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Marks of Consecration (1)

C Logan, Botswana

Consecration for the believer means total devotion to Christ. It is more than just an attitude of mind; it is a complete way of life. We recognise that Christ has an absolute claim upon us. All that we are and have are His and, therefore, day by day we should live for His glory alone. Throughout the Scriptures there are vivid pictures of consecration and, not surprisingly, they all lead us back to the cross. Calvary stands central to the purposes of God. When we were first saved we rejoiced that, on the cross, Christ died for us. As we advance in knowledge of the Word, and grow spiritually, we begin to understand that the cross also determines how we should think and act as we serve our Lord.

The Nail Prints

In the plan of God, the Roman method of execution brought to a climax the rejection of Christ by His own people, the Jews. They cried out for Him to be taken away and crucified. This was in perfect fulfilment of Scripture (Deut 21.23; Ps 22.16). Crucifixion was a cruel, painful and shameful public spectacle. The victims were nailed by the hands and feet to a large wooden cross, and an agonising death came but slowly. Often the legs of the prisoners were deliberately broken to induce a fatal shock to the system that would hasten the end. With Christ, this measure was unnecessary for, having completed His work to God's satisfaction, He deliberately inclined His head upon His breast and, in complete control, He dismissed His spirit.

He had known all along that this would be the manner of His death, being fully conversant with the divine plan and the prophetic Scriptures. However, when He revealed this to His disciples in advance, they failed to grasp the import of it all, or show any sympathy. Sadly, they were completely out of harmony with His mind and heart. Peter even rebuked His Lord, while the others were more interested in which of them would be the greatest, or have the best seats, in the coming Kingdom! And yet, in perfect consecration to the Father's will, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and declared "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" (Lk 12.50). This baptism was one of suffering and judgment. Nothing, and no one, would hinder Him.

It was a lonely path He trod, From every human soul apart; Known only to Himself and God Was all the grief that filled His heart, Yet from the track He turned not back …

Inevitably in Christ's case, following the lacerations caused by scourging, the piercing wounds from the crown of thorns, and the penetrating trauma of the rough nails, the blood of the sinless Saviour flowed freely. The spear wound to His side followed soon after His death. Peter reminds us that we were "not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1.18-19). Throughout the Book of Revelation, John writes of Christ as the Lamb, using the diminutive term for a little lamb. In the context of his wonderful vision of Heaven, he records that in the midst there "stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev 5.6). This suggests that, in Heaven, there will be a permanent and eternal reminder of Calvary; the Lamb will forever bear the marks of the cross. The physical sufferings were only part of the price Christ paid for our redemption. The loneliness and darkness, rent only by that terrible forsaken cry, tell of infinite depths of sorrow and woe that we will never fully comprehend. As the sword of divine judgement fell, God laid upon Him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53.6). We now rejoice that God has been fully satisfied with the finished work of Christ, and we can rest there for our salvation.

The apostle Paul showed that, while it is true that Christ has died for us, it is equally true that we have died with Him. This applies to every believer, even though some of us are slower to appreciate it. When we came to faith in Christ, we were eternally linked with Him and the work He accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection. Our baptism in water signified this (Rom 6.1-10), and so, in effect, it is true for each of us to say "The old 'me' has died and was buried. It is the new 'me' that has been raised and is now alive in Christ." As Paul describes it, our "old man" (all that we were under Adam's headship) has been crucified. It is finished! A W Tozer helpfully remarked "In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross." The implications of these amazing truths are many. Our position as being crucified with Christ must be reflected in our spiritual condition. Day by day we need to work this out in our personal lives. We are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and alive unto God, and we are to yield ourselves and the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness to obey and serve Him (vv 12-13).

Other practical implications of the believer's death with Christ are found in Paul's personal references in his letter to the Galatians: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2.20). He went on to write "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (5.24), meaning that each day the flesh and its desires are to be denied. We should be careful to note that our old fleshly nature does not die; it is ever with us while we are in the body down here. But the choice is ours as to whether we heed it and feed it, or deny it and starve it. And when we do 'nail to the cross', as it were, our sinful desires and habits, we should not go back and finger those nails as if to remove them. Leave them there!

Towards the end of the Galatian letter, Paul declared "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (6.14). Paul realised that he was done with the world, even as it was done with him. It has been said of the apostle that he regarded the world as a graveyard, and moved through it like a corpse. Paul also had the honour of suffering greatly for Christ, and some of the physical abuse he endured left permanent marks upon his body (v 17). We may be spared such trials, but even so we are to take our place beside Christ, and live as those who have been to the cross and know the meaning of the nail prints.

(To be continued …)


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