“Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7)
If you have ever been to a funeral (or visitation), you know that awkward moment when you have to walk up and look down into that casket to “pay your respects” to the departed.
There’s a lot to think about in moments like those, but one of the most obvious things is that the person you are looking down at is incapable of doing anything. They can’t acknowledge you, or your words (if you say something), they can’t smile at you, or wink at you, or ask your forgiveness, or tell you “thanks for coming.”
Nothing. The dead are dead. Totally unable of a single action (even if they wanted to!)
It is this picture, of a dead person, that the apostle draws upon to help us see what God has done for each of us through the redemptive work of Jesus.
He has found an amazing way to make us dead… yet, still live.
In fact, one could make the case that we can’t really live for God until we embrace our own death (see Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23…).
In Paul’s mind, the thing with dead people is that they no longer struggle with sin – they are incapable of sinning… BECAUSE they are dead.
The serial killer in the casket can no longer kill at will… because he is dead. The chronic liar can no longer tell lies… because he is dead. The drug dealer can no longer deal drugs… because he is dead. Place any temptation before a dead person and you get ZERO response. It is simply impossible for the dead to sin… because they are dead.
Yesterday, we talked about the command to “take stock” of what God has done for us so we can know how to live. All God is asking us to do is to know what we have (what He has given us) and apply His provision to our daily lives.
Part of His provision (through Jesus’ work) is our death – so the power of sin will be totally rendered powerless. “We have died with Christ…” (Romans 6:8; see Gal. 2:20) At every moment that we apply God’s provision (for our death) to our lives – it is impossible for us to sin! For the simple fact that the dead do not sin.
But in the moment that we choose NOT to apply God’s provision (for our death) we are fully capable of doing all the things that every sinner does. This is the source of our frustration and our “powerlessness” to avoid sinning (even as Christians). Our victory (as fully provided through Jesus) is only as good as how we apply what God has done. Christ’s work is fully completed. The work is fully effective. But we have to do our part – and apply our faith to the fullness of Christ’s completed work for us.
The goal of all this “dying” is to get us to the point where God can really live in us and through us. He doesn’t just want us dead to sin… He wants us alive to Him.
He has made provision for both. But we must willingly choose to live in all that God has done for us.