Wanted: Dead or Alive
by Matt Smith
I’m sure we have all seen the old Western movies in which a picture of the fugitive from the law would be posted indicating that the sheriff just wants the criminal captured, whether dead or alive. In our reading today in Romans 6, we are challenged with the thought that God wants us to consider ourselves both dead and alive.
This critical chapter starts with Paul answering a question that some had apparently asked, “Since God’s grace is greater than my sin, does this give me the freedom to continue sinning?” Paul gives a very direct and pointed response of “God forbid!”, meaning “certainly not!” He then introduces the thought that we as Christians should consider ourselves as being dead to sin. According to verse 6, at the moment of our salvation, our “old man”, i.e. our sin nature, was symbolically crucified with Christ on the cross. So as Christ died on the cross, so too was our old man crucified with him.
Whereas we normally think of death in a negative light, this death of our old man is a wonderful thing! Verse 7 reads, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Because our old man was crucified with Christ, our bondage to sin has been broken! We do not need to let sin reign in our lives and obey its desire and passions. Do we sometimes voluntarily yield ourselves back to the power of sin? Absolutely. However, that decision was our choice as the divine power is available for us to live victoriously over sin.
So while we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, verse 11 teaches us to “reckon” or consider ourselves to be “alive to God.” In contrast to yielding our bodies as instruments of sin, we are to present ourselves and our members as instruments of righteousness (vs. 13). Our same bodies that used to be a slave/servant of sin can now be used as instruments of righteousness to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives. What a blessed turnaround!
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