You can tell when Christians are living on the wrong side of the Cross by their language.
“God, will You forgive me?”
“I’m just a sinner saved by grace…”
“My heart is deceitfully wicked…”
“After all, I’m only human”
“God is angry with me”
“I have to fight my old nature…”
“Someday I will be dead to sin…”
“God, if it would be Your will, please heal…” (fill in the blank)
“No eye has seen, nor ear heard…the things God has prepared for us” (meaning, when we get to heaven)
“I’m concerned that if (fill in name) keeps doing that (behavior), he/she will end up in hell.”
“You must get right before you go to God”
“If you do that (habit, lifestyle), you’re not a Christian.”
“Please don’t take your Holy Spirit from me…”
“God, rend the heavens and come down!”
“God will not share His glory with another!”
“God, please visit us…send revival!”
“God is judging… (America, etc.)”
These are just a few that I hear from well-meaning Christians. I fully realize that I’m challenging some assumptions and even poking at some evangelical “sacred cows.” You might even be surprised that some of these are quotes from Scripture…but I can assure you, they’ve often been wrongly applied to us.
Living on the wrong side of the Cross is when we are either praying prayers that are already answered under the New Covenant or we’re believing things about ourselves that are no longer true. And even though these sentiments may have been true before the Cross, and about our life before coming to Christ, they are not true now.
And the truth will make you free. 🙂
The confusing mixture
Unfortunately, much of what passes as Christian teaching in our evangelical circles is a confusing “foolish Galatian” mixture of the Old and New Covenant. The truth is, you cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive. Paul called doing this preaching “another gospel.” (Gal.1:6-9)
We get confused about the purpose of Jesus’ teachings. As Andrew Farley has pointed out, Jesus had a two-fold mission. To absolutely bury us under the old in order to establish the new. In other words, to annihilate the absurd notion of being right with God by following the Law in order to establish our new identity as adopted sons under the New Covenant with His death, burial and resurrection.
Using the Law lawfully
We fail to realize that our relationship with God radically changed with Jesus. He would say, “You have heard it said, but I say….” (Mt.5:27-43) Of course, they had heard those things said in the Mosaic Law!
Furthermore, Paul said that the Law was added in order to prove that we needed to be a new creation (Gal.3:19; 6:15). It was never meant to make us righteous by our behavior. It was only meant to expose our unrighteousness.
Paul called the Ten Commandments a “ministry of death, engraved on stones” (2 Cor.3:7). So we cannot rightfully say that the ceremonial Law was done away with but we still have to follow the moral Law. It was the moral Law that was written by God on the stones!
Does that prospect disturb you? Welcome to the undiluted, uncensored, outrageous, scandalous, radical, over-the-top Good News that brings great joy! God calls this freedom.
And if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably God.
You see, Christ actually came to bring freedom from religion, not to put us under the yoke of a new one. (Gal.5:1)
Why is this so? The Old Covenant saints did not have the resident Holy Spirit, which is why this moral restraint was necessary. Under the Mosaic Law, God had made a covenant with fallen man. But this is not true of you in Christ.
If you are in Christ, you are a new creation and have the Holy Spirit to manage you from the inside out. You are now an adopted son instead of a religious orphan (Jn.14:18; Rom.8:15). You are free (Mt.17:26; Gal.4:6-7).
Paul said that the Law is only good when used lawfully (1 Tim.1:8-9), which means it only applies to those who are NOT a new creation (2 Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15).
Paul chastised the Corinthians because they were acting like “mere men!” (1 Cor.3:3). You do realize that you cannot say you’re “only human” anymore, right?
For you are a NEW CREATION, a son and co-heir with Christ in heavenly places. There has never been a species in creation like you before. You are God-inhabited flesh, You are His conduit from heaven, His holy Temple on the earth (1 Cor.6:19; 2 Cor.3:18-4:1; 5:16-21; Gal.4:6-7)
“As Jesus IS, so are YOU on this earth right now” (1 Jn.4:17). This is the “real” you. What is true about Jesus is true about you in Him. You are not to consider yourself, or other believers, in any other way (2 Cor.5:16).
To say anything less about yourself is believing a religious lie and living in bondage on the wrong side of the Cross.
The New Covenant lens
Any time we point to the Old Testament scripture without interpreting it through the New Covenant lens, we are doing so illegally.
Do you realize that whenever Paul would quote an Old Covenant passage, he would continue with a “but…”, meaning that something had changed. Let’s take a quote I already alluded to from First Corinthians…
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (Quoting Isa.64:4) 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” (1 Cor.2:9-10 NKJV)
So, it’s scripturally illegal for us to say that we cannot know what God has prepared for us because He has given us His Spirit. And His Spirit searches the “deep things of God” and we now “have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor.2:10, 16)
Also, as Bill Johnson has correctly pointed out, while it’s scripturally true under the Old Covenant that God will not share His glory with another (Isa.48:8,11), you are not another!” For Christ is in you!
