THE POWER OF THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS
(Message n° 1)
By Henri Viaud-Murat
English version of Tape C 115, from " Source de Vie " France
This message is the first of a set of 5 (C.115 to 119).
You know that a house needs to be built on firm foundations : Jesus says that it must actually be built on rock. A house built on sand wont last very long : as soon as the rains start falling and the winds start blowing, it will disintegrate for lack of a firm foundation. The Bible tells us that our whole life has to be built on a single foundation, Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus and His Word are one ; so to build my life on Jesus Christ is to build it up according to His Word. To build my life according to His word, is to build it on Jesus.
So tonight I want to go back to the foundation, to Jesus, to remind us of some important truths, for I can see that we readily forget them thats what the devil does : he comes and changes our thinking to make us forget the Word of the Lord. As the apostle Peter said, we need to go back to those truths so as not to forget them. And if we have forgotten them, then we need to turn back, start again and rebuild our lives in the proper place, that is to say on Jesus. Tonight you will check and see whether your house is properly built. If any part of it is built on sand, watch out ! You need to remove the sand and build on rock. Jesus is that rock, He is the Rock of ages.
Let us read from 1 Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 1 : "And I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified". What accuracy and clarity in that statement : "When I came to you, I was determined not to know anything among you except " Paul was an apostle, called to build up the Church of Jesus and to teach the Word. When he came and taught that Word to the Corinthians, he said to them : "In my heart there was one single thought concerning you " That is to say concerning the Corinthians and concerning us, the Christians who are gathered here : "I was determined not to know anything except Jesus Christ." Not Jesus Christ as described by all and sundry ! There are many, nowadays, who do away with the Cross of Christ and who preach another Jesus, not the Jesus of the Scriptures, but a Jesus who is a philosopher, a psychologist, or a Santa Claus : one who is not the real Jesus.
Paul says : "Him crucified". You know that Jesus came into the world for one purpose only : to die on the cross. His purpose was not to heal the sick, cast out demons, grant blessings and speak words of comfort. He did those things too, but his sole purpose was to die on a cross for us, and all those other things are given through the Cross.
The Jesus we Christians need to build our lives on is Jesus Christ crucified. Nowadays people no longer want to hear about the Cross : they want a cheerful, joyful, loving, smiling Jesus. They say : "His crucifixion took place two thousand years ago : Jesus went to the Cross, then He rose again." Nowadays people obliterate the Cross and forget about it. They preach another gospel, which is no longer the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, throughout all eternity, there will be nothing else except Jesus Christ crucified. Even in heaven the Bible will remain. Throughout eternity we shall see the scars left by the nails in Jesus hands and feet, the scars on His heart and His side. Jesus has chosen to keep those scars so that we shall forever be reminded that He was crucified for us. That thought must always be with us : when Jesus says : "I am the door, I am the way." There is no door apart from the Cross ; there is no way apart from the Cross. Jesus walked that way, for had he not gone to the Cross, He could neither have paid the debt for our sins nor opened heavens door for us. Remove the Cross, and nothing is left of what Jesus did for us ; nothing is left of the Bible. From the beginning to the end of the Bible, the Cross is forever at the heart of Gods Word. It is announced from the very beginning, and it is still there in the Book of Revelation, when John has a vision of a slain Lamb upon the throne. Throughout the Scriptures we see the Lamb of God who was crucified and who is there for all eternity. Therefore Jesus, even now in His resurrection life, wants us to bear in mind that He was crucified. Among us, He wants to hear about nothing but Jesus crucified. Let us steer clear of philosophical or psychological doctrines that try to solve our problems through man-made methods and teachings, (or, at the worst, through doctrines of devils that always involve removing the Cross from the Gospel.) Once the Cross is removed, nothing is left of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit cannot move in our lives.
Jesus said : "Within a few days, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ; and you shall be witnesses to me." The Holy Spirit is a Person ; Jesus calls Him "power", i.e. Gods power personified. Paul also talks of "the preaching of the Cross" in 1 Corinthians 1 : 18. He does not say "the preaching of salvation", for men invent means of "salvation" apart from the Cross. He says : "the preaching of the Cross is foolishness for those who are perishing " Those who are perishing are those who do not want to receive the message of the Gospel and who remove the Cross from it because they find it foolish. But for us who are saved, the Cross is the power of God. Paul does not say that the Cross was or will be the power of God, but that the Cross is the power of God for us who are saved.
