One of the big misunderstandings that many believers deal with in the Apostles Paul's epistles is fully understanding the difference between law and nature. We need to understand the difference between the two so that we can experience the freedom that comes through Christ. Nature is defined as the particular qualities, temperaments, affections, appetites, passions, or disposition of a person; that is, who a person is. Whereas law is defined in this sense as the controlling “influence” of sin; what a person does. When we look at Romans 7, Paul is not telling us the struggle that he has as a born again believer who has a new nature, (Ephesians 4:24; 2 Peter 1:4), but what the Jew under the law constantly dealt with. (Romans 7:1) They were not born again and still possessed the old fallen nature. Believers who still deal with ungodly or sinful habits simply need a revelation of who they are in Christ; who Christ is in them; and how the Father sees them. They need to stop identifying with the old nature and live by faith in their new nature and identity in Christ.
We will see this unfold even greater as we begin looking at the Apostle Paul’s revelation of identification. He tells us, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Several times the Apostle Paul uses the preposition “with” in connection with the revelation given to him in his teaching of Christ substitutionary work. Here Paul tells us that “he was crucified with Christ.” This gives us the key that unlocks the teachings of the believers new identification. The question arises, "How is it possible that Paul was crucified with Christ, when Jesus is seen on the cross alone and that He died (depending on various historic records used) one to three years before Paul’s conversion? For some, this seems to cause a dilemma.
However, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with spiritual realities that can only be understood through faith. When Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ” it meant he had been judged, condemned, cast out, stripped naked, and nailed to the cross with Christ. Paul is not speaking theoretically, metaphorically nor is he presenting a fantasy, this is absolute truth; as real as the air we breathe. The very thought of crucifixion to a Jew, and especially to a Pharisee, brought a sense of shame and horror. When Saul of Tarsus confessed Jesus as Lord, he was instantly identified with Christ. Now, like most people when becoming born again, Paul may or may not have had a complete revelation of this at the moment of his conversion, nevertheless, he immediately became a crucified man, an outcast, not only to the Jews but to the entire world.
Paul also tells us, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14) The world had been stripped naked to Paul. There was no longer any delusion in regard to it. He remembered the stoning; the sleeplessness; the hunger and thirst; the cold and nakedness. He remembered that in every place he went, he faced the anger, bitterness, and jealousy of men. For most believers, there is a lack of truly seeing themselves crucified with Christ in reality. Paul saw his identification with Christ in His crucifixion. Christs' crucifixion did not merely mean His death. It means every person who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and takes Him as Savior is immediately in union with Him in His disgrace and suffering.
The Apostle Paul says, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:6) When a person receives and lives in the revelation of our crucifixion with Christ, verses of scripture such as this become liberating. The Holy Spirit through Paul concerning our identification with Christ tells us, that our old man, the hidden man of the heart, our spirit, the real man who was filled with spiritual death, the satanic nature, was nailed to the cross with Christ. The reality of the meritorious work of Christ reveals that Christ went to the cross, not for Himself, not as a martyr but as a Substitute. When Christ was nailed to the cross, we were nailed to the cross with Him. Although the objective behind crucifying Jesus, in the mind of the hateful, anger mob, was to get rid of Him, in the mind of God it meant Jesus’ identification with humanity in its sin and suffering, as well as humanities identification with Him in His crucifixion.
The moment that Jesus was nailed to the cross, justice began to do its awful work behind the scenes.
Keeping in mind that the people who surrounded the cross were not born again, they could only see the physical man, Jesus, nailed to the cross. However, God could see His spirit. Angels could see His spirit. Demons could see His spirit, that is, the real man, hidden in His body. Here is the good news to end any dilemma that you may have concerning who you are in Christ; Who Christ is in you and how the Father truly sees you. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Again, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body
of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of
sin."" (Romans 6:4-6) PTL
Finally, the Apostle Paul shows us the freedom that every believer can walk in if he/she will apply faith to God's Word. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, (law) but according to the Spirit. (new nature) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2) Never again confess that you are a sinner saved by grace, but that you were a sinner saved by grace and now you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all...