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The salvation of the cross


After the apostle spoke concerning many items of the flesh in Galatians 5, he continued, “But they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts” (v. 24). This is the way of salvation. What the believers pay attention to and what God pays attention to is very different.

The believers are concerned about “the works of the flesh” (v. 19), which are the works, item by item, of the flesh. They are paying attention to sins individually: today, it is anger; tomorrow it is jealousy and the next day it is strife. What they are sorrowful about and hope to overcome are certain sins. But these are simply fruits born of the same tree. What God pays attention to is “flesh” (v. 24), not the works of the flesh. If a tree is dead, do we still fear that it will bear fruit? Believers always plan to deal with the offences (fruits) and forget to deal with the flesh (the root). Therefore, it is unavoidable that one offence has not been dealt with clearly before another offence has already come. We need to deal with the root of sin.

The work of God is to crucify the believer’s old man with Christ so that those who are of Christ “have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” In the past, it was through the cross that sinners obtained regeneration and knew that they had been redeemed by the Lord from their sins. Now, it is also through this cross that the fleshly Christians can obtain salvation and be freed from the dominion of the flesh that they may walk according to the Holy Spirit.


The Saviour died for the sinner on the cross to redeem him from sin, so that the holy God can righteously forgive him. On the other hand, having died with the Saviour on the cross, the sinner is no longer ruled by the flesh. Rather, his spirit regains the control, the body becomes the servant on the outside, and the soul is the medium in-between.

The death in which the believer is joined with the Lord is a reality in his spirit. Now, the believer should bring that definite death out of his spirit to deal with all the activities in his members, because the lust in his members can operate at any moment. This kind of spiritual death is not once and for all. Whenever the believer is not on the alert or loses faith, the flesh will operate again. If the believer wants to have his whole being conformed to the Lord’s death, he must often put to death the deeds of his members, so that that which is in the spirit can also reach his body. But how can we have the power to apply the Lord’s death to our members? Romans 8:13 says that “by the Spirit, you put to death the practices of the body.”


A believer who wants to put to death the practices of the body must depend on the Holy Spirit to make his co-death with Christ become an experience. When a believer puts to death the practices of his body by the Lord’s death, he must believe that the Holy Spirit will cause the death of the cross to become real in the particular matter, which he wants to put to death. The crucifixion of the believer’s flesh with Christ on the cross is an accomplished fact. There is no need to crucify it again. Nevertheless, if the evil deeds of the body seem about to operate, then the Spirit should be there to apply the death, which the cross of the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us. From here on, the believer should “walk by the Spirit” and “by no means fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

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