So when we pray : "Lord, manifest Your power and Your glory", when God hears us, He interprets it as meaning : "Tell me about the Cross, take me through the experience of the Cross, and enable me to understand the meaning of Jesus Christ crucified among us." The power of the Cross means that through the Cross, all our problems are solved. On the one hand, it is on the Cross that sin and the flesh were crucified ; on the other hand, it is through the Cross that heavenly blessings and resurrection life are given. When Jesus died, He said "It is finished !", meaning that through the Cross, He had fully met the Fathers demands and opened Heavens door for every blessing to be released.
We must never erase the Cross from the Gospel message and say : "Since Jesus died two thousand years ago on the Cross, thats wonderful, thank You, Jesus ; You have opened the door for us, so now well only think about the blessings and well leave out the Cross."
We do not speak about the Cross simply to remind people of what Jesus did long ago. We need to speak about the Cross because for us, today, there is resurrection power and the power of life itself in Jesus death and resurrection.
Do you know where all our problems come from ? They all come from the fact that we have not yet been changed into the likeness of Jesus. We long for that, and we pray for it, saying : "Lord, I want Your love to be manifested in me ; grant me patience, grant me love, grant me all the things I lack." But do we know that all those things are included in the Cross, and that it is through the Cross that Jesus answers a prayer like that ? He will enable me to understand what "Jesus Christ crucified" means. Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins ; He died to pay the ransom for our sins, which were carrying us away to death and to hell. Through His death on the Cross, He obtained complete forgiveness for our sins. When we confess Him as our Lord and our Saviour, when we receive His blood in faith, all our past sins are blotted out, Gods perfect righteousness is imputed to us, for God grants us complete forgiveness through Jesus and through the Cross.
However, I now want to review the second aspect of the Cross, which many Christians too often forget : On the Cross, we have been crucified with Him and in Him.
All our problems stem from the flesh, which is evil, impatient, angry, envious, jealous, murderous, full of witchcraft, magic, and gluttony, and so on. All those things come from our sin-defiled flesh. It is a poisonous plant. Death is in the flesh. Our flesh cannot be restored and changed into the likeness of Jesus. We need to understand that the will of God is that our flesh should actually be put to death, so that nothing bad can be manifested in us any longer : not the slightest trace of impatience, anger, jealousy, self-justification, or any single thing that aims at self-satisfaction.
We do not always know how deep-seated our sin can be. At the beginning of our lives as Christians, we say : "Lord, please point out my sins to me", and the Lord begins to show us our coarsest sins: theft, lying, and adultery. If we are honest with God, we deal with those sins. As we go further on with the Lord, He sheds light on sin concealed in minute things, in deep-seated subtle things, sin masquerading as something religious, something spiritual. Even our natural qualities are evil in Gods sight, those natural qualities inherited in the flesh. They need to be taken to the altar of the Cross and crucified there. Being a good teacher when I was in the world does not qualify me to be a teacher of Gods Word once I am converted. That was a human qualification, quite irrelevant to the reality of Jesus Gospel. God used fishermen, simple folk, poor folk. Paul, a scholar who had plenty of degrees, said : "I have not come with wisdom of words to preach the Word to you." As a theologian, he could have made highly impressive speeches, which nobody would have understood. What Paul actually said was : "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling, in utter simplicity to speak to you of Jesus Christ crucified and to lead you into a living encounter with Him". Beloved, that is the answer to our problems. The Holy Spirit, who has been given in order to lead us into all truth, has been given to convict us of sin. "And when he has come, he will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement." (John 16:8).The Holy Spirit will show me that my sin has been forgiven at the Cross, and that Gods way for me to deal with my sin is to lay hold, through faith, on what Christ has already done. This does not mean waiting passively for some kind of manifestation of His work in my life : if I did that, nothing would happen ! I need a revelation of Christs work, and I need to lay hold on it through faith. I need to thirst for a revelation of Christ crucified. I must never forget for one moment that I died with Christ, in Christ. I need to find life in His death, so as to receive His life.
