The Separation of the Cross

by Mike Ratliff

19 “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 NASB)

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, he was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not true Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context he was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his own day who so opposed him and his ministry and who would continue to oppose the early church as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in is this world who truly see Jesus for who he really is, believe and are saved from those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them that is absent of the real Jesus? 

I don’t have to go into a lot of detail here about the darkness that has overtaken the majority of the visible church in our time. It is everywhere. However, we must never forget that this is nothing new. The history of the Church is replete with rebellion and apostasy and the need for reformation and the development of solid confessions of our faith for the clarification of our doctrines in order to shine God’s light into this darkness. God uses these battles to purify his church and also for the raising up of men who will stand firm, fight the good fight and leave behind a better understanding of our theology. We may not enjoy these truth wars or the battle or the endless attacks from our enemy and his people, but God is using these very things to in ways we cannot even imagine in the hearts of his people.

What we must never forget is that those who are truly in Christ are completely separated from those who are not by the Cross of Christ because we who are in Christ see him as he is according to John 14:19 while those who are not in Christ do not. Why? We live because Christ lives. Those outside of Christ are still dead in trespasses and sins as per Ephesians 2:1-3.

Yes, we are alive in Christ and are separated from those who are not by the Cross of Christ, but that also comes with much responsibility. 

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11 NASB) 

1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NASB) 

So, yes the Cross of Christ separates genuine Christians from the world in that we alone are alive in Christ, but notice that that means we have died to this world with Christ and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. Therefore, we are to set our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. What does that mean? In the Greek, this is an imperative (a command) indicating what believers are to do as a result of their standing in Christ. They are to set their hearts on things above. They are to put to death practices that belong to their earthly nature (Colossians 3:5, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” The Christian is to rid himself of practices that characterized his unregenerate self (Colossians 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

A genuine Christian is called upon to become in daily experience what he is positionally in Christ (Romans 6:1-11). In my own experience, my most miserable times as a Christian is when I am in the fire of purification and these very things that are still within my heart are being brought up to my attention and I am made to deal with them. How ugly! Yes, we must deal with them and work with the Holy Spirit to mortify them and that is best done as we combine that process with proper worship, Bible Study, prayer, and walking in repentance before the face of God.

Yes, positionally I am complete in Christ and that is amazing, but while in this body in this temporal existence, I must continue to fight these battles until I am called home as are you.

Solo Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “The Separation of the Cross

  1. Dear Mike,

    “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:11-13

    In our “instant” society our culture has an inherent problem with the sanctification process. If it can’t be fixed by a book “Seven steps to make your life perfect” it isn’t worth our effort. The whole point of the Christian life is to painstakingly die to self daily and to cling with utter dependence on Christ. This is a process of a lifetime, not a weekend retreat. Because people have an unrealistic expectation they grow weary and are mislead by the quick fix.

    On the other hand you have the people sticking it out, but they become embittered because they see the faithlessness and the falling away and their love grows cold toward the lost.

    “But he who endures till the end will be saved.” We are set apart and kept in Christ only by God’s grace. Our lives should appear different as our hope rests in our Savior to preserve us through these trials. May the love Christ had for us while we were yet sinners be evident to the world through us, which will indeed makes us different.

    Praying for your ever edifying ministry! charisse

  2. Reminds me of the lyrics to “The Refiner’s Fire”, as hurtful as it is we crave the fire’s embrace, Lord help me!!

    There burns a fire with sacred heat
    White hot with holy flame
    And all who dare pass through its blaze
    Will not emerge the same
    Some as bronze, and some as silver
    Some as gold, then with great skill
    All are hammered by their sufferings
    On the anvil of His will

    Chorus:
    The Refiner’s fire
    Has now become my souls desire
    Purged and cleansed and purified
    That the Lord be glorified
    He is consuming my soul
    Refining me, making me whole
    No matter what I may lose
    I choose the Refiner’s fire

    I’m learning now to trust His touch
    To crave the fire’s embrace
    For though my past with sin was etched
    His mercies did erase
    Each time His purging cleanses deeper
    I’m not sure that I’ll survive
    Yet the strength in growing weaker
    Keeps my hungry soul alive

  3. Oh, how many of us have desired to ask Daniel, or David, or Abraham, or Moses…”What was it like to have God come to you, and walk with you through all your victories?” Yet, in this we fail to see that we, like Esau would trade our birthright for “a pot of porrage” type of experience, because of our misplaced hunger.
    The reality is, perhaps they would long to ask us, “What is it like to have the Lord within you?!?!”
    Colossians 1:27
    To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is
    CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory!
    Yet for this to be so, we first must apprehend this verse: Colossians 1:18
    And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
    For this is the meat of the prayer taught to the disciples: Matthew 6:10
    Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…(Starting within me oh Lord.)

  4. Now, I ask my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus this very question…”What does it mean to you…what is it like to have Christ living in you, rather then attempting to having experiences, as so many chase after?”

    Does this not cut us to the very bone of our being?

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