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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

How Death Brings Life

Death is not a popular topic of conversation. It can be unsettling for most people. However, there are many times when death makes it possible for new life to occur.   

For example, several types of fertilizer are made up of dead and decaying material and are used by farmers to nourish and grow new crops; Fire caused by lightning may scorch a section of land or forest, but it creates the best conditions for new life to occur; The leaves on trees that die in winter make way for Spring and an abundance of new life. Many more examples could be listed.

From Shadow to Reality

It’s important to remember that these death-to-life examples in nature are shadows of a much greater reality. God has designed this theme in nature because it points us to the ultimate death-to-life theme: Jesus’ death and resurrection pave our way to eternal life.

In John 12:23-24 (NASB), Jesus explained His impending death by proclaiming,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Jesus used the grain of wheat (seed) metaphor to illustrate His own mission. Through the death of the seed, new life is made possible. Similarly, Jesus’s death made it possible for us to have new life, to be reconciled with God, the source of life. As Peter explains,

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God...” (1 Peter 3:18 NASB)

The words “for our sins” refers to how Jesus made that possible. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve for sin, placed it on Himself, and died in our place. He was our substitute, receiving the penalty for sin that we deserve.

Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. He died, but He was brought back to life as proof that God accepted His sacrifice on our behalf.

To illustrate, suppose you are in a hospital dying of cancer. I come to you and say, “Let’s take the cancer cells from your body and put them into my body.”

If that were possible, I would die, but you would live. Why? I took what was causing your death, the cancer, upon myself and died in your place. The transfer that causes my death would bring you life. In the same way, when Jesus died for us, He took what was causing our death (the penalty of sin) upon Himself and died in our place. He is our substitute.

Jesus’s death and resurrection form the very core of the gospel message that Christians hold near and dear: “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” As is said in the well-known song “Best News Ever” by Mercy Me, “It’s not good news, it’s the best news ever!”

Start Spreading the News

That kind of news, that kind of message, that kind of salvation is simply built to be shared! But here is a key that many often miss. In order to effectively share the gospel message with others that “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead”, we need to die as well – die to the controlling power of sin.

Paul explains in Romans 6:11-13 (NLT):

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Sin is powerful. Sin is controlling. Sin can keep us from fulfilling the will of God. As Christians, Christ has freed us from the penalty of sin, yet the power of sin can still control our lives and hinder our witness to others.

Paul gives us a powerful solution to this problem: to consider ourselves dead to sin. This involves confession and cleansing (1 John 1:9) as well as yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s control on an ongoing basis. As this process transforms from an idea, to a habit, to a lifestyle, you’ll begin to experience more victories over sin in your life so that you are free to serve the Lord and share the gospel more effectively.  

You may consider asking this question as we head into the Easter season: “Where do I need to die to the power of sin so I can live more freely in and boldly for Christ?”

Copyright © John Souther of Evantell, used with permission.

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