Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sharing in the Life of Christ

"The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:10–11).

Christ did not die for Himself. Neither was He raised from the dead merely for Himself, but He was raised for us, that we might also participate in life everlasting. We will participate in the exaltation of Christ. He is the first-fruits of all those who will be raised from the dead.

Paul is particularly concerned here, however, not with that future glory, but with our living with Christ right now. Christ is alive now, and the power of His life is alive in us now. If we identify with the Cross in justification, then we must also identify with His life in the present. “If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (v. 8). According to verse 10, Christ died to sin and now lives unto God. Now, if we are identified with Christ’s death in our baptism (v. 3), then we must also be identified with His present life. Just as He now lives unto God, so must we.

All of this flows from our justification. In justification, God took my sins and put them on Jesus. When God killed Jesus, He killed my sin. If God reckons our sins dead on the cross with Jesus, then we also ought to reckon ourselves dead to sin. We need to agree with God. God counts us dead to sin, and so we ought to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Thus, Paul is saying that we need to consider our old life is dead. It’s over. Let it be buried. We can’t go back.

If we have embraced Christ, what we now must do is live a new life following Him. We have no choice. The old life is dead. In this way Paul makes it clear that anyone who has been declared justified by God must inevitably lead a new life in righteousness.

Paul speaks of “counting ourselves” as dead to sin and alive to righteousness. This is an act of the will and the mind. Often we have to argue with ourselves, to remind ourselves that the old life is indeed gone and that we really do have the power to live new lives. Although Paul cannot say everything in a single verse or chapter, later in Romans he will remind us that the power to live this new life comes by the Spirit. Do not be deceived into thinking you can walk independently. The new life is a supernatural one which requires more than the natural resources you possess.