In order to understand how this applies to our lives individually and
corporately more clearly, we need to understand more clearly the meaning of the
cross. When we think of the cross, we think about the fact that Jesus died for
our sins, and that because we have repented of our sins and individually put our
trust in what Jesus did on the cross, we are now free from true guilt and the
penalty of sin. We can now lift our heads up high with a smile on our faces
because Jesus is Lord of our lives and we are forgiven because we have received
Him as Savior and Lord.
This is part of the meaning of the cross, but there is a deeper meaning.
Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "The thief comes only to steal, and kill,
and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it
abundantly." (John 10:10). Jesus said that he came to give us an abundant
life. What does this mean? This means that Jesus has a plan for our lives. Jesus
created us for a reason. The Apostle Paul states in the Epistle of Ephesians,
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which
God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10). Paul is
telling us that we were created to be an expression of Jesusí heart, to
express a certain facet of who Jesus is. These facets include all
areas and walks of life: business, medicine, teaching, philosophy, art,
theology, sports, etcetera. Jesus is infinite and we are finite, so therefore
this expression of Jesus through our lives is only a certain facet or facets of
who Jesus is, not a complete expression.33
We glorify Jesus by finding out what this facet or facets of Himself are that
He wants to express through our lives individually and then surrendering
ourselves to Him in those areas to let Him develop them in our lives. This is
the other half of the meaning of the cross that we want to talk about here.
Jesus did not just die to free us from the penalty of sin so we could have
relationship with Him and be freed of our guilt, He also died so that we could
be freed from ourselves and our self-concern so that we could focus on His
Lordship over our lives and why it is that He created us so that we can fulfill
our purpose for being created.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Truly I say to you, unless you are
converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of
heaven." What does this mean? This means just what it says. When we come to
Jesus at salvation and receive Him as Savior and surrender the Lordship of our
lives to Him, the surrender of the Lordship of our lives must mean all that is
in our lives. It means abandonment to all concern concerning our material and
spiritual needs, and looking to Jesus and Jesus alone to supply those needs in
the way that He chooses. Jesus put it this way in another passage, "So
therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own
possessions." (Luke 14:33). When Jesus says giving up all our own
possessions, He is not meaning that He will not give us possessions,34
but rather the focus of the pursuit of those possessions. He is saying that we
must look to Him and to Him alone and trust Him alone to provide for these
needs. Jesus put it this way in another passage,
"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to
what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you
shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at
the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather
into barns; and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." (Matt 6:25-26).
"Jesus, what is the job you want me to have? Iím looking to You and
You alone to lead me into Your provision in this area of my need. Jesus, who is
the mate you have for me in marriage? Jesus, I am trusting you to lead me to
that one and that one to me when it is to my best interest and to the best
interest of your kingdom in your time. Jesus, what is the Church you want me to
be actively involved in and committed to? Jesus, I am believing You to make this
plainly known to me and to lead me specifically to that Church you have in mind.
Jesus, I am trusting You to show me what it is I need to do on my part to bring
restoration in this present bad relationship I have with my brother or sister.
Why does Jesus want us free from the focus of our needs? As long as we are
focused on our needs, our eyes are off of Jesus and His plan for our lives.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in
heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My Yoke is easy, and My load
is light." (Matt 11:28-30).
A little child does not worry about anything except what his or her parents
tell them to be concerned about. Otherwise a child is free from concern because
the child knows that mom and dad will feed him when he needs it and buy him
clothes when it is necessary. This is what Jesus is literally saying in this
passage, "Give your life to me and let Me be concerned about your needs.
You be concerned with only what I am telling you to be concerned about."
Jesus is saying to trade our yoke of concern and take on His yoke of concern.
He says that His yoke of concern is much lighter and easier than ours. This is
what is meant by confessing Jesus as Lord. Confessing Jesus as Lord means I no
longer have any say about what I do with my life except what Jesus tells me to
be concerned about. All we need to be concerned with is obedience to Him through
the dictates of the Holy Spirit to our lives and He promises to provide whatever
provisions are necessary to see that obedience through.
Understand this is not an encouragement not to work. Paul plainly tells us,
". . . if anyone will not work; neither let him eat." (2 Thess 3:10).
The question here is a question of priorities. What are Jesusí priorities in
our work and goals, and His Lordship over our free time?
THE CURSE OF RELIGION
Jesus has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Focusing on our
needs and problems distracts us from that plan.
This is the curse of religion. Religion is man trying to gain
Godís forgiveness for his sins or favor from God or meet his needs through
soul motivated and controlled activities. Religion does not help man because we
do not gain Godís forgiveness through our works, nor do we come to know what
his will and plan for our lives are through our works. Godís forgiveness for
our sins repented of has already been provided for through the death and shed
blood of Jesus Christ. Coming to know Godís will for our lives is a little
more complicated. It is not revealed through religious strife, an activity of
the soul, but through the Holy Spirit through our spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote
in 1 Corinthians 2:10, "For to us God revealed them through the
Before we come to God through the death and shed blood of
Jesus Christ we cannot know his will for our lives because our spirits are dead,
unable to link with the Holy Spirit to know anything about the activity of God
let alone His will and plan for our lives. This is why Paul tells us in 1
Corinthians 2:14 that to the soul motivated and controlled man that the things
of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him as well as the activities of the
Holy Spirit. This is because he is not able to discern that this is Godís will
and activities because he has no means to discern it through his spirit which is
dead and thus has no link with the Holy Spirit. But now that God has forgiven
our sins through Jesusí death and shed blood, our spirits are reunited with
Godís Holy Spirit and we can now receive and know the plan that God has for
When we are first saved, the first work of Jesus through the
Holy Spirit in our lives is to free us of our religious self strife that we do
out of habit and to bring us to rest in Him. He has to do this first, otherwise
we would not be able to hear His will and plan for our lives because we would be
too busy doing religious activities to hear him or so involved in them we are
not free to carry it out. So Jesusí first priority of work in our lives is to
free us from religious self strife and bring us to rest.
Jesus said about Satan, "The thief comes only to steal,
and kill, and destroy. . ." Satan destroys us by getting us to focus on our
problems and needs instead of Jesusí will for our lives, and by getting us to
spend our lives trying to meet those needs. The end result is that we never come
to know what Jesusí will for our lives are. This is why Satan is the author of
religion. Satan is not against people being religious, he is against a person
resting before the Lord until he finds out what His will for his life is. Once a
person finds out what Godís will for his life is and proceeds to fulfill it,
that person is automatically destroying Satanís kingdom. Therefore, Satan is
all for any kind of activity in our lives if it will keep us so busy that we
never come to know what Jesusí will and plan for our lives are.