Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dead and Alive!

Picture by Sandara Lee at CreationSwap
As I was growing up during my grade school years, I endured some difficult moments of taunting, teasing, and sometimes outright bullying. Those were some of the most painful years I've endured. I would literally embarrass myself trying to fit in. After several failed attempts of trying that, I would simply do my best just trying not to stand out. Unfortunately, maybe due to a problem with low self-esteem, I began acting out in ways that would cause great humiliation to my family and me. Even worse, I would get into so much trouble with stealing, lying, and other illegal activities that family members even had the notion to send me to Boy's Town. Those were difficult times to say the least.

After middle school, I was fortunate enough to move to a new school system 30 miles away and start over. Almost immediately, I began to notice a change. Other classmates didn't treat me with the same contempt because they didn't know me. I even found myself liking school again. My grades got better as I went from a D student to B student almost overnight. And I was no longer acting out and getting into altercations with law enforcement or other authorities. It was a dramatic change from what I was used to.

After only a half year of being a part of that school system, however, my mom and I moved once again…to yet another school, but only five miles separated from the same town and grade school where I once had those unpleasant memories. Starting over again, I was concerned about the reputation that was certain to follow me seeing how it was so close in vicinity. So I did my best to fit in and stay away from trouble. But over the course of the next three years, it was inevitable that some would eventually learn about my past. Unlike before, however, I wasn't treated with the same contempt. I even began to feel like I fit in. I was given a new chance in life.

In some ways, I feel like becoming a Christian is a lot like my story growing up. Of course, for me it is. Albeit, it wasn't until I was thirty-one before I was actually saved. What I'm trying to say is that for many people, there's a troubled past. You sin, you do things you regret, and end up at the end of your rope. But then there's this moment in your life when something happens, something like a wake-up call. Maybe it gets your attention. Maybe it doesn't. But inevitably, if it's by God's grace and mercy, God does eventually get your attention. God at this point brings conviction into your life, reveals your sin, and exposes it. Then He offers His Son Jesus into your life to save you. He gives you the faith to believe. You confess your sin, acknowledge and confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you're born again. Hallelujah!

Later on, days, months, or years, you begin to realize something. You realize you may no longer be a part of this world, but you're still in it. You know you're a new creation in Christ…yes; however, there are people who knew you how you once were. You had a reputation…and it follows you. You may think that you've moved on and your life is different now, but there are still some people who recognize you and sometimes go out of their way to remind you.

The great thing about being a Christian is that God gives you the grace to live your life as a Christ-follower despite your past. In fact, He gives you a new identity. In Romans 6, we see a picture of how this happens.

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 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. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

As you read this text, do you see what happens? In verse 3, Paul shows us how when we believe we automatically identify ourselves with Christ. As we're baptized into Christ Jesus, we identify with His death! And as though we were buried with Christ, in verse 4, we also are raised to a new life as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of God the Father! We have a new identity! Isn't that great?

So, even though we may still have the consequences of our sin that we need to confront and deal with, we no longer have to fear our past…or our reputation if you will. God gives us the reassurance that we are different. This in some ways parallels the story I told earlier. When I moved to a town and school system that was only a few miles from where I grew up and gained a bad reputation, I was fortunate enough to be given a second chance. The same thing here. But by identifying myself with Christ, however, I get so much more than just a second chance; I get a new life. Paul says that when our old self is crucified with Christ, our bodies are no longer ruled by sin. We are, in that sense then, no longer slaves to sin because, as Paul says, "anyone who has died has been set free from sin." However, being "dead" is not the end of us. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too are alive, but this time we're alive in Christ!
Picture by Matt Gruber at CreationSwap

Being dead…and then alive! Is that amazing, or what? Truth be told, none of us can adequately understand or describe this great mystery. But when the Bible says, "count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus," I believe it.

There's one thing we need to understand about this new life, though. Just as when I was young and given a new chance, I could easily have blown it. I could have resorted to my previous habits and destructive behavior. In the same way, Paul exhorts us as Christians to, "not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." He goes on and says, "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."

We have been given a tremendous gift. As Christians, we need to understand this grace that we have been given. And we also need to understand what our new identity is and what it means for us to live out a new life in Christ. Let's not fool ourselves. This is not something that we can do in our own power. We need God. And if we don't spend time with God, we're never going to have the resources we need that comes from the Holy Spirit to this out this life with purpose.

So let us be dead to sin…but alive in Christ!


  1. I found reading about your life, a captivating real story. Yes we do get the wonderful chance to start over Alive, with Christ.

  2. Kim -

    Thank you. I realize that I haven't had as difficult a life as some. In fact, it's you Kim that I have a tremendous amount of respect.

    But it's all our life stories that God saves by grace that is worth telling. And I am so thankful to our Savior. I also appreciate the opportunity to share what He has done for me.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving! God bless!

  3. Olá Dean!!!!

    Graça e Paz!!!

    Fico MUITO feliz quando recebo seus comentários em meu blog.

    Você escreveu em português???

    Que jóia!!!


    Salmo 34.2 Eu o louvarei por causa das coisas que ele tem feito

    Deus abençoe,

  4. Dean - Thank you so much for sharing part of your childhood with us. You are we grow (mature) as Christians we begin to realize that we are no longer of this world but just passing through. Our destination is our Father's House where we will have no more "bullying" or anything that causes pain. Thank you my friend for being such a faithful servant for our Lord and Savior. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. Lloyd

  5. Hi Dean,

    We are alive in Christ! I may not fully understand what that means, but I believe it and I am walking in that truth.

    I appreciate you my brother. You patiently share the Gospel of Grace in this journey through Romans. I thank God for your passion, witness and faith in Christ. You continue to extend both friendship and encouragement to me. I continue to remember you in my prayers.

    Blessings and peace.


  6. Oi Suely,

    Na verdade, eu me enganei a ser capaz de escrever Português. Eu usei um tradutor do google não ser capaz de fazer isso. É notável que há muitas maneiras podemos romper as barreiras de linguagem, não é?

    Espero que esteja tudo bem e que você tenha uma ótima semana! Deus te abençoe!

  7. Lloyd -

    I truly believe in Romans 8:28 that "...God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." Even the seemingly insignificant parts of life have a purpose when God is working His plans in our lives.

    I am extremely thankful for the friends I have come to know through blogging and I appreciate you, Lloyd, and your comments very much. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! God bless!

    MTJ -

    We are truly blessed, aren't we? To be given this new life and be alive because of Jesus is more than what words can express.

    It's always a blessing, as well, to have brothers in Christ sharing this journey together. I have been blessed by your posts and your comments and seeing how God has used you through your writings. I believe they have encouraged and inspired many readers and have touched their lives.

    Thank you so much for your example as you share your faith! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well. God bless!

  8. Olá Dean!!!!


    Yes, I have also used the google translator.

    He also assists in the translation and writing.

    Have a Saturday, Sunday and every other day blessed by God.

    God Bless,