Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re dead to me”? That’s a really harsh thing to say, but if we think about it, like the Prodigal Son, this described our attitude towards God when we were still serving sin. On the other hand, there is great joy for those who have been estranged for a long time and find a way to reconcile and restore their relationship. If that is true for human relationships, how much greater is the joy of being alive to God?
And, just like we would feel sorrow for friends or family members who had made up (after a period of hostility) but later started doing the same hurtful things in the relationship (i.e., behaviors that caused the rift in the first place), we need to remember that those who have found new life with God in Jesus Christ have set aside – put to death – that old life, and we’re now enjoying a new life: one that is really living.
The past couple of articles have focused on the importance of leaving a life of sin when we choose to follow Jesus. There is still a battle that goes on inside us, because not all of our selves have been made new (some of that needs to wait until the new heaven and new earth appear, I suppose), but we at least get a fighting chance to get out of the slavery to sin (which had previously trapped us).
Romans 6:11 builds on what we saw in the first few verses of this chapter: If you are dead to something bad, why in the world would you go back to it?
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11 NIV
As the ripple effects of the pandemic (and the world’s response to this challenge) led to what has been called the “Great Resignation”, I’ve been starting to read some statistics that not all of those who changed jobs are happier. As it turns out, going from one bad job to another isn’t guaranteed to make us happy.
However, the alternative to living for ourselves (in sin) isn’t just “another job” or “another religion”. It is life. And this isn’t only a state of actually – finally – being alive in exactly the way that God created us to be (although that’s a pretty big deal), but it is also – per this verse – what we should consider as “alive to God in [or through] Christ Jesus”.
While some have regretted changing jobs in an active labor market, I’m sure that there are also many who have taken the time to find a new opportunity at a place that really values them and offers them an opportunity to do good things with their skills. This requires looking at alternatives to a dead-end job carefully, to make sure that we’re moving into something better.
Serving God, as we give our lives over to Him, isn’t just like going from one bad job to another. On the contrary, it’s sort of like going from selling drugs on the street for just enough change to scrape by, being insulted and beaten by your dealer; to joining a family with unlimited resources who gets together to serve others, in ways that fit with their abilities, bringing both joy and satisfaction to them as they celebrate the good that is being accomplished through the direction of the Head of their family.
In the end, I think that some of this decision (when it comes to who we will follow spiritually, not just our employment) boils down to this question: Who do you trust to have your best interests in mind: God, or the forces of evil? And, to whom do you owe your new life, once you have been rescued from the death penalty of sin?
Here’s Paul’s suggestion:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Romans 6:12-14 NIV
Since God is for us, and He offers us a better life with Him (starting here on earth, but lasting for eternity), why would we enslave ourselves to sin again, which previously destroyed our life and our relationship with God? In fact, this might be the only time that it’s OK to say this, but once we have given our lives to Jesus, I think that we can say, “Sin, you’re dead to me.”
Once again, we aren’t saved to sit. We are saved to serve, whether we translate this as being an “instrument” (NIV) or “weapon” (NASB footnote) of righteousness. We are to submit to God’s direction, and allow Him – not sin – to guide our actions. The result will be far better than going it alone and doing whatever we want.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for March 6, 2022
- The Lookout, March 6, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.