As we continue to move closer to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Lord, more than ever, wants to renew our minds on the power of the Cross and in the way he wants us to be transformed by personally experiencing its power in our lives (Romans 12:2). The crux of our faith rests on the Cross of Jesus. Every Christian church confirms this truth. God the Father wants a people he can call his own—a big family—modeled after his Son Jesus. He wants his people to be holy. Holy means we are set apart for our heavenly Father—like his Son, like Mary our Mother, and like many saints after them.
How do we become more holy? By winning the battle for our minds we become more like Jesus, and in essence, more holy. Said another way—grow your gifts (putting on the new self) and get rid of the crud (putting off the old self) and you will become more holy.
What is the old self and new self that Paul talks about? The old self is made up of moodiness, anger, selfishness, lust, and all sin. The new self is the new creation we were transformed into at our baptism. Paul says that we (the old self) died with Jesus on the Cross, and when he rose, we (the new self) were raised with him to live a holy life (Romans 6:4-6).
Paul says this so well in Ephesians “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and to be be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God” (Ephesians 4:22-23). In Colossians he says the same thing: “take off your old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed” (Col 3:9-10).
The call to holiness is made possible because Jesus died for our sins – all of them even the future ones. It is possible because when he rose from the dead he raised us with him, pure and holy, and able to live a new life.
Remember the slaves being set free by President Lincoln. Legally they were free but, experientially, they did not feel free. Experientially, they were tormented, abused, and even killed. Likewise, we are legally free from sin—Jesus died for them all. Experientially, we do not feel free. Our moods, angers, selfishness lying, manipulation, etc., continue to bind us up. Our old self tricks us. Nevertheless, Jesus wants us to get rid of all the crud, and he has given us many gifts to do so:
- He sent his Holy Spirit—who lives in us and is constantly urging us and helping us to be set apart.
- He gives himself to us in the Eucharist – to strengthen us and help us be set apart.
- He removes our sins when we repent and gives us grace to sin no more.
- He knocks on the door of our hearts and asks to come in every day
- He sent angels to support and encourage us
Gift after gift after gift — all to help us die to the old self and live a new life; all to help us experience ever-increasing unity with him; all to help us see how much he loves us, his people.
God is so good to us. So let us commit ourselves to doing the only thing we can do in return for all he has done, i.e., live a life pleasing to him.
- Let us be a people that wants, above all else, to be holy and to display holiness in our marriage and families, with friends, at work, etc.
- Let us do as Peter says, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
- Let us take the gospel to the ends of the earth in the name of Jesus – especially to our family and friends—and to our city; to those who do not know Jesus, to those in need, to those who are confused. (Matthew 28:19).
Paul writes: “we live in the world, but we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish strongholds (crud). We want to demolish every arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against God, and we take captive every thought that is opposed to Jesus” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
Nothings is more fun and nothing makes Jesus more happy than to see our old self be less and less present in our life as each month goes by. Nothing is more fun than to see others come to know Jesus through our efforts.
Here’s a prayer you can say every day.
Lord Jesus, I am a new creation by the blood you shed on the Cross. I will not submit to the drives of my old self today or ever again. I am weak but I have the grace that comes from the Cross to help me fix my eyes on you and live as a new creation. Jesus help me and give me the grace to live for you and to say “no” to the desires of my old self that try to seize control of my life.
I believe that as we continue to pray this prayer, and live it, we will be transformed. The Holy Spirit will show us the marvelous grace bound up in the Cross of Jesus. The Cross has the power to put the old self to death and make us holy. On our own we can do some of this, and we all have much good in us, but only with the grace of the Cross can we truly be holy, can we truly die to ourselves (our old self), and can we truly have our gifts multiply 30, 60, and 90 fold – lest Jesus died for nothing.
The Cross is exciting, the Cross is powerful. Lord, we pray that we will know and experience its power more deeply in our lives.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:4-7)
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)