Thoughts from the Sycomore’s weekly reading of Romans…
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the hard realization that I am going to saying good-bye (or see you on the other side!) to more and more people in my life. It’s a sad and at the same time, glorious truth. Death, however, isn’t something that should be unfamiliar to us—and not simply because we see those around us dying, but because it’s much more a part of our lives than we realize. You see, as followers of Jesus Christ, death—not the actual death of life, but the kind of “death to self” is an absolutely integral part of our journey with Him.
Today’s text tells us that if we die with Christ, we shall also live with Him. What we have to understand is that though—vs. 9, “Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again,” we will—but not only the death that comes after we take our final breath (one which is most often completely out of our hands), but the death that we willing choose to embrace every day, every moment. What Jesus did on the cross paid our debt for our sin and death—that’s called justification. Once we embrace that truth of Jesus Christ as our Savior, our journey of life and faith doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s only the beginning. We actually begin a NEW journey—one that involves what God does as well as what His expectations of us are as well. His part is called sanctification. It is the work that only the Holy Spirit can do and we cannot do it. It involves His awesome power that allows us to overcome the power of our canceled sins. Our part (which He will not do—it’s a choice that we have to make) is the willingness to surrender and allow the Holy Spirit to do that great work in us. There’s another part of this equation though. It’s called transformation and this brings us back to the beginning of today’s thoughts—because it involves, once again, death. Transformation entails the continuous choosing to put to death our old self (or our sin nature), followed by the rebirth of our new self (the one that has been made “alive to God in Christ Jesus”). This is important for us to know because too often we think that our journey ends with a choice that we make at an event some time ago in the past. In one sense it does—but only for those who continue to as the Apostle Paul says—“work out our salvation.” However, I’m not sure if this is the case for those who pretty much choose to “end” their journey of faith right before it’s about to begin. There is so much more to what we call salvation than we realize—and I thank God for that. #desiringGod2017