"Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom"
2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection are the foundation of the Christian faith. What was accomplished there for all of humanity is not simply an important element, but rather the singular truth that lifts Christianity above all other world religions.
On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the world and made a way when there was no way for sinners to be forgiven and experience eternal life.
“When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8 NLT).
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).
The cross is where the price was paid, yet it was the resurrection that validated what Jesus did and assures believers that that they too will rise to life after death.
“So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man [Jesus]” (1 Corinthians 15:21 NLT).
Without the victory of the cross, Christians would be totally helpless and powerless. Satan does not want believers to comprehend the awesome victory that occurred at the cross, but instead wants them to live in unbelief and despair. God has established promises and principles in the cross of Calvary. However, Satan wants to keep believers ignorant of the Father’s love and desire to provide for the church.
If God failed to sustain believers and meet them at every point of spiritual, physical, and material need, He would be denying the work He accomplished through His Son, Jesus (2 Corintians 8:9). Understanding the need for the cross and being aware of the areas in which Christ triumphed on the believer’s behalf is key to walking in victory in this daily Christian journey. There are three main benefits in the cross of Christ.
Seven hundred years before the promised Messiah (Jesus) died on the cross, the prophet Isaiah saw the crucifixion. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV). Isaiah struggled with what he was seeing because crucifixion had yet to be practiced.
When the nails pierced Jesus’ hands and feet and the blood flowed, it was for the forgiveness of the world’s sin. Every sin that was ever, will ever, or could ever be committed was paid for that day. The blood of Jesus washes thoroughly those who come to Him in repentance and confession. God promises that this act of faith from the believer will never fail to cleanse from sin and bring freedom from tormenting guilt (1John 1:9).
“Though your sins are like scarlet,” wrote Isaiah, “they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).
After cleansing from sin and guilt comes peace in emotions, mind and spirit. The punishment that brought peace was leveled on Jesus (Isaiah 53:5). The Savior was ridiculed and mocked. Soldiers made a cruel crown of thorns and thrust it into His precious brow. Thorns in scripture represent the curse, so Jesus took upon Himself the curse for a negative thought life in order to purchase freedom for all believers.
There is no need to suffer from mental anguish or with addictive, destructive thought patterns. Even depression was dealt with at the cross. Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV) tells us He has given “the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” This scripture declares that peace does not have to be continually tainted with heaviness!
Emotional deliverance and ministry are examined deeply in the Freedom Encounter. During that weekend, the past will be addressed and dealt with instead of just pretending that it did not happen. Painful rejections, abuses, and mistreatments were paid for on the cross so that believers can recover. Right standing with God makes peace possible because Jesus made “peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20 NIV). Peace with God and peace in the believer’s heart comes through the cross. What a difference having peace can make!
The work of the cross not only paid the price for sins, but also purchased physical healing. Before being crucified, Jesus was beaten with a whip called a scourge. By His precious stripes, physical healing was attained (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5). It is not the will of God for believers to live in sickness. The cross proved that. Sickness and disease no longer have authority. “By His stripes,” wrote Peter, “you were healed!”
Imagine winning a contest and first prize was three appliances of the winner’s choice from the most expensive store in town. Human nature would be to pick out the most extravagant items. The winner did nothing deserving of these gifts, but they are part of the package. When the truck arrives from the store and unloads a huge TV but not the other two items, what would be the attitude of the prize winner? Do you think, he/she would say, “Oh well, I did not deserve any of this anyway, so I am at least glad to have this one item.”? Probably not. There would most likely be a conversation with the delivery driver, asking, “Where are the other two prizes?” That is how believers should approach the cross. Too much has been paid for, at too great a price for believers to settle only for forgiveness and not walk in peace or healing.
Now, imagine the attitude of the one paying for the extravagant gifts. Imagine the disappointment and frustration. The sacrifice and expense were apparently in vain.
The cross of Christ is full of power. Available to every believer is victory over guilt, condemnation, and the oppression of the enemy. Also, there is power to overcome sickness, suffering, anxiety, and fear is possible because of the cross. Death itself was defeated at the cross. That is how colossal Jesus’ death on the cross is!
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus rose from the dead. The biblical account reads:
“Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, ‘Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?’ Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished. He said, ‘Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He has been raised up; he is here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty’” (Mark 16:2–6 MSG).
Jesus went down into hell and took the keys to death and hell from Satan. This miraculous feat of defeating death ensures a believer’s entrance into a new life in Heaven after this life on earth ends. The disciples kept missing this point, however, even when Jesus plainly said, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise” (Mark 9:31 NIV). This is an important truth that believers cannot overlook!
A key to walking in victory is understanding what the resurrection of Christ Jesus means.
Because Jesus rose again, so will believers. Looking forward to an eternity with Jesus because of His resurrection is a reality for Christians.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV).
When Jesus spoke with Martha about the death of Lazarus, He said to her,
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV).
The death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead are inseparable. There is not one without the other! When Jesus walked through the gates of hell and took the keys of hell and death, the victory was not His alone. Every believer who receives Him as Savior and Lord shares in it. Author Timothy Keller wrote, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead” (Reasons for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, 2008 Dultin publishers).