Galatians 5:24 “Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”
The New Testament utilizes a variety pictures to illustrate how we deal with the sinful nature warring inside of us. Sometimes the picture is that of taking off dirty, ragged clothes. In one place the picture has to do with throwing out the garbage or shoveling away the manure. In several instances it speaks of putting the sinful nature to death. Here Paul reminds us that our sinful nature has been crucified. All of these things are pictures of repentance. God doesn’t say to the Christian, “Try harder!” He says, “Repent!” And the picture of crucifixion is particularly apt for a number of reasons.
First, crucifixion is something you do to the worst of criminals. It means you have judged the crucificial victim as a horrible, dangerous person. You want nothing to do with him. That is what happens each time we repent of our sins. We no longer see some sin as a good thing we desire. We see it as a crime, and the sinful nature which produced it is a criminal. We find it repulsive and disgusting, and we want nothing to do with it anymore.
Second, crucifixion is a slow, painful way to die. Death doesn’t come in an instant. And the sinful nature which we have crucified hasn’t died immediately, either. It keeps struggling and writhing. We feel the pain as we give up the sins that have captivated us for so long.
Third, crucifixion ends in death. The body of the one crucified is drained of all life and power. Earthly relationships come to an end. The work of our repentance is finished when our sinful nature dies with our body. Then it will finally be drained of every last bit of life and power. Then every last vestige of our relationship with the sinful nature, which we have already condemned as a criminal, will be gone.
Last, crucifixion reminds us of the work Jesus did for us, which is the most important part of winning this war! The message of Jesus’ love for us, dying on the cross to pay for all our sins and rising from the dead to promise us eternal life, sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts. That gives us a new spirit to fight with sin. It makes us different people, people who belong to Jesus Christ. The more we hear about how high and how wide and how deep is the love of Christ, the stronger our faith grows, and the stronger the spirit inside of us becomes. Christ’s love continues to inspire and strengthen our life of love. Living in Jesus’ love is the winning strategy for the inner war we fight in faith each day.