To preach the Cross is to preach that our flesh died in Jesus. That opens up the way, through faith, to resurrection life in Jesus. Jesus resurrection life cannot break through that shell of flesh I am enclosed in unless my flesh has been put to death through faith in what Jesus achieved. To try to crucify my own flesh is useless ; to strive to "walk in the Spirit" is useless. It simply cant be done in my own strength, it can only be done through faith. But if through the Holy Spirit I receive the revelation of what it means "to be crucified in Christ", then I understand that Jesus Himself dealt with that problem for me. It is His gift to me, and I accept it in faith, saying : "Through Your Spirit, Lord, let the understanding of being crucified with Christ sink into my heart. Make me understand that this dreadful flesh of mine, which stinks in Your nostrils and everybody elses whenever it plays up, was put to death by You when You died on the Cross. As far as I am concerned, I died with You. When You died, You did more than pay for my sins, You also killed that flesh that causes me to sin." You killed that flesh of mine when You died on the Cross." Indeed, when Jesus died, we all died with Him. He rose from the dead, and we rose with Him. "Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Rom. 6:8).
So we can never give Jesus enough glory for what He achieved on the Cross. God wants to keep on revealing the depths of Jesus work on the Cross, as well as the power of the preaching of the Cross. Everything has been dealt with at the Cross. Jesus has provided for every single one of my problems, whether it is bad temper, bodily sickness, or some consequence of my past sins (or of the sins of my ancestors right back to Adam). The work of the Holy Spirit is to give me a spiritual understanding of those things, so that I can receive them in faith and say : "Lord, I take that as mine". In the same way as you received the forgiveness of your sins by faith, you now receive your death in Christ by faith. That is why the Lord says to us : "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:11). We are not to strive to persuade ourselves and go around repeating to ourselves "Im dead, Im dead, Im dead " No, we are to come before the Lord and His Word, and to say to Him : "Lord, you say so, and I need to understand this through Your Holy Spirit. Yes, my brain understands it, of course, but I need to receive spiritual understanding of it through Your Holy Spirit. I want to live it out in my daily life, so that all can see that I am indeed crucified, that I have no personal desire except obeying and serving You, Lord. I no longer want to justify myself or try to prove to other people that I am somebody ; I dont want to defend myself when I am unfairly attacked, or boast about my qualities and my capabilities. I wont go on trying to hide my faults, holding on to my uncrucified self, for fear of being judged and hurt by others."
The Lord desires His work to be complete and perfect. Since that work is complete and perfect in Jesus, you may be sure, my brother, my sister, that as soon as the Holy Spirit reveals to you that you are indeed crucified, you also receive a full provision for an ongoing, lifelong sanctification. That revelation is given instantly. You are going to walk in it daily by faith and never forget it. You wont be like the Galatians, who had begun to walk in the Spirit, then fallen back into the flesh, having forgotten that revelation. Paul said to them : "O foolish Galatians ! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified ?" (Gal. 3:1).
The whole of Pauls work had amounted to telling the Galatians about Jesus Christ crucified. He had explained that all their sins had been forgiven in Jesus, but that was not enough : Paul had also to make them understand that their flesh had been destroyed through the death of Jesus.
If you keep your flesh alive, it will compel you to sin over and over again, and you will keep having to ask for forgiveness day after day. Of course, when the Holy Spirit shows us that we have sinned, we do need to ask to be forgiven at once. However, there is a higher walk, a walk in the Spirit, a crucified life. That does not imply that we shall never sin. We are still liable to sin if we forget, if we look back, if we are caught off guard, if we depart from our faith in the Word. But it is possible never to sin again. Not that we can ever reach the goal in our own strength, but it can be done, for the Holy Spirit imparts an understanding of how perfect Jesus work is, and we enter into it through faith. Moment by moment, I shall receive grace from God to walk in that faith. When I meet with sin and temptation, I shall be strong enough to resist and to do as Paul said : "Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Rom. 6:13).
What enables me to do so, then ? Believing that I am crucified with Christ, and therefore no longer ruled by my flesh but by the Spirit of the Lord. I can do it because I wholeheartedly believe what Jesus has revealed to me. If with all your heart, you believe that you are a crucified creature, that your flesh is dead, that your former self has been put to death, you will walk in the revelation of it. "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col. 2:6).
