Volume. XX, No. 47
Sunday, 21 May 2006

Crucifying the Flesh

Crucifixion was one of the most painful, torturous and barbaric form of execution for people that was ever devised by the Romans during the time of Christ. Many articles have been written by historians on how this barbaric act was carried out by the Romans on criminals and on those whom they wished to get rid of. There are also articles written by medical experts describing how a person on a cross dies. We do not, however, need to be medical experts to know the painful process of dying on a cross. Just one look at a person being crucified will send a chill down our spine. Our Lord Jesus went through this shameful, painful and torturous process, which after many agonising hours, culminated in His death.

Many Christians often tend to forget the cross of Christ, except possibly on Good Friday.  Now, even Good Friday is taken as another holiday where we can relax or just enjoy fleshly pleasures. Instead of identifying ourselves with Jesus on the cross, and crucifying our own flesh, we tend to fatten our flesh…..with hot cross buns!

We are living in a society which is continually seeking to indulge in more and more worldly pleasures, and unfortunately, Christians are also being led to indulge in these things. The entire New Testament talks about self-denial, taking up the cross and following Jesus who Himself took up the cross and was crucified. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).

If we are Christ’s we should also go through the painful process of crucifying our flesh. We do not have to carry a physical cross and have our bodies nailed on to it. That is what some people do even these days! Also, some six to seven hundred years earlier, there used to be a group of monks called ‘flagellants’ who would make a whip of chords and flogged themselves by way of self-mortification. That is not what the Bible tells us to do. However, we have to daily crucify the desires of our hearts that are in opposition to the desires of the Spirit. It is always better that we resort to the process of crucifying ourselves first rather than indulge in our passions and later on be crucified for it. It is always better to undergo the pain of loss or of self-denial than to experience sorrows and regrets later on. An example of this is given in  the Old Testament, where Esau sold his birthright just for the sake of food. If he had mortified his desire for food and gone through the pain of hunger, he would have had an eternal reward and not suffered the loss of his birthright. In stark contrast is the well known temptation of Jesus Christ who chose to prolong His suffering of hunger even after forty days of fasting, rather than to give in to the tempter’s enticements to convert stones into bread and eat it. Was it impossible for Jesus to do it? Of course not. He chose rather to suffer and submit Himself to His Heavenly Father, than to yield to Satan’s temptations.

The Book of Hebrews also tells about Moses who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and enjoyed living in Pharaoh’s palace, gratifying his senses and indulging in sinful pleasures. Instead, he chose to go out to his brethren and suffer affliction with them. He esteemed the reproach of Christ much greater than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrew 11:24-26).

The Apostle Paul could confidently say “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). His missionary life for the sake of the Gospel of Christ showed that he had crucified his flesh with it’s passions and it’s desires. He went through the painful process of carrying his cross daily, to give up his Pharisaic pride and to be regarded as the filth of the world (1Cor 4:13). As his old man was crucified with Christ, he was dead to sin and no longer enslaved by it’s sinful desires. He was then fully alive to God and a slave of the Holy Spirit, obeying only His commands.

Every person who sincerely commits His Life to God and receives Jesus as His Saviour has his “old man” crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). His decision to be baptised in water symbolically represents this. However, as he goes through life, it appears sometimes that he is no different from what he was before. His “old man” who was crucified seemed to have been resurrected and come back in his flesh! This born-again person has to be careful to guard himself by watching and praying so that he is not caught unawares. We have to see that once this “old man” is crucified, he continues to remain crucified and hence through prayer, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have to daily undergo the process of crucifying the flesh. We need to take every thought that enters our mind into captivity and be scrutinised by God’s Word, so that our thoughts become conformable to God’s Word, or else carnal thoughts will sink into our hearts causing us to desire carnal things.

Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry by first crucifying His flesh by subjecting it to hunger for forty days. He did not have to. He did not have a sinful nature like ours. He was born of the Holy Spirit, pure and without any stain of sin in his flesh. However, He did this to teach us that we also ought to do the same and so follow in His steps. Prayer and fasting are the ways by which we start crucifying our flesh.

Jesus also said that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it falls and dies it shall bear much fruit. We need to be like this grain of wheat, to die to ourselves in order to be able to bear fruit for God. A Christian life should be a life of self-sacrifice. We must rather forgo going for a footy-match or a movie, than to forgo a meeting of Christian Fellowship or visiting the lonely and afflicted. With such sacrifices, God will be well pleased. We starve off our sensual needs in order to meet our spiritual needs, and so be strengthened in the inner man – our spiritual selves. We can do this only by the power of the Holy Spirit, by walking closely with God as the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:16 – “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”.

The desires of the flesh can indeed be very strong and overpowering, even though they may not be always immoral. Like three of Jesus’ disciples who went with Him to the garden of Gethsemane and fell asleep. It is quite natural to fall asleep when a person is tired. Jesus Himself went to sleep in Simon Peter’s boat in the midst of a storm. Jesus trusted in God who gives sleep to His Beloved. However, when your Lord is suffering you have to suffer with Him and not be enjoying a good sleep.

Friends, let us share in sufferings as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Let us forsake all, for the sake of Christ. If Christ was crucified for us, we ought to be crucified for Him. If He emptied Himself for us we ought to empty ourselves for Him.

Deacon Edwin D’Mello

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 46: What is required in the first commandment? The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Raphael Ng’s father, Winston Selvanayagam, Thomas Tan, & John Tann; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Auntie Oei and others afflicted with viral illness. "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Ps 105:4).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev & Mrs David Koo (Sihanoukville), Cambodian pastors & believers; b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim; e) Church’s 20th Anniversary Celebration; f) Journey mercies - Ps Ki (Adl), Sis Helen & Samantha Heah (Melb) & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl); g) Ps Ki preaching today at Rev John Gross’ church (USA).

Praise and Thank God for – a) BSAG Bible Study, AFG Share & Prayer, & Choir Practices; b) Journey mercies - Ps Ki (USA), Sis Serene Wong (S’pore), Sis Luan Price (Adl), Sis Peng Ha Yeo, Min Yen’s mother and sister (Melb); c) Working Bees yesterday.

Special Item of Prayer: For the LORD to provide $13,635 for Pastor’s car.

Looking Ahead: 20th Anniversary Thanksgiving activities - Praise Night on Sat 3 June at 7:30pm; Thanksgiving Service on 4 June & Thanksgiving Dinner at Citi Zen Restaurant, Sunday, 4 June, at 6 pm. Please purchase your tickets for the dinner places ASAP. 



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041