The Power of the Cross

March 16, 2008 / No. 3402

Dear radio friends,

    Is the power of the cross of Jesus Christ seen in your life?  The power to repent, power to dethrone sin from your heart, power to lead a new, holy life?  The sufferings of Jesus Christ summed in the Bible were great sufferings.  By His sufferings He removed forever the guilt, the curse, and the punishment due to the sins of His children. 

      We read in I John 1:7, “And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  We are washed by the blood of the Lamb.  His child and forever I am, we may sing.  But as the sufferings of Jesus Christ were great, to wash away the sins of all those whom the Father gave to Jesus, so also the power of the cross of Jesus Christ is great, to free them from the reigning power of sin.

      The apostle Paul was very conscious of this mighty power.  Romans 1:16:   “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”  By the cross we are freed from the curse and dominion of sin.  We read in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

      The believer in Jesus Christ realizes that sin still wars within him.  We still have that remaining sinful flesh.  Sin constantly seeks to gain the mastery in our lives.  Sin may tempt.  It entices and fights against us.  But, by the power of the cross of Jesus Christ, sin does not have dominion over us.  For there is power in the cross of Jesus Christ, power to live a new and holy life before God.

      We live in a power mad society.  We hear much of political power, economic power, the power of our nation.  And in religion there is great emphasis on power as well — dynamic personalities in ministers, gifts of the Holy Spirit, mega churches.  But we preach the power of the cross — the only power, real power, power that reaches you and me to deliver us from our sins; to deliver (as we read in Psalm 116) our soul from death, our eyes from tears, our feet from falling — power to bring to us repentance from our lust, from vice, from hate, and from greed; power to live a new and holy life. 

      The power of the cross of Jesus Christ is liberating power.  It makes us free.  It is a power to take enslaved men and women, bound to sin, serving sin willingly, and to open their eyes, to bring repentance, and to loose them from the power of that sin so that they may live a life pleasing to God.  The power of the cross does that.  What Jesus did upon the cross is mighty power.  When applied by the Holy Spirit, it is a power to free you; it is a power of emancipation from the misery of the sin that is yours.

      In the Old Testament God showed that the cross was freeing power in the great event of Israel’s being delivered from Egypt.  There He said, “I take you from the house of bondage, from the house of slavery.”  That was a picture of the mighty power of Jesus Christ to take His children out of the bondage, out of the slavery, of sin.

      So God says to us in the law of God (the fourth commandment), “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm.”  That is the triumphant note of the cross:  by a mighty hand and a stretched out arm, God Himself, through Jesus Christ, delivered His people from their sins — not just from the penalty for those sins, but from the power of those sins.  He freed them so that they might repent, so that they might live holy lives to God.

      The power of the cross is seen, first of all, in that the cross was a complete satisfaction for our sins.  The power of the cross is this, that the cross redeemed all and every one for whom Jesus suffered and died.  Jesus said in John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”  He went on to say in that chapter that the sheep were those who were given to Him of His Father.  And he prayed in John 17:12, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost.”  And again, John 17:2, “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” 

      Jesus Christ gave eternal life to as many as the Father gave to Him.  Those are His own words.  On the cross Jesus stood in their place.  And on the cross Jesus exhausted the wrath of God due to their sins.  For the Bible teaches that God laid upon His Son Jesus the penalty for the sins committed by the sheep of God, by the elect of God.  What did God pour out upon Jesus on the cross?  All the punishment and all the hellish anguish that our sins deserved — the sins of God’s people. 

      What did the angel say to Joseph when he discovered that Mary, to whom he was espoused in marriage, was with child?  He said to him, “Call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”  That is the power of the cross.  By the cross Jesus Christ removed the punishment due to the sins of God’s people.

      Therefore, says the apostle in Galatians 6:14, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The cross is powerful.  The cross is no mere example.  The cross is not simply God saying, “Well, I will save you if….  I would sure like to save you if you add something to it, if you believe.”  That is not the cross.  The cross is powerful.  The cross secured forgiveness for all those for whom Jesus died. 