The quality of our walk in the Spirit, in practice, is proportional to the revelation of the Cross that we have received, and to the extent in which we dwell in that revelation. If we sin, because we have given in to a fleshly impulse, it means that we have not firmly maintained our faith in the power of God, so as to stand firm in the work of Jesus. If so, however, our condition is not desperate, according to Romans 7 : " For the good that I will to do, I do not do ; but the evil I will not to do, that I do. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good." (Rom. 7:19-21).That is Pauls description of his own condition before he was set free through the revelation of the Cross. It is the condition of one who truly wants to walk with God, and does his utmost to walk with Him. He is as miserable as can be when he does wrong things, because he loves God. He says : "See, Lord, Ive gone and done it again. I was really determined not to lose my temper, not to sulk, not to be impatient, and so on but Ive done it again ! Please forgive me, Lord !" And in His love, the Lord is so quick to forgive that its almost unbelievable ! But what is much more pleasing to the Lord is to restore our understanding of His own work, so that we remember that our flesh has been crucified with Jesus, that the former things have passed away, and that whoever is in Jesus is an utterly new creation. If you know that you are dead and crucified, you will reckon yourself dead and crucified, because God says so. If you know that you are five feet, six inches tall, that you have brown hair and blue eyes, and if someone comes and says : "You are six feet tall and youve got green eyes", you will answer, "Of course not, I know what Im like."
Do you know what you are in Christ ? Do you know that you are in Christ ? In Christ, you are a former sinner who has repented, who is dead to his past life and has risen to a new life. Of course, you have no right to say so unless the Holy Spirit has caused you to experience those things in your heart of hearts, and unless you have received them through prayer, worship and thanksgiving.
"Lord, through the Cross of Calvary, you have made me a new creation. Once and for all, that Cross has nailed down my flesh and all its sinfulness. When You rose from the dead, You made me a new creation, and I walk in newness of life because I have received it in faith." Such a confession becomes just as strong as the assurance I have of my salvation. If you know that you are saved and if Satan or someone else comes along and says : "Im sure you arent saved", if deep down in your heart you know that you are saved, youll reply : "I know that my sins have been forgiven, that the blood of Jesus has washed away my sins. I know, because the Scriptures say so, and I have received it in faith. When I heard the Gospel, the Holy Spirit touched me. He showed me I was a sinner. He showed me that Jesus had paid my debt for me, that His blood had been shed, and that if I asked to be forgiven, that blood would atone for all my sins. I asked for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart, and through faith in Jesus, I have received that forgiveness. I know it, I have experienced it, and nobody can take it away from me."
But do you know that you have been crucified with Jesus, and that dreadful flesh of yours, the cause of all the problems in your life, your family, and your church, was destroyed on the Cross ? It is not Satan who causes all of our problems in our marriages, in our families, and in the Church : it is our uncrucified flesh ! Wherever the flesh is not yet crucified, it is an open door to Satan and all sorts of demons. Lets stop blaming Satan for all our problems. Of course it is he who causes sickness, infirmities, wars, and so on, but he would be powerless to do a thing among Gods people if we lived as ones who are crucified with Jesus. There is only one way to overcome Satan : through the Cross. Its no use getting all worked up, no use shouting : "Satan, I bind you, I cast you out." Under certain circumstances, you may be led to speak like that, but only if you are standing on the ground of the Cross. Let us take care not to fight the wrong enemy : "Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:11-12). Paul can say that because he takes it for granted that the Ephesians flesh has indeed been crucified. A battle against my own flesh is guaranteed to fail. What I need is to receive in faith that my flesh has been crucified : that strengthens me enough to resist every demon and to fight the good fight that God is calling me to. If we fight our own flesh, we have already lost.
If anyone says to a brother or a sister : "You must wear a head-covering, you mustnt smoke, you mustnt drink", those are nothing but fleshly rules unless they are imparted from within our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who fills the Word with light and shows us what to do. If you are already crucified, you will do all those things naturally, because you have read them in the Word. A crucified person has no problem at all obeying the Lord. Obedience comes simply and naturally, because the flesh has stopped resisting. The flesh resists the things of the Spirit : it cannot even understand or accept them. It refuses to obey the Lord. Unless it is dead, it will keep on rebelling in indirect ways, preventing us from doing what God wants us to do, for very "spiritual" and religious reasons, and people dont understand why : it is because their flesh hasnt been put to death. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." (Col. 2:8). A vain philosophy is a Gospel in which the Cross is not central. The Lord has called me to return over and over again to the message of the Cross as long as that message is not manifested in our lives : otherwise, the Holy Spirit will not be able to do His work. Every Christian must be brought to fully realise in his heart that he was crucified in Jesus, that he died and rose again in Him and with Him.
