Welcome to Welling: for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing.
On Sunday, I was with a young man who just returned from India into the U.S. I asked him how his jet-lag was doing. Anybody who’s gone through jet-lag knows it’s pretty formidable. He had woken up at 2:00 a.m. that morning and hadn’t slept that whole day. One thing he mentioned got my attention. He said, I took my car out for a drive since, for the last three or four weeks, I’ve been driving in India. I needed to get used to the American system. Now, in England, you drive on the left side of the road, which is where India got its preference. In America, you drive on the right side of the road. But if you really go to India, you’ll notice that in India you can drive on any side of the road. Or as a friend quipped, you drive on whatever side of the road is left.
So my friend said he wanted to be sure he did not drive on the left side of the road. For, if you drive like America in India, you get pretty distressed. There are theoretical laws, but you go anywhere where there’s room. But if you drive in America like you drive in India, you’ll be dead. Not only will you be dead, you’ll cause the deaths of many others. You may have heard of the older lady who called her husband driving on the freeway, and she said, I just heard on the radio that there is a lunatic who’s driving on the wrong side of the road. Watch out for him. And the husband replied, actually, not just one person driving on the wrong side of the road. There are actually thousands and thousands of people driving on the wrong side of the road toward me.
In this amazing verse, where the apostle Paul gives the essence of the spiritual life, he’s saying if you live by the law, you will think that you’re the only one who’s right, and everybody else is wrong. Because the law makes you the arbiter of what is right and wrong, as long as you meet it. And everybody else is secondary and fails. However, as we heard last time, we are now entered into a new jurisdiction. At .0, I have been crucified with Christ. That’s why we always want to live on this side of the cross. It’s a radical cessation of what previously controlled me. The desire to merit favor with God by meeting these external standards, to keep in control of my spiritual life, and now, by relying on the Lord Jesus as the only God who saves us in His death and Resurrection, the unique one, the I of pride has been crucified with Him.
And there’s a death which has happened. We’ve got to now live on the side of life, of grace. Not self-made, self-oriented, self-empowered, but a totally new process. For, you don’t want to drive on the left side of the road when you ought to drive on the right side of the road. You will cause a massive amount of death, and confusion, and contradiction.
So I am on the cross, fastened to Christ. As verse says, I have been crucified with Christ. That’s the first I of four I’s. I, I, I, I.
Then he goes on to say, and it is no longer I who lives. This is the second I. These two refer to the self-oriented, prideful, egotistical I, which drew its self-identity from keeping to laws and rules, externally, which appealed to your ego, and to your pride, to your ability to keep things under control, to meet the ritual and the routine. But through a decisive crisis in life, he left the old I fastened, attached, dead, hanging on Christ’s cross. So there is no longer I who live, I who control salvation, I who controls the process of growth and sanctification.
Before I came to Christ, I used to do really well. Blameless, righteous. In fact, my father used to say that he was such a moral man, his morality, his righteousness, kept him in unbelief. But there was never sufficient, let alone necessary, this side of the cross. The usefulness of the law is limited. It points you because it can’t deliver you. And the apostle Paul says, I’m crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives. The prideful I is gone. I’m now in a new jurisdiction, in a new administration. And there are different administrative criteria by which I now live.
Unlike the law, which did not give us the power to live, this new administration gives us the power to meet its standards. We come to it in the next episode. But can you believe that death leads to life when you’re crucified with Christ? But death also leads to living. Because you’re crucified with Christ, it is no longer you, the prideful you, who lives.
Our granddaughter comes to our house all the time. Recently, she turned five years of age. When we were discussing her age, she was also learning how to count, and count backwards. How old are you, Annika Joy? She said I am 5. And then she said, I am four. I am three. I am two. I am one. To show me that she counted backwards correctly. And then she said, I am zero. That’s what the apostle Paul is saying. When we are crucified with Christ, I, the prideful I, is zero. The law made me a hero, but now I’m a zero. There’s another hero in my life. And we will look at Him in the next episode. The secret of our Welling is Christ’s in-dwelling.