Monday, December 6, 2021

Crucifying the flesh


Nailing it to the cross
I once had a Sunday school teacher who taught me a valuable lesson. As we sat in the classroom, a group of about 15 young women listened carefully as our teacher talked about how Jesus took all of our sins to the cross with Him. 

As a visual learner, I did my best to picture Him doing that, but it wasn't easy until Mrs. Woods pulled out a simple wooden cross and laid it on the floor in the middle of our circle. 

Slowly and carefully, she walked around the circle handing each one of us a slip of paper and a big metal nail. She instructed us to think about the sin we wanted to nail to the cross. After we'd thought about it, each of us began scribbling on our slip of paper. With tear filled eyes, we folded our slips in half and waited. Mrs. Woods began to read scripture from Galatians 5. As she reached verse 22, we listened to the various fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. The teacher explained those were virtues that we should all possess and those were ones that would help others see Christ in us. She continued reading and when she reached verse 24, we listened attentively, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

I don't remember everything she talked about that day, but I know she worked hard to help us understand that Jesus was and is our sin bearer and although He had already paid our sin debt and had taken all of our sins to the cross, we were probably still hanging on to some of them. She explained that wasn't healthy and it was time to let them go. 

Calling us up one by one, Mrs. Woods instructed each of us to take our burdensome sin and nail it to the cross. She handed the first girl a hammer and all of us watched as that girl pounded her nail into the cross. The sound of each hammer blow inflicted pain and sorrow on all of our hearts. One after another, each girl went forward and repeated the action of nailing a folded slip of paper to the cross. 

When each of us had taken our turn, Mrs. Woods instructed us to look at the cross. There on the floor it lay covered in nails and slips of paper. There was not a dry eye in the room as the reality of what Jesus had done for us was apparent. We'd only nailed one sin to the cross that day but I'm sure the other girls felt the same way I did. Though we were just teens, we'd already committed many sins in our young lives. Though they were "small" sins, jealousy, lying, stealing, etc. Those sins had pounded the horrid nails into our Savior's body. 

That object lesson helped us understand what it meant to crucify the flesh every single day. I'm so grateful to Mrs. Woods for taking time to teach us a valuable truth. 

I'm not sure but I believe Mr. Woods built the wooden cross for Mrs. Woods to bring to class. He was a very godly man and a skilled carpenter. I can just picture his smile as she asked him to help with the lesson. 

Some of the girls in class that day probably forgot the lesson a day or two after we'd participated in it but not me. I've remembered if for almost 50 years and I'm sure I'll remember it until the day I die. Daily I think about the need to crucify my "flesh woman." She rears her ugly head so often, I feel like I need to keep a pail of nails, a hammer, and a stack of notepaper handy. 

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24. 

Our fleshly bodies are sinful and prone to fall into temptation. And that's why I keep a wooden cross nailed to my office wall with another verse of Scripture adhered to it - "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." 

My prayer is that I will never forget to live cruciform daily. I pray you'll receive a blessing from this post and you'll find a need to nail your sins to the cross too, whether figuratively or literally, because Jesus has already taken them there for you but you need to remember your flesh needs to be crucified daily.

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