I, like most earthlings, once had two Grandmothers. Both of them lived some distance away from my family, and we were only able to see them during certain times of the year. My Grandmother on my Father’s side lived nearly 5 states away, and I saw her much less frequently than my Grandmother on my Mother’s side, who lived only a matter of hours away.
Both are now dead and dearly missed.
The purpose of my writing is not to clue you in on the details of my relationship with my Grandparents. Rather, I want to weave a short parable for you. You see, both of my Grandmothers died several years ago now. I attended both of their funerals, but there was one major difference between them: my Grandmother on my Father’s side was cremated, while my Mother’s mother had a traditional, open casket funeral. This had a certain psychological effect on me as a young man.
As a young man, I never beheld my one Grandmothers face as she lay in a casket. She had been cremated, and her ashes placed within an urn. In my last memories of her, she is still very much alive and well. My last memory of my other Grandmother, however, is of her lying lifeless in a coffin. The reality of her passing could not be denied and is permanently etched into my mind as fact. My other Grandmother, however, not so much. In my imagination, I still see her as being very much alive. Sometimes I even find myself forgetting that she died at all. Why? The reality of her passing never quite sank in. At her funeral, all that I saw to prove it as being true was a jar, and only a jar. Now, I was told that’s where her remains were placed, I believed, but it just didn’t sink in. To this very day, I can trick myself into believing that she is still among the living, though just living five states away. Weird, I know.
There’s something tremendously important about that final viewing. It somehow seals the deal and makes the passing of that individual seem real. In the same way, it is tremendously important that we grasp the reality of our own death as well. ”Our own death?”, you might say, “What exactly are you getting at here?” What I’m getting at is the fact that Scripture declares that you and I , as believer’s in Jesus Christ, have died. That’s right, you read it in black and white. You died. Colossians 3:3 states, “…you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Romans 6:6 states similarly that, “…our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” What does this mean exactly? It means that the moment you believed upon Christ, you were spiritually baptized into the work and person of Jesus Christ. Romans 6:3 asks and answers the question, “…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” This is not speaking of water baptism, but of a spiritual immersion into the work of Jesus Christ. Literally, when Christ died to sin upon Calvary, you died to sin as well. That is to say that your old, sinful, Adamic nature was once-for-all dealt the death blow through the Christ’s physical death. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that upon Calvary Christ was “made to be sin”. Therefore, when He died, sin and the corrupt nature from which it springs, was utterly and completely annihilated, never to rise again. The Good News? This means that sin’s batteries have been removed. The engine has been yanked right out from under your hood. The plug has been removed from the socket and then severed in two, never to be reassembled again. To make it plain, the power of sin died. The old you, the you that enjoyed lusting, being bitter, depressed and unforgiving, that person died completely and totally with Jesus Christ.
This is no flowery metaphor, nor is it a mere “positional” reality, only to be fully realized in the afterlife. It’s real, true and able to be apprehended right here, right now, in the present tense. Sin is no longer our identity, and can never again be a source of legitimate enjoyment for us. Paul asks rhetorically in Romans 6:2, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” John the Apostle is singing in the same key when he makes the statement: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin…” (1 John 3:9) The point? Sin is dead. He no longer lives inside of me. My body was once his address, but that day is long past thanks to Christ’s death. I’m not who I was. I can no longer enjoy what I once enjoyed. The struggle which was once so intense is over. ’Taps’ has been played, the hole’s been dug, and my old self is now six feet under.
“Well, if this is true”, some may ask, “then where is the victory in my life? I still struggle every day! Sin seems to bevery much alive in me!” Well my friend, I’m afraid that you, like me, never really went to “Grandma’s” funeral. We attended a ceremony, heard a religious “truth” which told us that sin was dead, but it wasn’t real to us. It was mere theological rhetoric. It was just fluff to fill a sermon with, but it didn’t sink in. To you, sin is alive, because you only saw the urn, but never gazed upon it’s lifeless, ashen face as it was lowered into the ground.
Most of our battles with sin stem from this very problem. We’ve never fully come to grips with just how dead our sin is. We misinterpret whole chapters of the Bible, like Romans 7, because we begin with, and then interpret all that we read, in light of the false notion that sin is still alive. We’ve only read of sin’s demise in a very one dimensional, metaphoric sense, but have never actually beheld it’s lifeless body nailed helplessly the cross of Jesus Christ. But if Christ died, so did sin. Sin is as dead as Christ’s body was for three days. When He rose, sin did not rise with Him, but stayed in it’s grave. The “zombie theology” of western Christendom may tell you that sin periodically resurrects, seeking to eat your brains, but this is nonsense, and is only taught because of scriptural ignorance.
Friends, whether I like it or not, my Grandmother is dead. Regardless of how alive she still seems to be in my mind, it’s not true. I can close my eyes, use my imagination and believe as fact that which is fictional, but it has no bearing on reality. In the same way, we can choose to believe in the folkloric, boogie-man tales of a sinful nature still lurking within, but it doesn’t make it true. Sin is dead…and his death is permanent. His power over you is long gone. So why do you still live as though he lives? It’s time to attend your own funeral. It’s time look deeply into Christ’s face upon the Cross and see your own there as well. It’s time to listen closely to the dramatic, final exit of carbon dioxide from the lungs of deity, and hear sin’s death rattle within. It’s time to behold Christ’s limp, lifeless body as it is removed from the Cross and realize that if the One who “was made to be sin” died, then sin itself died in Him. It’s time to realize that your sin is dead. Period. No if’s, and’s or but’s.
You see, whether I like it or not, Grandma is no longer with us. And whether you like it or not, neither is sin. I’ll leave you with the wise words of Watchman Nee:
“It does not depend on your feelings. If you feel that Christ has died, he has died; and if you do not feel that he has died, he has died. If you feel that you have died, you have died; and if you do not feel that you have died, you have died. These are divine facts. That Christ has died is a fact, that the two thieves have died is a fact, and that you have died is a fact also. Let me tell you, You have died! You are done with! You are ruled out! The self you loathe is on the Cross in Christ. And ‘he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:7) This is the Gospel for Christians. Our crucifixion can never be made effective by will or by effort, but only by accepting what the Lord Jesus did on the Cross.”
Dead to sin, alive to God,