed. But at the same time we are not going to allow ourselves to continue under condemnation because, Lord, you have made provision. In your infinite mercy you have allowed Jesus to become a curse upon the cross that we might be redeemed from the curse and be restored to the blessing of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. So Lord, we ask your forgiveness on our own behalf and on behalf of the body of Christ in this nation. Forgive us, Lord, forgive us. Blot out our iniquities, pass over our transgressions. Restore your grace, restore your mercy and restore your blessing, Lord. Holy Spirit, we welcome you. We receive you. We bow before you, you are the representative of our blessed Lord, endued with His authority to administer His church. We just yield to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Four Aspects of the Cross

The Cross in Your Life – Part 4

Thank you for your welcome. How many of you have been here at least one previous afternoon, just raise your hand. Well, we’re getting to be friends, aren’t we? If you’ve been here before you know that we begin with a proclamation. Jesus is the high priest of our confession. Confession means saying the same as, that’s the literal meaning of it. So for us as Bible believing Christians, confession means we say the same thing with our mouth about us as God has said in His word. And when we do that we release the high priestly ministry of Jesus in the heavenlies on our behalf. But if we keep our mouths shut we shut off His high priestly ministry. And if we make the wrong confession we invite the attention of spirits from other sources. So really, as James said, the tongue is the rudder of your life. If you use it right you’ll come safely to harbor and if you use it wrong you’ll make shipwreck. You cannot use it better than by saying what God has said. So we’re going to confess here this afternoon Deuteronomy 33:25–27. And just to prove that there’s no favoritism, this time we’re going to quote from the New International Version.

“The bolts of our gates will be iron and bronze, and our strength will equal our days. There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help us, and on the clouds in His majesty. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out our enemy before us, saying, Destroy Him! Amen.”

Amen, destroy him. Did you realize that that’s God’s assignment? Well, we won’t get involved in that or we’ll never get out of it.

It’s been my privilege to be assigned to speak to you each afternoon fairly briefly about the theme of the cross. I want to recapitulate the material that I’ve covered. I used to be a teacher of teachers and one of the principles that we need to instill into teachers is nothing has been taught until something has been learned. We can go through all the processes of teaching but if nobody learns anything, nothing has been taught. So, I am going to try and recapitulate—and I may check with some of you as to whether you learned anything.

So, the first afternoon I spoke about the cross as the remedy for guilt. I said that Satan’s strongest weapon against humanity is guilt. But by His death on the cross, Jesus stripped Satan of that weapon because He became the guilt offering for all humanity. And Colossians 2 says He spoiled or stripped the principalities and powers of Satan. He took their weapon out of their hand.

And then the next afternoon I spoke about the cross as the perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 10:14:

“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

What Jesus has done on the cross is finished. It’s complete, it’s perfect, nothing ever needs to be added, nothing can ever be taken away. But our appropriation of it is progressive. The perfect tense, he has perfected; the continuing present tense, we are being sanctified. And only in proportion as we are sanctified can we appropriate what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

And yesterday afternoon I spoke about Satan’s counterattack. I said that through His death on the cross, Jesus administered to Satan a total, eternal, irreversible defeat. I’d like you to say those words with me. A total, eternal, irreversible defeat. Now, Satan can’t change that but his counterattack is to blind the eyes of Christians to what was accomplished on the cross. And so in Galatians 3:1 Paul says to the Galatian Christians—and he might say it “O you foolish Englishmen or Britons”—

“...who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified?”

The Galatian Christians had had a clear presentation of the message of the cross, they’d received the Holy Spirit, they’d witnessed God working miracles amongst them. But, they let Satan rob them of the vision of the cross. And now is where I’m going to check whether any of you learned anything. I said the result of what witchcraft had done to the Galatians was three successive things. How many of you can remember the first thing? Legalism, thank you, we have some students in the class. The second thing was carnality and the third thing was a curse. That’s very real. That’s not metaphorical language, it’s the actual state of affairs. Wherever the cross has been obscured, those are the results that follow. And, we saw it yesterday afternoon to deal with them. We’re not going back to that but I want to say this afternoon I want to deal with one further aspect of the cross.

It blesses me more than I can say that the same epistle to the Galatians which presented the problem also presents the solution. We’ve spoken about what Jesus did for us on the cross. Many Christians never get further than that. But this afternoon we’re going to deal briefly with what the cross of Jesus is intended to do in us. That’s totally different. But if you don’t learn to accept what the cross is intended to do in you, ultimately you will not have the benefits of what the cross has done for you. I think the history of the church, especially in the last decades, is littered with the corpses of Christians who wanted everything the cross could do for them but were not willing to submit to the cross in their own hearts and lives.

