This a sermon transcript preached by Timothy Williams. These were preached many years back, some decades ago. Preacher Timothy Williams is not associated with any church, denomination, or ministry. Blessed are those who love the honey of God’s Word!

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103)

This sermons transcript is located at www.luke1425.org


Sermon Area Basic Introduction

Not Even Death

Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)



On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:7-12)

The sermons normally lasted 45 to 60 but do not grumble that my sermons were long. True by today’s milk toast entertain me Christian standards they are lengthy. But not long when one considers the days are evil and that ignorance floods the church. …making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)


Preach The Word
www.luke1425.org


I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.

What I Mean By Sound Doctrine

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;
correct, rebuke and encourage
with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2)

Audio Sermon Files


 

Dying To Sin, Part 2

This is a Sound Doctrine refreshment series sermon. They are devoted to 2 Peter 1:13.

2 Peter 1:13 – I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,

These publications are not intended to be a deep, detailed study of scripture. Rather they are to refresh those who have already drunk deeply from the well of God’s word. These publications are for those who understand what the crucified life by the power of the Holy Spirit is all about. They are for those who are finding it their joy to hate their own lives and who rejoice in both the pain and the joy of the daily cross. At all times there will be other scriptures which could support a point that is being made, but these publications will not stop to explore those particular scriptures. Rather they are to remind you of what you are already obeying in the Lord and hopefully to increase your work for the Lord. If you do not understand the cross of Christ, then much of what is being explored here will not make sense. These publications do not attempt to increase your head knowledge of the Greek or Hebrew or even the cultural situation of the time. They are about every day obedience and have 1 Corinthians 2:2 as the goal.

1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

This publication is given away for free because Jesus commands all Christians to hate and despise money, which we gladly do.

This is a refreshment series concerning how to be dead to sin.

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

Unless you accept this message, you will go to hell, and you will die in your sin.

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

We have already seen clearly that no one can commit suicide by crucifixion. That is, nobody can deal with their own sin. I cannot deal with my own sin; I cannot convict myself or put to death the sins that are in my life, only the Holy Spirit can do that. In order to be crucified, somebody else has to come along and put you on the cross. In order for sin to be dealt with in your life, somebody else has to come along and put it to death. Of course, that person is the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14 – …because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Again, this is the only true message and only those who overcome and allow the Holy Spirit to put to death the sins in their life belong to Jesus Christ. He made this clear in Luke 9:23-26

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

This passage points out three things we must do. 1. Deny ourselves. 2. Take up our cross. 3. Follow Jesus. A lot of the people only do one or two of the three. In order to be dead to sin we have to deny ourselves. We need the attitude that says, “OK, I will give up everything.” Then we have to pick up the cross that Jesus Christ will give us, which is the cross that will put to death self and flesh. Then we have to follow Jesus Christ. So many individuals try to put to death sins in their life by their own power, or by the design of their own church. That way they can claim to be a Christian and going to heaven yet still keep their sin. We are following Jesus Christ as he is led to be crucified and comparing that to the fact of how we should allow sin to be dealt with in our own lives.

One of the first things that happens when we become convicted and overwhelmed by sin is we run to worldly wisdom. We especially do this in relationship to scripture. We read scripture, look at a commandment and then run to worldly wisdom, our own logic, our pastor’s opinion, or what our church has to say on a matter in order to apply scripture as we see fit. This is especially true when people say things like, “That was a cultural commandment for way back then.” Or if they begin their sentence with, “I think . . . ,” about a certain scripture then you know they are receiving scripture by worldly wisdom. Those who are having their opinions crucified and put to death are a people who are hearing from the Holy Spirit as to what scripture means. I don’t ever have to say, “I think the Greek means this,” or “I think the Hebrew means that,” because I can hear the voice of the Lord tell me what scripture has to say. Of course, this means my opinions and ideas about what scripture means and how it should be applied has to be crucified. So we take all of our wisdom and logic and we begin to try and deal with the sins in our lives. In Luke 22:66-71, we see this taking place.

Luke 22:66 – At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.

We take the word of God, namely Jesus Christ the living word of God, and we come in before the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. Each of us has these three types of people within us: 1. The chief priests who tell us what scripture means. 2. The teachers of the law, who tell us how it should be applied. 3. All the people who decide what Jesus is saying. We see the same thing happening here. The people all get together, they bring the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, they bring Jesus and they are going to decide what Jesus is really saying.

Luke 22:67-69 – “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

Now it’s true that victory is ours in Jesus Christ, but only if we accept this message, and only if we accept this kind of Jesus who bids us to deny ourselves, pick up a cross and follow him. Any other kind of Jesus will not save us from hell or from ourselves. Jesus didn’t come just to deliver us from hell. He came to deliver us from the self that is going to hell. If you do not allow Jesus Christ to put that self to death then he has to send you to hell. But if you die to self, hate your own life and receive the new creation, the new creation gets to go to heaven. It’s really that simple. The question is are you going to accept Jesus Christ for what he says and who he is?

Luke 22:67 – “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,”

There are a lot of people who believe this message is just total foolishness. They will not accept this kind of Jesus.

Luke 22:68 – …and if I asked you, you would not answer.

They will not get into an honest dialogue about what scriptures we should obey and how we should live them by the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed among people we know that are even trying, if they don’t want to deal with sin, they do not talk about it. They are not going to bring it out in the light and discuss it. Even those who seem to be trying will not come into the light. That’s a sign of a sick heart, a weakened heart that’s in danger of being sent to hell.

Luke 22:69 – But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.

This is the power of God. Even Paul said, “This message of the cross is power to us.” To those who are being saved it is the power of God. To those who are perishing it is foolishness.

Luke 22:70-71 – They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.” Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

It’s funny that the very scriptures you use to support why the Holy Spirit leads in a certain way are the very scriptures people use to condemn you. Here Jesus Christ is telling the truth, he’s declaring the fact that he’s the Christ of God, he’s showing the way to life and the power of the Lord and they say, “We don’t need any more testimony. He’s already proven that he’s guilty.” Very often we are accused of being a cult and I’m a cult leader. All kinds of things are said simply because people do not want the cross. So when individuals came along and say, “Do you do this,” we say yes and show them the scriptures to support why, their response is, “We do not need to hear any more testimony, you are worthy to be condemned.” Yet it is the power of God to those who are being saved. So we bring this Jesus in, but we have sin that we don’t really want to deal with so we run off to Pilate, our worldly wisdom. We run off to the way we understand scripture and how we want to apply it. In Luke 23 we see this taking place.