Paul exhorts the Colossians not to rely on "the basic principles of the world", but on Christ, "for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2:9). Elsewhere, Paul tells the Ephesians to "be filled with all the fullness of God". (Eph. 3:19). That fullness of God dwells bodily in Jesus Christ crucified. Jesus opened the door for us through His death on the Cross, and in Luke, He tells us : "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
No-one can be Jesus disciple and obey such a perfect law - so as to manifest the character of Jesus - unless his flesh is crucified. Jesus is not asking us to crucify our flesh ourselves : what He says is : "I have already done it for you. Believe that and receive it in faith." Some people try to crucify their flesh in their own strength : they take monastic vows, abstain from meat or wine, or from sexual relationships. It produces nothing at all, except self-glorification. It proves only one thing : that the flesh has not been crucified, and that one is still glorying in it. If, on the contrary, I quietly ponder the Word and say : "Lord Jesus, You have done it for me ! All I need to do is accept in faith what You have done for me ! Let the revelation of it sink into my heart of hearts ! I receive it ! I died in You and was raised from the dead in You ! It is no longer I who live, but You who live in me !" There is a condition, however : I must mean what I say, it must be an experience and not a mere concept : it is much more than mouthing the right words. I have heard Christians say : "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me !" then go and quarrel with their wife, their brother or their sister. Christ was not living in them ; they had uttered idle words and not spoken out of personal experience.
In Colossians 2: 10-11, Paul says : "You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ." When you became a Christian, the death of Christ became your death. Christ died for you ; He circumcised you. When an eight-day-old Hebrew baby was circumcised, he had nothing to do. It was done for him, in spite of him. In the same way, we accept Christ through faith, and it is He who achieves the circumcising and grants it to us. It is His gift to us, and we accept it through faith. There was nothing we could do to crucify ourselves. He did it for us and now He says to us : "Only believe it and accept it in faith."
One thing must be made very clear : we must never become the allies of our own flesh so as to keep it from dying, because in our own carnal eyes, the most precious person in the world is our own self. Unless we watch carefully, we do not always realise that our flesh needs to be crucified. Formerly, we had grown so accustomed to looking after ourselves, to justifying ourselves, to taking care of our own interests that when we come to the Lord, we truly need a powerful revelation from the Holy Spirit : we need to hear Him say : "All of that is a stink in Gods sight. He has sentenced your flesh to death, He has killed it, together with its passions and its lusts, on the Cross : He Himself has given you a new nature that has nothing to do with your previous one. Your former nature is hopelessly rotten, and it died with Christ two thousand years ago."
God has now given me a new nature and He is at work manifesting it in me, through my faith in that revelation the Holy Spirit has granted me. I am a new creature, my flesh has been crucified. Since I believe my flesh has been crucified, I will no longer give in to temptations when they come my way, now that I am filled with the revelation of Jesus. Every time that angry or impatient little retort that used to be mine comes up, I now have the grace and the strength to resist it because I know that my flesh has been crucified. So I can say : "No , thats all over now , you will no longer rule me : I rule you because it is written that my flesh has been crucified". Through faith, - faith in Jesus - I am strong enough to resist that temptation when it comes along. "Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Col 2:12)
It is the same for all of the Lords promises. Jesus said : "If you believe, you will see it come to pass." He also tells us : "Therefore I say to you : whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." That word is not limited to any particular promise. Besides, our death in Christ is more than a promise : it is already accomplished, it is a reality. Since the Lord assures us that we have already been crucified in Him, I can pray like this : "Lord, I want to walk in that revelation. Through Your Spirit, reveal those things to the depths of my heart. I receive that word as I would receive any other word spoken by the Lord, with unwavering faith."
I must not doubt that my flesh has been put to death in Christ, even if I sometimes still see it manifesting itself. All I can say then is that the work of the Lord is not yet perfect in me, but I do not doubt the truth of what He has said. "I died in You, Lord, two thousand years ago. I rose again in You ! I am meditating on Your Word " To meditate on Gods Word prayerfully through the Holy Spirit, receiving the revelation of it from the Lord, is very different from stuffing my head full of intellectual concepts about the Cross, concepts that have not penetrated the depths of my heart through a revelation from the Holy Spirit.
If you have received that assurance, you hold it in your heart and put it into practice. No need to run around proclaiming : "I am a new creation" or : "My flesh has been crucified". It will be obvious ! Your whole life will show that you are indeed crucified, that you have stopped defending your own interests, that you have actually gone through the the garden of Gethsemane experience, in which Jesus, facing imminent crucifixion, facing the agony of his imminent death, sweated drops of blood as he said three times : "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me : nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39) It was not his own sin that was going to be laid upon Him, but ours.