Galatians reveals five deliverances which are accomplished by the cross. I want to go through them briefly. The first, which I think is the key to everything, is in Galatians 1:4. I would imagine that 90% of you here this afternoon are not aware of this deliverance. Paul says in Galatians 1:3–4:

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

What are we delivered from? This present evil age. Now, let me point out there are two words in New Testament Greek which often get confused in translation. There are some translations that don’t distinguish them and some translations that only distinguish them sometimes. But there’s one word in Greek, ion or eon, which is the age. Age is a time word. The other word is cosmos which is normally translated world, which is, in a sense, a sociological concept. And, in a sense, a space word. Now, the word used here at the beginning of these deliverances is ion or eon or age. My observation leads me to believe that the majority of today’s Christians have no conception of the fact that through the cross we have been delivered from this present evil age. We don’t belong in this age. I think one of the most serious errors that is very powerful in this time amongst Christians is the thought that it’s all got to happen in this life. Paul’s thought was exactly the opposite. He said if in this life only we receive the benefits we are of all men most to be pitied. That’s totally unlike the attitude and the thinking of multitudes of contemporary Christians. We don’t get it all in this age. And if all we have is only in this age we are of all men most to be pitied. We have been delivered from this present evil age. We don’t belong, we’re not living here. This isn’t where we have our abode. We’ve been lifted out of time into a future age. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 6 we’ve tasted the powers of the age to come through the Holy Spirit. You know why God has permitted us to taste the powers of the age to come? To spoil our appetite for this present age.

Why is this an evil age? I’ll give you one simple answer. It has an evil god. In 2Corinthians 4 Paul says that Satan is the god of this age. And as long as you are living in this age you are living under Satan as your god. God in His infinite wisdom has not changed that. He’s not removed Satan as the god of this age. As long as this age continues, Satan will be its god. What He has done for us is to lift us out of this age into a coming age. But if you are living as if this age is where it’s all at and where everything happens, you may or may not be aware of it but Satan is still your god. Jesus said very clearly in many cases this age is coming to an end. Can you say praise God? Is that good news? How many of you would like this age to continue forever? Not many.

Brothers and sisters, the gospel is good news. And one of the pieces of good news is this age is coming to an end. And, I believe it’s coming to an end rapidly.

Paul says in Romans 12:2—and here’s where many translations are not accurate:

“Do not be conformed to this present age...”

And he says particularly in your thinking. Don’t think like the people of this age. You see, religion tends to change people from the outside in. Their dress, their externals, their habits. But you never reach the inner man that way. God doesn’t do that. He changes you on the inside and the result is manifested on the outside. We have to change the way we think. There’s one very tragic case in the New Testament of a man who loved this present age. I wonder how many of you can tell me his name. Demas, that’s right. He was a coworker of Paul, he was with him apparently for many years, he was a man who Paul trusted. He heard all Paul’s teaching but eventually he walked out on Paul. Why? Because he loved this present age. I want to tell you, if you love this present age you will not make it to the end of your walk with Jesus. You have to be delivered from it through the death of Jesus on the cross.

There are four more deliverances in Galatians, we’ll look at them briefly. I do believe actually they’re all outworkings of this first deliverance from this present evil age.

Let me ask you a question, and don’t be offended. How many of you had a clear understanding before this afternoon that as a Christian you had been delivered from this present evil age? Would you put your hand up. Well, praise God for that. Now, how many of you understand it now? Well, bless God, there’s a lot of hands going up.

Let’s go on with the other deliverances. The second is in Galatians 2:19. This is the hardest one for Christians to understand.

“For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God.”

From what are we delivered there? From the law. Did you realize that? You see, the ultimate penalty of the law is to put you to death. When the law has put you to death it has nothing more it can say to you and nothing more it can do to you. And through the death of Jesus we’ve been put to death by the law. The mercy of God is the execution took place 19 centuries ago. Paul says our old man was crucified with Him. That’s an historical fact. It’s true whether you know it or whether you believe it. But knowing it and believing it will change your life. You are no longer under the law. Your righteousness is not achieved by keeping a set of rules.

But, once you’ve been made righteous by faith, the Holy Spirit will show you which rules to keep. But don’t rely on your own judgment.

I spoke a little bit about this yesterday. I believe legalism is one of the main forces that divide Christians because if we’re made righteous by keeping rules then if I keep different rules from you, either you’re more righteous than I am or I’m more righteous than you. But we can both be equally righteous. I think it’s wonderful that God has made provision for so much diversity in the body of Christ. But if it’s all keeping one set of rules, there’s no room for diversity. How are we enabled to live the Christian life? Paul says as many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God. And then he says in Galatians 5:18:

“If you are led by the Holy Spirit you are not under the law.”

You cannot have it both ways. In Romans 6:14 he says:

“Sin shall not have dominion over you because you are not under the law but under grace.”

