Episode 1. Dead or Alive
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There are plenty of people on this earth who feel like they’re dying on the inside. It’s like a quiet emotional cancer that eats away at the soul. There are all sorts of reasons for that. …
There are plenty of people on this earth who feel like they’re dying on the inside. It’s like a quiet emotional cancer that eats away at the soul. There are all sorts of reasons for that.
Loneliness, emptiness, a lack of satisfaction with what you’re getting out of life, wondering what it’s all about, where it’s all headed, is this all there is? Whatever the reason, let me tell you that was never God’s plan. He has something much, much better in store for you.
There are times in our lives when we wish we could have a fresh start, the slate wiped clean and a fresh new future to look forward to. Perhaps we’re tired of the same old, same old at work, the relationships doing the same things, going the same place day after day. Wouldn’t a new job even a new career be wonderful? Or perhaps we’ve made a mess of something in our lives and we look at ourselves in the mirror and we think, “I am such a pitiful sight, if only I could get over this mess and move on.”
And sometimes it just comes by way of the proverbial mid life crisis, the desire for a fresh start, a new start. However it comes, there invariably seems to be one problem; the slate never seems to be wiped quite clear enough; the past always comes back to haunt us.
I guess as I talk about that, this idea of fresh start, a new beginning, it makes me think back 13 years or so ago when I became a Christian. My life at that point was a mess. It was my fault, greed and working too hard and all that stuff that men go through in their lives and the things that were really important to me in life fell apart and there were my dreams lying shattered on the ground and back then I never thought that I could have a fresh start.
You don’t when you’re in that place. ‘I’m not good enough, nothing will ever happen, nothing will ever be the same, the past seems to dominate the present and the future’. Have you ever felt that? You hear Christians talk about ‘being born again’ and back then that sounded to me like some idea from a cult but actually it’s not. It’s an idea that Jesus came up with, He said:
Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Sounds kind of weird but it speaks about a new start, a new beginning. The apostle Paul talks about that a bit more. Last week and again this week on the program I’m doing a little series called Extravagant Grace. People talk about grace as though it’s an ordinary thing but God’s grace is far from ordinary.
It’s extravagant, it’s abundant, it’s over the top, it’s for you and me. When we start seeing God for who He really is, a God that wants to bless you and me so outrageously, it changes our whole perspective and the greatest blessing of all is a new start, the slate wiped clean. It’s something He gives us through Jesus Christ, His Son.
Now if we have a mess in our lives here and there, or we’re going through this or that, so often we don’t make the connection between what we’re going through in life on the one hand and our relationship with God on the other. Whatever you might be going through in life at the moment let me just say this clearly and succinctly; the answer is Jesus Christ. Let’s have a look at how the apostle Paul puts it in Romans chapter 6:
What shall we say then? Shall we go on sitting and making a mess of our lives so that grace may increase? No, we died to sin, how can we live to it any longer? Or don’t you realise that all of us who have been baptised into Jesus Christ have been baptised into His death. 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.
If we’ve been united with Him like this in death we certainly also will be united with Him in His resurrection in new life. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that all our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to that stuff because anyone who’s died has been freed from sin.
See this beautiful picture; Paul’s talking about a new start. He’s making a clear link here between the mess in our lives and our relationship with God and that link is a small 3 letter, 1 syllable word called sin. It’s turning our backs on God, going our own way and that only ends up in one place, in a mess. This is something for anyone who’s never met Jesus Christ but you know something; this message is also for you if you believe in Him but you’re struggling with ‘stuff’ in your life right now because sin is like a cancer.
In fact so often people give their lives to Jesus and yet it still feels like an old life and not a new life. They haven’t really made the fresh start that Paul’s talking about here. Paul takes us through what happens when we give our lives to Jesus Christ. Have a look:
We died to sin, how can we live to it any longer? Don’t you know that if you’ve been baptised into Jesus Christ, you’ve been baptised into His death.
That’s what the baptism is symbolic of; being dunked under the water and then being brought out again. The old man dies; the new man comes to life. The old woman dies; the new woman comes to life. Dying to the old self and rising again into a new life, a life lived for God; a death to the old, a resurrection to the new.
Now there are two ways of looking at this, first is to look at what Paul is saying here about baptism and Jesus being nailed to the cross and us dying and coming up again as an allegory and I guess it’s a useful metaphor as far as metaphors go, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, “you’ve died with Christ you’ve risen again with Him” but what Paul’s talking about here goes much further than merely an allegory.
Paul is setting out a spiritual reality, a reality that God is calling us, you and me today, to come to grips with. This is how God sees it; God is calling us to make the link between the “stuff” going on in our lives and our sin. “Don’t you realise that you are dead to sin and alive to Christ?”, is what Paul is saying. Jesus died to pay for our sin. When we put our faith in Him we too die with Him, the old man, the old woman, the sinful nature is nailed to the cross. That’s what happens when we rise again with Him in a new life, that’s how God sees it. See, that’s why the slate is wiped clean, the old is dead, the new has come to life. No if’s, no but’s, no maybes.
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… (What?)…a new life. The old self is crucified, sin is done away with.
And in verse 11 Paul writes:
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. For sin will no longer have dominion over you since you are not under the rule of law but under grace.
There it is, God’s extravagant grace and what God is saying to us here through Paul is simply this, “I’ve set you free. The old you is dead, now rise up and take this new life that I have bought for you at such a great price. Come on, take it, it’s my invitation to you. It’s time for you to see your life the way I see it. Because of my Son, Jesus, sin no longer has any power over you. You are free, you are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean.” “Look at this through My eyes”, says God, “rise up, live this new life by My grace.” By His extravagant grace!