Comparing yourself to Adam, Job, Noah, Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, or anyone else under the Old Covenant is living on the wrong side of the Cross. Our only standard for Christian living is Christ.
Are we crucified with Christ or not?
Paul told the Corinthians that he was “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor.2:2) What does that mean? It means that we should see ourselves already dead to sin and crucified with Christ (Rom.6:6; Gal.2:20; Col.3:3).
So, trying to “kill our flesh” is like trying to kill a corpse. There is no satisfaction in that because you’re already dead! Trying to crucify what God has already crucified is an exercise in futility and unbelief.
Our problem is not that our flesh is not dead yet, it’s that we still believe it’s alive.
Our problem is not that we don’t understand Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It’s that we don’t see ourselves dead, buried, and resurrected with Him.
As Dan McCollam has said, Christians are still trying to commit suicide when it was a mass murder 2,000 years ago on the Cross.
Paul said that our old nature was nailed to the cross, so to say we have two-natures is to say we are schizophrenic, which is a mental disease! That is not a normal Christian.
This is an identification problem, not a sin problem. We are identifying ourselves on the wrong side of the Cross.
Is God judging now?
Jesus said that He didn’t come to judge or condemn the world but to save it (Jn.3:17; 12:47). So why do so many Christians seem to think it’s right to spend most of their time doing both? Shouldn’t we be on the same mission as Jesus?
Consider that Jesus spent NO time whatsoever trying to make the Roman Empire behave itself. Actually, He never rebuked sinners, only religious people. And He rebuked them because they were distorting the goodness of God and keeping people from Him with their religious traditions.
Jesus spent all of His time interfacing with sinners by telling them about the Kingdom of His Father and showing this orphan world what His Father was like.
Sinners loved Jesus because He loved them. They didn’t like religious people because they didn’t love them.
So, why are we trying to make our world behave instead of loving them and showing them what the Father is like?
We’re called to be their liberators, not their judges.
Paul went further and said, “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes” (1 Cor.4:5). So, has the Lord returned? Did I miss something? Then why are we so bent on judging sinners “before the time?”
And can I just tell you, God is not judging nations right now. Jesus said that God makes the sun rise and sends His rain on the just and the unjust (Mt.5:45). Didn’t we get that memo?
And since when were we supposed to compare America (or any other country for that matter) to Israel under the Old Covenant?
The only two nations God has ever been in covenant with, or ever will be in covenant with, was Israel under the old and His “holy nation” in Christ under the new (1 Pet.2:9).
So when we’re saying things like “God is judging” America, New Orleans, or any other place in the world where there have been disasters, we are misguided and living on the wrong side of the Cross.
Praying our prayers of unbelief
Whenever we pray something that God has already answered, we will end up frustrated because God already answered them!
For instance, Peter tells us that, besides being dead to sin and our old nature crucified, our healing came when Jesus was beaten on the whipping post (1 Pet.2:24) . Peter was quoting Isaiah 53:5, but looking back to the Cross when he said,“by His stripes you were healed.”
And under Divine inspiration, Matthew interpreted Isaiah 53:5 as physical healing from sickness and disease and deliverance from demonic oppression (Mt.8:16-17).
Let’s look at this. When were your sins forgiven? 2,o00 years ago. When was your old nature nailed to the Cross? 2,000 years ago. And when were you healed by His stripes? 2,000 years ago. They are all appropriated the same way–by faith.
So let’s not forget all His benefits (Ps.103:2-5). Doing so makes us ignorant volunteers in Satan’s prison camp.
Furthermore, Jesus never asked His Father to heal anyone, and He never told us to ask God to heal anyone. Jesus rebuked sickness and demons, and He told us to exercise the same authority we’ve been given through the Holy Spirit (Mt.10:7-8; 28:18-20; Lk.10:17; Mk.16:17-18).
So, to ask God to heal someone instead of receiving the healing that He has already paid for is an illegal prayer of unbelief and living on the wrong side of the Cross.
Finally, let’s talk about revival and asking God to “rend the heavens.”
Didn’t Jesus tell Nathanael that “from hereafter” we would see the heavens open? (Jn.1:51). I think living under an open heaven is better, don’t you?
And where do you see revival being sought in the New Testament? Right, you don’t.
What you see are believers turning the world upside-down by living a lifestyle of revival everyday. To be a “normal” Christian is have Christ’s life, and He’s always in revival.
Only religious orphans wait for revival. Sons live in a constant and ever-increasing state of revival in the Father’s embrace.
Okay, that’s probably enough for now. If you’ve been stretched by this post, welcome to “growing up into Christ! (Eph.4:15).
As it’s been said, if we aren’t growing, we’re dying, so that’s a good thing.
My sincere prayer (me included) is that we will leave all our religious baggage behind and start believing what God believes about us and live on the right side of the Cross.
It’s actually pretty amazing.