Again, you cannot have it both ways. And if you are under the law, sin will have dominion over you. If you want to escape from the dominion of sin you have to escape from the dominion of the law. You say I’m going to be allowed to do anything I please. You’re going to be allowed to go anything the Holy Spirit leads you to do. And, the Holy Spirit will never lead you to do something evil.

I illustrate it this way sometimes. There are two ways of getting to your destination. One is a map, the other is a personal guide. The map is perfect. If you can follow the map all the way you’ll get there. But, nobody has ever succeeded in following the map. The alternative is a personal guide. Tell me who He is? The Holy Spirit, that’s right. I always picture a young man, he’s just graduated from some prestigious university. He’s confronted by the option, do you want the map or are you going to follow the guide? Well, I’m pretty clever, I think I can make it with the map. Give me the map. See, no human being voluntarily renounces the map. So, out he starts, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, the road is open. “This is a piece of cake,” he says. About three days later he’s in the middle of the night, it’s pitch dark, it’s raining hard, he’s in a forest on the edge of a precipice. He doesn’t know whether he’s facing north, south, east or west. A gentle voice says to him, “Perhaps I can help you.” “Oh Holy Spirit, I need you. Get me out of this.” So, the Holy Spirit takes him by the hand, leads him out. They set out on the way and after a while the sun is shining, the road is open. He says to himself, “You know, I was pretty silly. I didn’t need to get so scared, I could have handled this on my own.” He looks around and the guide is no longer there. “Well,” he says, “that’s all right, I can make it.”

About two days later he’s in the middle of a bog and every step he takes he’s sinking deeper. He says, “This is the end.” And a gentle voice says, “Perhaps you need me now.” “Holy Spirit! Thank you! Get me out of this.”

Then they’re walking along again and he turns to the guide and says, “You know, I’ve got a wonderful map here. Perhaps you need the map.” And the guide says, “No, I know the way, I don’t need the map. As a matter of fact, I made the map!”

My question to you and me is how often does that have to happen before we know we need the Holy Spirit? Dependence on the Holy Spirit is one of the essential keys to the successful Christian life. You cannot live it successfully without Him. Don’t tell me that you were baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1978 and you spoke in tongues. That’s wonderful but we’re living in 1989, 11 years later, what has happened in the meanwhile? My observation is that people who focus on one experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit usually are the ones that find it hardest to be led by the Holy Spirit every day. “I got it all.” That was 11 years ago and you’ve leaked out and you don’t have much left.

One of the keys to being led by the Holy Spirit is humility. He guides the humble. The meek will He teach His way. You have to make up your mind. Am I going to rely on the map or am I going to trust the guide? It’s risky in a sense because He won’t always tell you where you’re going. He’ll just say, “Stick with me.”

A map is so easy. I mean, it’s there, it’s solid, your eyes can see it, your hands can touch it. You feel so secure. The problem is you always end up in the bog. There’s nothing wrong with a map but you are not clever enough to read the map without the guide. See that? Paul said the law is perfect. The problem isn’t in the law, it’s in me, he said. My fleshly nature. We can’t go on on that but that needs to be taught for about three weeks in almost every church in this nation.

The next deliverance is in Galatians 2:20, the next verse:

“I have been crucified with Christ.”

What’s the deliverance from? I didn’t hear you. Me. The ego, the self life has come to an end. The ego is manifested in many ways. Very commonly it’s manifested in personal ambition, especially in those in the ministry. I think that probably 50% of the contemporary problems in the ministry can be traced to that one cause of personal ambition. Me, my ministry, my church, my preaching, I’m going to be a success.

It’s also manifested collectively in what I would call denominational rivalry. Our church, our movement, our home group.

It’s manifested nationally. Do you know that nationalism can be a dangerous enemy to the Christian faith? We British, we’re not nationalistic at all, we know that. But those Germans before World War II, there were many fine Christians in Germany when Hitler came to power. And probably the majority of them supported Hitler. You know what their problem was? They were Germans first and Christians second. What about you? Supposing you’re British. Which comes first? Being British or being Christian? If our nation should be involved in something altogether wrong, despicable, unjust, I’m not one of those who march and protest. Some do but I don’t, that’s not the way I respond. But would you have the courage to disassociate yourself from the things that your nation is doing out of faithfulness to the Lord Jesus and His word? I believe in patriotism, I believe it’s a Christian virtue. But, I don’t believe in my country right or wrong.

The next deliverance is in Galatians 5:24:

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with its passions and desires.”

What’s the deliverance from there? The flesh. We have to explain the meaning of the word flesh. Some of the modern translations, I think, say the carnal nature or they say some other word. The old life, something like that. You know what I have to say about the vocabulary of the Bible? There are certain technical words in the Bible and if you’re really going to understand the message of the Bible you’ve got to learn those technical words. If you are going to become an electrical engineer you’d have to learn the meaning of certain technical electrical engineering words. And if that was where your career lay, you’d do it. There aren’t many but there are some words in the Bible that are used in a very special, technical sense. And if you’re really going to understand the Bible you’ve got to learn the meaning of those words.

