“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 action. 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 once and for all on the cross (Romans 6:3,4,6). This is true of the believer in position and 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.
We must recognize that Christ crucified the flesh and that His work on the cross 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 always end in frustration. It is oh so unnecessary because it is already an accomplished fact.
The point is well made here that the crucifixion is not what the believer is doing, but what Christ has done. If it were to mean that every believer has crucified his flesh, as an action of his own, it would be troubling: it would imply very strongly that the Christian has killed his flesh and therefore no longer sins. A professing Christian who sees that he still sins could not believe his profession is in accordance with saving faith… he is sinning. How can he claim and be assured that he is a Christian if a Christian has crucified his flesh, i.e., has put to death his flesh as an accomplished fact, not something he is working on or trying to do. If the Christian’s crucifying of his own flesh were an accomplished fact, there is no room for continuing sin, because it would require a continuing crucifying of the flesh (something he supposedly has already accomplished).
I wish the comments here would have done two things that I think would have made them more helpful:
(1) The meaning and impact of the use of the aorist indicative in the verb ‘crucified’ is not connected as tightly with the once-for-allness of the Christian’s crucifixion in Christ. There is a connection made here but I think it could be stronger.
(2) In supporting (1) above, it would be helpful to show how the references to Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 complement the meaning of this text; especially Romans 6 where Paul exhorts the believer to no longer let sin reign in his body and to present his body as an instrument of righteousness.
Those two emphases would help the reader to understand how his crucifixion in Christ is worked out in practice.
Having said all that, I understand there is a need for brevity, and I do appreciate your clarifying for the reader that the crucifixion Paul speaks of is not something the reader himself is doing but something that has already been done in Christ.
Thomas, thanks for your excellent comment. In this site I try to keep things more on the simple side and do not use Greek or Hebrew (even Aramaic!) 🙂 There are places where there is no choice but to use original languages.
One countervailing problem with my interpretation above is the active voice, which would imply that it is the believer who does the crucifying. However, the aorist indicative should be translated “have crucified,” much like the perfect Greek tense. This would have taken too much explanation where I am trying to keep the studies pity.
Note my study on Galatians 2:20
Thomas, I see that you are into Christian fiction, my editor of this site is a fiction writer. Note her site: http://www.debelkink.com/
Thanks so much for your work. Here's my question – can you expand a little on this statement you made "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."
What does appropriates mean in a practical sense? Thanks
Ron.e, thanks for your comment. "Appropriate" means to apply the promises to our experience. When we act on God's promises by faith we honor His Word and the promises He gives us. Many people know the promises but they do not apply them to their experience, to their life experience.
Thanks for the quick response. So how do I apply or act on the promises of God's word? Why do I find it so hard to just take God at his Word and simply believe by faith? Do you have any advice on this?
Ron.e, My suggestion is that you memorize verses that pertain to your spiritual vulnerabilities. By doing this you admit your need of the Word of God in your life. Whenever you are tempted to sin then quote that passage and claim it as your own. For example, if you are tempted to be angry, then memorize Ephesians 4:31,32. It is important to understand the principle of those verses. The principle is if God forgave me then I am to forgive others. It is duplicitous not to do so. In this way you are operating on God's Word by faith.
I see, that's why we stay in the word and study. At the point of attack, we believe In our hearts and confess with our mouths the word of God by faith. For example, sometimes we can be discouraged so,the best thing to do is to speak and meditate on and claim by faith Romans 5:5 which states that God has poured his love In our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It that the idea?
Ron, it is not that we speak the Word of God as if speaking it is magical somehow. It is a matter of claiming God's promises and principles. If we are discouraged then we claim a verse like 1 Peter 5:7. Go to my studies on that verse and follow each study: http://versebyversecommentary.com/1-peter/1-peter-57/ The point of these studies show that God sovereignly cares for our needs and that we can rest in that sovereignty.
What can u say about deliverance as a christian
Rotimi, it depends on what you mean by “deliverance.” God surely delivers believers from evil and a Christian can gain victory over the world, flesh and devil by submitting himself or herself to the Lord.
Cam a christian go through deliverance. What do you understand by demonize
Rotimi, a Christian can be influenced by Satan but not possessed by him because the believer has the indwelling Spirit residing in him.
I am struggling to understand which part of me has died (‘gone’ 2 Cor 5 v17), ‘was crucified’ when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. My physical body is still alive. My ‘flesh’, my sinful nature, is still alive and causing me to sin. My soul is, I believe, distinct from my flesh, and still is alive. So which part of me has been replaced by this ‘new creation’ and what is this new creation?
Tony, the “flesh” here is your sin capacity or sin nature. When Jesus died on the cross He paid for your sins by crucifying your sins and sin nature on the cross.
I like Thomas’s response above. Please correct me if I am wrong but I think it is important to distinguish between my accumulated sins on the one hand and my capacity to sin on the other. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for all my sin, past, present and future. However, as you point out, he didn’t crucify my sin nature (my ‘flesh’ or capacity to sin) or otherwise I would have ceased to sin. Perhaps, in regard to this, Jesus, having paid for my sin, enabled me to enter into Him, by faith, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, gain the capability to overcome my ‘flesh’. Am I correct in understanding that my ‘new creation’ is, in reality, a positional change from being outside Christ to being inside Christ.
Tony, yes Jesus did not crucify your sin capacity in the sense that you cannot sin anymore.
Tony, one further point. Romans 6 presents the forensic or positional nature of the sin capacity being co-crucified with Christ. Yes, Christ did crucify our sin capacity positionally. See my studies on Romans 6
Thank you for the addiional point but it doesn’t clarify my basic query: ‘If my sin nature, my ‘flesh’ has been put to death by Christ, what motivates me to sin? Further, as I am a ‘new creation’, why do I continue to sin? Is it possible for the newly-created me to be selfishly-motivated as Adam was?
Tony, your sin capacity was not put to death in the sense that it cannot sin; it was put to death in principle–you are in God’s eyes positionally dead, whether it is individual sinning or your sin nature. God views the believer just like He views Jesus–perfect. You have been judicially declared as right as Jesus is right before God (justified). We are not perfect in morality, but we hold the same status as Jesus before God.
The new nature cannot sin. You sin because you are dual-natured; you have a sin capacity as well as a new capacity.