Luke 23:1 – Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.

There’s a whole crowd of Christians who have decided they do not like what Jesus is saying. We bring scriptures to individuals, we show them what the Bible has to say, we tell them how the Holy Spirit will apply it, and they do not like what they hear. So they run off to Pilate, i.e., their reasoning and their logic. They go find other people and say, “Let’s discuss this thing. We do not like the judgmental tone. We do not like the way it’s being said.” They run off to Pilate to get all their logic together. Pilate equals the world. The church runs off to the world. Are you running off to the world? Are you seeking out other people and asking, “They said this scripture needs to be applied, but what do you think?” For instance, it’s very clear in scripture that women are not to preach over men. Yet people run off all the time to get someone else’s opinion or idea about what scripture is saying so they don’t have to live it. They take Jesus before Pilate and, of course, Pilate is eventually going to support what the crowd has to say.

Luke 23:2-4 – And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.” So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

The world has this attitude about everybody’s belief to a certain degree. The average non-religious worldly person says, “If that makes you happy and that’s what you want to believe, that’s fine with me.” Pilate is saying he finds no basis for an accusation. We like to run to that worldly side of us and reason, “This is what I think scripture is saying and this is what I believe.” The Pilate within us will not condemn us, not willingly anyway. We run off to the worldly because they will not condemn what we have to say, what we believe about scripture, or how we apply it.

Luke 23:5 – But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

When religious people that hate the cross of Jesus Christ can’t get the answer they want from the world, they just keep going until they get the answer or the action they want. In the same way, if we are not convinced that we are in sin, we’ll keep talking to all kinds of other people until we get the answer that we want. We will go find the weak or worldly individual in church and talk to them until we get the answer that we desire. We keep going to Pilate, bugging him and asking the same questions trying to get the answer that we want. We see this often in the church when somebody is confronted with sin. They go find the weakest person in the church to discuss it with because they know that person will not deal with them. Or they will go find someone who doesn’t understand the situation or can’t see it clearly at that moment because they want a certain answer from Pilate. So they keep pressing the issue. We too will not rest until we get the answer we want, until this Jesus that is confronting us and saying things that we don’t like is put to death. Are you doing the same thing? Are you listening to sermons or reading certain things and feel God convicting you but you just keep running back to Pilate. Or you turn to your own self until you get the answer you want which gives you a temporary sense of peace and satisfaction. How sad it is in the church when people put down Jesus and finally silence him, and they call that a victory in the Lord.

Luke 23:6 – On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod is the religious side of us. He’s the spiritual leader of the people, so in the same way we go to the spiritual side or religious side of us. We get a little extra quiet time because we are under conviction. The Holy Spirit has shown us sin or a situation has come up that we made a mistake and so we try to buy off God by doing something a little religious. Maybe a longer quiet time, give a little extra money, do a little extra service, be a little nicer to someone we don’t like. We run to Herod.

Luke 23:8-9 – When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

Very often people will see your life, see you carrying the cross, see you being crucified to sin and they want to know what it’s all about. They have some questions they want to ask you, so they ply you with questions. “What if this happens? What if this takes place?” Especially when it comes to hating and despising money, they will say, “You have to have money. What if something happens?” They begin to heap one question upon another question. The problem with religious people is they are not asking from an honest position like Pilate was. Pilate really wanted to know. Herod just wanted to trap and mock. He hated the cross of Jesus Christ. Oh, he loved his Christianity, he loved his religion, he loved his belief in God, he just didn’t like the cross that came to deal with his sin. So Jesus Christ didn’t answer him.

Our religious side comes before God in the prayer closet, and we begin to quote scripture to him. We tell him, “I believe on the blood of Jesus Christ.” When we begin to argue back with scripture to God, he just shuts up. God would rather have an honest dialogue that wrestles with him than to use scripture against him. So many times the Holy Spirit will not let us deal with religious folks, we just get up and walk away. There’s no point in it. They are so self-justified. They are just trying to trap. They do not have an honest desire to know the truth. They do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. “He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.” People who hate the cross always pile on the questions.

Luke 23:10-11 – The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.

Whenever we are in sin and do not want to change, what do we do? We jostle back and forth between our worldly side that reasons and our religious side that wants the answers. Within us we there’s turmoil going on that says, “This just isn’t practical to live,” then the Herod side of us says, “But the scripture is there.” If we can’t live it and we won’t die to the sin we begin to mock and hate those who do live it. You hear this so much when people say, “That’s just being legalistic and judgmental. You don’t understand the mercy or kindness of God.” Because they will not die to their flesh and do what scripture has to say by the power of the Holy Spirit, they begin to ridicule those who do live it. The scriptures are clear and it confronts their Christianity, and so they begin to hate the cross and persecute Jesus. “Dressing him in an elegant robe they sent him back to Pilate.”

We go back and forth until we get a reconciliation. Whenever we are confronted with something we don’t want to give up, we keep wrestling back and forth with the logical side of ourselves and the religious side of ourselves until we can get the two to meet together and become friends. Then we feel justified. We think we have scripture in its proper place, and we have Jesus where he needs to be. Everything is fine and is going along great. That’s exactly what happened with Pilate and Herod.

Luke 23:12 – That day Herod and Pilate became friends―before this they had been enemies.

Many times individuals will come to us and have already justified the sin in their mind and heart. What they have done is reconciled the worldly side of them (the proper words and all the proper logic) with the religious side (scripture and what they believe). So you hear a lot of things like, “That’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is this. . .” They alter their words a little bit getting Pilate to say what they want him to say and then they will say, “Let’s pray about this issue together,” meaning they want to justify their sin. They pull Herod in until they get the two enemies to become friends so they can feel justified. Jesus Christ is waiting for us to shut up so he might crucify us and we can have his new life.

Luke 23:13-15 – Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.”

At this point we are hoping that our worldly wisdom, religious wisdom, our intellect, and all of our strength will find us a way out. We come in before God or the people in the body and we say, “Look, I’ve talked to Herod (my religious side) and I’ve talked to Pilate (my logical wisdom), I’ve got my life together and I can find no basis for sin in my life. What I did was holy and righteous.” The two are friends and they are in agreement.

Luke 23:15 – Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.

