Throughout the past week, Christians around the world have contemplated Jesus’ final steps as He made His way to the cross. His humiliation and suffering have broken our hearts, but just beneath the surface lay the expectation of what we knew was coming: He is risen!
The resurrection was the Savior’s destiny—but so was the cross. Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). But did you know that the cross is also God’s ordained destiny for believers? It’s the only way to deal with sin. When Jesus died at Calvary, He bore the punishment for our sins so that everyone who believes in Him can be forgiven and declared “Not Guilty!” From God’s judicial standpoint, we have already been crucified with Christ because the penalty for our sin has been paid. However, salvation doesn’t remove our old sinful thought patterns and desires.
What Christ did in removing the penalty of sin, we must each do personally to overcome the power of sin in our lives. But the cross is the last place we want to go. It not only brings pain, but the road leads through Gethsemane, where we have to say to God, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Though we long to overcome sin in our life, many of us are unwilling to do what’s required. Yet if we try to avoid the cross, we’ll miss the abundant life God wants to give us. Instead of living in consistent triumph over temptation, we will be on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Each time we fail, we’ll try harder, but there is no way to improve or reform our sinful tendencies. They have to be put to death.
The cross is not the end point. God’s goal is that we “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Once we nail those old fleshly cravings to the cross, they’ll start to lose their appeal, and our hearts will begin to find delight in obeying the Lord. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we, too, will find vibrant life and victory beyond our Golgotha.
Ask yourself these questions: What is at the center of my life? What drives me and gives me a sense of purpose? Does anything other than the Holy Spirit have control over me? What am I unwilling to surrender to the Lord? If anything or anyone in your life has priority over Christ, it’s idolatry. Whatever you are holding onto or whatever is holding onto you needs to be taken to the cross. A new life of freedom and power is waiting on the other side of the grave.
—Charles F. Stanley