THE SECRET OF STAYING ON THE CROSS
This brings us to still another secret, the secret of staying on the cross. Because it is impossible for us to do this ourselves, we must find the secret of doing it. The secret of staying on the cross is that Christ is within us as resurrection power. Remember, Philippians 3:10 speaks of knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings; it also speaks of being conformed to His death. Being conformed to His death comes after knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection. Through the power of resurrection that is within us we are conformed to His death. Although we cannot keep ourselves on the cross, within us there is the power of resurrection, and by this power we can stay on the cross. When we stay on the cross, we are not committing suicide, because we are not actually keeping ourselves there; it is the power of resurrection that keeps us there.
In the foregoing message, we considered Galatians 5:24, which says that those that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts (Gk.). This crucifixion of the flesh takes place by the Spirit. This is indicated by the fact that the next verse says that if we have life in the Spirit, we should also walk in the Spirit. This indicates the crucifying of the flesh takes place by the Spirit within us. Therefore, we are not actually the ones who crucify it; it is the Spirit as the power of resurrection who does this. In this regard we need to remember Romans 8:13, which says that by the Spirit we put to death the practices of the body. We have the Spirit within us. No matter how weak we may be, He is in us as the source of our experience of crucifixion. We cannot crucify our flesh or put to death the practices of the body, but the Spirit can do it. This is why, as we pointed out in the previous message, we need to cooperate with the indwelling Spirit.
We have also seen that Matthew 16:24 says that we must deny the self. However, not even the denial of the self can be done by ourselves; rather, it is done by the One who lives in us. By Him, it is easy for us to deny the self. But apart from Him it is impossible. Regarding the denial of the self, there is One within us who is always waiting for our cooperation. If we say, "Amen," He will do the work and keep us on the cross.
This experience of the cross is not a suffering, but an enjoyment. We enjoy the gracious working of the indwelling Spirit. Hour after hour and day after day, this indwelling Spirit keeps us on the cross. Therefore, by the Spirit as the power of resurrection, we are being conformed to Christ’s death. The result of this is that we arrive at the out-resurrection from among the dead (Phil. 3:11, Gk.). The power of resurrection works to conform us to Christ’s death. Then by our being conformed to His death, the out-resurrection becomes our portion. Thus, resurrection gives us the experience of death, which in turn brings us to the out-resurrection. This is the reason that A. B. Simpson could say in one of his hymns, " ‘Tis not hard to die with Christ when His risen life we know." Because we have resurrection life within us, it is not difficult to die. In another of his hymns A. B. Simpson says, "Oh! it is so sweet to die with Christ’’ Because Christ is in us, it is sweet to die with Him. The resurrected One in us is the One who has experienced the crucifixion. Thus, it is not hard for us to die. On the contrary, it is sweet to die with Him because by dying with Him we enjoy Him.
Resurrection brings us into death, and death ushers us into higher resurrection, even the outstanding resurrection. Our natural life, desires, intentions, and tendencies are crucified, not by ourselves, but by the indwelling Spirit. This is the way to take care of the inner anointing. By taking care of the inner anointing, we abide in Him; by abiding in Him, we are in Him; and by being in Him we can do all things.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)