In the same way, we come before the people that are confronting and we say, “See God, I am innocent. I didn’t really do it. That’s not what I meant.” We have all of our justifications ready to demonstrate that we really are righteous and holy. We hope all of our worldly maneuvering will justify our unholy life before God. That somehow it will set us free. So many times when you begin to go to the cross and really let God crucify you, people will offer you certain books to read. They say, “Read this book here. It will reveal to you that what you are experiencing is false. What you are allowing God to do to you really isn’t from God. They are trying to bring together worldly logic along with the religious side in order to keep you away from the cross of Jesus Christ and having sin put to death.

Luke 23:16 – Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.

Next we try a little appeasement. We realize we are not winning the people or God over so we say, “Look, if it offends you I will stop doing it. Let’s work out a compromise here.” Or we tell others, “I know that your faith is weak and I just see this in a different light. I will change it for your sake but it’s really not sin.” Others will try to cover up their sin or make it look righteous and holy like they really didn’t commit the sin by saying, “I’ll punish myself a little bit. I’ll repent a little and everything will be fine.” This has happened to us many times. One time we were in Germany preaching the gospel and an individual had committed major sin. Self was being exposed and he didn’t want to deal with it. What he did was talk to someone who knew nothing about the power of the cross, took them upstairs and began to pray with them. He said, “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.” Then they called me upstairs thinking that I was just going to accept the fact that he’s saying he’s sorry. In other words, they thought I was just going to punish him and then release him. “See, I’m broken and humble, now release me.” Of course, we knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that it was just a con game, just as it’s a con game right here.

Luke 23:18 – With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”

This is where most Christians fail. They may get to this point but they do not want to go to the cross and die. They still want to be released and they hope that this union between Herod and Pilate will release them. If it doesn’t work then they just demand to be released. “I will be released. Away with this man, Jesus. Release Barabbas to us.” Many of the believers we know are Barabbases. They are being crucified by God, moving along with the cross, tasting of the joy and the sufferings of Jesus Christ and then they get to a certain point where they have just had enough. They will say things like, “I can’t live like this. I can’t endure this.” They just get weary of what’s going on, and like Barabbas they want to be released. Jesus Christ will never force anyone to be crucified to their sin. This is something that we do by just loving Jesus Christ and submitting to his work, or else we reject him. But he will not force it to happen to you. There will be times where he disciplines you severely, but he will not continue to do that if it becomes evident that you really don’t want the cross of Jesus Christ in your life.

Luke 23:19-20 – (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.

Pilate really wanted to let Jesus Christ go, and there’s a part of us deep inside that knows Jesus Christ is true. We know that the message of the cross is right. Deep inside if we were to admit what’s going on in our hearts we would say, “Yes, that’s really true.” We had one individual leave and say, “The love is there, the peace is there, the sacrifice is there, the truth is there, but there’s just something I don’t like.” What they didn’t like was the cross that brought the love, peace, joy, and sacrifice. Pilate acknowledges, “This is right. I don’t want to crucify this man.” There’s a part of us that knows that Jesus Christ is right, and we are guilty. Instead of sitting down and letting that sink in deep in our hearts and souls, our flesh cries out, “Crucify him,” and we listen to that flesh. Logic (Pilate) tell us that Jesus Christ is innocent, this is the truth, this is the way to life, but our flesh is so strong, powerful and demanding that we want Jesus put to death.

Luke 23:21-23 – But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.

By the time we are this far in our sin we just demand that Jesus Christ be crucified. We demand that the preaching change and the preacher be run out. We want to know what the Greek and Hebrew says, we just demand, we will hear of nothing else except death. Even though Pilate said, “Therefore I will have him punished and release him.” That is not enough!

Luke 23:24 – So Pilate decided to grant their demand.

The worldly side of us just caves in. “OK, fine, if that’s what you want then go for it.” In the same way we look at scripture and what it demands of us, and since we can’t live up to it so we just say, “I’m going to do the best I can.” Then we go on our way. Pilate will always cave into our flesh. That’s what happened in the garden. The serpent came along, and went through a logical explanation with Eve and eventually she just caved in. In the same way, even today if you listen to your worldly, logical side you will never allow the Holy Spirit to put you to death. You will always have a justification and a reason. You will wash your hands and say, “I didn’t want to do it. You demanded of me and I did it.” In the same way people will say, “I didn’t want to commit the sin. I was doing the best that I could. I just couldn’t help myself. The situation forced me to do it. They made me mad. I had a cold. I wasn’t feeling good,” or whatever logic people come up with.

Luke 23:24-25 – So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Most people are at this stage, if they even get this far in dealing with their sin. We just take Jesus Christ and we force him to our will. Whenever we are being convicted of sin, and we are demanding that our flesh be fed or that scripture conform to our idea of things, then God just surrenders us to read the Bible for what we want it to say. God just surrenders us to our will. Our quiet times become what we want them to be. That’s why you find so many people in so many different churches believing whatever they want to believe. That’s why every Sunday school class is a matter of everyone just sharing their opinions. Nobody is hearing from the Lord. Nobody is having their opinions crucified. There’s not the mind of Christ, it’s just 30 people sharing their own opinions about what scripture has to say. If Jesus Christ were to stand in the middle of them and say, “Let me crucify your opinion,” they would say, “No, give us Barabbas. We want to think this.”

Luke 23:25 – He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Is the Jesus you have in your life doing your will or are you doing his will? You might tell me that Jesus is in your life, and sure enough I may agree, “Yes, Jesus is there, but he’s doing your will. You’re not doing his will. He’s there but you are just crucifying him.” In fact, scripture says, “You crucify the Son of God all over again and are in danger of the fires of hell.” Again, Jesus will never force you to go to the cross and die to sin. You can be set free at any moment even while you are on the cross. But because of our sin and our love of ourselves, God just hands Jesus and the Word of God over to us and we conform it to our own will.

Finally, you surrender to the cross. Let’s look at the crucifixion process and how God is going to deal with sin to put it to death. Please understand that everything we’ve looked at so far is not death to sin. It is the process of dying to sin but it’s not the end of actually being dead to sin. What happens is so many people think, “OK, I’m dead. It’s over with. I’ve been convicted. I went through this rationalization and logic. I’ve gone through this pain. I am dead to sin right now.” Being led before Pilate and Herod, going through all of our logical arguments, complaining before the Lord, rationalizing scripture, and complaining to him that the message is too hard is all part of the dying process. Especially when we are baby Christians we go into the prayer closet and say, “I don’t understand this scripture or why you do things this way. Why does your Spirit move in our church this way?” All those questions are there as you wrestle back and forth between Herod and Pilate, but eventually if you keep pressing on you will die. But the wrestling process is not the death. It is only the dying process. It’s part of the crucifixion. Crucifixion again is a very slow process, and you have to learn to submit to God and count it all joy as you go through it. So with every sin it begins this way. It just depends how long it takes.

