It has been well said that “the lost need saved, and the saved need delivered;” that is, from our trials! Also that, “the Blood procures pardon from sin; and the Cross procures power over sin.” The power over sin involves the restraint of “the old man” by remaining “crucified” (“is crucified” Rom 6:6). This disallows its “dominion” (v 14) over the saved (which is a promise), in that it cannot cause us to sin “willingly” (Heb 10:26).
Also be it known that the act of “crucifying” is not carried out by the believer but has been established by the Lord’s crucifixion in us (Gal 2:20). Thus, “they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh” (have had the sin nature crucified - Gal 5:24) intends that the sinful nature of our being has been crucified by Christ, which will be progressively manifested in our acts and “conversations.” Same for the “mortifying of your members” (Col 3:5), in which believers have not the power to perform, but is only accomplished “through the Spirit” (Rom 8:13).
How constant Israel’s desire for Egypt’s food! With every difficulty in the way, whenever their soul was discouraged, there was always coupled with it regret for leaving Egypt. This is the sure fruit of the flesh (sin nature—NC), for which no sacrifice nor ordinance has ever been given to meet its deep evil. Transgression, various defilements along the way, all provided for; blood for transgressions, ashes to be sprinkled with running water for the defiled. But nature, the flesh, the root of sin of all, has not yet been the object of any ordinance.
The flesh has broken out now in its worst form (it’s always its worst, most decadent—NC). It is an evil that admits no remedy, it must be destroyed. Sprinkling with ashes of the red heifer, or even blood, does not meet the evil. A pure thing may be defiled and then cleansed, but death is the only thing for the old man. Wash it as you may, it is still flesh, and must be put “off” in death.
This old man cannot be improved, and may be covered to a certain extent by a decent exterior; but there it is, as vile as ever under the covering. To cover is man’s remedy for the evil he knows; it is the religion of the world in its best form. But the Father would not have His saints go through the world, as it were under false pretenses, but teaches us to count it dead, on the ground of our old man crucified with Christ; and, when we take His Word simply and truthfully, He supplies the needed enablement to live in accordance with the standing given to faith working experience in us.
How suited to the truth is the manner of teaching! Sin, tainted nature, nature as it is now in man, is sin. There cannot be greater condemnation of man. Murmuring against God is but the complement of loathing His bread. In judgment the Israelites are bitten by fiery serpents and dying. Fitting symbol of the venom of the old serpent who instilled his poison into the heart and nature of Adam in the garden; which made him not a mere transgressor of a known command, but changed his whole being morally before God.
Adam truly became another man. Death inevitably followed, and the whole world consequently bears its impress. “Sin entered into the world and death by sin.” The connection between sin and death has never been dissolved. If man be sin, how is death to be severed from the believer: Not the blood in the great Day of Atonement, nor the ashes of the heifer; for the one puts away the sins of the flesh, the other cleansed the pilgrim from defilement contracted by the way. But “the flesh”—the old man—remains unchanged, and the righteousness of God demands that flesh should die (eventually annihilated—NC).
How then is a believer saved? To meet this righteous necessity Christ was made to be sin and died, and thus becomes our deliverance from it and its power. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The believer knows no other way of deliverance than death. It is surely by the death of Christ unto sin, but it must be morally as well as judicially accomplished. Sin and death are never severed. It is a wondrous way in which God maintains His Word, and instead of being mere judgment, it becomes one of our greatest blessings.
But being God’s way, it must therefore be the way of faith to us. “Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin” (our reckoning doesn’t make it so but provides for a conscience walk in it—NC). Look at Him who was made sin on the Cross, fully answering for sinful flesh (sinful flesh, e.g. not the body but the nature; the body is never made sin but is used to sin—NC); then in power of that look turn to the old man and with Job after he had seen God, say, “Wherefore I hate and abhor myself” (old self; old man; sinful nature; that which is still in the first Adam opposing the believer—NC). As truly as death is the result of sin, so also is life eternal, life beyond the reach of death, and blessed effect of looking at the Lord Jesus Christ made sin for us. God’s judgement joined death to sin, His grace has joined life to the look of faith.
The manner of Israel’s healing is the foreshadowing of this (Act 2:25; Rom 3:25; Heb 9:15-22—NC). Then it was simply to look at a serpent upon a pole. A look in itself had been nothing; but God now joined healing and life to it; therefore to look is everything. What a lesson of faith is here! All is referred to the power and grace of God of Him Who said, that “every one that is bitten when he looked upon it shall live” (Num 21:8). Blessed testimony of the efficacy of faith and of Christ, Who, lifted up like the brazen serpent, had said “that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jhn 3:16).
Here is a type of Christ, not simply of blood, but of death. It is a question of sin in the flesh (the sinful nature in the soul—NC), not of sins by the activity of the flesh. Blood purges, purges the conscience, but purges us from our sins (not take away the sin nature but knowing we’re never guilty—NC). The flesh, the old man, is never purged, but only condemned. “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (“by the flesh” for there is not sin in the body, it being an object - Rom 8:3). This is not a process in the soul always going on; but it is made experientially true in our growth (“once for all” established - Heb 10:10). The old man has been crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6). The body of sin (sin nature and its members - Col 3:5) is thus annulled. An immense fact for us, effected on the Cross.
Only neither this nor any other blessing is known without faith. Realizing by faith that the flesh (sin nature—NC) was condemned and put to death on the Cross, and practically putting on the new man, is both the privilege and the responsibility of the believer. Death to the flesh (nullifying it’s “dominion” – Ro 6:14—NC), not atonement by the Blood, nor mere cleansing, is the lesson here. It is our identification with Christ on the Cross and proclaims a deeper truth than that typified on the great Day of Atonement (substitution). On that day we saw the Blood that washed away all our sins. It is propitiation. Here in the brazen serpent it is life through death. Christ in “the likeness of sinful flesh” and on the Cross, made sin, and then dying under the judgment of God.
That is, He takes our place, made sin for us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2Co 5:21). That righteousness which we are made is the standing we have in Him before the Father; is it not practically that which believers are when they judge their own flesh with the judgment of God? Condemning it root and branch? I am persuaded we shall never know the blessedness of becoming God’s righteousness in Him until we pass sentence of death upon our old man; for you cannot cleanse sin (only the sinner—NC).
Our souls are forgiven their sins; but that is another thing. Fallen nature is still flesh, and must be condemned to death. The flesh is never cleansed. The Lord Jesus has fully borne the judgment of the flesh. He was lifted up for that very purpose, that we, beholding the judgment of our old man resting upon Him, might be able to say that we died with Him (Col 3:3). As the bitten Israelite looked upon the serpent of brass, and lived, so we look upon the Lord Jesus and in a new life live unto the Father. The question of sin is settled forever.
Excerpt from MJS devotion for March 28:
“I do not think that a petition that misses the mind of God will ever be answered (1 John 5:14). Personally, I feel the need of trusting Him to lead me in prayer as well as in other matters. I find it well to preface prayer not only by meditation but by the definite request that I may be directed into the channels of prayer to which the Holy Spirit is beckoning me (Rom. 8:26, 27).
“When we once have the deep, calm assurance of His will in the matter, we put in our claim, just as a child before his father. A simple request and nothing more. No crying, no beseeching, no wrestling. No second asking, either.” -J.O.F.http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/