“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”
Paul shows how the believer has the potential to conquer sin by his position in Christ (5:24-26).
And those who are Christ’s
We must distinguish “those who are Christ’s” from those who are not. A child of God belongs to Christ. Believers belong to Christ. Not everyone is a Christian.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).
”And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23).
“Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s” (2 Corinthians 10:7).
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).
have crucified the flesh
“Crucified” is not self-crucifixion but our positional crucifixion in Christ. This is something that God does, not us. When Christ died on the cross, He died there for our sins. God identifies Christians with Christ’s death and resurrection. Our part is to apply that work of Christ to sin in our lives. We do this by placing faith in Christ initially at salvation and progressively through confessing sins by faith.
“Flesh” is that force that makes us violate a holy God. Jesus crucified the flesh. The grammar here (aorist indicative) indicates a definite and decisive act. This does not say that this is something that we must do. He did not say, “Those who are Christ’s should crucify the flesh.” The reality of crucifixion took place when we put our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Jesus settled the issue of our sins on the cross and we believed Him. When we recognize this as an ongoing fact, we make victory actual in our experience. Christ made the positional truth of a crucified flesh actual on the cross. We make it real to ourselves by faith.
Neither does this mean that Christ eradicated the present active function of our sin capacity on the cross. It simply means that God judged our sins by Christ’s death on the cross in a judicial or positional sense.
Jesus nailed our flesh one and for all on the cross (Romans 6:3,4,6). This is true of the believer in position and in principle. It is important to understand that Paul does not appeal to self-crucifixion here but to our identity in Christ’s death (2:20) and resurrection (Romans 6:1-6; 11-12).
We appeal to the cross by faith to live the Christian life.
It is vital that we recognize that Christ crucified the flesh, that it was His work on the cross that did this. Jesus settled the issue there. This means Christ’s crucifixion is our crucifixion. We do not try to do what is already done; we do not crucify ourselves. We believe that Christ crucified us.
When we appeal to the cross by faith, we draw on the finished work of Christ to live the Christian life. Faith takes hold of God’s facts and appropriates them to experience. When we lay hold on the naked Word of God, we honor God’s promises.
We do not have to pray about being crucified; we are crucified with Christ. This is the crux of how we get victory in the Christian life. If we do not know our position in Christ, we do not know how to live the Christian life. Many sincere Christians try to crucify themselves but they always end in frustration. It is oh so unnecessary because it is already an accomplished fact.