Christ, Christian Life

Stealing Christ’s Identity

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We have not been delivered from the world or ourselves as long as we continue to interpret Calvary as to how it will benefit us. ~ Fromke

Identity Theft

I am not sure if you’ve ever had your identity stolen. I have about three times in my life, and it is not fun. All the times, so far, were when someone had stolen my card number and made purchases with my money. They used my identity, took what did not belong to them, and used it however they saw fit. Identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent today. It is so prevalent that even Christ is having His identity stolen. Somebody is trying to steal Christ’s identity, and that somebody is all too crafty. He has taken a lie and wrapped some truth around it so that he can deceive the Lord’s people about who they are because of Christ.

You can ask anyone who knows me, I’ll be the first to tell you and remind you who you are in Christ. But lately, it saddens me to do so. I am saddened to see Christ’s identity separated from Him and His cross. This idea of having Christ’s identity apart from the cross is dangerous. This new thinking that “I just need to awaken and accept who I am in Christ, and I can have all this without the daily application of the cross” is a lie. To think the cross was only something that happened 2000 years ago, and it is not still needed today, goes against the very nature of Christ. We have not so learned who we truly are in Christ. This new cross-less Christ doctrine will find ground in those who have resisted, and continue to resist, the cross in their lives. It is coming to the surface to purify His people, to test them. It will test those who continually say, “I’m not ready for that path, I want the life, and all that comes with it, but not the cross.”

Taking Christ’s identity, then claiming it as our own without the cross, is identity theft. It is not your identity; it’s Christ’s, and you cannot take it and do with it as you will. We cannot use divine life to meet our needs. We need to remember that anything of Christ’s is unsafe in our hands without the daily practical application of the cross. We cannot have Christ apart from His cross. We cannot segment out our Lord, butchering Him to pieces, taking only the parts that appease our flesh – like His identity. This is religion all over again, saying I can have and do something apart from the complete person of Christ.

The cross is a part of His identity. The cross is a person; it is Jesus Christ Himself. It is a part of His nature. He is always laying down his life, even today. The cross is only a shadow of the reality of who Christ is; one who is always laying down His life for another. So if this is a part of His identity, then it is a part of our identity, too. We daily lay down our soul-life for His life to be known and expressed. We have NOTHING that belongs to Christ without the cross. The cross is the key to all of who Christ is for us today. There is no way around the cross.

The Work and the Way of the Cross

A couple of things need to be cleared up: the idea of dying to self or losing your life, and the difference between the work of the cross and way of the cross. The work and way of the cross are two different aspects of the same person – Christ. Christ displayed both the way of the cross and the work of the cross for us.

If we are seeing Calvary as only something that happened 2000 years ago then we have made it a thing and are missing out on the other half of the treasure. The cross is a person, and He is Jesus Christ. The truth is the work of the cross destroyed everything of the old creation like the old man, the power of the flesh, and our sinful nature, and we are now a new creation in and because of Christ. But there is more, so much more, to the cross.

In Devern Fromke’s book, The Ultimate Intention, he makes a beautiful distinction between the two works of the cross;

The WORK of the cross is experienced by the old Adam. But the new man in Christ is called to embrace the WAY of the cross. The new man is always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.

When we look at what happened on Calvary as the only glorious thing that happened when it comes to the cross, we are missing what came first, which was the way of the cross. The way of the cross was revealed to us, in the life of Jesus, before the work of the cross. Christ didn’t just start laying down his life when he came to earth though; he started laying down his life in eternity past, it is all he knows. He is known as the lamb slain BEFORE the foundations of the world, before all things were created. What Christ displayed on earth leading up to the work of the cross was the way of the cross. He displayed the relationship of the Godhead, which is one of laying down one’s life. The way of the cross expresses the nature of Christ which is always laying down His life for His Father.