If we approach the Lord in the same way as Jesus did, and say : "Lord, as the Cross comes closer I can feel the sweat from this terror-stricken flesh of mine : I know it doesnt want to die. But Lord, let Your will be done, not my will. Your will once and for all : Ive suffered too much, Ive made You suffer too much, Ive caused too much suffering among my brothers and sisters and other people around me. Let it be over with this flesh that keeps on manifesting itself. Let it be dealt with once and for all, Lord, in Your sight, through faith. Let it be dealt with through the power of the Cross and the mighty work of Jesus."
The Holy Spirit keeps taking us back to the Cross, which is the power of God. There, everything was dealt with, everything was finished. There, all my sins were atoned for. There, too, my flesh was crucified ; there, even the powers and principalities were stripped of their last shred of authority. "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made you alive together with Him, having forgiven you all your trespasses having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2: 13, 15).
The Lord knew that He needed to use radical means in order to deliver us out of our enslavement to our flesh. He had to offer a perfect answer : so He chose to die for us, but He took us into that death of His. When He rose from the grave, He also took us into His resurrection. Now He wants to manifest His wonderful resurrection life in us, the life described in 1 Corinthians 13, and the fruit of the Spirit : "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness " However could the fruit of the Spirit grow on a carnal vine ? Jesus is the Vine and I am a branch, not as my old self, but as a new creation, a self that has risen in Christ. That is how I can produce the fruit of the Spirit who is filling me. Too often people try to produce the fruit of the Spirit without having crucified the flesh. The result is a sickening mixture, the kind of vinegar they gave the Lord Jesus on the Cross, not the choice vintage of the Spirit.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, he took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross ; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them, in it." (Col. 2:14-15). Notice how often the word "cross" recurs. Through the Cross, Jesus overcame the principalities. It was to the Cross that He nailed the ordinances that condemned us. When He died, our flesh died with Him. When He rose from the dead, we also rose to a new nature, which is also to be received through faith. We say : "Lord, I am not going to strive to improve myself. Through faith, I receive that new nature that You grant us. I shall let you manifest your life through me so as to bear Your fruit. Through faith, I will take part in what you are doing".
Walking in the life of the Spirit and having been slain in Jesus does not turn us into spiritual zombies, into apathetic, unresponsive, listless doormats. That would be a false gospel. The true Gospel says that we receive a new life in Jesus and that our old life is dead. That new resurrection-life gives us a new nature whose desires and feelings are the desires and feelings of Jesus. We receive a new, unique character which is truly ours, and yet God-given ; its purpose is to manifest the character of Jesus.
However, all of us are different and called to different tasks, but through faith we all receive the character of Jesus, a beautiful character filled with resurrection-life that bears wonderful fruit. Central to it is the love of Jesus Christ, a love that has finally been stripped of all those carnal tendencies that hurt others and ourselves so terribly, for instance when we feel neglected, left out, or unfairly put down. All that is crucified and dead. We shall still suffer, because Jesus suffered, but there will be no wrong impatient, angry, or hostile reaction, not the slightest ! A dead corpse is utterly dead and unresponsive. As long as it still reacts, it isnt dead. Nothing must remain of that old past life, because Jesus killed it on the Cross.
These things are not lived out in our lives as Christians, owing to a lack of revelation and a lack of faith in the Word of the Lord, but Jesus says : "On the Cross I killed that carnal nature of yours that has been bothering you ever since you were born. I killed it on the Cross, and this is my gift to you."
If I reply : "Yes, but Lord, I know what Im like. Ive often heard that and I tried to put it into practice and the next day, I fell back into my old ways," I am not walking in faith ! I need to go back to the Lord and to His Word. Then, in the peace of the Holy Spirit, in my heart of hearts, I will be enabled to receive that light, that illumination showing me that Jesus has accomplished everything. He has already dealt with everything and thought of everything. It is done ! He knew what difficulties we would meet, how many times we would try to be better persons, how many good resolutions we would make. In His perfect and boundless intelligence, He said : "Without the Cross, there is no issue for them." So Father, Son, and Holy Spirit conceived a perfect plan, with the Cross of Jesus in its centre, that Cross on which Jesus laid down His life, so that I could die with Him and be raised to a new life. His life will work it out in me.
How wonderful it is to see Jesus life beginning to be manifested in the life of a man or of a woman ! It has nothing to do with religion or human traditions, and the works of the flesh can never bring it to pass ! Only Jesus life can do that, only His life, His holiness. So there will be nothing contrived or hypocritical about our holiness ; it is not the strained obedience of one who is labouring to obey the commands of the Law however holy that Law may be in itself. No, that kind of holiness flows forth wherever the flesh is truly dead, and resurrection-life wells up like a flood, manifesting itself through all sorts of good fruit that glorifies God.
