Crucifixion is an ugly word when you think about the physical reality of what it means. To think that we are called to crucify our desires is concept beyond what I can fathom.
I don’t like movies that vividly show what crucifixion is really like. I don’t like bloody paintings of the crucified Christ. I prefer the one I have in my living room of the smiling Jesus.
Jesus was fully man when He was here on earth. He gave up His divinity and embraced humanity. He chose to live as a man not calling on the divine part of Him while here.1
He had to sleep, eat, work, drink like you and I do. He had to find a place to sleep at night and a way to get to the next town. He had physical needs just like we do and with them came temptations, just like we have.2
The death He died on the cruel cross was a physical death in every sense of the word. His body went through the worst pain a human can endure. And in the end He died a very physical death.3
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. We worship the God who became flesh and by the power of the Holy Spirit was raised from the dead. His resurrected body looked the same, but had powers that were indeed different. This doesn’t happen every day, folks. Or does it?
You and I are called to do the same thing Christ did. We are called to crucify from our flesh. We are called to be resurrected as a new person.
What does the scripture mean when it says those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires?4 What does being crucified with Christ and yet still live5 mean?
These seem to be juxtaposed. How can we die a horrible death and yet live? It’s a conundrum for sure.
Many times we skip right over these scriptures because they sound too hard to comprehend. We say, surely it doesn’t mean I have to go through some painful death in order to live as a Christian.
Our idea of Christianity is tied up in a nice, neat package with a red, white and blue bow. We are blessed beyond belief to live in a free, Christian nation. We have privileges many in the world do not.
It never crosses our minds that we might be beheaded for saying we believe in Christ. It brings faith to an entirely new level. Is my faith that strong?
To bring it closer to where we live then, the question becomes, am I willing to give up my fleshly desires to be identified with Christ?
Not sure what fleshly desires are?
“Now you know full well the doings of our lower fleshly natures. Fornication, impurity, indecency, idol-worship, sorcery; enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of passion, intrigues, dissensions, factions, envyings, hard drinking, riotous feasting, and the like. And as to these I forewarn you, as I have already forewarned you, that those who are guilty of such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God.”6
Most of us look at the list and say, “Well I don’t do most of that.” However, if we do even one of those some of the time, we have fleshly desires. So let’s be truthful, we have all acted on some of these at one time or another in some way.
My riotous feasting may have been done in private, but I still did it and I am guilty of it.
It is a solemn day when we face the fact that we are in need of crucifixion.
Let that sink in for just a moment.
It is basic selfishness we exhibit when we are engaging in fleshly desires.
I do have this desire to help others. In the past I was cognizant of putting everyone else’s needs and agendas before mine. When I would do that, I would reward my good deeds by day with food by night or anytime I wished. I ate whatever was convenient and whatever I wanted because I deserved it, or so I thought.
Yes, there were times I went on diets. Those times were also born out of the selfish desire to look good or feel better. However, always the selfish desire to eat what I wanted won out.
I felt I had to indulge this want that screamed at me. “You love to eat this. You must eat this. You will die if you don’t eat this!”
The day I finally recognized this as a false protector, false comforter, false provider was the day I crucified that desire.7 I nailed it to the tree with all the pain and anguish Jesus Himself went through when He died on the cross.
I did it with this deep sense of knowing that Christ was with me every step of the way, like a big brother I never had leading me, showing me the way.
Unfortunately, being crucified with Christ comes in stages as areas of our life that need to go are revealed. There are some stubborn desires that don’t go to the cross willingly. For me food addiction was one of those.
Hanging on the cross is no fun. I wanted to take that food addiction off the cross many times. Crucifixion, though, is necessary to kill the old desires. It does away with them completely.
It reminds me of the chrysalis the caterpillar has to crawl into and dwell in while he melts to become the butterfly.
It’s a dark time, but a necessary time for what comes next—resurrection to a new and different lifestyle.
That is how we can be crucified with Christ and yet live. We no longer live by our power, we live by the power and faith in Jesus Christ. We follow Him. We go to Him when we are weak. We allow His strength to course through our human bodies.
It’s important to understand, if God has shown us an area of our life that needs to be crucified, He will not do the crucifying. We must follow Jesus’ example and go willingly.
Jesus could have said, “No” to the crucifixion, not been so bold about who He was, stayed low and followed the crowd.
He had a choice. The fate of all of humanity was riding on His choice.
You also have a choice. Your life is riding on your choice.
It was in the crucifixion that all hell was defeated. Jesus would never have been raised from the dead had He not submitted to the agonizing process of death.
Remember, only the dead are raised to life.
What in you has to die to make way for life?
1 Philippians 2:6-8 NIV
2 Hebrews 4:15 NIV
3 Luke 23:46 NIV
4 Galatians 5:24 NIV
5 Galatians 2;20 NIV
6 Galatians 5:19-21 Weymouth New Testament
7 Galatians 2:20 NIV
Sweet Change is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.