In the way of the cross, Jesus chose to leave everything He knew and all He had in heaven like His Father, His glory, his High place, His comfort, and He emptied Himself, becoming a bond-servant in the likeness of man. The Cross pierced time and space so we could know the Father and be brought into the relationship. Jesus was indwelt by his Father – remember, all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in Christ. While Jesus was here, He made a choice to constrain Himself to do only His Father’s will and not His own. Jesus could not say or do anything except only what the Father was telling Him to say and do. What a constraint to the human flesh. Jesus was showing what it looks like to live by the life another person, because we would, one day real soon, as the ecclesia, be indwelt by Christ and given a choice.

Jesus also poured Himself into His disciples, imparting and displaying to them a relationship of laying down one’s life for another. His will was tested at every point – whose will would He choose, His own or the Father’s? Even when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He denied Himself and all that Satan was offering, for He knew His Father’s will. Jesus felt tired, hungry, rejected at every turn, and humiliated repeatedly because He chose to lay down His life for the Father’s will to be known. In the garden we see a beautiful scene, Jesus forsaking His will for His Father’s. We read how agonizing this was for Him, that He was sweating blood. He even says, “Not my will but yours be done.” All of us who believe are very thankful and benefited that Christ decided to lay down what He wanted for what the Father wanted. We, as the old Adam, have no part in the work of the cross but only to accept by faith all that it destroyed and created anew for those who believe.

For the new man, the way of the cross is the power needed to express the very nature of Christ. You will never be able to express Christ’s identity without the way of the cross. You can do nothing apart from Christ and His cross. Jesus tells us this Himself. He couldn’t either, so why do we think we can? If we think we can, then that sounds like another life that got us into trouble before. Do not fall into deception.

Applying Christ’s Identity

So what does the way of the cross look like for the New Man? To lay down one’s own life looks like losing, denying the rights to your life. Your life is no longer yours to do what you want. To lose or deny your life means to lose your soul-life. Your soul-life consists of your will, your mind, and your emotions. You lay down and deny your will, the way you think things should go or be. You lay down and deny your mind, which are your thoughts and understanding of things, people, and circumstances. You lay down and deny your emotions, how you feel about things and people. You lay these down not be void of them, but so you can make room for another life. For the new man there is a completely other person living within his rib cage now. This other person is Christ Himself, and He has his own will, mind and emotions. The way of the cross is to lay down my life which consists of my will, my thoughts and understanding of things, along with my emotions, to give way to this other person living in and through me. By this, our soul – our mind, will, and emotions – are transformed more and more into the image of Christ. This becomes very practical in the life of the New Man, and it is a daily thing to lay down my soul-life so that I can live by another life, Christ’s life.

We have a choice: He never makes us lay down our will, mind, and emotions. We freely choose just as He freely chose. Do not be deceived. Remember, the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, transformed, it is the power of God. Every time we lay down our soul-life for Christ’s life we are being saved – aka our soul is being transformed from our image to the expression and image of Christ. Oh, our souls long and groan for this transformation which will only come by the way of the cross. We have a Lord who longs to share His identity, which includes His sufferings, with us. He shares His identity by the way of the Cross. Let us be a people of the Cross. Let us embrace His complete identity.

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11 Comment

  1. Reply
    Kenneth Dawson
    June 4, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    That has been my experience–you start your new life in Christ by the cross and you live this new way into His life in union with your life and don’t forget the cross–and remember the throne too.

  2. Reply
    Steve
    June 5, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Excellent post Carrie. And, a good summary of Fromke’s points from a great book. I don’t think most people want really want life. They want forgiveness or the assuaging of guilt. They only want Jesus as the propitiation for sin. Just forgive me already so I can get to heaven. (At least that’s what they’ve been taught). So, they are comfortable with only the work of the cross. Once they have accepted the work of the cross, they are good. But, I think people largely have this viewpoint because the cross gets a lot of coverage while very few talk about the resurrection. That I think is the real problem. Think about how Christians approach evangelism – “Do you know Jesus died for you?” When does it get to the second part – Jesus conquered death and is alive right now, interceding for you before the Father, so that you can live NOW. The resurrection is present. Jesus IS the resurrection.

