The Life Side of the Cross

“Raised with Him.”

(Colossians 2: 12)



…In the experience of the believer, it is exactly in proportion to the experimental [experiential] apprehension, and co-working of the Spirit of God in applying the ‘negative’ side of ‘death with Christ’, that he/she gets the actual, experimental, and ‘positive’ impartation of the power of the resurrection. The two sides of these truths should evenly run together. It is for lack of seeing this that there are so many one-sided Christians. They are either so ‘negative’, by dwelling much on the ‘death’ side, that they have no activity of life; or, they are so anxious to avoid the ‘negative’–the over-emphasis on ‘death’–that they dwell too much upon the ‘positive’ side of life, and in experience are in danger of calling the old life of nature, the Life of the resurrection.

We have need of the balance, so as to obtain a real impartation of the Life of God. But it is so ‘human’ to go to extremes! It is only as we know the danger, and rely upon God to guard us, that we can be kept spiritually sober, and balanced in truth. When we are conscious of the difficulties of it on account of our human limitations, we are less dogmatic in our statements to others about ourselves and our ‘views’. We can always be sure of all that is plainly written in the Word of God, but not always so sure that we personally have the full knowledge of the meaning of His Word.

Now let us turn again to Romans 6 and see in verses 10 and 11 how it gives not only what we may call the death-side of the Cross, but the key to the life-side of our union with Christ in His resurrection.

“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the three words “IN Christ Jesus” we have the key to the life of union with the Risen Lord. We have died with Christ on the Cross, so that we may ‘live unto God’ in another sphere altogether, ‘IN Christ Jesus’. If you look at verse 13 it reads: “Give yourselves to God, as being restored to life from the dead, and your members to His service as instruments…”

Now what does it mean to be “in Christ Jesus” on the resurrection side of the Cross? Turn to Romans 7: 4: “You … were made dead to the Law, by [union with] the body of Christ; that you might be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead.” In the margin of Scofield’s Bible the word is ‘joined’. ‘Dead’ is the “negative’ side of the truth of death; ‘joined’ to the Risen Lord is the ‘positive’ side of the truth. Twin parts of one fact.

Therefore there is no impartation of His Risen life apart from Himself. Moreover the ‘joining’ is a joining of spirit. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6: 17) not one soul. Therefore the ‘negative’ side of death with Christ means practically a breaking away, or severing, or cutting away, of that which prevents the joining [in unhindered fellowship] of your spirit to the Risen Christ.[1] The experimental outcome of the Cross is really a releasing of the spirit. It was held, so to speak, in the grip of the soul and of the ‘flesh’. It was so entangled in the life of nature that it could not be fully joined to Him Who is a quickening [life-giving] Spirit.[2]

But how is the ‘cutting away’ done? How does the Spirit of God apply the Cross, and bring about the death-severance whereby the spirit is free to be joined to Christ? This we find in Hebrews 4: 12:

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,.. “

Here we have a dividing and something that is immaterial and intangible. The ‘Word’ therefore is a spiritual weapon, acting like a sword in the spiritual sphere–as a sword cuts in the material realm–and actually ‘dividing’ immaterial things. That part of the Word that does this is the Word of the Cross, ‘dividing’ soul from spirit, first by giving the believer the distinctions between the two, and secondly, severing the two as the believer yields to the operation of the ‘Word of the Cross’ telling of the death with Christ…

This is all psychologically and experimentally true. In Dr. Andrew Murray’s Spirit of Christ, he gives in the Appendix a very clear explanation of the dividing of soul and spirit which has to be done in the believer.[3] He explains how man fell from the ‘spirit’ dominating his whole being, into the soul, and then again how the soul sank down into the flesh, so that at last God said of man “He is become flesh.” He descended from spirit to soul, and from soul to ‘flesh’. The spirit of man, says Dr. Murray, is that in us which is capable of knowing God-spirit-consciousness. The soul is the seat of the self-consciousness, and the body the seat of sense consciousness. An understanding of simple Bible psychology is necessary for any apprehension of the full life of victory through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is more to be dealt with in us than what we call ‘sin’, and more than ‘sin’ which prevents our full knowledge of God.

Now to know in real experience the life side of the Cross, we must know not only death to sin, but the Word of the Cross severing between ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’, so that the spirit is liberated to be joined to the Risen Lord. Then through the channel of your spirit, “joined to the Lord one spirit,” the quickening life of Him Who is a quickening Spirit comes into the ‘soul’ in resurrection power. For the ‘soul’ is not destroyed, nor is the individuality of the believer destroyed. We do not become automatons, but the ‘soul’–the [seat of] personality–should be animated from the spirit, instead of from the lower realm of the life of nature. We may say the same words, perform the same acts, but with a different source of animating life at the back of them.

When the spirit is thus ‘one spirit’ with the Risen Lord, it is via the spirit, into the mind, we experience the leadings of the Spirit, and intimate knowledge of the personal Christ. It is through our spirits joined to Him by the Holy Spirit, that we ‘know’ Him personally–for the whole purpose of the truth is that we should KNOW Him, as well as the power of His resurrection.

Excerpt from The Centrality of the Cross, chapter 5. (Christian Literature Crusade, by Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927). Bio page:

[1] See Watchman Nee’s book on the role of brokenness: The Release of the Spirit (also at CLC).

[2] For more on this theme, see the editor’s book, Man as Spirit, Soul, and Body: A Study of Biblical Psychology.

[3] For online public domain books by Andrew Murray, see

[Most Biblical quotes have been updated to NKJV. Bracketed words added – JBW]

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