[this needs serious attention if we are to understand the real meaning of Christ and the Cross.]
The Cross and the New Man
The History of Man, From God's Standpoint, and His Own
Firstly, we have man "in the day that God created" him (Genesis 5:1). His threefold nature is defined.
1. Spirit: with three faculties, Conscience, Communion and Intuition; the main value of which is spiritual apprehension.
2. Soul: with Reason, Emotion, Will or Volition; the function of which is interpretation for human life.
3. Body: of flesh, blood and bone; for executing or transacting the business of spirit and soul.
Then we have the relationship to God by the spirit. This is fivefold:
1. Likeness (basic, "spirit").
3. Knowledge (spiritual perception).
Secondly, we have the "Fall."
The results and effects of this were, and are:
1. The human spirit subjected to the soul.
2. The soul the seat of the satanic attack and triumph, having come under the power of evil forces.
3. The body, the instrument of the soul, under the influence of satan, especially for purposes of procreation in man's own likeness, after his image. (Genesis 5:3).
Then, by the spirit severed from God in what is meant by spiritual death, the fivefold relationship was disrupted - the likeness marred; the fellowship destroyed; the knowledge obscured; the cooperation made impossible; the dominion forfeited. So man is severed from God, alienated, darkened, spiritually paralyzed and "subjected to vanity." (Romans 8:20).
From this point he is called "flesh" - "in their going astray they are flesh" (Genesis 6:3) - and we know from the New Testament that this does not only mean mortality, but the presence of an active principle which is inimical to spirit and to God. Moreover, he is thenceforth known as the "natural man" (soulical). But, above all, he is actuated by "the god of this world" inasmuch as he chose - in his will - to believe in satan in preference to God.
From this point a double history begins. From being the piece of God's creative activity, God has "concluded" him under sin because of unbelief (Romans 11:32). So God introduces in type and symbol the principles of the Cross of Christ. Along this line nothing of man himself is ever accepted by God. Certain things - three mainly - are always kept clearly in view:
1. The fact of man's sinful state, under judgment.
2. Death, being the end of the natural man, to be the due of all, and to be accepted.
3. The perfections of Christ the only basis of all, or any further, relationship with God.
This is what is inherent in the instance of Cain and Abel. This is why death has such a large place in the whole Divine economy. And - wisdom, power and wonder of God! - herein He is seen taking hold of the very tail of the serpent, the very sting of death, the works of the devil, and making death the way of a new life, the pathway to His purpose in the resurrection of Christ and the spiritual resurrection of believers in Him. This, again, is why every offering acceptable to God, to bring man nigh, is to be without blemish. The expert eye of a priest, after the most thorough scrutiny, must be able to say 'It is perfect.' This is actually what Christ cried on the Cross as to the conclusion of all His testings and fiery ordeal - "It is perfect," not merely concluded or finished.
On then, ever on, with unvarying, unchanging conclusiveness, God's mind leads to the Cross of Christ. Whenever a man or a people comes under immediate government of God, in relation to His eternal purpose, they will have one thing brought home to them. It is that in themselves "dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18), that they are accepted only on the ground of a righteousness which is not of themselves, nor of works, but by faith - it is the goodness of Another. This realization will smite the natural man hip and thigh, that out of the smiting there may emerge one such as the Lord can look to, "even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit" (or "heart").
So we see that the Cross of Christ is God's mind as to the natural man, for there the Son of man took not only our sins but ourselves in His representative person, and died under the judgment of God in our stead, or as us (Romans 6:2-10; Col. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15 etc.). This Cross throws its reflex back to the hour of Adam's sin. It is for want of a complete or adequate realization of the meaning of the Cross, that so many Christians are "carnal," or try to live for God out of themselves. This goes to the root of the ever-present weakness and poverty of spiritual life. There is much prayer for 'revival,' and much effort for 'the deepening of the spiritual life.' The only answer to this is a new knowing of the Cross, not only as to sins and a life of victory over them, but as to Christ as supplanting the natural man.
(continued with # 24)