To understand how we are Crucified with Christ, we must see how our focus determines our victory in Christ.
If we focus on ourselves, we will fail in this Christian life. If we focus on Christ, we will succeed.
And this is not about being less selfish. Or helping others. Or doing things for others. As if we just need to be more focused on others.
No. This goes so much deeper than that.
Entering into the wonderful blessing of what “crucified with Christ” truly means, requires failure. The sad reality is that Christians do not truly trust the Lord until they reach the end of themselves.
Until they reach the end of all their own abilities, skills, potential, goodness, determination, and whatever else they think they possess that is good in this Christian life.
The Direction of Our Gaze
In studying various denominations of Christian believers, one will find serious disagreements on eternal security and sanctification.
This is due, very simply, to the fact that believers do not keep their focus on Christ.
Consider the basic truth that our righteousness is literally Christ. Our righteousness is the LORD Himself.
“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:6)
“I will go in the strength of the LORD GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” (Psalm 71:16)
My righteousness does not exist as some separate thing apart from the LORD. My righteousness is a Person.
Looking for Some THING
When we, even as believers, begin to focus on and attempt to manage our righteousness, we are in trouble.
When we presume to possess a righteousness which we hope to present to the Lord, we are in trouble.
This trouble often takes the form of doubt, lack of confidence in our salvation, and a fear of judgment. Even when that judgment is not for salvation, we still might become fearful of the Judgment Seat of Christ for believers.
And we are always going to be fearful and doubtful if our attention is focused on our own performance. Whether that performance looks “good” or “bad”, we will be dog-paddling in deep waters when we shift our gaze in that direction.
Because there is nothing good to see there. We are looking in the outhouse basement for something good to present to the Lord. So that we might have confidence in that thing before the Lord.
Which is a common error for believers — when we search for some thing we can count on, based on what we have or haven’t done, rather than on the Lord Himself.
We generally slip off the path when we’re distracted by some encouraging sign of our good activity.
Maybe we’ve had a good day. Maybe an exceptionally good day. And we begin to think that there is value within us which we can count on before the Lord.
Well, Satan loves that. He loves to use those moments to trap us. Right in the midst of our self congratulations, he shines the spotlight on all the bad stuff we do. Or have done.
And then we see our utter unworthiness before the Lord based on what we have tried to produce in our Christian selves.
Walking on Water
I think this is illustrated by what happened to Peter when he stepped out of the boat. (Matthew 14).
He focused on Jesus, stepped out of the boat, and then walked on the water.
Then, Peter did what we all do. He turned to look at the waves and slipped into the deep.
I don’t know precisely what was going on in his heart and mind. The Bible says that he saw that the wind was “boisterous” and was afraid. Boisterous, as relates to weather, means raging, furious, violent, or wild.
And it must have been pretty wild; because Peter was a fisherman who knew the Sea of Galilee. And he knew how to swim.
With most of us, it is either fear or pride that messes us up. We either think we’re pretty special or we just become afraid of our circumstances.
Whatever it takes to shift our gaze from off the Lord, Satan doesn’t care. He will use whatever works against us.
Even all our good intentions and good works and good deeds can become a distraction.
We Walk By Faith
Whenever we begin to think we have something in ourselves that merits the mercies or blessings of God, we are in trouble.
This applies to the Holiness groups, the Lord-ship Salvation groups, the Charismatic groups, the strict Bible-church groups, and any other fellowships that try to create some kind of performance list for sanctification. In fact, any group that says my standing before the Lord is based on my own dedication or some other self-generated work is leading me into the deep woods.
So, beware of anyone trying to put works equal to or above faith. That is popular these days; even among Christians.
Who are focusing less on the words of God and more on programs, activities, ministries, and a thousand other good things.
Or who might say that we just need to focus on love for others or whatever good activity they have singled out that is the one thing that God really wants.
Our peace with the Lord is not based on what some church, or pastor, or Christian school, or famous author tells us.
Our peace with the Lord always go back to our trust in the Lord Himself as our righteousness.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:30,31)
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