For instance, let’s say you commit a sin whether small or large and God convicts you of it. The first thing you do is begin to rationalize it in your head. You call up Pilate, “Is this really sin? Is this conviction from the Lord, or Satan or is this just my own mind?” You go through all the analyzing, and the introspection as Pilate does his work. Then you run over to Herod and says, “Herod what do you think,” and he say, “Well, scripture says this. Let’s ask a bunch of questions and analyze this.” Those who are mature in God only analyze for about 1/100ths of a second. Those who are baby Christians and have just been baptized take weeks and months at a time on one little sin. They are stuck in the mud for a long time. They need someone to burp them, change their diaper, and teach them that they are only hurting themselves. Those who are fully mature do not even have a wrestling and debate process. They just listen to what Jesus has to say at the communion table when he says, “This sin is in your heart. This temptation will be coming upon you. You better pray about it.” They respond, “Yes, Lord,” and run right to the cross. Mature Christians have learned to hold onto that cross. But babies in Christ have never tasted this, and so the debate process goes on 100 times a day. Remember it’s a daily cross. It’s a daily denying self and following Jesus. Jesus comes to us 100 different ways on a daily basis and we go through this debating process until we learn that the debating process is not worth going through. It goes on until Pilate and Herod are both crucified in us and they no longer live.

Luke 23:26 – As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Jesus is always leading the way no matter what the situation. It’s interesting that this man is not in front. I would imagine that most prisoners would want to lag behind. They are not in any hurry to get there. But Jesus Christ has found the cross to be a joy, so he’s leading the way. Blessed is the church that has brothers and sisters that will help other individuals carry the cross. There’s no Simon of Cyrene anymore within the church. Everybody wants to pull away the cross. Everybody is saying, “Get off the road. Don’t go up there to die. They do not know the mercy and grace. That’s not where God’s love is. That’s not where faith is. All that stuff comes from the devil.” They keep people from going to the cross to be crucified and put to death. Blessed is the man that God is able to seize and bring into town at just the right moment to help you go to the cross and die. If you have somebody like that in your life and you treasure them, sit at their feet and learn. Come in humble submission and say, “Teach me about the cross.” This is true fellowship when someone will help you carry your cross so you can go die.

What goes on in the church today is someone confesses sin and everyone else says, “You are being too hard on yourself.” When is the last time you heard anybody say, “You are being too easy on yourself. You need to go die now. You need to deal with your flesh and your sin.” Where are the people who will help others carry the cross? Simon is just coming in from the country minding his own business, he doesn’t want to be a part of this in his flesh. They seize him and say, “Here, you help this man carry the cross.” God will send his angels to carry a cross for you if you can’t carry it. God will not take the cross away, he will just enable you to carry it to get to the point of death. In the same way, we may not be able to bear up under the weight of God’s discipline or the foolishness of the sin we committed, and we are weighed down by it. God will always send along help so we might go die. What happens at this point is God sends someone to help us, they pick up the cross and we say, “OK, now I’m free!” Then we scamper off to go do our religious thing. If Jesus Christ would have run off or tried to escape at this point, we wouldn’t be saved. In the same way, if you run off at this point and refuse to allow God to crucify your flesh, you will go to hell. You will not be saved.

Luke 23:26 – As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

If you have a brother or sister like this in your life who is carrying the cross for you to take you to where you will die, thank them. Treasure them in your heart. God has sent a servant to you who truly loves you. A brother or sister who puts their arm around you and pats you on the back to keep you from getting to the cross hates your guts.

Luke 23:27 – A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

Jesus is so dead to self that he’s not in self-pity because of the misery he’s going through. He’s not whining about how tough the Christian life is. You don’t hear Jesus saying, “This is such a hard message, God. How come you are always rebuking me, Lord? How come I have to go through all of this? Isn’t there another way? Is this really the truth? Maybe there’s a different message. Hey Buddha, is there a different way I can live this message and still go to heaven?”

Luke 23:27-28 – A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Look at the faith, trust, and surrender that Jesus had toward God. When we are being disciplined and crucified by God, what do we do? “Oh, brother, pray for me. I am going through such misery. Things are so tough. I am having such a hard time.” We whine, complain, and moan. All we can see is ourselves. Jesus Christ turns and gives them a command, “…do not weep for me.” He is going up to die. This is the attitude that we need to have. We need to know that it’s life we are being drawn to and going up there to die is where we should be. We shouldn’t turn to other people and say, “Please pray for me. I am hurting so bad. I’m going to go die. God’s really dealing with me today. This really hurts. It’s such a powerful message. It’s really coming against my flesh. Would you pray for me.” No, we need to turn to people and say, “Don’t weep for me. You cry for yourself because you won’t go die.”

Luke 23:28 – Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”

You weep because you will not go to the cross and die. Weep for your children whom you are not setting the example for unto life. Weep for the people around you who you are not pointing to the cross where there’s joy and power. Oh, you offer them religion, Christianity, your moping, whining, complaining and flesh, but you do not show them the resurrected life. Why would they ever come to Jesus Christ? Yes, the message of the cross is sorrowful, but we are also always rejoicing. People need to see both. We need to say, “Why are you weeping for me?” Yes, I deny myself, yes I surrender all things, and yes I lose my opinions and my life. I give up all that I am for God, but don’t weep for me. That’s joy for me. This is life for me. Jesus says to weep for themselves and their children who do not know anything about this.

So my attitude toward other people is, “Don’t weep for me! This is life and joy. I do not want to be any other place.” When I was a baby, baby Christian and God first began to work this all in me I used to say to myself, “Man, if this is the good news, I don’t want it and I don’t want to tell other people about it.” I was a sniveling, bratty little baby and I had not found the power or the joy of the cross. But as I still continued to persevere, wait, let God crucify me, confess my sin and humble myself before him I began to say, “Hey, this is power! There is joy here.” Then I began to realize it’s not I who need to weep, it’s others who need to weep because they refuse to allow God to do it. They would rather keep their Baptist religion or their Church of Christ religion or whatever dogma they have, rather than allow the Holy Spirit to deal with them.

Luke 23:28 – Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”

This is our message. This is life. Is this what your life declares? As people see you changing in leaps and bounds, as they see you overflowing with joy and overflowing with the sufferings of Jesus at the same time, do you turn to other people and say, “Weep for yourselves. I am not in any pain even though I am suffering. Even though I am in this pain, I have real joy. Yes, my flesh is crying out, yes my flesh wants to go do all the fun things of the world. No, my flesh doesn’t want to give it up, but I have a death and crucifixion to this flesh working inside of me and it feels good.” Jesus said, “Weep for yourselves and for your children. I have the life. I have God.”

