We are dead. All of us. I mean, we’re alive, too, but we’re all dead. Dead in sin. Everyone is. It’s a spiritual death that will also lead to a physical death (hence why Adam and Even physically died and didn’t just “live forever” in the garden). In Genesis 3, it says part of the consequence is death – not necessarily just “spiritual death.” In fact, one could argue it’s more physical death than spiritual at all (I remember that heated discussion on a Saturday in seminary with Dr. Petrotta)!
But we who get, accept, are redeemed by and follow Jesus the Christ are alive in Him. And then sin is dead to us (but still tainted by it). Dead from it then dead in us ultimately.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 ESV)
Dead to the flesh. Alive in the Spirit. All because of the Person Jesus. Romans 8 says:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.t2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set yout free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,t he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
One might call this an oxymoron of sorts, though it’s more of a paradox. Oxymorons are usually adjective-noun (i.e. original copy, open secret) and sometimes noun-verb (silence whispers) , but paradoxes are typically more profound and while seemingly impossible, totally true. It’s grace and justice; the Trinity; love … I could go on. Mother Theresa once said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”. Seemingly impossible yet completely true.
I think dying to live is just that – seems wrong but clearly true.
I’ve seen a death in my own life that I know God is clearly trying to bury six feet under. Not only have I been stripped of titles, opportunities and responsibilities, but this past weekend I was stripped of much more. When I gave my computer back to my old position I think there was a chance I could have kept it, but I believe in integrity and what people give to God to invest should be taken seriously and kept in the ministry. So I took all my files off of that. ALL my files. I had backups of my files and then copied those backups to one main terabyte drive. I then proceeded to erase all my extra hard drives ranging between 4 and 160 gigabytes. All my info was labeled, filed and stored. A folder for movies I produced, a folder for music I owned, a folder for church stuff I developed, a folder for personal items including 15 years worth of papers and sermons I wrote and a folder for pictures.
Upon working on a slideshow for my kids’ school I tried to get a bunch of pictures onto this drive. In the midst of it, I knew I needed to back it up. So I bought a new hard drive and began to do so on Wednesday of last week. It was going to take about 4-5 hours so I had to stop it about half way through. On Sunday I went to finish the project I started and . . . yup, all gone. I’d be cool if I lost the church stuff – it’s backed up on drives I gave back to the church. I’d be kosher if I lost the music files; they’re on our personal computer already. I’d be bummed if I lost the videos, but again, I have most backed up on church drives. But the pictures and personal folders . . . the ONLY TWO folders that didn’t transfer over . . . I’d be devastated. And in some ways I am. I only lost those two. Every sermon I’ve ever written but four. Eveyr picture I’ve ever taken going back 12 years and further with ones I’ve scanned in from my childhood. And about $80,000 worth of education’s papers. Every financial record. All my journals going back to 1997. Man, this hurts just typing it. But they’re gone. No more. Just a memory and apparently a lesson.
After returning from the store and reading umpteen posts about how to redeem the information, I just looked at my wife and said, “Why is God stripping everything from me?” It wasn’t anger on my part, but pain. It is good; it’s just really hard. But I trust Him. He’s so much bigger than our “stuff.”
If I trust Him with my salvation, my past doesn’t really matter. My files aren’t what His best interest might be. I love that John Newton said that he couldn’t truly pray Habakkuk 3:17-19 until his wife died:
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
I’ve heard people say that their most valuable possession are family photos. I get that. I’m just numb because the second I plugged in my hard drive to copy it onto another to have a backup I lost it. I mean, really, what’s the irony!?!?! Yet, I am so thankful to say that it is good. God granted me a new, fresh start. And for that, I am thankful. 14 hours after this realization I began a new job (be it extremely part-time, but for a place I hope to work for a long time to come).
I’m delighted to die to live. May I do it daily with a willingness despite (and maybe because of) all the junk God has brought me (us) through. I’m glad I’m six feet under. It makes me truly live.