    1. Reply
      Carrie Walters
      June 5, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting on this post you bring up some great points. Also, this comment is long but I want to bring some balance to the post. I do think people can be tired of hearing the cross only in light of their sins. I think they should be because our Christ is so much bigger than any of us have ever been taught or imagined. Even the cross of Calvary has been separated out as a thing and detached from the larger eternal purpose of God. He never meant for his people to sit in guilt and commendation over their sins or sinful nature and having this poor me mentality. We have no idea who we are and who is living within us. No wonder some Christians and the world are disillusioned with Christ. When anything is centered around mans needs then it is very limiting and unattractive. God has a larger purpose than just saving us from ourselves, He is after something more and it is for Himself. I agree with you that very little is spoken about the resurrection life but I think more is lacking on how to experience this part of Christ. He said I am the resurrection AND the life. I am a complete savior. People may not know that our Christ thought of everything when executing His eternal plan. In light of the post, there is balance; we cannot fall off on one side of the horse or the other. We cannot speak of only the way of cross without the glorious resurrection life on the other side. We need both the way of cross which leads to resurrection and the life. The way of the cross is always unto to something more, which is the increase of Christ. I must become less, so He can increase. It was the same for Christ. He had to give up his will, die on a cross to be resurrected on the other side of death so he could be resurrection and life for all. He is the grain of wheat, dying so he could bring many into Himself and Him in them. We as believers will experience the same cross because the cross is a person living inside of us. We have a savior who knows how to lay down His life living inside us, now, today, at this very moment, WOW. He even wants to do HIS life for us. The law says you do all for yourself and Grace says all is done for you. He so loves us that He provides Himself, His life and Power, as the means and strength of walking out all that we are asked to do and be. For some people coming into a bigger Christ, it will take them denying their soul life, which is their mind, will and emotions to accept for example, that they are Holy, blameless before God and that He is completely pleased with them because God is pleased with His Son and they are in His Son. That is entering into the rest for the soul.

      For example a believer might say, Well I don’t feel very holy or blameless, I don’t understand it, I still do this thing or that, so it cannot be true. Just because my mind and feelings don’t comprehend truth and reality of what God says does not make it any less true. It just means we can miss out on the enjoyment of Christ by letting our mind will and emotions dictate truth and reality. There was a recent post on this blog, about riding a backward bicycle, that explains this more.
      So it is at that point the way of the cross is presented to us as an opportunity to deny our understanding of holiness, our feelings of holiness, and our will. In this case the will can chose its reality of holiness based off of it’s feelings and understanding or Christ’s reality. They way of cross points us to what Christ is and the takes our focus off us. We are encouraged behold Christ not ourselves.
      The way of the cross comes in and says “look I don’t understand it and I don’t feel holy and blameless but I will yield my will to chose what the Lord says I am because of Christ and that is the point we can experience resurrection and life. Resurrection is the power transform and renew us and the life experienced in this example is, Christ’s Holiness. Christ allows us to experience His Holiness as our holiness then we are able to know the person of Resurrection and the Life. Our Christ is so enormous, that this is just one example that I have experienced in the way to the cross, which has to do with our Identity. Resurrection life taste so sweet and is worth bearing the way of cross. I have experienced this over and over in my life and I can say that every opportunity of choosing the way of cross has been worth the Resurrection and life on the other side. We need each other to remind us that it’s worth it.

  3. Reply
    Tim
    June 7, 2015 at 10:32 am

    WOW Carrie. Thank you for unfolding those thoughts. You sparked a picture to come to mind while reading your “balance” comment: Tying the thought of two pictures/elements of his creation to show him and his balance. One… of a tree being the one of the most most proliferated picture in the earth of the trinity and then two… thinking of how the tilt of the earth (23 degrees) against the solar ecliptic provides a balanced picture of the life of Him (happening inside of us in different phases and proportions across the daily landscape of our lives …all the time) as graphically presented through the seasonal changes of the earth’s motion against the sun’s ecliptic:

    The CROSS: The winter season of the tree going into rest (a picture of him as the cross: the “death” of the leaves, the retreating/withdrawing of the sap (going down into the trunk and roots (buried underground) (“why have you forsaken me?” (sap a picture of the power/flow of the HS)), the “nakedness” of the branches, the colorless/lifeless landscape, extended darkness hours, …. and more….