      And the power of the cross goes beyond that.  For them also the Holy Spirit brings faith so that they might believe in Jesus.  All by the power of the cross.

      Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”  Why?  Because Jesus died for their sins.  He died in the place of them.  He purged away their sins ( Heb. 1).   He redeemed them with His own blood ( Eph. 1).   And therefore we declare, upon the basis of God’s own Word, every sinner who by the grace of God looks to that cross in faith shall live.  His sins are forgiven.  And he is forgiven of grace alone in Jesus.

      The cross, therefore, has power.  It has power to deliver you from the fear that your sins would deserve at the hand of God.  God is a holy God.  The Bible tells us that our God is a consuming fire.  And the Bible tells us that, apart from Jesus Christ, there is only fear — fear to face the living and the holy God.

      But the power of the cross is this:  God’s children are delivered from that fear.  They know there is no condemnation.  Fear is lifted.  They are not afraid of the living God.  But they see in the cross the shining eyes of God’s mercy and grace.  The power of the cross is able to deliver you from the fear of death and from the fear of the grave. 

      The death of Jesus Christ on the cross did not take away the necessity that the believer must die and go into the grave so long as the Lord tarries.  But the cross changed death.  Christ died willingly and entered into the grave, and His body lay cold in the tomb three days.  Christ’s cross makes death our ally.  Christ made the grave the entrance into Father’s house.  Death is swallowed up in the victory of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we do not fear death.  We do not fear hell.  Hell is a great reality.  Hell is true because God says it is true.  Hell is true because God is holy and God is just.  But the believer does not stand in dread of hell, because God has forgiven him and freed him from the power of hell through the cross of Jesus Christ.

      Now I want to point out to you today, from the Word of God, that the cross is not only the power to deliver you from the fear of the punishment for your sins — the fear of death and the fear of hell.  But the cross is power to deliver from sin, not only from the punishment that sin deserves but from the power and the dominion of sin in your life.  Is there power in the cross of Jesus Christ for a Christian life, right now in this world?  Is there power in the cross for us who still have that old man of sin within us?  Sin is within the Christian and stays there.  The apostle calls it the “old man of sin.”  Is there power, yet, to break the dominion of that sin and to bring a child of God to repentance?  More, to lead a child of God into a holy life of praise and thanksgiving to God?  Is the cross able to do that — to defeat the power of sin?  Yes!  For the cross has also broken the power of sin in the lives of those for whom Christ died.  Romans 6:14, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.”  And again, in verse 22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

      The Bible says that we cannot have Christ’s death for us and then go on living our old life of sin.  The cross has delivered us from the reigning power of sin and given us a new master, God, so that we might obey and serve Him.  Gratitude, thankfulness to God, rests at the center of the Christian life.  Now the Christian ( Ps. 116) cries out the question, “How shall my soul give worthy thanks, O Lord, to thee?”  The cross is the renewal of our will.  By the power of the cross we now hate those things that we formerly loved — the things of sin.  And, by the power of the cross, we love those things that we formerly despised — the things of God.

      Now hear the gospel today.  Do not be deceived.  Jesus Christ did not die so that the Christian can go on in his own way of sin, making peace with sin.  Jesus Christ did not die to scotch-guard or to immunize you from the consequences of sin and from the eternal penalty of sin in order that now you may live a sinful life.  Oh, no!  Jesus Christ died so that, forgiven your sin, you might be a holy person, you might now begin to live as a servant of righteousness unto God.

      There are many in the church of Jesus Christ who doubt this power of the cross — especially when they see the power of sin.  They ask the question:  “Is there a power to break the power of sin?”  There are many who say their sins are forgiven and yet they live like the devil.  What a horrible reflection upon the cross of Jesus Christ.  That is to say that there is no power in His blood for a holy life.  That is an insult to the crucified Savior.  There are many who look for something to put sin to flight in their life — pills, a psychiatrist, books on self-improvement, the power of positive thinking.  Or, when they come hand-to-hand with a besetting sin — pornography, a wagging tongue, greed, hatred — then they say, “Well, we must ask for a second baptism of the Holy Spirit to become an elite believer in order that we might really deal with those sins.”  Or there are some who leave the gospel and go back to the law.  They say, “The law will deliver us from the power of sin.  Legalism.  Many commandments.  Multiply the commandments and by our own strength we will defeat the consequences of sin.”

