Easter has come and gone, but the effect of the first Easter has resonated through history and will continue to do so because it is the most significant event in all of past and future history. All of history’s interpretation can be filtered through the Cross.
Without the Cross, life has no purpose and no redemptive value. Without the Cross, there is no real hope (in other words, no positive expectation of the future).
All of time and eternity intersect at the Cross: while the Old Testament points toward the Cross, the New Testament lives out the effects of the Cross.
Looking at the Cross in greater detail, you may have noticed that the Roman Catholic perspective of the Cross—the crucifix—shows Jesus hanging on it. However, the Protestant Cross is empty.
Who is right?
A more important question to consider is: Which side of the Cross are you living on?
The Sin Condition
The sin condition was a part of us from birth—we were born without hope. We have a propensity—a natural inclination—to sin, which we get generationally. We are born with “crooked thinking”; we don’t even have a chance coming out of the gate!
Take a look at the following verses:
Psalm 51:5: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
Exodus 34:6-7: And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Rom 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Jesus was the only one born without sin. His father was God; otherwise, He would have been born crooked and sinful, with iniquity.
Redemption through Grace
There cannot be forgiveness without the shedding of blood. In the Old Testament, this was accomplished through the sacrificing of bulls and goats. In the New Testament, everything changed after the Cross. Jesus’ blood was shed once and for all.
Did you know that Christianity is the only religion in the world by which we don’t have to earn our righteousness to get to heaven?
Grace and forgiveness are unique to Christianity. All other religions involve the performance of works as the gateway to heaven. All other religions are man’s attempt to reach to God. Christianity, however, is God reaching down to us and pulling us out of our sinful despair.
If we believe we can make it to heaven by being good, we are mistaken. We can’t even come close, no matter how hard we try, because of our sin condition.
Life After the Cross: Living by Grace
How, then can we be made pure? How can we become holy?
Not only do we need to recognize that we are dead to our old self, our efforts and our sin condition, but also we must focus on our new identity, achieved by God’s grace and the Cross.
In Numbers 21, we find the story of Moses and the bronze snake. The Israelites were complaining about being in the desert, and so the Lord sent snakes among them, which bit and killed many Israelites. In response to Moses’ plea, to save the Israelites, God instructed Moses to erect a bronze snake. When any Israelites who had been bitten by a snake looked up to the bronze snake, they lived. This story paints a picture of the difference between focusing on ourselves, our pain and our dysfunction, which results in death, versus focusing on God—the bronze snake—and His holiness, which results in life.
John 3:14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up...
The only way we become holy is by focusing on the Holy One. Whatever you worship, you become like. Therefore, we must learn to focus on our new identity.
This sounds easy—living on this side of the Cross—but we carry “baggage” around—our predisposition to sin, and our memories of past hurts and damaging circumstances— and as a result, we often fall back into the old way of trying to work out all of life’s circumstances ourselves instead of resting in grace. Our human nature continuously tugs at us to operate on the “before” side of the Cross.
Our sin can become comfortable – we can get used to our dysfunction.
We may logically rationalize our fears, doubts and unforgiveness. Think of people who have a natural fear of dogs, perhaps because they had been attacked in the past. Or, we may have a belief that certain circumstances will never change, based on the way things have been for many years (i.e. “my spouse will never change). Maybe there is someone in your life whom you feel cannot be forgiven.
There are a great many lies that people often find very easy to believe about themselves, too, such as “I’m not worth it,” “I’m always the victim,” or “I’m stupid.” Again, our human minds can often justify these lies quite easily, based on what others have told us throughout our lives, or through life experiences.
Whatever the circumstance, our sin can become like a thick skin that protects us from God’s healing.
It all comes down to identity issues: who we believe we are and recognizing the authority we have. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Do we want to embrace the truth (reality) of who we are in Christ, or will we continue to believe lies about ourselves, promoting the sin skin to grow thicker?
Essentially, whenever we don’t appropriate what Jesus did in our lives, we are acting as though Christ did not do enough for us on the Cross. Anytime we don’t accept His grace and forgiveness in our lives, thereby moving back over to the “before” side of the Cross, we get in the way of God’s powerful grace, effectively blocking its amazing effects.
Recognition of being on the “after”—the “it is finished”—side of the Cross might take daily verbal affirmation, and daily thanksgiving, until your feet become firmly set on this side of the Cross so that all of every day’s activities take place within the provision of His great grace. To experience the fullness of what God has intended for you and your family and your business, we exhort you, let it be so!
Divine Exchange Inc.
Divine Exchange Blog
Sharon Curtis-Gerlach, Divine Exchange, Inc.