The command taking up the cross must be understood from a Jewish perspective. To carry the cross is to carry a curse as a person is cursed when he is hung on a tree. This simply means that the Jew must understand that the law cannot provide a righteousness. The righteousness comes from following Jesus. Jesus becomes our righteousness. That what he meant by a man who loses his life will find it. Paul found this out in Galatians 2 when he said through the law I died to the law that I may live for God. Paul died to the law when he was crucified with Jesus. It was a done deal, he died to the law when Christ was crucified. Jesus now lives in him. He lives this life by the faith of Jesus. For if he could be made righteous Christ died for nothing. That is what it means to carry your own cross and losing your life, it is to die to righteousness by works I order to obtain Christ’s righteousness.
Genesis 21 tells us that God gave Abraham Isaac at exactly the time he promised Abraham. If you read Romans 4, Paul tells us that his body (at the time which God appointed) was as good as dead. I understand it to mean that he too like Sarah was barren. It is at this time, God gave the couple a child. A child not born of human effort but by a promise. Paul in using this example tells us that the fruit of godliness is borne totally independent of human doing or effort. He tells us that righteousness is a gift from God to those who believe as Abraham believed. It cannot be produced by human effort. It comes from the fact that it is indecent of human effort.
As such we must understand that the constant demand of religion to die daily is not a Christian concept. The Christian has died once with Christ to human effort once and for all. The Christian contrary to many believe do not walk according the flesh. Walking in the flesh can be seen clearly as walking in the confidence of being righteous in accordance to the law. Paul tells us we used to walk according to the flesh fulfilling the sinful desires aroused by the law in Romans 7. The key word here is “used to”. Similarly in Romans 8 Paul says we now walk in the Spirit. The key word is “now walking”.
The reason for this is found in the beginning of Romans 7, when we died with Christ, we died to the relationship with the law. A dead person cannot have a relationship with law because that relation ends when a person dies. Hence the illustration of a woman who is free to marry another.
Romans 6 tells us we died in Christ. Jesus provided that death for us. Many who teach us that we still have relationship with the law of Moses is actually condemning us to die over and over again. Dear friends, unless you know you are already dead, you live a life of constantly crucifying yourself.
We have been taught this idea that we must feed the spirit and starve the flesh. I have news for you. Colossians 2 tells us that our flesh has been cut away from us and that it is already dead. The teaching that the spirit is good and that the body is evil is not a Christian teaching. It is a Gnostic teaching.
Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That means the Spirit lives not in our soul or our spirit but our body. Since the flesh is already put to death, there is no flesh in the body. The body is now a holy vessel. This is important. That is also why Jesus took on sinful flesh. He did not place our sins on him. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that Christ became sin. Sin became condemned in his body. This was done so that we become the righteousness of God. It does not say we have his righteousness or we bear is righteousness. It says we ARE the righteousness of God. This means my very being is the righteousness of God. I cannot become the unrighteousness of God anymore.
That my dear friends is the radical message, we are asked to believe in. A righteousness which is of gift. To say you will lose your justification is heresy. You are saying God takes back his gift when you don’t deserve it. It’s a gift. It is independent of whether you deserve it or not. Abraham was sterile so was Sarah. It is at this time a child was born. It was not base on human ability but a promise made by God. Our salvation is also by way of a promise made. Between a perfect father to a perfect son, Jesus.
Face it we are sterile and barren in terms with our righteousness. The story doesn’t end there.
6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
You died to the law. You are free to marry another. You want to see how the new union look like?
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
You already belong to another. Guess what? In order that you may bear fruit. There is no barrenness in grace. That is why Abraham has to be sterile. It is out of a body that is good as dead. Isaac was a child of promise. Not by human effort.
So is your justification, sanctification and your glorification before God. It is based on a promise.
Guess what…. God cannot lie.