Romans 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Two aspects of the cross
When the cross goes to work in a life, it brings to death ALL that belongs to Adam because we were in Christ when He died. And that is the first part of the work since there are two sides to the cross. We were “dead” with Him (2 Timothy 2:11, Romans 6:8). We “were” crucified with Him (Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20). All past tense. Hence, we must reckon ourselves dead to ALL that belongs to Adam, the life we were born with. This death has been achieved by the LORD Jesus already; when we come to believe, we only need to reckon it, put it into account, make it the working principle in our own lives, that we are indeed dead to sin (Romans 6:11).
This is a function of your will in alliance with God’s will. By this “knowing”, you are laying down a working principle for your mind to be subject to the renewal that had begun in your spirit (Romans 6:6).
The second aspect is the reason why you must take up your cross and follow Jesus. “…much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life“. While what it takes for us to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into light was accomplished by the death of the LORD Jesus, having being reconciled, there is a saving work that continues to occur in us as we allow Him to live in us. The point here is this: in order to experience His life, we have to allow the cross to keep working inside us, that is, in our souls.
Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
What if we refuse this saving work of the cross?
There will be no experience of life. Conversion stands on two legs: reconciliation and salvation. The first deals with a restoration of relationship with God while the second deals with the actual experience of Christ life, which brings fellowship (James 5:19-20). If we are restored and we are not in fellowship with God, that is, we are not abiding in Him, then there can only be a cutting away (John 15:2, 6; Ephesians 5:1-5, Galatians 5:19-21).
The first diagram below shows man before he is reconciled to God, and the second one shows man reconciled and saved, the two legs of conversion. The spirit is not only alive (Ephesians 2:1) but has recovered its rule over the soul (Ephesians 4:23-24). Hence, the reality within the spirit becomes the legislative principle of the soul. Christ is no more obscured but clearly seen in the personality by all.
What does the cross do?
The cross is not just a place we come to at the moment of salvation; it is the evidence we must keep carrying about to confirm our loss of the adamic life, on one side, and show forth our gain of Christ life, on the other. All of this occurs as we subordinate our will, which is in the realm of the soul (inward parts), to God’s will, which is in the realm of the spirit (hidden part).
Psalm 51:6 “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
The hidden part: your spirit
According to Psalm 51:6, the Holy Spirit will make you to know wisdom, that is, God’s will, in your hidden part – your own spirit. When the cross has worked, and the spirit that was once dead is now brought to life, you cannot now say you don’t know God’s will. Proverbs 2:7 says “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous…” You may be wondering, so where is this wisdom (God’s will)? He has lodged it in your spirit.
Your spirit is the hidden part, where God dwells; and it is from there He works out His government through your soul (mind) into your whole being. Your soul is the inward parts. It is inward but not hidden, you see! It is not hidden because you have built a reputation for yourself, either good or bad, based on the condition of your soul. Your soul is the seat of your willpower, emotions, intelligence, mind, motivation and conscience.
The inward parts: your soul
But there is a problem! The first part of that Psalm 51:6 says, “…thou desirest truth in the inward parts”. What is that? When truth is not the governing principle of the inward parts, which is your soul, the will of God within your spirit will be frustrated. That is why the work of grace to be done when we have entered into new life is the reprogramming of our inward parts. There are views, traditions, cultures, principles, policies etc that are inherently antagonistic of Christ and the kingdom of God. These have become a part of your subconscious way of acting and reacting, that means, it has penetrated so deep that it doesn’t require your active thinking to work anymore. It is now on autopilot! And it makes it look like you are not born again!
The truth in the inward parts that God desires is Christ Himself. Therefore, no matter what the ruling is in your spirit about a matter, an unrenewed mind (soul) will only make it to be a ruling in principle but not in practise. It is like what Paul was describing in Romans 7. You know the ruling of God in your spirit, that is, the will of God, but there is another (different) principle at work, which has been working in you before your new birth experience, and has dominated your thinking to the point that you cannot do God’s will. Let’s say it in a different way: you consciously know God’s will (in your spirit) but you always act unconsciously on the opposite (which is your own will) that is in your mind.
Being a believer only proofs one thing; you have been born! Having been born, we must now live for Him who redeemed us.
This is the reason why you cannot just remain a mere believer, you must proceed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. You have allowed one side of the cross to affect you, when you were reconciled to God; now, you need to allow the other side of the cross to work, or else you will frustrate the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15, 2 Corinthians 6:1). Our spirits were reborn as we believed in the LORD Jesus Christ, yet our minds will remain the same until we renew it by exchanging our old views, norms, traditions, principles for that of the kingdom of God (Matthew chapters 5-7)
Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The cross is the link between the renewed mind and the spirit
Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”
Whereas the mind seems to be in charge of our lives when we were yet ignorant, the cross actually works to change that order as we discover God’s mind. The cross, being a place where God’s will was executed, has a mandate to restore God’s order in every life that allows it. The way the mind is described here shows a mind that is now been controlled by the spirit, your spirit.
Naturally, your mind will like to stand alone and that is how it unwittingly fulfills the agenda of the devil, since it has not been subjected to your spirit, where God’s government resides in you (1 Corinthians 3:16). But when you (your spirit) present your body as a living sacrifice, because your mind is within your body, it is included in that transaction. This is a change of government, which leads to a change of principles, policies and practices.
A “living sacrifice” is a paradox because it is made up of two opposites and yet true. A sacrifice always speaks of death, how then can it be “living” anymore? This is a beautiful description of the cross and its two aspects; while self is dead in us, Christ is now alive.
This presentation of your body to God after been born again is what applies the cross in the most forcible way to your soul (mind) and reverses the order of government from soul leading the spirit and body to spirit leading the soul and body. It is this that makes you henceforth to “Walk in the spirit”, so that you do not fulfill the lust of the flesh (the old ways of thinking and living). Galatians 5:16.
The cross now becomes the link between the mind (soul) and the spirit, such that your thoughts, speeches, actions, interactions, and entire experience (representing the outworking of the willpower, emotions, intelligence, mind, motivation and conscience) are brought under the righteous rule of your recreated spirit.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
This is the divine order that the cross restores into your life. Your recreated spirit is where God dwells and He works out the “increase of His government” (Isaiah 9:6) throughout your soul until all members of your body becomes instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13).
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.
Picture credits: Ray Stedman, Emily Tomko, ChristianBlessing, Catholicbb dot org