Through our study of Galatians, we’ve been discovering just how deep the gospel penetrates our very being. Until now, I think I’ve resisted the full implications of the message of the cross and I suspect that I’m not alone. Consider the following description of Christianity:
Those who have accepted by faith Christ’s death as payment for their sins are saved and going to heaven. Saved people should give up sinful practices and adopt godly disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, and corporate worship out of a love for God who gave them so much.
Do you agree with this description? What might you add? Compared with the gospel that Paul preached, the life it depicts tends to become just another religious system dangling false hope before our still-hungry souls.
I don’t mean to suggest that anything in the foregoing description is inaccurate, it’s simply not pointed at the bull’s-eye. Sadly, sin in our bodies produces spiritual blindness. Humans by “nature,” become obsessed with externals while God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). So, we produce and consume a gospel of “Do better.” But in the final analysis, we never really do. Why? Because of the word hiding at the beginning of that little sentence. While the “you” is understood its significance is not. Forgive the seemingly bad grammar here, but “you” is the bull’s-eye that the real gospel must penetrate.
“You” is the problem. “You” is in God’s cross hairs. The gospel is an instrument of death which only God can wield. When we encounter it, our saving response must be to submit. God does not call us to suicide but to submission. You can’t kill “you.” To die is to stop working, but plotting the demise of “you” gives you more justification to continue living. The work must be wholly of Another. At the cross we come and are killed. Having died, we now take up the cross upon which we die daily. God wants no restitution. He won’t bargain or dicker. Every personal aspiration at avoiding sin and performing righteousness, seeks to cheat death and swindle God. When we accept society’s affirmation that, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important,” our every pretense toward godliness becomes an attempt to summon The Help. Our resolve to “do better” sacrifices the Son of God to the false god named You. And so, You must die.
Considering these concepts has brought me back to some of Watchman Nee’s words. I leave you them:
Since the day that Adam took the fruit of the tree of knowledge, mans has been engaged in deciding what is good and what is evil. The natural man has worked out his own standards of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and striven to live by them. Of course, as Christians, we are different. Yes, but in what way are we different? Since we were converted, a new sense of righteousness has been developed in us, with the result that we too, quite rightly, are occupied with the question of good and evil. But have we realized that for us the starting point is a different one? Christ is for us the Tree of Life. We do not begin from the matter of ethical right and wrong. We do not start from that other tree. We begin from Him; and the whole question for us is one of life.
Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others. We become preoccupied with what is and what is not right. We ask ourselves, Have we been justly or unjustly treated? and we think thus to vindicate our actions. But that is not our standard. The whole question for us is one of cross-bearing.
You ask me, “Is it right for someone to strike my cheek?” I reply, “Of course not!” But the question is, do you only want to be right? As Christians, our standard of living can never be “right or wrong,” but the cross. The principle of the cross is our principle of conduct. Praise God that He makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good. With Him it is a question of His grace and not of right or wrong. But that is to be our standard also: “Forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4: 32). “Right or wrong” is the principle of the Gentiles and tax gatherers. My life is to be governed by the principle of the cross and of the perfection of the Father: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly
Nee, Watchman (2009-01-01). Sit, Walk, Stand: The Process of Christian Maturity (Kindle Locations 294-306). CLC Publications. Kindle Edition.