Luke 23:29-31 – For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

Read in the book of Revelation where men will say to the rocks, “Cover us and hide us from the Holy one who is coming.” Jesus Christ is saying, “Unless you live like I live, (and I am going to the cross to die), you will hope the hills will cover you.” This is the message of life. It is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is life to us who are in God. Hatred of our own life, surrender of all aspects to the scriptures and letting God work those scriptures in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, is life. But we live in terrible times when nobody knows what we are talking about, even though they agree with the concept.

2 Timothy 3:1 – But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.

This scripture is not talking about earthquakes, famines, violence, or wars; it is talking about the Christianity of today. It’s talking about the church you go to right now and the type of people with which you fellowship.

2 Timothy 3:2 – People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

Lovers of themselves―this is terrible times. Nobody hates their life, they love themselves and they have self in its “proper place.” Lovers of money―who in your church hates and despises money and how does that come out? Churches are boastful about their numbers and proud about who they are. Christian children are disobedient to their parents. The children in your church look good because there are no rules or parameters.

2 Timothy 3:3 – …without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—

If you doubt any other part of the scripture, don’t doubt this part―people are truly lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Just look through your church bulletin at all the functions. Just go into the Christian bookstores. “Christians” truly are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Even revival meetings are equal to football pump up sessions.

2 Timothy 3:5 – …having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

They claim to be Christians and agree with the message of the cross, but there is no death to self. There is self seeking to live the Christian life, praying, giving, loving others, and quoting scripture but there is no death to self in living out the things of God.

You are getting closer to being crucified, but again it’s not yet at the point where you are dead to sin or a particular sin in your life. There is a general crucifixion to self that takes place where there is a major breaking period. For some people it might take a year or two, with others it might be longer or shorter. But we are also looking at this from an aspect of just little every day sins. I say “little” with quotes around it, because there is no such thing as little sins. Each of us must go through the process of going to the cross, and having the nails put in our hands and feet.

Luke 23:32-34 – Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals―one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

As always with Jesus, he was concerned about others. He’s not whining while he’s on the cross but he’s saying, “Father forgive them, and show them your mercy and grace.” In the same way, as we are being crucified in Christ and God seeks to put us to death, while it’s a painful experience, we should be seeking to bless other people. Jesus sought to bring life to them even though they sought to persecute him because he testified that what they did was evil. Inside his heart his motive was totally love and grace.

Even with this ministry as we proclaim what needs to be changed in people’s lives and how they need to repent, the goal is love, mercy, and grace. People hate it because it means they honestly have to give up their sin on a daily basis and surrender everything. At this point we are being crucified, the nails are in our hands and our feet. God has finally laid hold of us, and we have finally submitted. We have gone through all the things he wants to put us through, whether it be hiding his face or rebuking us to our face, and we have finally submitted to the point that we have allowed God to put the nails in our hands so we can’t run out and go do our own thing. We can no longer pray by folding our hands and looking righteous and holy. The Herod in us is going to be crucified. The nails are put into our feet so we can’t run into our sin or do our own will. The Pilate in us is being crucified. We have been flogged, put to shame, embarrassed, exposed and weakened. All these things have taken place and now we are almost getting to the point of death. The process is beginning to happen, but then the real battle begins. On our left and on our right are two thieves. One is telling us to come down from the cross, the other is saying we deserve it. The battle rages with these two criminals on each side of us. Now let’s keep in mind that as you go to the cross to be crucified, people are going to hate you for it. The world and the worldly will not accept it.

1 Peter 4:4 – They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

Why do they heap abuse on us? Because we won’t join in their dissipation. What is dissipation? The barbecues, waste of time, picnics, weekends, Friday nights, paychecks, and all the worldly activities. We are being crucified to all of those things and so they do not matter. We pay no attention to the TV shows, sports etc., so they heap abuse on us. “How can you live like that?” If you begin to live the gospel, you will understand what 1 Peter 4:4 is saying.

There are a lot of people around Jesus telling him to come down from the cross. They are heaping abuse on Jesus. They are watching him. The two criminals are there, one of whom is telling him to come down from the cross and rescue them.

Luke 23:35 – The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

There will be rulers and people with authority looking at your life and sneering by saying, “How can you live like that. What a waste. How unprofessional.” We certainly have all the passions inside that want to rule us. There are many things that want to rule over us. All those sins are rulers, and what do they begin to do within us? They begin to sneer at us. The flesh begins to cry out. If you let God put the nails in your hands and feet you will feel the flesh sneering at you. It has had its way too long. It has done what it has wanted to do for a long, long time and now it doesn’t appreciate the fact that you are being crucified. If you don’t believe me in this then get down on your knees, fold your hands and say, “God make this a reality in my life, if it be true.” You will sense within you all the rebellion, and all the flesh that wants to do its own thing. You will see all the things that have ruled over you sneering at you. “The people stood watching.” Some people are just examining. Some aspects of yourself are saying, “Hummm, is this really true? Is there really joy at the other end?” You will examine it yourself and test to see if it’s true. Then the sins that rule over you will sneer and say, “This is not going to work. There’s no life in this. It’s not of God.”

Luke 23:35 – The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

People sneer and say, “If you really belong to the King, let’s see you overcome this and find it to be a joy.” Many people sneer at this church because of the message of the cross. “You won’t find very many people who will find this to be a joy.” Of course, they are right but that doesn’t make the message untrue.

Luke 23:36 – The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar

The things that guarded our life like self-justification, white-wash, and the other people who helped make excuses for our sins, the soldiers who protected our sinful ways will mock us and say, “This isn’t going to work. Look how ‘happy’ you are now. Oh, sure, this is really life. Do you really enjoy this now? Are you happy in this new religion? If you are happy that’s fine with me, but I hope you enjoy denying yourself. I hope you like being crucified with Christ.” All the soldiers, people of power and things that protected your sin begin to stand up, mock, and say, “Let’s see if you really do love God. Let’s see if you really like this.” In fact they will say, “Come on down from the cross. You can love God some other way.”

