Summary: This message is the next in my expository series through Romans.
“What the Cross Says About Me”
December 14, 2008
I am not a sinner. Is that most arrogant thing you’ve ever heard? It would be if it were not…true! I am not a sinner! Would you hold that thought for a bit later?
We have just looked at some of the amazing gifts that God provides for His children via His amazing grace. In :5, he refers to the love of God being “poured into our hearts”. We can view the next few verses as illustrations of the amazing love of God that has been showered on us. The centerpiece is :8, where we understand the purest and most undiluted picture of the incredible love of God is seen in the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the center, the fulcrum on which the love of God pivots. Nothing demonstrates God’s incredible love for us more than the cross. Any church that makes little of the cross of Christ is not worthy to be called a “Christian” church, whether that church talks about Jesus or calls itself by the name “Christian” or not. The cross is the identifying mark for the Christian; “…far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). And just as it is through the cross of Christ that God sees me, so it is through the cross of Christ that I must see myself as well. Have you ever put on someone else’s glasses? My wife puts on glasses to read; I take my glasses off to do the same thing! Looking at the world through the wrong lens will give us a distorted version of reality. This is true in a literal sense, of course; it is also true of our worldview as well. Having a correct and Biblical understanding of our identity in Christ is so critical to living free, to living life as God planned. And so today we look at what the cross says about me! READ SCRIPTURE/PRAY
What are some of the ways you are identified?
For the Christ-follower, our primary identification revolves around the cross of Christ.
The Cross Tells Me
I. Who I Was Before Jesus
Let’s remember: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (II Cor. 5:17); this speaks of a new kind of person who has never existed previously. The “before and after” with the Christian is stark; there is a difference that is clear theologically and ought to be clear practically. We’ve dealt with these points before, but because Paul judges them worth of repeating, we’ll repeat them; repetition is theological glue!
“Weak” probably doesn’t do the Greek word justice here; it’s more like “powerless” or better “helpless”; it speaks of a total inability to fix our own condition. When we get to the love of God in a few minutes, and to what we are and have in Christ, I’ll talk more about this, but one key thing that is true is that the love of God is beyond our comprehension. It’s incredible, and if it doesn’t feel incredible, then you ought to camp out here for a moment. I can do nothing…zero…zilch…to fix my condition. I can’t love God back, but He loves me. Too many folks think of love as a 50/50 affair; they try to meet halfway in the middle. “Darlin’, if you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me; darlin’, if you want me to love, love only you, then love only me.” That’s Seals and Crofts’ version of love, but it’s not God’s, and it’s a “love” that is destined to fail.
Do you think that God loves you that way? Do you have the picture that He loves you as long as you’re a good little boy or girl, but that He’ll quickly withdraw His love if you don’t measure up? That’s not what the Bible says…it says that when we were helpless—we couldn’t do anything to love Him back—Christ died for us, the ungodly. That’s our next point.
Lacking in reverence and holy awe for God, I was in rebellion against that which is holy and godlike. Shirley MacLaine can run on the beach and scream “I am God”, but it doesn’t make her God; it makes her a crazy lady screaming on the beach. I don’t need to develop “God-consciousness” or search for the “God within”; I’m ungodlike. The image of God, stamped upon us by God, has been defaced, like some wall filled with graffiti obscures what it’s supposed to look like. That image is not destroyed, but it is messed up; that’s what sin does to us. “Image of God” to “ungodly”; that’s what has happened to us all.
And so instead of seeking the God Who really exists, we all erect gods of our own desire and design. No man naturally seeks the God Who is, unless that God draws that man to Himself and grants Him grace and understanding. A key growth point in our lives is when we stop seeking the god we want and begin to seek the God Who is. Do we want a god who will conform himself to our demands, our tastes, our wants, our wishes, a god that we fashion in our own image and to our liking, or do we want to seek the God Who really exists? If the answer is the latter, it’s because that God has brought you to that point.