Imperatives of the Crucified Life – II
Paul's epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians were to people living in Roman Asia which is the area of modern Turkey. In the time of Paul all of this area was under Roman control.
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Life in the Roman World of the 1st Century
Why the history lesson? As you turn to Galatians 2 this evening let me describe life in the Roman world of the 1st century.
In Roman Asia (
- Trade guilds were compulsory; to be employed in a trade was only via the guild. It was a closed shop.
- Every guild in Thyatira had a patron God or Goddess. Thus, every guild function began with paying homage to that deity by offering--this was the obligatory opening to all meetings which were required to be an artisan/craftsman.
- Business followed and then the customary banquets known for their sexual freedom. The cost for the Christian was unmistakable.
Ramsay the famed 19th century archaeologist, writes "revelry, license and intoxication marked these pagan religious societies (trade guilds) lounging on dining couches, surrounded by troupes of unclothed, dancing and singing slaves...would be fatal to all self-restraining spirits”. In short, a guild was no place for Christians and yet quitting the union was economic suicide.
So the battle with the flesh raged every day in Thyatira and all the other towns of Roman Asia. Add to this bath houses in every city where prostitution was normal and considered healthy. Athletic facilities where such emphasis was placed on the human body that many sports were practiced and competed in total nudity. These saints were vexed with the flesh, temptation, and sin.
Now listen to Paul's words to them in Galatians 2:20.
The battle was already won by Christ, the world, my flesh and the Devil were all defeated at the cross--and we just need to believe and act upon that truth! How do we do that more regularly?
Two passages explain this truth. The first passage portrays the attitude we need, and the second the action we need to take. We need to repeat, reaffirm, and remember over and over again that the past work of Christ's death on the cross saved me and keeps me. Listen to Paul in Galatians 2 as he sets forth the attitude we are to have.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ (past event--justification); it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (present event-sanctification); and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God (present event-sanctification), who loved me and gave Himself for me (past event--justification). NKJV
How did I get saved? By trusting, believing, clinging to the truth that Jesus Christ took my sins, and stood in my place and bore the punishment of God’s wrath I deserved. The guiltless One took my guilt; the sinless One took my sin; the holy One took my wretchedness and on and on I could go.
But did I see Him there personally? No, it was by what? Yes, faith.
I believed the truth of God's Word and God changed me forever. The same way we were saved is the same way we live the rest of our lives.
So apply that faith that you and I have for the work of Christ on the cross in our place and apply it now to the rest of our walk.
Now join me in Colossians 3, as we see the action we must take to live the life of killing our flesh, mortifying our flesh—and living the crucified with Christ life!
Now, in simple faith that saved you repeat that to yourself. (Just like my old pastor John MacArthur always used to tell us 'preach the Gospel to yourself!’) Say something like this:
"Even if I do not feel it, understand it, or even at times want it I WILL by faith, believing YOU consider myself dead to sin. Or in times of need, “Lord I operate on what I know is true, you have made me dead to sin.”
When I truly prayed, asking in simple faith for Christ to save me—whether I felt a strong emotional feeling or not, God began His work within me. I started changing from the inside out. The same is true with these imperatives.
- Jesus lived—that’s history.
- Jesus died—that’s theology.
- Jesus died for me and took my sins upon Himself on the Cross—that’s salvation.
- Jesus died for me to live through Him—that’s sanctification.
And Christ's work on
Just as there is nothing we can do before our salvation to make us accepted by God; and there is nothing we can do after our salvation that makes us acceptable to God.
As we were saved only by the accomplishment of Christ's sacrifice on the cross—so we live each day ‘by faith’ (the same faith by which we were saved). We are always dependent upon Christ's gracious death upon the cross that saves and keeps us!
Colossians 3 is built around 14 imperative commands. Remember that God never commands me to do what He hasn’t already given me the grace to accomplish by faith through His Spirit!
Let’s walk back through this chapter, see what Paul relates to us from the Lord, and then pause and ASK the Lord to unleash these powerful spiritual qualities in our lives today.
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