Fixed on the power of the cross
"For when we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin.
"And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life.
"We are sure because Christ rose from the dead, and He will never die again.
"Death no longer has any power over Him." (Romans 6:7-9)
A wooden cross stood inside its weighted base under a spotlight on the church platform.
Radiant and eager young people, who had spent two days together in the Word, formed a line that led from the wall opposite the cross to the back of the auditorium.
Each teenager was given time to nail a small piece of paper to the cross.
More than a hundred teenagers moved slowly toward the cross as the congregation sang and worshiped.
For some, the act was symbolic of the new life they found in Christ.
Their sins were forgiven because they believe Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin on their behalf.
The sacrifice of Jesus enabled them to become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For those who professed a relationship with Jesus, the paper was a confession of their own flawed weaknesses; a cleansing from entanglement with sin atoned for by their Savior.
Many lacked the knowledge of who they were in Christ or forgot when the whispers of the enemy deceived them.
Their written confessions and commitments were between them and God.
As the hammer and nail in their own hands fixed the paper to the wood, they celebrated their death to self and life in Christ.
They praised God with sincere hearts—thankful for a fresh start to live in His righteousness by the grace and power of Jesus.
The world’s answer to starting life over is to reform, re-educate and rehabilitate.
Only Jesus re-creates.
Through spiritual birth, we are reborn into Christ’s life and given the power to live in vital union with Him.
We aren’t merely turning over a new leaf; we totally begin a new life serving a new master whose love for us is without measure.
Paul compares himself to an earthen vessel in 2 Corinthians 4:7.
"But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.
"So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and not our own."
Our weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to shine brightly.
The priceless treasure contained within us is God’s transcendent, resurrection power.
We don’t have to live bound to the old fleshly nature because we have been purified from our former sins.
If we are in Christ, "His divine power has granted to us everything that pertains to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2 Peter 1:9)
The young people who nailed their paper to the wooden cross were making a life-exchange.
In the physical, they approached a symbol of Christ’s power with their paper, but in the spiritual realm, they exchanged all the junk in their lives for the blessings that His death and resurrection provide.
So how will they endure in the face of temptation?
Paul discusses his own experience with temptation in his letter to the Romans, concluding that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 7:14 - 8:1).
Jesus taught that we will sustain the exchanged life by remaining in Him.
"For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.
"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.
"Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.
"For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)
Cathy Ciaramitaro, a former LIFE Today guest, encourages us to honor the cross in her book, The Cross, the Power, the Purpose, the Passion: "Abiding in His crucifixion and resurrection life is where our flesh will die and our spirit will soar.
"Remembering the Cross releases the power that changes us into the image of Jesus Christ.
"As we conform to His death, His dynamic nature empowers resurrection life in us and we will desire to live in the awareness of being crucified with Him and made alive forevermore.
"The Cross will always loom larger when we are fixed on its power.
"The power is found in His love for us; it is the Cross that proves that love."
The Australian worship band Hillsong United sings about our necessary life-exchange in a compelling song. Let these song lyrics be your heart’s cry. May you find the power you need in the love that His cross and resurrection provide.
Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out Lead me to my knees, Lord I lay me down Rid me of myself—I belong to you Oh lead me! Lead me to the Cross