The application of the Cross
To take up the cross simply means to choose the will of God over our own will. The cross is in reality, His will. We should consider nothing that is contrary to God’s Will as a cross for us to carry. Once we understand this, we can also say for example, that sickness and disease are not crosses that we should carry since Jesus Christ already carried all of these on His Cross (1 Peter 2:24); therefore, we cannot say that illness is the will of God. We can also affirm that poverty is not a cross since we have been delivered from the curses of the law (Gal. 3:13). The cross that Christ bore was definitely the will of God and not some sort of attack from the devil like disease or poverty.
According to the divine order of the Bible, there is to be one husband for each wife. Each marriage, no matter how it occurred, is part of God’s order. Once you get married to someone, that person is your spouse and there is nothing you can do to change it. According to God’s command, there should be no divorce. His will is one husband for each wife.
If you get a divorce, you will be divorcing yourself from God’s will. However, if you accept your spouse, you will be accepting the will of God because being with that person represents the will of God itself. His will is always a cross. The cross may seem unpleasant and uncomfortable at times but it is always good. If you accept your spouse as if he or she was a punishment, you will be acting like a transgressor of God’s law. However, if you receive your spouse voluntarily by the grace of the Lord, you will be a cross bearer, bearing what is good, perfect and agreeable. By taking up the cross voluntarily, you are not acting as a law-breaker. Therefore, recognize that your spouse is the will of God for you.
Suppose that a believing husband has a wife that has caused him much suffering. He can respond in one of two ways, since divorce is not an option: he can remain married and suffer as a criminal being executed on the Cross, or he can consider her as the will of God, as his own part and portion. He can say, “She is God’s gift to me. It wasn’t that I simply got married to her; it was that God gave her to me.”
The Cross is the place where we overcome the devil. Many think that spiritual warfare is only a matter of casting out demons. They are always casting out demons as they walk around their home (and from their spouse when they are not looking!). Jesus cast out demons throughout his entire ministry on earth, but He only overcame the devil on the Cross.
The Cross brings true victory. I am not saying that it is wrong to cast demons out of people because Jesus did it with Peter; I am only affirming that there is no victory without the Cross. I would like to show some practical manifestations of the principle of the Cross.
Willingness to suffer loss
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? (1 Corinthians 6:7)
The answers to Paul’s questions are so obvious I could just scream! “Wait a minute, Paul! You mean that when so and so does something wrong to me I am the one that has to lose and suffer the harm?” The cross is exactly that! “What if I want to claim my rights?” Well, if you have rights it is correct to fight for them all the way to the Supreme Court. There is nothing sinful in fighting for your own rights, it is not morally wrong, but where is the victory? What about crushing the serpent’s head? The devil is only really defeated when someone takes up the Cross. You must ask yourself if you want to be right or if you want to be an overcomer. There are two life principles in operation at any given moment: the principle of the cross and the principle of reason. If we want to be reasonable and right, we have already stepped down from the cross. If we take up the cross, it does not matter who is right.
Not pleasing ourselves
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)
When Jesus went to the cross, he did not go because he wanted a different experience; he was not seeking spiritual ecstasy or complements. In fact, Jesus did not want to go to the Cross; He only did it to obey the will of the Father. However, the Father did not force Him to go to the Cross He went voluntarily. The point is that at times we will need to deny ourselves in order to please God.
Many people today think that becoming a Christian is simply seeking a new experience, safety against disaster or a life of happiness. No, the Christian life places the Cross at the center. So the key question is not whether something is a sin or not, or whether I am obligated do to a certain thing or not, but what the will of God is for me.
Many marriages never prosper because one spouse is not willing to please the other at the expense of personal comfort. When we are willing to choose whatever does not please us, the life of God begins to flow through us, God uses us to edify the church and shut the gates of hell. There is a path to victory but it is neither an easy nor a pleasing one. However, in the end the victory is certain.
Consider others superior to yourself
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
Considering others as superior to ourselves seems old-fashioned. It seems to contradict the modern philosophy of self-esteem. However, when we carry our cross in this way, we edify the Church. Once again, we must say that taking up our cross implies suffering harm and not pleasing ourselves, and considering others superior to us.
There are two ways to face each situation in life: the wide way and the narrow way. In marital problems, for example, divorce and separation are the wide way. We all know where the wide way ends. The cross, on the other hand, is the narrow way. In a crisis, always take the narrow way of the cross it is the only way that leads to complete victory.