The Death of Me in the Death of Christ
April 6, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
I need to die.
Sound morbid? Too direct? Perhaps.
This next week, most Christians will be reflecting on the need for Christ to die. My sin is so heinous that only the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God can appease the just wrath of God that I deserve. The substitutionary death of Christ on my behalf is one of the most glorious truths of Scripture. It is the foundation of the Gospel.
Christ needed to die so that I might live.
But, I still need to die.
The apostle Paul places this demand on Christians:
“Consider yourselves dead…” (Rom. 6:11)
“Put to death…” (Rom. 8:13)
Again, “put to death…” (Col. 3:5)
In fact, Paul speaks about the death of a Christian as past tense:
“We who died…” (Rom. 6:2)
“You have died…” (Col. 3:3)
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified…” (Gal. 5:24)
“I have been crucified…” (Gal. 2:20)
I need to die and so do you. When we reflect on and celebrate the death of Christ, we may forget that we are united to Christ in his death. Jesus’ death was never meant to leave us “as we are.” By professing faith in Christ (seeking forgiveness of sins by his death), we are united to him in his death and his resurrection. The brutal death of Christ happens to us as well, and continues to happen. How is this?
If you know the verses I quoted above, you know that I have “cherry-picked” these lines from their context. In Romans 6 Paul says we have “died to sin” and that we are to consider ourselves “dead to sin.” In Romans 8 we are to put to death “the deeds of the body” and in Colossians 3 we put to death “what is earthly” in us. And Galatians 5 says that Christians have crucified “the flesh.”
Our sinful nature is crucified with Christ. Its power and condemnation are cut off. Until Christ returns, or our earthly life comes to an end, our sinful nature still has influence on our desires and choices. This is the death to which Paul calls us. My sinful nature has been crucified. It’s “hanging on a cross,” clinging to life. Its final death is certain. But I need to “consider myself dead to it.” I need to “put to death” its lingering influences. I need to stop gratifying the desires of the flesh.
I need to die. So do you. While we celebrate the new life we have in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins because of his sacrificial death, let us not forget our participation in his death. We have been called to die as well. Only through death do we enjoy the sweet blessings of resurrection life.
So as you celebrate Good Friday and Easter this next week, reflect on your union in Christ’s death that leads to your union in his resurrection.