Luke 23:37 – …and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

 

Constantly over and over again there are multitudes of people saying, “Save yourself from this cross.” Often other people will ask you, “How many other people go to this church? How many other people live like you do? Do you know anybody else who lives like this?” People will say these things to you because the vast majority of individuals do not live like this nor do they want any part of it. In fact, they actively work against it. So in the same way we see groups of people standing around Jesus watching him be crucified saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” In other words, if you belong to God be happy. They are just making fun of him. They are mocking him.

Luke 23:38 – There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

God already has his notice out where everybody can see it. Have you ever stopped to think that everyone reads the same Bible. Then why doesn’t everyone come to the same conclusion? Why isn’t the same death to self taking place in everyone? Why are there so many different opinions within the church? Men won’t allow God to crucify their opinions. Nevertheless, the word is clear. This is the king of the Jews. This is the power of God. This is where the life is.

Luke 23:39 – One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

The vast majority of individuals do not even make it to the cross. Most of you are just the crowd, or the soldiers, or guards, or the people who just reject the message of the cross in general. You mock it and make fun of it. You won’t have any part of it and won’t even get involved. There is another group of people that go through this whole process of getting all the way up to be crucified with Jesus Christ, putting the nails in the hands and feet, but then they begin to hurl insults at Jesus. We’ve had people who have been with us for years who get all the way to the cross with the nails in their hands and feet, they are up there dying with Jesus Christ, and finally they snap and say it is enough. They begin the hurl insults at the message. There are other individuals that go through all the pain and suffering but they don’t go on to die. Yet, do you know what they will do? They’ll look at themselves and say they are with Jesus Christ because they have nails in their hands and feet. “I’ve been flogged, beaten and received the crowns of thorns. I’ve been mocked. I went through the town. All these things happened to me and I’m being crucified with Christ.” Do you realize that this bad criminal could testify honestly,”I’ve been crucified with Christ,” but he’s in hell. He’s in hell! Yet, it is true that he was crucified, right there with Christ. How many people do we know are being crucified Jesus Christ is doing the crucifixion but they just will not die! They will not give up self. How sinister self is that while it is up there dying, if it doesn’t want to die and surrender to God it begins to justify itself. Self begins to say,” I’m going through all these trials and have surrendered and given up all these things. I’ve confessed sin, prayed in the spirit, and I am being crucified. See the pain, the suffering, and my weeping over my sins? See how I fast and pray about them. See God’s discipline on me?” You have to admit that all these things are true. Everything is taking place, yet while they are up on the cross they will not submit to God’s will. They never die to their flesh. It’s not just suffering, it’s not just about going through some painful processes. It’s just not about giving up things. It’s about becoming dead to sin. Are you being crucified with Christ and dying? Is the new creation just not there, yet you are going through all the motions of being crucified? Then you’re just hurling insults at Jesus Christ. All of this is foolishness to a lot of people. To one person it is the smell of death and to the other it is the smell of life. To live a life of no self-esteem, total weakness, asking what God’s will is in every second of every day as to when to eat, when to get up, what to say, and where to go is considered foolishness to most people.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 – For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

When you walk into a room and you’re being crucified with Christ to some people you smell like life. They’ll say there’s something different, something real, and something honest there. Other people will not like you. They will think something is wrong with you and you haven’t said anything. You’re just smelling like Jesus Christ. Are you submitting to the Lord unto death?

Luke 23:40 – But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?”

Here’s a man that is going to submit to God’s will unto death and unto life. True, the other criminal will die. You will die also. You might hang on the cross all your life saying you’re being crucified with Christ yet still go to hell because you never let God crucify self unto death. You never submitted. You never surrendered. You never gave it all up. You hung on the cross hoping that somehow God was going to agree with you to work what you wanted and to bless you in a certain way. Just listen to pastors as they preach. It’s constantly I, I, I. Everything centers around them. They talk about the cross and being crucified, but they don’t die. We know individuals right now that are being crucified with Christ but behind everything they do there is a selfish motive or something self wants out of the deal. Oh, they hang up on the cross because they want to go to heaven. They hang on the cross because they don’t know where else to go. They hang on the cross hoping that somehow God will be impressed with their pain, suffering, and their sacrifice and let them into heaven. But not so the other criminal. He’s not trying to impress anyone. He knows that he deserves death. So they both die but one dies by submission to God’s will and the other submits only to his will and dies in his rebellion.

Luke 23:41 – We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.

This is the beginning of the death throes. We finally reach a place where we say “You’re right God. I sinned.” If Peter would have started here and remained on the cross, if he had daily picked up that cross when Jesus said, “You’ll deny me three times.” he could have said, “Yes Lord,” and gone on to die. He could have skipped the whole process because he was already on the cross and he was staying there. That is why scripture says let us stay in step with the Spirit. Once you get to this place of hanging on the cross, don’t get back down. Remember that Paul said we always carry around the death of Jesus Christ that we may also have his life. How many of you get to this point, having experienced the suffering of repentance and then say, “Phew! It’s over with.” and you get down from the cross and run off on your merry religious way. Then of course, we catch up with you later and point out the sins and the self that you’re in and how you’re indulging yourself. So you have to go through the whole process again; Pilate and Herod, being flogged, all the debates back and forth, walking through town, going on up the hill, having the nails put in all over again. It becomes much more difficult each time you go through the process and eventually most people just quit and give up. They don’t want to go through this again. That’s why we have to stay in step with the Spirit.

Luke 23:41 – We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.

Let us stay on the cross. Listen to what Jesus has to say and let your response be, “He is right and I am wrong. He is justified and I am not.” Let this happen on a daily and hourly basis. Let this pain, this embarrassment, this nakedness be yours. Remember when you’re being crucified you’re naked up there. Everyone can see who you are. You can see who you are. All your bones stick out. Everything is exposed. Nothing is hidden. It’s called walking in the light.

Luke 23:42 – Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

That’s the only “Believer’s prayer” in scripture. This is the only place where someone can “Ask Jesus in their heart.” This is the only place where anyone is privileged enough to ask this question.

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

This is man is asking Jesus to put to death his sin, to forgive him, to do all that the cross entails and to remember him in his kingdom. If you will get on the cross and hang there like this, then everyday, every hour and every second, while you’re asleep or when you’re awake, you can say to Jesus “Remember me.” You will hear Jesus say this to you:

Luke 23:43 – Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

You will begin to taste of this paradise. You don’t find joy in the cross because you won’t submit. You won’t say, “Yes, Lord. I deserve this.” What you’re saying is, “God, deliver me from this cross. Look God, see how I confessed my sin. See how I’m in the open. Now take me down! Get me down from this cross, God. Let me hear a different message. See how much I give, pray, and serve? OK, God I’ve been on the cross all this week, now set me down and tell me nice things. Tell me things of heaven” Do you realize that Jesus promises him paradise, but he doesn’t take him down from the cross? This man is content enough just to be with Jesus Christ. He’ll endure and put up with anything, even death on a cross in order to be with Jesus in paradise.