You see that faith is all important : everything is granted through grace and obtained through faith, otherwise it would not be through grace. It is Gods gift to you, and He says : "All I require is that you receive all those things through faith (and whats more, faith, too, is my gift to you) so that you say : "Thank You, Daddy, I receive that gift and will walk in the gift You have granted me ! When in your heart of hearts you receive a revelation from God, then you walk in that revelation. You have received it and you know it is true. Have you ever seen Jesus with your own eyes ? You havent ? But do you know that He is alive ? How do you know that He is alive ? Because the Holy Spirit, whom God has sent into your heart, tells you so, and witnesses to the truth of it. It is written, but not only in that everlasting Word that is Spirit and life ; within you there is the Holy Spirit of Life and the very Person of the Lord, witnessing to you. The Spirit of God within us witnesses to the fact that we are children of God. And tonight the Spirit of the Lord is telling us, deep down in our hearts, that Jesus has accomplished everything, that our flesh has been crucified, that it is done. For God, it has ceased to be a problem ! But it can still be one for you, if you are not aware of what took place at the Cross, if you dont know what the Cross means. Indirectly, it becomes a problem for God as well because He tries to make you understand. Jesus has dealt with the problem. Jesus has enabled you to receive the revelation of it through faith and to receive this wonderful inheritance : the forgiveness of your sins, the understanding of the fact that your former nature is dead and that you have received a new nature ; now you walk in faith in the Son of God who has granted you this gift. Provided you remain in that attitude, if tonight your faith in Gods Word has deepened, the fruit of it will be seen immediately, if you remain in an attitude of faith.
Colossians 3:3 declares : "For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." In Christ crucified, "in God". You and all your carnal reactions have died and you are hidden with Christ in God, who is life. "Your life is hidden with Christ in God" is indeed a beautiful phrase. You are safely encompassed within Gods heart, hidden there with Christ, in God who is your life. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then will you also appear with Him in glory." (Col. 3:4). Christ is our life because he passed through death, and He is our life only because we have passed through death in Him. But "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear", you too will appear with Him in glory. "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth : fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Col. 3:5). It might be any other kind of sin you care to name. God says : "put them to death." Now that you understand and believe that you are dead, you have the power to put all those things to death, since you are dead. A dead tree no longer bears fruit. If you are dead, all that evil fruit rebellion, anger, idolatry, and evil desires died with the tree. You are now in a position to obey that command, when those things come to you in the form of temptations, evil desires, or evil thoughts. Perhaps one of the last things you put to death will be that little outburst of impatience, that tit-for-tat retort. The flesh still tries to hide in things like that. They too must be put to death, till no evil root of any kind is left in you ; only abundant life, love, joy, and peace are left, with no fleshly response at all.
It can be done, because Jesus did it ; He is alive within you and wants to manifest Himself in you, if only you believe. However can a Christian go on saying : "Oh, but that is far too lofty an ideal, nobody could ever be like that." It is better never to start out than to start from there. It would make you the most miserable person in the world ! Someone once said : "Nothing is easier than giving your all in the world. Nothing is easier than giving your all in Jesus. But there is nothing harder than walking at the same time with Jesus and with the world." It makes you double-minded, it splits you down the middle on the inside. The root of the problem remains untouched as long as you go on hauling your uncrucified flesh around with you. You try to walk in the Spirit ; on some days you manage, and on others, you dont. The root of the problem has not been dealt with. I suppose nobody wants to remain the most miserable of all men or of all women all his (or her) life !
It is therefore vital that we should come to God to receive the revelation that we have died and been raised to new creaturehood in Christ. The Life of God is within you, ready to be manifested if the vessel is broken. And it was broken in Christ.
