The Battle For Life
Reading: Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18; Philippians 3:10.
The matter which we now have before us is the relationship of the Cross to the manifesting of life. It is very important for us to be clear as to what that relationship is. One thing is patent, and that is that life, in this Divine sense, in this spiritual sense, this life called eternal life, is only to be had as the result of the Cross of Jesus Christ. On the ground of His death and by His resurrection this eternal life is given to them that believe. We sometimes speak of this as simple faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. In the reception of that life there may be no sense of battle, nor conflict; there may be no knowledge whatever of this fuller realm where the battle for life goes on. That is because, in the matter of the gift of eternal life, the Lord Jesus Himself fought the battle in His Cross, and we receive the free gift by faith’s acceptance of what He did in order that we might have the life.
That is one aspect of the Cross and the issue of life. That is to say, by the objective apprehension of the Cross we receive eternal life. All that the Lord Jesus did for us in His Cross in order that we might pass from death unto life, appropriated, apprehended by faith, results in our having life.
But there is another side. The Cross of the Lord Jesus subjectively wrought out results in our having life more abundant. His own words are: “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10). I believe that the first half of that statement relates to the simple faith-appropriation of the objective work of the Cross – what He didfor us – but the second part of the statement carries us further. Life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall be made good in us. May we put it in this way: In His Cross He dealt with our sins, and on the ground of His having so dealt with them, and of our believing in His atoning work for our sins, we receive the gift of eternal life. He also dealt with ourselves, but that is something which has to be made good progressively, and it is as we ourselves are dealt with in the power of the Cross that the way is made for that life to express itself in ever deepening fullness. The fact is that it is self which is in the way of the life and its full expression. It is the natural life which obstructs the course of the Divine life. Thus what has been done for us has to be done in us, and as it is done in us that life becomes more than a deposit, more than a simple, though glorious possession; it becomes a deepening, growing power, a fullness of expression.
A STATE OF DISORDER IN THE CREATION
Let us seek to set forth the position. In the first place there is in the creation a state of disorder with which God is not united. We can all grasp that. There is nothing very profound about it except as the fact breaks upon us, and we realize that there is this state of disorder in the creation of which we are a part, and that God is not united with that state, with the creation in that condition. It is not according to His mind. It has ceased to express His thought. It is contrary to His intention and therefore He is not linked with it.
DEATH AND SATAN POSITIVELY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT STATE
Secondly, there is a positive association of death and Satan with that state. It is not just a passive mass, in confusion, in chaos, in disorder. There are active elements in it. We might say that it is a seething mass. There are forces at work in it and those forces are not the forces of life, but of death. Death is working, and Satan is associated with that state.
A NEED ARISES
In the third place, we see that a need arises, and a need along various lines. Firstly, there must be a judicial setting aside of that creation. We mean by ‘a judicial setting aside’ that a judgment must be passed upon it, and under that judgment it must be put away out of God’s sight. It must come to the place where in its entirety it is under the Divine ban and not one part of it can come into acceptance with Him: that is, it must be judicially dealt with, and judicially set aside. That becomes necessary as a preliminary step to anything which God will do after a new order. God has dealt thus with the creation in the Cross of Christ.
Secondly, an actual and a potential destroying of that power of death and Satan must take place. Let us watch our words – an actual, and a potential, destroying of that power of death and Satan. Well, God did that in actuality in the Person of the Lord Jesus. He destroyed death and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. In Christ it is actually done. Christ at God’s right hand represents and declares that this has been accomplished. Death is swallowed up victoriously. Satan too has been destroyed. That word ‘destroyed’, translated in the Revised Version ‘bring to naught’, does not mean what some people take it to mean. There are times, when speaking of destroying, we think of going the whole length of utterly obliterating, putting out of existence. This word does not mean that. Bringing to naught means, in the intention of God, to render utterly abortive, to render incapable of ultimate success. Do not forget that, so far as the Lord Jesus is concerned at God’s right hand, Satan is defeated. He cannot touch Him personally, and he knows it. The only way in which he can touch Him is through His members. Satan no longer has any power to touch Christ directly with death, or with any other weapon. “Through death he has destroyed him that had the power of death.” It is actually done in Christ.
We have used another word – potential. That potential destroying of death and Satan was on behalf of the saints. That is something which is secured and, though not yet fully entered into in experience, can be entered into by faith and known in a progressive way. It cannot be said that you and I at present in the entirety of our being find that death and Satan have no power. So far as we are concerned it is not an actual fact that Satan is inoperative. But this has been secured for us potentially in Christ, that we may become those who more and more experience what Christ has wrought for us, and come progressively into the good of that work which was potentially done on our behalf. In Christ, then, we see that destruction to be accomplished in actuality; in the saints, potentially.
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