Yesterday I read an article about a man in Ohio, who very much alive and physically well, was declared ‘legally dead’ by a Court Judge.
The man had walked out on his wife and children 27 years before, gone into hiding and hadn’t been heard from again until he turned up trying to obtain a driving license. It was then that he learned of his own ‘sad passing’ and tried to have the death ruling reversed. The judge turned down his request, citing a three-year time limit for changing a death ruling.
“I don’t know where that leaves you”. the judge said to the legally dead man. “But as far as the law is concerned you are still deceased.”
What could that man do, other than go on to live the rest of his days as a “new person”. After all, the old Him is dead!
This is a true story, you can google it. I’ve left out names for legal reasons.
In a similar way to how our earthly judicial system declared that Ohio man dead, if you are a Christian reading this, God’s judicial system has declared your ‘old self’ legally dead.
“Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:2–4
Yet still, many of us struggle with little ‘secret’ sins – as if God can’t see everything- and skeletons in our cupboards, that we somehow feel powerless to overcome, and so become trapped in a seemingly never ending cycle of repentance, vowing ‘never to do it again’, beating ourselves up for a few weeks, only to begin the whole cycle all over again.
Sin, You Are Not The Boss of Me!
Romans 6:3, above, declares that those who are ‘in Christ’ are dead to sin.
Obviously this doesn’t mean we won’t sin anymore, but the good news is that sin no longer has jurisdiction over us, in God’s legal system.
The sinful habits you and I find so hard to shake are nolonger an integral part of us. Sin’s power over us is broken.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” Romans 6:6–7
We don’t have to struggle to ‘fix’ ourselves. We don’t have to flagellate ourselves or wear metaphorical sack cloth and ashes; We also, importantly, must not try to hide or cover up our sin. I love the way The Amplified version of 1 John 1:8–9 puts it:
“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].
So if you fall over, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, confess it to God – repent, (do an about turn) and then get over it and keep on living for Him.
Ephesians 4:22–24 Paul uses the metaphor of taking off the old nature as if it were clothing and dressing yourself in the new:
“throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
See also Colossians 3:9–10:
“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
This doesn’t give us free licence to live as we please, of course:
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”
The truth is that the OLD you and I have been declared legally dead in God’s eyes. Freed from the power and hold that sin had over us.
Some of us need to be like the prodigal son, who came to his senses one day, finally looking around him, seeing the mud and dirt of the pigsty he’d been living in, and realising that this was not where he belonged. He remembered who’s son he was, and humbly went home to embrace his true identity, which his loving father lavished on him.
Alive Again in Christ
As the judge said to that man, God says to you and I “The Old you is declared legally dead.” Because this is a legal transaction it cannot be reversed or revoked.
What can I do in response to this other than to go on and live out my NEW life as a brand new person?
“And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:8-11
“And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4
Let’s leave those dead people that we were dead. Lets stop trying to persuade Heaven’s judicial system that there must have made some mistake! It will not be reversed.
The old You is dead. The old Me is dead. Let’s be thankful for the life of victory that Jesus secured for us by His death, and live our new lives. Free to live ‘sold out’ for The One who sold out his whole life for us, to buy us that freedom.
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