Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6: 9-11)
The Bible is filled with amazing statements that easily move right past us. We read them over and over during the course of our lives, but they don’t always sink in.
I think it is because we are not always ready to receive the truths that the Lord has for us. The Lord meant as much when he said to His disciples, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (John 16:12).
God is Preparing the Soil
We can hear a truth in a thousand ways and yet have it fail to land on the fertile soil of our hearts.
That is what happened to me regarding the introductory verses above.
I was in my Sophomore year at Bob Jones University. I had been a Christian for about 5 years or more. The Lord had used me in many different leadership roles in my young Christian life. And I had seen no small amount of turmoil and battle over spiritual things to that point.
In other words, I was no novice to the things of the Gospel and the Word of God.
Nevertheless, a classmate of mine showed up at my dorm room one Saturday afternoon and asked if he could show me something. His name was Dan. He was a year or two older than me. A nice guy. He and I sat next to each other in a course called Church Administration.
Let me tell you. That was one boring class. The teacher was a very nice guy. But I had trouble staying awake in that afternoon class. If you were to look at my old notes, you would see many pages where the notes become harder to read. Often they would take a nose dive toward the bottom of the page. Like a diver jumping off a cliff.
Anyway, Dan asked me to sit down with him and began to go over these verses in Romans covering chapters 5 thru 7. He read verse after verse to me. And emphasized certain verses as he went.
I didn’t say much. And I thanked him for showing me these verses. I wanted to be respectful to him.
But, in truth, I was ticked off. Why was he showing this stuff to me? Who did he think I was? I knew these verses. I had read them and studied them many times before.
Fast-forward to a year later.
I didn’t go back to college for many reasons I won’t explain here. And I entered the work force and struggled through some very deep and dark times spiritually.
Eventually, at the edge of madness and fear, the Lord reached down to show me the amazing truths in these verses.
That when He died for me, I died with Him.
And when He rose again, I rose with Him.
The Ground of Growth
All of the Christian life is based upon these truths. All of our success in this new life begins with our resting upon these facts that God has declared to be true.
When we place our faith in Christ, our “old man” is crucified with Him. We are no longer under the power of sin. We are no longer facing the penalty of sin. We are no longer under its dominion.
And the Law has no more to say to us. We are dead to the Law. We have fulfilled the Law by being put to death, with Christ, according to the Law.
And sin is no longer our identity.
Who We Really Are
When I say, “identity”, I mean that we are no longer the person to be associated with the sins that plague us. Yes, we do sin. All the time, in fact.
But that is not who we are.
Whether we struggle with alcohol, with pornography, with anger, with lying, with covetousness, with greed, or whatever our problems is, this is not who we are. We can fail in all sorts of ways. Nasty ways. And there is no excuse for anything that we do that is a sin.
But, that is not truly who we are if we have the Lord dwelling within us.
In fact, we are forever a child of God, a son or daughter of the King of Glory. But we may often do bad stuff. Even habitually. Yes, even having what the Bible calls “a besetting sin”.
But we are not that sin. We are simply choosing to behave in a way that is not according to who we really are. And not according to the way God really sees us.
We often act in foolish ways. But it does not change our identity.
“Besetting” actually comes from the root, “besieged”. To be under siege. Under massive, surrounding attack. Maybe you have trouble with something that doesn’t go away. Or it goes away and comes back. A bad habit might be another name for it.
Some preachers like to say you are not a believer if you have “habitual sins”. They are wrong. We all have habitual sins. We are just selective about which ones we like to point out. But we all have them and struggle with them.
Even the preachers struggle with them.
DISCLAIMER: It seems we always have to say this when we talk this way about sin. Sin is wrong. God does not approve of sin. Not the little sins, nor the big ones. Nor does this give anyone a license to sin.
We need to bring our sins to the Lord and acknowledge them. And stop them. That is called repentance.
But we need to realize that He has already forgiven us. That was settled at the moment of our salvation. He just wants us to bring this stuff out in the open and let Him cleanse our minds so that we can be at peace with Him. To see how His blood, His Word and His Spirit cleanse us continually.
We fail because we forget that our victory is already won.
We will only find true victory as we rest in His finished work. Not in the illusions of success we feel from applying our practical strategies and self-striving methods.
Walking in Eternal Life Right Now!
So, if we are dead with Him, we are also RISEN with Him. This is amazing!
I could write a thousand posts about this fact!
We have already risen from the dead. We will not die spiritually. We may someday see that “shadow of death” as our bodies fade away and our spirits are free to fly to Him. But we will not feel death’s sting.
We are already walking in eternal life right now!
Think of this as you walk out the door, get in your car and go to work tomorrow. You are not of this world. You are just a stranger and pilgrim here. This is not the country we seek. Our world is yet to come.
All that we do now as believers is based on His Resurrection power, the Spirit Himself, working through us moment by moment to influence the world around us. All we have to do is walk out the door. Get out among people. Stand in line at the supermarket and, maybe, never say a word. Just watch and see what the Lord will be doing through our presence wherever we go.
Because His Spirit speaks to others when we are in their midst. This is a mystery. But it is a wonderful thing to know that He ministers to people this way. Sometimes it takes our spoken words. Sometimes not.
NOT because we are good or holy or super Christians. But because Christ desires to impact our world by His Spirit within us. To do the wondrous things that will include His speaking, by His Spirit, to a person we are near. We just need to be available for whatever He may do through us.
We don’t have to do some crazy or spiritual thing. We don’t have to say, “Praise the Lord!” or “Jesus loves you.” or anything. We just need to listen to His still small voice and rest in His working. Whatever we do, we need to quietly watch, thanking Him for however He might use us as we walk through our normal lives.
So, I learned that my fleshly struggles with sin and sanctification were pointless. I had to come to the end of my own abilities before I could rest in the established facts of His death and resurrection provided for me.
I knew of His death regarding salvation; but I did not understand how He also wanted to be my Life moment by moment. His Life to be lived within me to do all the things He has told me to do.
What is left after that? What burden do I still insist on carrying?
It is no longer an endless striving to imitate “What Would Jesus Do?”
Now . . . it is Watch What Jesus Does!