      The Bible declares that it is the cross, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that alone can free us from the dominion of sin.  The cross leads us out of Egypt.  The cross brings us out of the bondage of slavery.  The cross declares, “Let My people go that they may serve Me.”  In the cross is the power to overcome pride and envy, jealousy, pornography, drunkenness, sexual immorality, a sharp gossipy tongue, hatred, and covetousness. 

      Read Romans 6.   There the apostle is speaking of the Christian life — a holy life.  He says that now that we have been forgiven, or justified in Christ, shall we then go on and continue in sin?  And he answers the question, “God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  Note what he says there.  He did not say that sin is dead in us.  No, that sin, according to our sinful flesh, is still alive.  But he says that we are dead to sin.  Christ’s cross has changed our standing towards sin.  It has opened our eyes to see it as a monster.  It has given to us an inward revulsion and hatred of sin.  By the cross we are no longer its willing servants to obey sin in its lusts.  But we are free to yield ourselves servants to God unto righteousness. 

      Paul says in Romans 6 that Christ has removed the right of sin to rule over us.  Sin shall not have dominion over us.  Nineteen hundred years ago sin lost the right to reign in the child of God.  Sin lost the right to keep the child of God in its clutches, to dupe the child of God and deceive him as sin would like to do.  Sin lost that right because the cross broke sin’s power in the child of God, in order that the child of God might be made free to become a servant of righteousness. 

      How do we know if the power of the cross has delivered us?  You will know that by one clear note in your heart:  thankfulness to God, gratitude.  You will say with the psalmist in Psalm 116, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.”  What shall I render to the Lord?  How shall I thank him?  And the answer:  Keep yourself unspotted from the world.  Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Don’t be conformed to a sinful world.  Do this rather:  press toward the mark of the high calling that is in Christ Jesus.

      The unbelieving world lives only for this world — its treasures, pleasures, approval, and possessions.  But, by the power of the cross, we now live for this:  that we might be found in Christ, that we might be to His honor and glory.  Now we are no longer dedicated to sin, but we are dedicated to Him who died for us.  Christ hath made us free.

      Do you struggle with a besetting sin?  Do you struggle with lust?  Do you struggle with carnal ambition?  Do you struggle with drink and drunkenness, pornography, sexual filth, hatred of the neighbor?  Do you struggle with an unbridled, uncontrolled tongue?  Do you struggle with resentment against your husband, against your wife, or your parents?  Do you have a tongue that nobody can tame?  The message of the cross is this:  Sin shall not rule in you.  Look to the cross.  Embrace, by faith, Christ crucified.  Recognize at the foot of the cross that you have not only been forgiven merely of grace, but you are now made dead to sin and alive unto God.  No longer shall you live unto envy, liquor, sharp tongue, lust.  But you shall now live unto Him who died and is risen again.  You shall live holy unto Him.  You shall live in the power of the cross. 

      The power of the cross is not merely a change of conduct.  The power of the cross is a new life.  Life flows from the cross.  A living stream flows from Calvary —  not only to wash us clean, but also to break the strong bars of sin that would hold us in bondage, to open heaven’s gates, and to bring our steps into holiness, to bring joy into our heart and thanksgiving to our soul — a power, a wondrous power in the cross of Jesus Christ.

      Under that cross is where you must be.  Under the cross you must abide until He comes to take you to be with Himself in glory.  In that day when Jesus comes for you, He will take you into His Father’s presence for evermore.  And He will do that by the power of the cross.


      Father, we thank Thee for Thy most holy Word.  We pray that more and more the power of the cross may be seen in our lives, that we might faithfully, by its power, repent; faithfully, by its power, pursue those things that are holy and pleasing in Thy sight.  To Thee be the praise and the glory both now and forever.  We pray through Jesus Christ, Amen.