In a previous article, “The Hyphenated-Christian,” the idea was set forth that one cannot do the will of the Father while holding on to the old nature. Here we will attempt to put some meat on the bones of this idea by examining ‘The Old Man and The Cross.’
Some may have decided to read this article thinking it was a story about a literal old man and a cross. However, this is actually a look into what men choose to cling to, the old nature that each one is born with or the cross that one must take up each day in order to follow Christ.
Interestingly, clinging to the old nature actually prevents one from having the ability to take hold of and carry the cross of mortification that all must bear. Conversely, taking up one’s cross daily makes dwelling in the old nature impossible. Yet, it is a sad reality that many still attempt to do the impossible and have their proverbial cake and eat it too. They do this by hyphenating Christian with whatever sin of the old man they refuse to put to death on the cross. This behavior is completely nonsensical. However, those engaged in it are actually portraying the fact that they have been turned over to a reprobate mind because they are indeed doing things that are inconvenient (Rom 1:28).
I would never call someone a moron. However, it is oxymoronic to attempt to hold onto the old man while simultaneously claiming to be the new man. Doing so would cause a person to introduce themselves as ‘the old-new man.’ Can you see how moronic this sounds? Sadly, this is exactly what many are doing when they fervently cling to their former nature hyphenated by the term Christian. Perhaps the best way to counter this particular deception is to explain ‘The Old Man and the Cross.’
The Old Man
Paul wrote about this old man in his letter to the church in Ephesus. After blessing and praying for the saints gathered in Ephesus, Paul began to instruct them about weighty matters. In chapter two, he teaches them that they are now alive even though they had been dead in trespasses and sins. Paul minces no words when he tells them why they had formerly been dead. It is the same reason that every person has need of Jesus; it is because we all once walked according to the ways of this world, a world governed by Satan, fulfilling the desires of the flesh for which we are deserving of wrath (Eph 2:1-3). Thankfully, God had mercy on us all, and now we can be saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:8-9).
Fast forward to chapter four, and Paul now starts to drill down on the idea that those who were once dead in trespasses are made alive in Christ. To do so, he uses the terminology at hand. He speaks of the former dead man as ‘the old man’ and the new quickened man as ‘the new man.’ Let us take a closer look at the passage involved:
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (emphasis mine)
Notice that Paul says, “henceforth walk not…” Here Paul is saying to walk no longer as the old dead man. Instead, live according to the new man with a renewed mind. He furthers this point in chapter five when he encourages the believers to imitate God by walking in the same kind of love that Christ showed us (Eph 5:1-2). By doing this, we will be recognized as children of light who walk in the spirit, displaying the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 5:8-9).
Before moving on, we should take another glance at the highlighted words ‘put off‘ in the text above. Paul is signaling that we have a distinct part to play in the walk we have with the Lord. We must actively put off our former way of life, which was corrupted by deceitful desires. These deceitful desires stretch all the way back to the original deceitful desire of Satan, the desire to be god of our own lives. This is why we must come face to face with the cross of Christ and decide to renounce our former desire for self-governance. Only at this place can we truly choose to forsake self-reliance and depend solely on Christ for our salvation.
Oh, but this is not the cross to which the title refers. No, the cross at hand is the one we must take up daily in order to faithfully follow Christ and remain on the narrow way that leads to life (Matt 7:14). For there is a war between the flesh and spirit… until our last breath, and bearing our cross daily is the only way we can keep the old man at bay.
Jesus perfectly fulfilled all of the Father’s will while on earth. He was sinless, which means He was selfless. Ultimately, on the cruel cross of Calvary, Jesus finished His mission and gave up the ghost (John 28-30). Though He was the only one to ever live a sinless life, Jesus would have us follow the Father’s will in the same, one hundred percent – all of the time manner that He did. This is why He tells us to take up our cross daily (all day – every day):
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [Luke adds ‘daily’], and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Jesus made things very simple for us. When we come to realize what Jesus did for us on the cross at Calvary, we also come to a place of great decision. We can choose to hang on to or ‘save’ our old lives and thereby lose it, or we can choose to ‘lose’ our old life in order to follow Christ and find it. Interestingly, the term ‘lose’ is translated from the Greek word ‘ἀπόλλυμι,’ which is transliterated into ‘apollumi,’ which is defined as: to destroy, destroy utterly. Therefore, we must literally destroy our old man instead of hyphenating our former lifestyle into our new man. If you recall, Luke recorded the fact that our cross must be taken up daily (Luke 9:23). This proves that we must daily reject our former nature as though it is completely dead. Bearing our cross daily is how we accomplish this.