In the same way, if we want God to put the deathblows to our sin, then we have to say, “Yes, Lord.” We have to submit to it and we have to say “Just remember me. I don’t want anything from you. I don’t want you to answer any of my prayers. I don’t want you to do anything that I want to do. I want to hate my own life and follow you.” Then we will hear Jesus say, “You’ll be with me in paradise.” People don’t walk around with the joy because they won’t continue to hang on the cross. We always carry in our bodies the death of Jesus that we might have his life. If this man would have gotten down off this cross and said, “Jesus promised that I would be in paradise with him. He loves me.” and walked away from the cross, he’d have gone to hell. But that’s our idea of the good news. Admit it, isn’t that your idea of the good news? “Just take me down off this cross. Let me go back to sleep. Let me do what I’ve been doing. Let me please my flesh and go to heaven. I don’t want to be up on this cross dying. I don’t want my sin put to death. I don’t want to be changed. I don’t want to become a different person.” That’s our idea of paradise.

Jesus’ idea of paradise is dying on the cross himself, going through all the weakness and shame, and desiring his followers to do the same. Is that the kind of Jesus you worship? Is that the kind of church that you go to? Will you go to a church that has this kind of weakness and shame and call it good news? How many of you will hang on a cross and say this is good news? You can tell by how much you’re honestly changing and how much you really have the new life within you. Now you notice the criminal begins with the statement, “Don’t you fear God?” How little fear there is of God in the church today. Oh, we make it sound noble. Someone will say, “You guys really need to hear God” and we’ll say, “Well, the kind of fear it’s talking about is a respectful fear. It’s more like a father to a son.” This man is fearful knowing that Jesus can send him to hell and he deserves what he is going to get. To work out your salvation with fear and trembling also means you fear the God that can send you to hell. He is awesome in power. It is both types. It is a respect for who He is and is a father-son relationship. But, it is also a fear that this is a God who is Holy and righteous and can send people to hell. We rob them of this fear and therefore they never ask Jesus for mercy.

One has to love this good criminal’s few words. He just says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He’s not full of all kinds of long-winded speeches about, “You know I really see my sin, and I really see what I did over here. God, I really dealt with this sin. I tried to find a way out and I’ve really been struggling. Jesus, let me tell you about my life and what I’ve been through and how I’ve tried all these different religions. Jesus you know I was a criminal, but it was because my parents didn’t raise me right and the society I live in. I really didn’t want to steal. I really wanted to find a job, but there just weren’t any jobs to be had.” He just says, “I deserve what I’m going to get and remember me.”

Isaiah 30:15 – This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

The other criminal heaps on the abuse and piles him with all kinds of insults. He hates the message of the cross; dying to self and hating his own life. Are you going to get all this way and become the bad criminal complaining about the message and refusing to die? Are you going to get all the way up on that cross and refuse to submit to God and die in the Lord? Oh, you’ll die anyway, that’s guaranteed. Just think, this criminal could say he died in Christ. Yes, he did. But he didn’t die according to God’s will. How many of you are denying yourself, carrying a cross, but not following Jesus? Oh, you deny yourself well enough and sacrifice yourself to many things in the Lord. You do a lot of projects and a lot of serving and giving. You deny yourself a lot of activities and things that you could do and want to do but it’s not from following Jesus. You’re not on a cross being crucified next to Jesus and submitting to his will. You’re on the cross dying because you know that’s what you need to do be a Christian and to look good to other people. Well Jesus is going to come along and he’s going to deal with you.

Right now, Jesus doesn’t even answer this man. Does Jesus answer and rebuke the bad criminal? He just lets him heap abuse on while he gives his time and attention to those with good hearts. So why can’t you truly hear God’s voice? Why should he talk to you? By your life and actions you prove you don’t want the message of the cross. You demonstrate that you’re only heaping on abuse and insults. Why should he turn and give you attention? Why should he turn and give you an answer? Why should you hear God’s voice clearly? Jesus is not going to talk to this bad criminal and he’s not going to talk to you. Not until you say, “I deserve this.” and let that sink down deep in your heart by the power of the Spirit. Not until you begin to say, “Thy will be done.” Not until you die according to God’s will.

Which criminal are you? Are you the criminal that sees his deeds clearly for what they are? Do you long to be put to death so that you might have the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or are you the criminal who heaps insults on the man who can bring him life? Again, death isn’t there yet. The criminal is still hanging on the cross. So don’t think it’s over with yet. When you think God has dealt with you severely, hang on, because He hasn’t even got started. I can’t tell you the number of people who have said, “Oh, God’s really dealt with me on that.” And he hasn’t even begun. The first little insult, the first little flogging (if they even get that far) they consider the toughest thing in Jesus Christ. We’re talking about some major pain. We’re talking about suffering that you could not endure unless God gave you the strength, and unless he sent someone to help you carry the cross. Things are going to get dark while you hang on that cross. God will bring death when he sees fit, and when it is proper for you. If God were to let you off that cross before there’s death, self will come alive again, you’ll miss all the glory and you’ll wind up in hell.

Hebrews 12:11 – No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.

There is a lot of pain to seeing sin, confessing sin, and not doing what you want to do. Denying self and hating your own life on to the point of death is a painful process. To sit there and to have told the criminal or Jesus, “Hey, that’s not really pain or suffering” would have been mockery.

Hebrews 12:11 – No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Notice the qualification again. The only way you get the righteousness and the peace that you say you want is to be trained by discipline. Once again, we have to point back to the wicked criminal that did not repent. He died with Christ but he did not die to sin. The good criminal died with Christ and so was dead with sin because he submitted to the Lord. Are you being trained by the discipline or do you have to go through the disciplines over and over and over again? Is this a new thing to you every day? Is this a new thing to you every week or every year? If it is, then you’ve gotten down off the cross. This is a place that we go to and we never leave until we enter glory.