    The RESURRECTION: The spring season (a picture of him as resurrection and new life) when the sap begins to flow up through the trunk (when the sugars/energy are the sweetest (maple syrup is harvested then)( your comment:”Resurrection life tastes so sweet and is worth bearing the way of cross.”), the leaves bud forth to clothe the tree in the ability to receive/convert energy from the sun, … and more…

    The MATURATION: The summer season when the life of the tree is enlarging and growing, each branch being formed deeper into the flow converting more and more of the light energy into meaningful Treasures for the life of the tree (body life)… and more…

    The GLORY: And then the fall season of harvest when the, as Milt calls them, “life-pods” (fruit/nuts/etc) are presenting the glory of the tree, the abundant supply, …for the eating, and the drinking, and the resting …in Him. (Body life) Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s what he’s after. That’s his/our story… in balance

    At least that’s the picture your comments sparked in me anyway. Thank you for that.

  4. Reply
    Steve
    June 7, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Tim – that’s good stuff there.

    It reminds me of what God showed me years ago that the purest water you will find on earth is inside a piece of fruit. The leaves of the tree takes in light from the sun and carbon dioxide from the air. The root of the tree pulls in the water from the soil. That water may be full of impurities. But, as the water flows through the root it strips out the impurities. The root filters out all the messy stuff so that that the branches produce the purest water, most refreshing water you can find.

  5. Reply
    Tim
    June 8, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Steve that’s interesting. After more reflection, it is fascinating how he put types and shadows of the cross in all the the “systems” he created (after all, like Carrie said, “He is known as the lamb slain BEFORE the foundations of the world, before all things were created.”)….
    – roots of the tree (buried in the ground and the cleansing role as you described),
    – liver and kidneys in the body,
    – vacuoles in cells,
    – ground water is cleaner than surface water through the cleansing processes that happen
    – state changes in atoms (the electron has to drop (suffer) to a lower level (be humbled) in its orbit around the proton before a photon (light/glory) is emitted,
    – seasons of the year (the suffering of winter first, then eventually the glory of a fall harvest),
    – the solar day (Gen 1: and there was evening (the cross first) and there was morning (resurrection)).
    ….Without these “systems” in his creation working in that order, it seems there can be no fruit, or fruitfulness, or glory.
    It seems, after I read 1Peter today, that glory only follows suffering.

    Hmmm and then even further reflection, even that which we build has the same sequence:
    – mining and smelting the ore and the shaping and the stamping (the cross) then the assembly of the car (the glory).
    – etc…
    ….
    So to Carrie’s point “The cross is a part of His identity. …. We have NOTHING that belongs to Christ without the cross. The cross is the key to all of who Christ is for us today. There is no way around the cross.”

  6. Reply
    Steve
    June 8, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Christ in Creation

    Day 1 – Light enters into the darkness and separates it. Jesus enters the scene. (John 1) Revelation is happening.
    Day 2 – Waters are separated and a firmament is put between them. Heavenly water is Christ. Seas represent wickedness and death. The splitting of water represents death and baptism. The separation creates the sky, firmament or air. The separation on day two is Christ’s baptism, His death. This is the only day of creation God does not declare it or what happened on it good because His Son died. Day two has a separation of heaven and earth – the veil between the most holy place and the rest of the temple. Christ’s death rips that veil in two reconnecting heaven and earth.
    Day 3 – The seas are gathered and the land appears. The land rises up out of the parted waters. Christ is the land resurrected out of death. He becomes a life-giving spirit.

    Each day has separation. Christ says I did not come to bring peace but a sword. A sword divides. He came to bring division between light and dark, good and evil.

    Only after the life, death, and resurrection of Christ does any life appear in creation. After God separates the first three days, He fills the spaces He separated with His life. It’s after the land appears that the trees and grass come forth from the land.

    Day 1 – Light
    Day 2 – Water and Air
    Day 3 – Land

    These are the necessary ingredients for anything to grow in the physical creation. Christ is pictured as all of them.

    Day 3 – The trees and grass come forth from the earth. The tree has seed on the inside and produces seed after its kind. Christ is the tree of life. He works from the inside and out. The grass has its seed on the outside and produces seed after its kind. The self and Satan try to work from the outside in. Man wants to act righteously (be right on the outside) so that he can be holy (be right on the inside) so that he can be like God. God, wants to put His spirit inside of man (make man like Himself) so that man will be holy and live righteously.

    Day 4 – Christ is the sun. He is the greater light that rules the day. The moon, which rules the night, is the church that has no light of its own but provides light in the night, in the darkness by reflecting the light of the sun.

    Day 6 – Beasts and man are created. Man “in” the image of God. He’s given dominion to rule. This, his function not his form, sets him apart from the rest of creation. This is how he is in the image of God. But, will he rule as God does – living for the other, dying so that there might be life – or will he rule out self and pride like Satan – wanting, desiring, and having power over others? Note God gives man dominion over everything but man.

    When man sins and his connection is cut off he becomes like a beast. See Cain and Jude’s description of him. He acts only on natural instinct. The natural man and spiritual man seem very similar to those that do not have Christ. But, the natural man and the spiritual man are as different as a man is from cattle – even though we were created on the same day.

    Similarly, life is presented as the choice between two trees. These two lives appear similar. Trees look somewhat the same – roots, leaves, trunks, branches, fruit, etc. But, in reality, the two lives are as different as a tree from a blade grass – both created on the same day just like man and beasts. Trees represent the spiritual man, planted by the river, producing its fruit in season, withstanding the scorching heat as its roots go deep into the land. Grass represents the natural man, the wicked man that can’t stand the scorching heat and is burned up.

    The Holy Spirit has been flooding me with these images and thoughts for weeks. I’m trying to write them down to get them into a book.

  7. Reply
    Tim
    June 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Our Lord is amazing. Might also take a peek at chapter 2 of the viola/sweet theography book too.

  8. Reply
    Tom
    June 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you, Carrie. I’ve come to understand over the past several years that The Work and The Way of the Cross is Christianity in its entireity. It fully identifies the Body of Christ and embodies our message and mission. It is The Gospel, The Way, and that which separates the followers of The Way from the World and from mere religion. All discussion of how we should gather, of form and function, order and structure, etc. is a tragic waste of time and energy without understanding that we meet together for one purpose and it is this: to encourage one another in the journey from the River to Ressurection. From that first tentative act of self denial until our last breath we live in the will of The Father, and thus in joy and freedom, to the degree we live crucified. But we are not meant to go it alone. The purpose of Ecclesia is to facilitate that daily crucifixion, and that primarily through demonstration, first to one another and then to the world as a natural outflow. Nothing else – where we meet, what day, how often, nor how we are structured and governed – matters if The Work and The Way of The Cross is not central to all that we are and do. When it is central however, the Ecclecia becomes far more than a gathering of believers. It becomes the Body of Christ, the very embodiment of the Creator in all His power and glory. I’ve seen glimpses of it, and experienced the result, though rarely, and I know it to be true and I pray we find our way back to it and soon.

  9. Reply
    donnaleebatty
    June 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Whoah. Wow. “For the new man, the way of the cross is the power needed to express the very nature of Christ”. Amen. No servant is greater than his Master.
    donnaleebatty recently posted…Perfect Harmony in the Hands of the Kind MasterMy Profile

  10. […] er’body. Read Carrie’s post again. The one on “Stealing Christ’s Identity.” Seriously. That’s the entire point of this […]

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