Jesus died for our sins.
How many times have you heard this statement? If you’re like me, a lot. And it’s absolutely true.
However, I suggest that we have often only really talked about half of the gospel message.
We have taught a message of death, instead of a message of life.
You Have to Die–But Only Once
The Christian life starts with death.
In order to become part of the family of God, we have to die to sin and the Old Covenant.
And that’s why Jesus died on the cross. Through believing in Him, we become part of His death and are crucified with Him.
But that’s the last time we have to die.
You see, Jesus only died once. With His death, He purged the sins of everyone who believes in Him. All we have to do is accept that death and join in it.
Then, like Paul, you can say: “I am crucified with Christ”.
Because once you have died, you have died. You may not feel like it all the time, but that doesn’t change the truth: your old man is dead.
And quite frankly, if he’s not, then you’re not a believer.
Take it straight from the Bible: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24) If you’re a believer, it’s already happened.
And Now It’s Time for Life
What good is it to die to sin if we stop there? After all, everyone will eventually die. Some will remain in a state of perpetual death in Hell, which is called the second death. (And lest you’re wondering, no, I do not mean that Hell is merely a state of separation from God or anything other than the lake of fire vividly described in Scripture.)
But the great news of the Gospel goes far beyond death.
In fact, Jesus tells us that Satan is the one who comes to bring death. Jesus, on the other hand, has come so that we can have abundant life! (John 10:10)
The Gospel is not merely a gloomy call to die to sin, deny yourself, start changing your ways, and be persecuted and possibly killed at an early age, so that you can hopefully get to Heaven in the afterlife.
No, death is only the doorway to new life. This new life changes us in the here and now.
Paul so eloquently continued, after stating that he was crucified with Christ:
…it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
You see, after dying with Christ, we also rise with Him! Just as He is no longer in the grave, we, too, come to life in Him. And since that life comes from Him, it comes from Him dwelling within me!
This Is Totally Cool!
Guys, I’ll be honest. The idea of Christ living in me gives me the shivers. In a good way! I mean, what could be cooler?
Listen, Superman has nothing on us. Okay, so we don’t generally fly through the air or stop bullets. But we have something far better: the power of the Lord of the universe living within us.
So here’s how the narrative really goes: first you have to die to who you started out as, because that person is not able to host the King of the Universe. That person, in fact, is already dead because of sin. But after you die, you get to come back to life as a brand-new person. Only this time, you are the child of the King, and He now dwells within you!
Not only that, but if you will let Him, He will completely transform you from the inside out. He starts by renovating your mind (Romans 12:2) so that you think the way that He thinks. Remember, this is a really good thing. After all:
- He created the world
- He knows exactly the best way to do everything
- He knows what’s best for us
- He can see into the future and know what we should do now so that things will be best in the future
- He makes everything work together for good for us
- He not only loves us, He is love itself
Hey, you want the best life possible? How about one where you have an intimate relationship the Ultimate, All Powerful, Loving King?
Yeah, that sounds totally cool!
I Sure Don’t Want to Die Now!
Now up to this point, everything I’ve written may sound like something you’ve heard. Maybe many times. But I bet you haven’t heard what I’m about to share. I know I hadn’t heard it before.
So, now we’re alive again. We’re living, not on our own life, but the life of Jesus Himself.
So what happens if we try to die again?
In other words, whose life, then, are we trying to die to?
I’m not talking about the truly Biblical concept of mortifying sin (Colossians 3:5). Sin, of course, does need to be rooted out of our lives, and Jesus is more than happy to help us do so.
But if we try to “die daily” or “die to ourselves” at this point, we are dying to the life of Jesus within us.
And I can guarantee that you will end up with a dead Christianity.
Now, you may still have desires that are ungodly. You may still believe things that are untrue or even do things that you shouldn’t. However, if you died, you died. That’s enough death.
At this point, you have to reckon yourself as being dead to that sin already (Romans 6:11)–count yourself as already dead to it, and therefore able to serve God.
I used to read passages like “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh” and feel like it was something I still had to do. Folks, that’s nothing more than the deception of the Devil. As someone who belonged to Christ, I had already crucified the flesh.
I just needed to live like it was true.
Living Waters of Life
With all this in mind, I want to leave you with Romans 6:1-14. Read it, looking not for death, but for life, and let its living waters wash over your soul.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives to God.
Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Also, do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace.