ACCEPTING GOD’S VALUATION CONCERNING US
Why did God crucify Christ? My intention is not to give a sermon this afternoon but to have a talk with you. This is something that concerns all of us; it is not just something for me. Every one of us should consider this carefully. Why did God want to crucify us with the Lord Jesus? I can illustrate this point with a story. A robber was found guilty before a judge. Since the crime was not too serious, he was sentenced to only ten years of imprisonment. Another robber was also found guilty and was told by the judge that he would be executed. Why was one executed while the other was only imprisoned for ten years? There was still hope for the one who was to be imprisoned. The judge still had hope in him, and the nation still had hope in him. There was still the possibility that this man would become a good citizen. After he was imprisoned for ten years, he would be released. But the nation had no hope in the other robber; he had committed too serious a crime. The nation had no need of such a person, and the only way to deal with him was to execute him. How does God see us today? God has crucified us on the cross. Why did He do this? This may not be a complimentary word, but it is the truth: God has no further hope in us. He has lost all of His hope in us. God considers us as being hopeless and impossible. The flesh is corrupt to the uttermost, and there is no other way for it except death. The work of the Lord Jesus does not change our flesh. God’s power cannot change our flesh, and the Holy Spirit cannot change our flesh. Reading the Bible and prayer cannot change our flesh. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. There is no hope, and the flesh can never change. God considers death as the rightful destiny of the flesh. God has lost hope in us. Therefore, He included us in the crucifixion of Christ. There is no hope with us; the only solution is death. As a consequence, the first thing that God requires from a Christian after he is saved is baptism. Baptism is a declaration that God has given up hope in a person and has crucified him. It is also our declaration that we deserve to die and that we ask others to move us out of the way and bury us. Have we seen that baptism is God’s declaration and our acknowledgement of our death? It is saying "amen" to God’s valuation of us. God says that we deserve to die, and we take a further step by burying ourselves. I have lost hope in myself. There is absolutely no hope in me any longer. I deserve only to die, and I am standing on the ground of death today.
Many Christians have forgotten what they did at the time of baptism, and many have forgotten God’s valuation of us. What is God’s valuation? His valuation is that we should die. We only deserve to die. There is no other way to take. It is useless to try to repair or mend. There is no possibility of progress, and we cannot change ourselves. We are completely useless, and there is nothing we can do except die. Consequently, God included us in the death of the Lord Jesus. His putting us on the cross is an indication of His valuation of us. Please remember that the cross is God’s appraisal of us. God has shown us that we only deserve to die and that there is no hope with us.
But do we accept this fact? Human beings are often self-contradicting, and they often have contradicting thoughts. On the one hand, we have been saying for years that we are crucified with Christ. But on the other hand, we are still full of hope for ourselves. On the one hand, we feel that we are not able, yet on the other hand, we hope that we can become able. We keep stumbling and failing, yet we still hope to overcome.
I once saw a picture of a woman who put the coffin of her dead husband in front of her door for thirty years. She would not allow anyone to bury her husband. She said that her husband was only sleeping, and she was waiting for him to resurrect. We have the same hope concerning ourselves. On the one hand, we believe that we deserve only to die and that we are dead in transgressions already. But on the other hand, we think that as long as there is a breath in our mouth, we can still be of some use. We think that we have failed because we have not been strong enough in our determination and that we will overcome if we do better the next time. We think that we have failed because we are not watchful and that we will be able to stand up to temptation if we are watchful the next time. We think that we have failed because we have not rejected temptation and that we will overcome if we reject the temptation the next time. We think that we have failed this time because we have not prayed enough and that we will overcome if we pray enough the next time. Have we seen what we are doing? God has crucified us on the cross and told us that we are dead. But we have not seen that we are dead; we have not acknowledged that we are dead. We keep hoping that the flame that has been extinguished will flicker again if we give it enough fanning. This is why we are still fanning all the time.
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? In order to experience this truth, there is one necessary condition which we must fulfill on our part. We must say to God, "You have lost hope in me, and I also have lost hope in myself. You consider me as being hopeless, and I also consider myself as being hopeless. You think that I deserve to die, and I also think that I deserve to die. You consider me as being powerless, and I also consider myself as being powerless. You consider me as being useless in doing anything, and I also consider myself as being useless in doing anything." We have to stand on this ground all the time. This is the meaning of being crucified with Christ. What God has done can never be overturned; they are accomplished facts. But on our side, we have a responsibility that we must fulfill, which is accepting God’s valuation of us. God has lost hope in us. We also have to lose hope in ourselves. Whenever we lose hope in ourselves, we will see that "it is no longer I."
The trouble today is that most Christians have refused to open their eyes. They have not seen that God has lost hope in them and given up all demands on them. He considers us as being absolutely useless. I am not afraid of offending Brother Lu here. I can declare this in front of everyone: "Brother Lu is an absolutely useless person." This is putting it in a polite way. Putting it in a less polite way, I would say, "Brother Lu, you are corrupt to the core; you are utterly wicked." But thank the Lord, I can say this not only about Brother Lu but also about myself. We are all corrupt to the core. We are absolutely useless. We are not useful for anything except death. The only way for us to take is to die. We can never change, and there is no hope in us. We are utterly wicked, and we deserve only to die. This is God’s valuation, and we should not have any other kind of valuation before God.
We have many concepts about ourselves. We are full of hope for ourselves. Therefore, we have to see in this message how we can appropriate the reality of the fact that we have been crucified with Christ. God has given up hope in us, but what should we do? We should tell God that we also have given up hope in ourselves, and we have to go one step further. For now we will put aside Galatians 2. Let us now look at Luke 18:18-27.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)