"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds". (Col. 3:9). Do not lie to yourself either. Do not claim to be crucified unless you actually are. We are crucified in Christ, but that legal position of ours must become a reality in our everyday lives once the Holy Spirit has revealed it to us. Let none of us falsely claim that we have been crucified unless the evidence of it appears in our lives. It would be worse that saying nothing, for all those around us could see for themselves that we are not crucified. Many Christians are brash enough to claim to be what they are not. They have betrayed many into unbelief, driven many away from Christ, making them so confused as to say : "This man says he has been crucified with Christ and that he is led by the Holy Spirit ; but actually, I can see no difference between his walk and a pagans. So where is the truth ?" However, then, could those around us trust the message of the Cross ? However could they turn to a Saviour who is unable to carry out His promises in the lives of those who proclaim the message of the Cross ? Id rather say nothing at all and come and kneel before the Lord, and cry out to Him : "Lord, reveal your word to me !" If we thirst for Jesus, if we really want Jesus to be manifested in us, we shall spend time in the presence of the Lord to receive that revelation of the Cross, till our flesh is really and truly crucified.
When are you going to deal with the matter thoroughly enough ? On your death-bed ? You could count, then, all the time you have wasted ; but if you had truly thirsted for the Lord, you could have received that revelation much earlier. Have we spent time in the presence of the Lord ? Have we said to Him, out of the depths of our hearts : "Lord, I truly desire to receive that Life from above, the revelation that leads to the manifestation of Your Life. Enlighten my spiritual understanding, so that I understand Your Word and the message of the Cross !" We need to come to a place where we know that message has become real for us, because we have grasped it, received it in faith, and we walk and live in the reality of it.
Do you realise all the difference there will be, for ourselves, for others, and for the Lord when our hearts understand the message of the Cross, and when we receive Jesus abundant Life ? It will cause our lives to bear all the fruit of the Spirit, and the glory of Jesus will shine upon us.
People talk about revival, pray for revival, and beg the Lord to send a great revival. Revival begins with the preaching of the Cross. That preaching must be received into the lives of the hearers till their flesh is wholly crucified. Show me a crucified man, and I will show you a revival ! The Cross is always central to a true Holy Spirit revival. When I see those modern revivals where all sorts of things are being proclaimed, but not the Cross, I say : "God is not in the midst of that revival. It is not a God-given revival !" Even if the Holy Spirit does bring repentance, unless there is a powerful proclamation of the Cross, to shed light on this accursed (and blessed) Cross through which Jesus gave us His all, the revival will get sucked into the devils quicksands. Then demons and the devil take over, always ready to counterfeit the action of the Spirit, because the preaching of the Cross has been neglected ; then all sorts of dreadful things start happening, which people mistake for manifestations of God, although God is totally absent from all those goings-on.
Can you see how desperately we need to hear the preaching of the Cross? In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul rightly said : "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." In all of his epistles, Paul continually speaks of the Cross. He speaks of the Cross to everyone, of how we need to put off the old man through faith. He keeps saying : "You have received the revelation of it, so walk in that revelation ! Glorify God, and let His glory be manifested among His children who are crucified and risen with Christ !
Beloved, it is profitable to return frequently to the message of the Cross, which is the heart of the Gospel, the heart of the Bible, the divine answer to all our problems. It was there, on the Cross, that Jesus accomplished everything. It is there that we find the fullness of His grace ! If I remain crucified as long as I live, then throughout my whole life I shall manifest the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus.
Let us pray : "Lord, with all my heart I beseech you to expand my own heart, through your Spirit, so that I can understand the work of the Cross. Grant me a full revelation of the depths of this wonderful mystery which You want to reveal to Your children who thirst for You. Lord, You know that I yearn to walk this earth as a man who has received into his life the fullness of the Life of Jesus Christ. Please cleanse me of every trace of my past life, for Your glory !
Thank You for all that You have provided in Christ. I bless You for what Your Holy Spirit is doing in my heart, and in the hearts of all those who yearn to understand Your Word so as to glorify Your Name.
Lord, our lifetime on earth is so short ! Please grant us spiritual understanding of these things. Let Your Spirit move in the hearts of my loved ones who are here, and in my own heart, to enable us to understand the power of the preaching of the Cross, the power of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord, the power of the message of the Cross. May we walk in its power for Your glory, in Jesus Name, Amen."
The continuation of this teaching is to be found at the beginning of message C116.
The above teaching is the transcription of a spoken message, given in French by Henri VIAUD-MURAT. An audio cassette-tape of the original French version is available. The whole of the original recording has been written down unaltered, so as to retain the spontaneous quality of the spoken message, except for a few minor changes made to improve the clarity of the written text.
You can obtain a copy of the audio cassette-tape of this message and others (in French) by writing to :
Source de Vie La Grotte - 48370 St Germain de Calberte France.
You will receive, without any obligation on your part, a copy of our cassette-tape catalogue which is available only in French for the moment.