DO YOU BELONG TO CHRIST

There’s a verse of Scripture in Galatians that puzzled me for the longest time. I mentally understood the words. I knew what they meant. But I just couldn’t see the spiritual meaning or sense of the verse. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t know why God said it the way He did.

Not too long ago, the light came on. I just love it when God does that! He gave me a peek into His brain and He explained why He said it just the way He did. And I marvel, once again, at the awesome wisdom that our God possesses.

Okay. Here’s the verse. God, through the apostle Paul, told us in Galatians 5:24, They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. God’s telling us here how we can know if we belong to Christ. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with all of its carnal passions and lusts.

The present perfect tense, have crucified, is what threw me off for the longest time. I knew that a lot of us Christians, myself included, weren’t crucified. Like most everyone else, we were living for self. The only time we’d crucify self was when we heard a particularly convicting sermon and our conscience wouldn’t stop badgering us until we dusted off our cross and reluctantly climbed up on it, screaming and arguing. Even though the cross was mostly nowhere to be found, yet we were, we are, we considered ourselves to be, Christians. We belong to Christ! Because we’re saved! We’re Christians!

If it was up to me I would have written the verse this way:  They that are Christ’s will crucify the flesh. Or, they that are Christ’s are going to crucify the flesh. Or, they that are Christ’s need to crucify the flesh.

But the Lord pointed out that, by making crucifixion something that needs to be done in the future makes it likely that it won’t get done. Have you ever told your hubby you were going to pay the bill, but forgot to?  Ever told your sweetheart you were going to stop and pick up a jug of milk, only to forget and come home empty-handed? Remember all those life goals and New Year’s resolutions that never made it past January or February? Doubtless, you know what I mean. Putting crucifixion in the future—like putting a lot of things—makes it likely that it’s not going to get done.

Okay, Lord, I said. If that’s the way it is, then, at the very least, I would have written Galatians 5:24 this way, They that are Christ’s are crucifying the flesh. Ahhh, I said in contentment and delight. This is a fool-proof way to say it. Christians are crucifying the flesh. They’re doing it! It’s in the process of getting done! What could possibly be wrong with saying it that way?

Well, that’s not what God said. That’s what’s wrong with making crucifixion a present tense, on-going thing.

Have you ever started a project you didn’t complete? Did you ever leave something undone? Are you getting the drift here?, the Lord asked me. Yeah, it’s a great thing to get started on crucifixion and to be actually doing it. Great job! But starting the job doesn’t mean it’s going to get done. Every one of us has started to do something, only to quit before the job was done.

So, while crucifying our flesh right now is truly a good and commendable thing, it’s not enough. God wants the crucifixion done. He wants the selfish will killed. He wants the carnal, sinful lusts dead. And, seeing how crucifixion is painful, knowing how hard it is to die, there’s no guarantee we’re going to stay on the cross until we’re dead. We’ve all come down from the cross before death set in. We’ve all walked away from the cross, bleeding, hurting, partially crucified. But with selfishness still alive.

That’s why, God said, I made crucifixion present perfect tense. Have crucified means My children not only went to the cross, they not only got on the cross, but they stayed there until the mission was accomplished. Until death set in.

So do you want to know if you belong to Christ? It’s simple. Are you dead? Are you dying? I’m talking about what you’re doing with self-will, selfish desire, carnal, sinful lusts. Are they dead? Are they in the process of getting nailed and dying? Or is the cross even around? Is it anywhere in sight? I see the flesh. But where’s the cross?

Now just so you know, I know there’s a lot more to salvation than just the cross. Galatians 5:24 may be in the Book, but so in John 3:16. I know that. I’m not out to tell you you’re not saved. God forbid! I want you to be saved! You’d better be saved!

All I’m saying is, don’t stop there. John 3:16 is a start, but Galatians 5:24 comes after it. After faith comes the cross. Let’s not get so focused on believing that we forget all about dying to self. Galatians 5:24’s in the Book and we ought not forget it. We ought not forget our cross.

YOU CAN’T BE CHRIST’S WITHOUT YOUR CROSS. YOU CAN’T BE HIS IF YOU’RE YOURS. IF FLESH OR SELF IS ALIVE. They that are Christ’s crucify their flesh and they keep on crucifying it until they’re dead. They don’t get off the cross when it gets too hard. Too painful. Too personal. Too costly. They stay put on the cross until the desire for sin is killed and gone and the hunger for holiness brings them to life. That’s the mark of a true Christian. That’s how you tell if you are Christ’s.