Finalize the Cross!

“Pick up your cross and follow me.” That’s what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 16:24. And it’s because a believer’s cross (denying our own selfish desires) is where the law comes to an end. The law was to lead us to Him for eternal life by showing us our sinful, dead condition. It’s a message that He repeats many times, yet we hang on to the law as if it has some additional value for our lives. The law puts our focus on ourselves with our own human efforts to please God (that’s living by the flesh).

But faith puts that focus on Jesus. God has given us His Son Jesus to live in us so that we can be one with Him. According to Colossians 1:27, “Christ in us is our hope of glory.” He’s the one who has already made us holy, redeemed us, justified us, given us eternal life, given us everything we need for life and godliness and much, much more. Trusting God –to have permanently changed us– is living by the Spirit.

Jesus fulfilled the law for us.

But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. (Acts 3:18)

God nailed the law to a cross and forgave us all our sins (past, present, and future).

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Christ is the end of the law for believers.

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

He abolished the law for believers; yet it remains intact for the lost.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:14-16)

It’s not the law, but God’s kindness leads us to a new life.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:4)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope– the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ . . . (Titus 2:11-13)

We have been released from the law so that we can serve God.

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:5-6)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

There is no condemnation for believers –no penalty at all for our sins from God. (Remember, the only penalty for not following each and every law completely is death.)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

Since Jesus fulfilled the law and became our high priest, he also changed the law.

For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. (Hebrews 7:12)

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need– one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:22-26)

Although there is no law with a penalty hanging over us anymore, we shouldn’t be hurting others.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:9-12)

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

Then we can do just anything we want to, right? After all, we’ve been forgiven of all of our sins, made holy, etc. That question was asked when the Roman believers of the first century assembled together. Read on to see how Paul answered this . . .