One of the problems about the new translations is that they tend to get around those words and then you never really are confronted with the reality. What is the flesh? This is my definition. The flesh is the nature that you and I inherited because we are descendants of Adam. And Adam never begot any children before he was in rebellion. And, every descendant of Adam from then on has had in himself the nature of a rebel. And God has only one remedy for rebellion. He doesn’t sent the rebel to church or teach him the golden rule or help him to memorize scripture. Do you know what God’s solution is? Some of you have probably heard me say this. God’s solution is execution, put him to death.

But again, the mercy of God is this, the execution took place when Jesus died on the cross. Our old man was crucified. That’s something God did but Galatians 5:24 says:

“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh...”

God has made the provision, we have to apply it. We have to do it to our own fleshly nature.

Now, crucifixion is never enjoyable. It’s always painful. And if I could use a little picture, you’ve got to take the nails of scripture and drive them through your own hands and feet and immobilize that rebel.

There are countless different ways that this could be applied but one example that I find helps people is you see, Peter said, “He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” I pondered over that verse for years. I thought we don’t have to go through the atonement, Jesus suffered in the flesh. I learned more by experience than by theology that it doesn’t work that way. There’s something that has to happen in our experience, there’s something we have to do. We have to put the nails through our own hands and feet. Nobody else can do it for us. Christ has made it possible, we have to make it experiential.

This is the example I use. There’s a beautiful young lady, she’s about 18 years old. She’s a committed Christian, she’s a member of a good church, she has a faithful pastor. But, she becomes interested in a young man who is interested in her but is not really committed to the Lord. He’ll go to church but just for her sake because that’s the way he can get her. And her faithful pastor tells her, “Now young lady, I want you to know I don’t believe that young man is really committed to the Lord. And if you get married to him you’re going to have a difficult life.” She’s got two options. She can crucify herself, deny her own fleshly desires and say, “All right, pastor, I’ll lay it down.” That’s painful. The pain might last six months or a year but it’ll be over. The other way is to refuse the counsel of a godly minister and the teaching of the word of God. She goes through and gets married. Fifteen years and three children later he walks off with another woman. Don’t tell me that isn’t painful. The pain lasts much longer.

There is no way to escape from sin without suffering. The question is will you suffer the Lord’s way or will you suffer the devil’s way? If you think there’s some easy way out of all sinful desires and passions, you’re deceiving yourself. God’s way is those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh. Do you know who Jesus is coming back for? It says in 1Corinthians 15:

“Those who are Christ’s...”

How do we know those who are Christ’s? What’s the mark of them? They have what? They have crucified the flesh. He’s not coming back for Baptists or Anglicans or Pentecostals or Roman Catholics, He’s coming back for those who have crucified the flesh. That’s the mark of those who are Christ’s.

And then we move on finally to the fifth deliverance, Galatians 6:14:

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [or by which] the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

What’s the deliverance there? From what? From the world. You see, you begin with this present evil age, you end with the world. What is the world? It’s not the people who go to the other church. It’s not even the people who don’t go to church. My definition of the world is this, the world is all those who refuse the just rule of Jesus Christ in their lives. Whether they’re churchgoers or not churchgoers is secondary. God has only one appointed ruler whom He acknowledges and that’s Jesus. And if we want to be in the kingdom of God we have to be under the king. You cannot be in the kingdom if you’re not under the king. And all those who are not under the king, whether they’re nominal Christians or Buddhists or Communists or Hindus or Muslims are just totally non religious, they are in the world. The world is the assembly of all those who refuse the just government of Jesus Christ over their lives.

And Paul said, “Between the world and me there is the cross.” When the world looks in my direction all that it sees is a corpse on a cross. And when I look at the world all that I see is a corpse on a cross. Is that your attitude to the world? Can you say the world is crucified to me and I to the world? Some people, I think, imagine that when revival comes the church will take over the world. That’s not my concept. I think what will happen is when revival comes the church will be delivered from the world. There’ll be a separation, people will be in one or the other but they cannot be in both.

Let me close with this simple little parable. A ship in the sea is all right. The sea in a ship is all wrong. Can you see the parable? The church in the world is all right. The world in the church is all wrong. What happens when the sea gets into the ship? The ship sinks. What happens when the world gets into the church? The church sinks.

Those are the issues that are put before us by the cross. Deliverance from this present evil age, deliverance from the law as a means of achieving righteousness with God, deliverance from the self life [the ego], deliverance from the fleshly nature and deliverance from the world. My personal impression is that if a revival is coming, that’s what it will mean. So when you’re praying for revival, may you continue to pray but would you bear in mind that’s what it will do. Are you prepared for that?

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