When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared his death. So, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the wonderful power of the Father, we also can live a new life. Christ died, and we have been joined with him by dying too. So we will also be joined with him by rising from the dead as he did. We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross so that our sinful selves would have no power over us and we would not be slaves to sin. Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control. If we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. Christ was raised from the dead, and we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now. Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time. He now has a new life, and his new life is with God. In the same way, you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:4-11 NIV)
Hallelujah! If you’re not rejoicing after reading the above, go back and read it again! Read it a little bit slower and let the words sink in a bit. Think about what they mean – that because Jesus died on the cross for us, we are no longer slaves to sin and death. I’ll say it again – hallelujah! He is risen! And because He is risen, I too have power over sin. I am now free to live for God, without being stuck in the same destructive sinful behavior patterns that used to rule over me. I am set free to live for God! Hallelujah!
But wait, there’s more! Through Jesus I am also set free from the fear of death! I will be living with Jesus in my Father’s house for all eternity so I no longer fear death. Sin and death have lost their grip on me and I am free! Hallelujah! That is Good News!
But is it the Good News that we share with people in the streets and in our pews? Think about it for a minute before you answer. When we share the Good News, do we explain to people that when they put their faith in Jesus, their sin nature – their flesh, that part of them that makes them sin – is crucified with Christ Jesus? Do we tell them that they now have the power to quit sinning and to live for Jesus? Or do we simply tell them that their sins are forgiven and that they are now heaven-bound regardless of how they live here on earth?
In other words, when we share the Good News, are we in the habit of sharing only half of the Gospel, that Jesus died so that we might be forgiven and go to heaven, instead of sharing the whole Gospel, that we are not only forgiven and heaven-bound but also set free from the power of sin and the fear of death?
Jesus died so that we might be free from sin and live for Him for all eternity, both on earth and in heaven. We therefore do a disservice to new converts when we fail to tell them that they now have the power to quit sinning and to escape the chains that keep them in destructive, hurtful behavior patterns.
"When we share the Good News, do we explain to people that when they put their faith in Jesus, their sin nature – their flesh, that part of them that makes them sin – is crucified with Christ Jesus? Do we tell them that they now have the power to quit sinning and to live for Jesus?"
When we come to faith in Christ, we become new creations in Christ Jesus who have the power to not sin. We can see ourselves as dead to sin, crucified with Christ, and set free to serve God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. We are set free from sin in order that we can live a new life with God.
This is the Good News that many of us forget to share in the church culture of today. We go from service to service, from this meeting to that gathering, talking about all kinds of ways to be better men, better women, better singles, better youth, better spouses, better parents, better stewards, better evangelists, better servers, more hospitable, more loving, the list goes on as we think about all the wisdom and advice we dispense through our ministries. But do we tell people that they can be free from sin and live for Jesus? Or do we tell them that they are sinners who are saved by grace and that they will never overcome their flesh, that they will be slaves of their sin nature until they die and go to heaven?
Instead of dispensing good advice and worldly wisdom on how to do better, we need to get right down to it and address the sin issue that plagues each one of us. We can try harder again and again to no avail but when we come to Jesus and become new creations in Him, we find that we are set free from our sin nature and now have a choice to either serve God or go back to the sinful life we had before.
In other words, before we were included in Christ we had no choice – we were slaves to sin and couldn’t do anything different. But now that we are in Christ, we have a choice – to serve God or go back to the way we lived before. Let’s choose to serve God, and not go back to the life that we lived before trusting Christ.
This is the message that needs to be emphasized as we discover together how to do Biblical church. We must get back to the power of the resurrection and the understanding that because we are crucified with Christ and raised again to live a new life in Him, we can choose to cast sin aside and live for God.
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, forgive me for those time when I have been content to share good advice or half the Gospel when I could have shared the whole Gospel, that we are not only forgiven but that we also have freedom from sin and the fear of death. Help me to boldly proclaim that followers of Jesus are set free from sin so that they can serve God wholeheartedly and without distraction from the world around them. Help me to not fear persecution or even death because I am going to a place where I will be with You forever. Help me to contend for victory over sin and death right here, right now, in my life and in the lives of the people I bring before You now...(continue praying as you feel led…)
Related Resources: Living in the power of the resurrection is best accomplished when we are in community with others who are actively encountering Jesus. This type of life-giving community is often called organic church: “An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership. This is in sharp contrast to a clergy-led, institution-driven church.” (From the Preface of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna. This is a very informative book on church traditions and why we do many of the things we do in many churches on Sunday mornings. It is an excellent book and well worth the purchase price.)
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