The New Testament repeatedly informs its readers about the momentous event at Calvary. Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6 declares that Christ embraced me (and you) when He was crucified. He died! We did too, in Him! But my problem was first written up by Paul. Romans 7:15-24. We know how he felt when he wrote ‘I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I should, and what I hate, I do!’
Why is it so?
The doctrinal implications about my death must be understood first of all from God’s vantage point. Following on from grasping the wonder that talks about we are faced with the moral expression of it in our life and living. As if that was all there was to it we then discover a ‘monster’ in our human nature.
How God views me – you - after a faith commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. We, who were unclean, dead in sin and enemies are now alive to Him, cleansed, forgiven, justified. We are no longer in the kingdom of Darkness but in the Kingdom of His Son1! We are seated with Him in the Heavenly places2. That which prevented us from having a relationship with God and barred us from Heaven eternally has been crucified, removed, buried! Romans 6:6 defined it as ‘the old man.’ God sees me and you as His - now. Trouble for me hovers around the fact that I have to work out in daily life what God has wrought in me. Easy, if we were in Heaven. Difficult as we who are ‘dead’ are still operating in World dominated by the Kingdom of darkness. We are confronted by doubts about our death, how to please God and controlling our very active memories and the twisted tastes of our soul.
What then am I, or you, to do when people claim to have a better way to be dead?
There has always been some who claimed to really be alive to Christ was to become a Jew first. That meant keeping the Mosaic Law as well as believing on Jesus. This was actually refuted by the man who claimed he had kept the law rigorously. Then he discovered the Mosaic couldn’t save him. That was Paul. Read Philippians 3 for his testimony.
This brilliant man didn’t say Jesus had killed the Law. No! It was still operating with its curse on failure and powerless to forgive after condemnation. In Romans 7:4 this upholder of salvation as supremely and solely by faith in Christ wrote believers are dead to the Law. We live in a new realm. The mandate for our life and living is to set our affections on Christ and to unleash His righteousness through our obedience to Him and His will. The Church council in Acts 15 did not require Gentile believers to place themselves under the yoke of the Law of Moses. Why? Because it could only tell us the wages of sin is death but it couldn’t give us life. In our commitment to Christ we have paid the penalty of sin which came when Adam transgressed God’s word. The Law of Moses defined some of the specific areas in which all ‘crash and burn’.
I, being a Gentile, was never under the Law. However, I was bound by my pagan and philosophical traditions with their avenues of escaping judgement. I still am surrounded by them but being redeemed from them I am dead to their influence. As I read the New Testament letters I gain an understanding of those traditions that no longer should dictate to me my views about God and my relationship with Him. I must realise that I’m dead to old and profane wives fables and pseudo-science3.
There is a majestic passage in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. It speaks of our victory over the most dreaded time to come. Faith in Christ makes us share in His death and resurrection. We have new life and new dwelling arrangements. Unfortunately, for those who reject the grace of Christ Jesus and shun joining Him in His cross and resurrection they experience a death to which we have died. In Revelation 2:11 and 20:6 the promise is given to believers that we have no part in what is called ‘The second death.’ In Revelation 20:14 the destiny of those not dead to sin and their ‘old man’ and therefore alive in Christ are delivered into that realm. The ‘Second Death’ is no fun park but a place of gnashing teeth and tears of regret.
References.1Colossians 1:13. 2Ephesians 1:3. 31 Timothy 6:20.
Next week: Poem of the month.
©Ray Hawkins 28th January 2018.