By: Jenni Walker
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:12
“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15
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Sometimes when we talk about how Jesus was dead and then resurrected, we forget the reality that we, too, were dead. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…so death spread to all men because all sinned.” He explained this state of being dead in sin this way in Ephesians 2: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (verses 1–3).
Notice how the message of life in Christ must be delivered in context of our old state – separate from God, lost in darkness, and, yes, dead in trespasses and sins. Why would Paul write it this way? There are two reasons that we are going to look at closely through Scripture today:
First, we cannot save ourselves. Someone who has drowned and has no life in them cannot have any hope of rescuing themselves from death or of anyone else saving them at that point. Even if the body is recovered, there is NO hope in the natural of that person returning physically to life. None.
That leads us to another transformative reason: Our life is not our own. The life we now have in Christ is not the kind we so often think of. While springtime has beautiful “life” kinds of imagery associated with it such as blooming flowers, the sun shining, newly born animals, family traditions, and the anticipation of summer, there is more to the kind of life Jesus is talking about. “The grass withers, and flowers fade…” Just what is the full picture of life in Christ…?
The kind of life we have in Christ is not US having our own new life because of Him. It is literally living our lives in HIM – in the life of Christ Himself! When God created Adam in Genesis 1, it says He breathed life into Him. In the same way, God Himself through the work of Jesus has breathed life into us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But we don’t just say, “I’m alive because of Jesus” (although that is true!) The Bible takes it a step further, declaring in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
How then shall we live?
Spiritually, for those who have repented and believe in His name (John 1:12), we have already been raised with Christ and are alive in Him. (Be sure to check out last week’s devotion entitled “Confronted by a Choice…”!) This means that we have eternal life and will always be with our Lord. Colossians 3:1–4 explains it this way: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
These spiritual truths are actual realities for followers of Jesus. Today, right now, you are alive in Christ! That means one day you will also be “with Him in glory” for eternity! But again, how then shall we live? Let’s continue reading in Colossians 3, which says, “Therefore [because of the realities explained above in verses 1–4!], put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (verses 5–7 & 10).
The work of Christ in us means that our old self has died, and we have literally been resurrected through HIM! HE is our resurrection, HE is our life, and in HIM we live and move and have our very being both now and for eternity. As such, we live differently – very differently. We must choose to actually live this resurrection life as we respond to God’s sanctifying work in us through the Holy Spirit. Romans 6 explains that we still must choose in our time here on this earth, which is still under the sway of sin and darkness and the wicked one, to “reckon ourselves” as dead to sin and alive to God: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 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” (Romans 6:5–11).
Paul goes on, writing that because of these eternal truths, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts…For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 12, 20–23).
Did you catch it? The exchange of Christ’s life to redeem ours means that we reckon ourselves as dead to sin. That means that we now LIVE alive in Him and no longer as sons of disobedience. This does not produce salvation but is the result of our salvation because we are now united with Christ, and as such, He has brought us near to God in Him (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 4:15–16).
We cannot save ourselves. Every person born into this world is born physically alive yet spiritually dead, a heart enslaved to sin and far from God, and in desperate need to be made alive (born again!) in Christ Jesus. Yet, that is not the end of the story! Each of us is made in God’s image, and God sent His one and only Son as our Rescuer. And as such, our life is not our own. Many, many people have heard the good news Jesus Himself spoke in John 3:16, declaring, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Yet countless people have not heard the rest of what Jesus spoke just a few verses later, saying, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (verses 18–20).
The resurrection reality of literally living alive IN Christ changes things not just for ourselves but for those we are called to reach in this world that God loves. If I see someone who I think is drowning in a pool, I am not going to respond casually. There is a life-or-death urgency in my response! If I had once drowned and was actually dead but was raised to life miraculously, I am going to live in a new way and will not hesitate to tell others about my source of life. Jesus explains in John 3:21, “But he [or she!] who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
This truth calls us to urgency in reaching others who are still dead in their trespasses and sins with the good news of life in Christ! As we close, consider the words of 2 Corinthians 5:14–15 & 20–21: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” May these resurrection realities assure you and spur you on, remembering that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20)!