"Knowing Christ and Him crucified" may well be an overworked phrase within traditional mainstream Christianity. But this phrase is indeed from the Bible and, therefore, we should not close our ears to it. More than that, the principle involved is central to overcoming sin.
Aaron Burr was furious! Alexander Hamilton had again thwarted his efforts. Not only had Alex, as Burr called him, convinced the Federalists to cast their tie-breaking votes for Thomas Jefferson instead of Burr for president of the United States, but now Alex had undermined Burr's run for governor of New York.
Enough was enough! Burr was ruined both politically and economically. If he had gained political clout, the massive loans given him over the years could easily have been wiped out. No longer. Thus, revenge must be exacted!
And so it was on a summer day next to the Hudson River on the Jersey side, that Aaron Burr's nine-inch brass-barreled smoothbore pistol projected a lethal .544-caliber ball through Hamilton's liver, causing death by bleeding by 2 p.m. the following day.
This story is infamous in U.S. history. Many have read or heard about the duel. However, most people would not recognize in themselves an inability to stop similar dastardly actions as reflecting traits of Aaron Burr himself. He was full of hatred, anger, bitterness, resentment and revenge.
But his nature and resulting actions are not unique. There is a similar pattern of evil throughout the entire human race, throughout all time.
All mankind, the sons of disobedience, are guilty of "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkeness, revelries, and the like" (Ephesians 2:2; see also verses 1, 3; Galatians 5:19-21).
Why couldn't Burr rise above his pain? Why does the world revel in earthly desires and fleshly ambitions? Because Aaron Burr and this world have never known Jesus Christ and Him crucified!
Such phraseology ("to know Christ and Him crucified") is not often used in our Church culture, because we don't "freeze-frame" Christ on the cross the way mainstream Christianity does. We preach His crucifixion and the hope of salvation it brings us, having paid for our sins. I want to focus on a different angle, for to know Christ and Him crucified is central to overcoming sin.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul wrote to the members about his stay with them. He said he did not come to them with "excellence of speech." Rather he was "determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (verse 2). Understanding this verse will, in fact, give us a crucial key to counteracting sin.
We know Christ was sent forth from God as the Word that became flesh. Appearing in the flesh, He humbled Himself "to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). Knowledge about Jesus Christ that is greatly emphasized throughout the Bible, along with other major points, is that Christ was crucified. Yet, many were killed by crucifixion. What was so different about Christ "and Him crucified"?
A Different Reaction
Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in all points "yet without sin." It would be one thing if He had lived in a cave all of His life and not sinned. "No big deal," we might say, significant as that would be. It's quite another story to realize that Christ, although crucified, never sinned.
I don't know about you, but I'm not a happy camper when I'm not feeling well. When a cold or ache or pain comes along, I don't want anyone around. Don't pamper me. Don't rub my feet. Just leave me alone! I'll suffer all by myself. Fighting irritation and impatience at that point is certainly not easy. And if I can't take pampering, I certainly would have a difficult time countering someone else's human nature!
The example we have of Jesus Christ includes when He was in His greatest struggle, His greatest pain. He lost sleep. He was beaten to the point of death. He was hurting everywhere. And then after carrying His own cross, nails were driven into His wrists and feet. It is at this point in His suffering that we are reminded, "When He was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten" (1 Peter 2:23).
What a sterling example under such conditions! During His crucifixion experience, Christ did not sin!
His Mind in Us
We are all familiar with the scripture that says Christ is the one who will deliver us from this body of death (Romans 7:24-25). God sent His Son in order that the "righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:3-4). That, of course, means we don't practice sin. After all, Christ was manifested "to take away our sins" (1 John 3:5).
Let's be very clear about this. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4, KJV). Christ was sent to take away transgression of law. There is no penalty when there is no transgression. God only forgives us when we stop sinning. That involves a process of seeking His forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice, turning from wrong and committing to live by God's law from that point on.
To "know Christ and Him crucified" accomplishes this titanic task!
" Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (1 Peter 4:1). God is telling us that we must suffer if we expect not to sin. Patience and self-control, along with many other godly traits, demand a certain proportion of suffering.
" Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's suffering" (verses 12-13).
We must resist the automatic urge to do it our way, the emotional outbursts and desires for revenge. We must endure the temptation and not sin. Greater suffering will come if we do sin! In reality, we have just two options—to not sin and suffer a little, or to sin and suffer much.
Knowing that Christ was crucified for us isn't the same as being willing to crucify the self to be like Christ in resisting sin.
When we belong to Christ and His mind is in us, we really "know" Him. The bond is so great that Christ was inspired to say, "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:23).
" To know Christ and Him crucified" is to strive to live as He did—without sinning. Of course, He was without sin all His life, but we follow His example by committing ourselves to not sinning, to becoming mature as Christ was mature. We begin the process at baptism when our "old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" (Romans 6:6).
We are not even to count ourselves as being alive since we were crucified with Christ and He lives in us (Galatians 2:20). "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (5:24).
Glory in Christ
The Corinthians were replete with talent and seemed to be glorying in that talent. Paul set the record straight from the very beginning in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. He reminded them that "Jews request a sign and Greeks seek after wisdom" (verse 22). Those of us who are called are to know that Christ is the power (sign, so to speak) and wisdom of God (verse 24). Therefore Paul preached "Christ crucified" (verse 23). In other words, a Christian's power and strength comes through the mind of Christ in us, destroying sin, not being slaves to it. We have strength in being slaves to righteousness.
" For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). God expects us to suffer and not practice sin! Since God will never tempt us above that which we are able to take, it is always possible to refrain from sinning.
Aaron Burr, in his terrible rage, armed himself with a carnal weapon to destroy his enemy. We are told to arm ourselves with a weapon "mighty in God for pulling down strongholds [sin]" (2 Corinthians 10:4). That weapon is the mind of Christ in us! UN