November 13, 2016

Both dead and alive

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

When Jesus Christ was crucified, He died to the world, to sin, to everything else but the absolute will of God. And I died with Him. How is this possible?

In the Bible, the phrase “in Christ” is used often. What does that mean? One theologian explained it like this: Before I was born, I was in the loins of my father, as he was in the loins of his father. The life that became me was first a part of the life that came before me.

Today’s DNA testing claims are often bogus and yet they illustrate that a person’s lineage is revealed in their lineage. Science would show that my father is my father and my siblings are my siblings.

This means that when God put Christ in me and me “in Christ” I was actually made part of the family of God. This is what the Bible talks about when it says Christians are a new creation and have been regenerated or ‘born’ again.

Is this physical or spiritual? That is, does God change my DNA or does the change go much deeper than that? Galatians 2:20 links the two. Being crucified with Christ is spiritual, not physical, but the person who now lives is physical (I now live in the flesh) and spiritual (I live by faith in the Son of God).

At all this, I often shake my head at the wonder of it. About forty-five years ago, God recreated me and I still am trying to fully grasp what this means, proving the truth of what a friend told me at that time: “You are saved in mere seconds, but will spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what happened.”

Dying with Christ is important. He died to the world and I am to not love the world:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17)

Jesus died to sin and I died to sin:

. . . . Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:1–7)

Yet as these verses say, I also live with Christ and am set free to walk in newness of life.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (Romans 6:8–12)

A dead person does not respond to outside stimulus. A dead person is immobile and unable to do anything. Sin cannot make a dead person obey it; therefore I am to reckon myself dead.

But I’m also to reckon myself alive to God, not to sin, not to selfishness, not to the world, certainly not to Satan and his ploys, but alive to God in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a marvel, and all of this is by grace through faith. I could never have made up such a plan — it is all God’s wonderful idea!

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