Hebrews 12:11 – Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

While the good thief is hanging up on the cross, he still doesn’t have a harvest of righteousness and peace at that moment. Even Jesus is not full of peace. He’s not overflowing with all kinds of joy. Indeed, as he takes on our sin, he’s not even full of righteousness. He is of course himself, but we’re talking about Him being in our place. It is a painful place to be. But later on, those who submit to it, those who say, “Yes, Lord,” all the way through all of this will receive a harvest of righteousness and peace. So you’re going to have to make up your mind right now that you’re going to go through an awful lot of pain. There is joy in this message and life in it even now. Partake of this joy, but at the time when the discipline first started, there was no joy in it, as I’ve already told you. But I always continue to carry this pain so I can also carry his life.

Hebrews 12:13-14 – “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

What do we see in the life of Jesus? As he’s being crucified he’s concerned about other people. As he’s praying in the garden he’s concerned about the disciples. As he’s hanging on the cross he can still minister to the thief next to him. It’s hard to live at peace and in peace while you’re being crucified. It’s so painful, it’s difficult and causes you to hit your knees and be weak, humble, and dependent upon God. But we are to strengthen our feeble arms and our weak knees to make level paths for our feet so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed. But all a wicked thief can see is he is being crucified. That’s all he can see. That’s all he cares about is the pain he’s going through. But true lovers of God endure the pain while they minister to other people. This is exactly what Paul means in the following scripture.

2 Corinthians 4:12 – So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

That’s the rule of thumb. As death is at work in us, life is at work in other people. Just as it is with Jesus, so it will be with his disciples. Are you making level paths for feet? Are you strengthening yourself? Are you realizing that this is good news?

Hebrews 12:14 – Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Again the wicked thief dies, but he dies in his unholiness. The other thief dies to his sin. He knows he’s getting what he deserves. God brings the deathblows into his life and he dies in the holiness of Jesus Christ. His life is honestly going to be changed. He’s going to be a different man. As God begins to work this within a body that is crying out for it, they’re going to have a hard time keeping the peace. There’s a lot of pressure just to live the Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit and then to be crucified with Christ creates even more pressure. Loving one another is still more. I could go on and on about what he means to fellowship in a true church, not the socializing you see going on that people call church. When holiness is required, peace has to be sought after because everyone’s flesh is being crucified the temptation is to give out under the weight of it. When the cross is laid out on your back and the nails are put in, it hurts, and the temptation is to become irritable and hate it. But then no one else is made well. All you can focus on is yourself. Oh for a church where people are living in peace and the holiness of God is present.

Luke 23:44-46 – It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land. Six, of course, being man’s hours. You’re at the height of your sin. The sun stopped shining and everything is clouded over. There’s complete darkness. You see your sin and you know you have gotten what you deserve as God hides his face. He disciplines you. The deathblows are coming. You’re going to be crucified, but at the very same time the doors of the temple are thrown open. God’s promises are all there. Life is there. No it’s not a pleasant situation. No discipline is pleasant at the time, but there is life.

Verse 45 says the sun stopped shining. The curtain of the temple was torn in two and Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Darkness finally sweeps over us, and we drop to our knees. We finally surrender everything in our hearts and our spirits. The sun stops shining. Everything outward in this world comes to a crashing close. The sun, the light that you used to justify your life. The little rays of hope that you keep inside hoping that you’re doing okay in Jesus Christ; the light of your false justifications, your self-righteousness, and your works. Now darkness is in your heart, spirit, mind, and soul and the deathblow has been dealt to your sin.

You’ve finally let go of all excuses―every single one of them. Every justification, long-winded speech and prayer, scripture that you have held on to, promises that you think are yours, every Pilate part of you that has reasoned yourself to be okay or the religious part of you (Herod) that has claimed something to be yours in Christ that wasn’t yours yet all come to a crashing halt. The sun stops shining. The sinful wickedness and power within you has stopped. When that stops, when death comes, when you have given up the sin and it has done its work, guess what happens? The curtain of the temple is torn in two. The way is now open to go into the Holy of Holies. Now you can walk about in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Again this can be applied to the smallest or largest of sins. Once you’ve gone through the initial large breaking process of getting yourself on the cross, don’t come back down. Stay up there. Always carry around that death. When Jesus says to you , “There is sin here and this has to be changed,” you can say, “Yes, Lord” and go right into the Holy of Holies. The curtain of the temple was torn in two all because Jesus submitted. Verse 46 says Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he said this he breathed his last. When you say this with a loud voice, no more of this whispering in corners, you will be dead to your sins. Yes, people are going to mock you because you’re on the cross. You played the game when you did a little bit of God’s will, but then you stopped because the world thought you looked funny. Or you didn’t like this particular scripture, so you didn’t quite apply it. You had your little bit of reserve back here. You were not loudly saying with your voice, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” When you finally reach the place where darkness has covered you and sin is revealed in you life you will cry out, “OK God, I’ll do your will. All my excuses are now in darkness. They’re now being put to death. All my compromise to the word of the Lord and the scriptures I don’t want to apply to my life or to my neighbor, or to my congregation, I let you crucify. Instead now with a loud voice I tell everyone, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’” And when he said this he breathed his last. One thing about the cross is that God will not leave you up there to suffer with a sin any longer than is necessary.

Mark 15:44 – Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.

Pilate was surprised to hear that this death to self was so quick and rapid. Let me ask you a question. Why are you taking so long to die to self and be changed? Why does it take so long for you to change and become dead to self and really get on with growing in Jesus Christ? If Pilate was surprised at how quick this was then why aren’t you changing? Why is the world seeing Christians taking so long to be different? Why do Christians have to drive around with bumper stickers saying “Christians aren’t perfect, they’re just forgiven”? Why do people see our lives and see hypocrisy, compromise? Why can they see us for the liars we really are? Can’t we ask God to bring a surprise to the world and show them how quick we can be dead to self? God doesn’t want to leave you up on the cross in the misery any more than he has to. The problem is you force him to do it. God wants to get this over quick. Don’t you think he wants you to be righteous so you can fellowship with him?

Lamentations 3:32-33 – Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

God does not willingly leave you up on the cross just because He has nothing else to do. Oh that we would submit to God and quickly die to sin. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Let the world be surprised to see a group of Christians quickly dying to the pleasures and fun and the flesh.

Luke 23:47-49 – The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The world will be amazed when we finally let go and die and surrender everything to God. Some will say, “Truly he was a righteous man.” The Centurion, the man of standing, will see and praise God. Others will beat their breasts saying, “I was wrong. I don’t want to message of the cross, but I was wrong.” Those who know and love Jesus Christ will watch and see how you die to yourself allowing God to crucify you. They may stand at a distance as you go through the process, but someday some of those people may be true lovers of God. Then they’ll follow Jesus to the same place. Which thief are you?

End of part 2

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

 


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