Dead Unto Sin, Alive Unto God
… 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 freed 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. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:6-14NKJV
Growing up in the south, there was an abundance of two things: snakes and tree stumps. Both were very deadly in certain contexts, and both were quite hard to kill. For instance, even when you severed the head of a rattlesnake, it could still bite you and the body kept moving for quite some time. Likewise, after cutting down a tree it was imperative to destroy the roots lest they continue to spread and cause further damage. In both scenarios the object is quite dead, and yet, even though they are dead they still have the very real potential to harm a person. You are probably wondering what snakes and tree stumps have to do with our passage. Have you considered the reality that Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent? After all, we were promised in Gen. 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” And Jesus did emphatically pronounce “It is finished” as He died upon the cross. But you and I live in a world that still feels the sting of the serpent and sees the consequences of his poison. Why do we still see the effects of sin throughout the world, and, more importantly, why is it still present in our lives?
Christians can become easily discouraged when we see lingering sin still present in our everyday lives. We read passages like the one above and begin to doubt our salvation because we still see the dross and even some remnant of the old man lingering about. So how do we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive unto God? Our first need is to be realistic. Like snakes and tree stumps, immediate death to our foe does not mean instantaneous relief. As believers, Satan and sin no longer have authority, dominion, or rule over our lives. However, sin is just as deadly as it ever was. Because you have been crucified with Christ, you are alive unto God. And because you are alive in Christ you stand opposed and in direct conflict with that which brings death: SIN. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Don’t be deceived into thinking that you can sit on the sidelines. You and I take the field each day and fight battles. It will be messy and hard. But thanks be to God: Jesus conquered at Calvary!
We also need to remember that while redemption is instantaneous, restoration is a process. So often we stumble and fall. We struggle with the same old sins. We begin to doubt God’s grace in our lives. Christians, as they mature, should begin to see more and more roots left over from the tree that was leveled by God’s grace. Do not doubt God’s grace! The old man is dead. We have been crucified with Christ and are alive in Him, and yet we still are commanded to pick up our cross and die daily. It should not surprise us that sin is still present. What should concern us is when we become blinded or hardened and don’t see the remaining roots of sin that are most definitely present while we dwell in these mortal vessels. With God’s Word as our cultivator, we must continue to root out those sins which still remain. We must not be alarmed that they are still present, but we must be thankful that they no longer have dominion over us.
Lastly, you are under grace. God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus has fulfilled the law’s demands. He died the death that you deserve. And He now lives, reigns, and ever lives to makes intercession for poor and needy sinners. Is this not good news? You are alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Remember this truth. Meditate upon this reality. And then go and be His instruments of righteousness to a world that is full of people hurting and in need of hope and restoration.