The Apostle Paul clarifies the purpose of our cross in his letter to the Colossians:
“Mortify [put to death – daily – by way of bearing our cross] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye [formerly] lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (emphasis mine) [author’s comments]
The cross that each individual must carry daily has the ultimate purpose of reminding us that we are dead to self and that we have decided to follow Jesus. While writing this last line, I am reminded of the great hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” Here are the lyrics for reflection:
1. I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.
2. Though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.
3. The world behind me, the cross before me;
the world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.
These lyrics embrace the true narrative of Scripture in that once we have decided to follow Jesus, there can be no turning back toward the ways of the world. This is how we come to be a peculiar people (better understood as a special people for God’s own possession) who are in the world and not of it (1 Pet 2:9; John 17:6-19).
Sadly, rather than turning back, many are simply dragging the old man along for the journey. This cannot be, for the old man must be utterly destroyed in order to walk through the straight gate and onto the narrow way that leads to life (Matt 7:14). Thus, the idea that one can be a hyphenated Christian is a figment of the imagination of the wicked. The wicked are those who desire to hold on to the things of this present world. Paul speaks of these types of people in his narrative about God’s wrath against sin in Romans chapter 1:18-32.
Bearing Our Cross Daily Brings Life and Peace
The Apostle Paul provided a tremendous amount of teaching about the life of a Christian and how the church should function and be governed. In Romans Chapter 8, he juxtaposes carnality with spirituality and the resulting death and life which comes about because of each way of life. While reading this, keep in mind that the hyphenated Christian is one who has decided to remain carnally minded. This should help us see the true reality and danger of not forsaking our former lives for the new life provided for us by the grace of God:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [conversely, there is condemnation to those who are not in Christ]. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [This walking in the Spirit is something we must do].
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace [bearing our cross daily keeps us spiritually minded]. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God [this means it is impossible to please God as a carnally minded or hyphenated-Christian].” (emphasis mine) [author’s comments]
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die [therefore be not carnally minded or hyphenated]: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Thankfully, our time on earth will soon be over, and this great battle between flesh and spirit will finally come to an end. However, until the moment that we draw our last breath, we must continue to run the race and fight the good fight of faith while waiting expectantly for our catching away so that we can, like Paul, receive a crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:6-8).
Paul has made it very clear that men cannot please God while being carnally minded. This is why each and every one of us must daily take up our cross in order to remind the old man that he has no place in the new man. Therefore, let us drop the hyphens along with the desire for the things of this earth, so we can live a life that is truly pleasing to God.
Like Jesus, let us all desire more than anything to do the will of the Father in heaven. For without this mindset, we will not see the kingdom of God (Matt 7:21). The following verse depicts why it is so important to forsake the old man and take up our cross daily:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [iniquity: means one who is disobedient or sinful – This sounds just like the carnally minded hyphenated ones].”
Take note that many will come to Jesus in that day and proclaim how busy they were in ministry, but He will send them away because even as professing Christians, they continued to work the things of God from the flesh, or the carnal nature. The seven sons of Sceva come to mind here (Acts 19:13-16). But that is a topic for another day.
***Message from the author:
Greetings, I would like to take a moment and explain why it is that I have gone to such great lengths to deal with deception in the church as of late.
Paul instructed Timothy to:
2 Timothy 4:2-5
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
It is very clear that Paul considered these words to be very important because they are found in his last address to the body of Christ in the 2nd epistle to Timothy. It is equally important that we understand that we are smack dab in the middle of the time that Paul said would come. Therefore, much of the professing church is succumbing to the false doctrines he warned about. This is why he encourages us to endure afflictions while doing the work of an evangelist. The afflictions come from those who have fallen prey to the desire to have the gospel say what they want it to say rather than accept what God puts forth in His Word.
I withheld the 1st verse of 2nd Timothy chapter four until now so we can leave with the following challenge in mind:
2 Timothy 4:1
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (emphasis mine)
Without a doubt, judgment cometh…. The lost have little time to hear the truth. We are the last vestige of the faithful. The question is, will we do what is necessary in the face of adversity so that we can hear these words from Jesus, “Well done my good and faithful servant (Matt 25:23)?”
Due to the fact that we are so close to the coming end of the age of grace, I am recommending the following articles:
Back to Babylon – This article depicts one possible end for the U.S. and other western nations.
Open Letter to Those Who Miss the Rapture – Guidance for those who might miss the rapture.
Website: In His Commission
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Hyphenated-Christian.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Rise of the Reprobates.”
 “Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.”
 For greater understanding, see the blog by Rapsodie Adams, “The Old Man’s Gotta Be Gone.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Greatest Lie Ever Told: The Origin of All Lies.”
 This song is attributed to Simon Marak: A pastor, Schoolteacher, and missionary from Jorhat, Assam, India. For more information, see the website, “Hymnary.org.”
 For greater understanding, see “Bible Hub.”