If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Last week we found out that when we become a Christian, we participate in the death of Christ. By confessing Jesus as Lord of our lives, we obey Jesus' command to take up our cross and follow him; we die to ourselves and to sin. When we place our faith in Christ, His death becomes our death and His victory over sin becomes our victory over sin. In fact, the Bible says that Christians are “dead to sin.” This doesn’t mean that we will never be tempted again or that we will never sin again. It simply means that the sin no longer holds power over us. We are no longer a slave to it or to ourselves (our own desires). Today's passage takes this truth a step further. “If we are united with Him in His death, then we will also be united with Him in His resurrection.”
Right now our participation in Christ's resurrection may seem a little abstract; let's see if I can shed some light on it. We have been raised with Christ in that the old man has been put to death and we now lead new lives. We are a new creation (I Corinthians 5:17) even now, but one day, “in the twinkling of an eye,” our participation in His resurrection will be very concrete, very real. On that day the great hope of the Christian faith will be realized: a physical resurrection of the saints signifying a complete victory over death and Satan. But in order to fully understand the unique importance of resurrection in the Christian faith, we have to look at the Christian story as a whole.
God created the world and it was good. Then sin entered the picture and brought death and shame with it. Because of Adam's one sin all of creation was thrown off course. All of mankind and even the world itself bears the curse of sin. You and I are not what we otherwise would have been. Certainly we are still marvelous creations, still the handiwork of God, but we are marred by the damaging effects of sin both in our spirits and in our bodies. BUT the Lord has promised, through Christ, to undo the effects of sin on this world, on you, and on me (Isaiah 53). This is the one great hope of Christianity. This is what we have been saved for- to be set free from the things that so entangle us, to attain life as it was always meant to be (life without murder or rape or war...eternal life), and to see the one true God face-to-face. This completely unhindered relationship with God is the true hope of the Christian faith. God is the highest good and a relationship with Him is all one could hope for.
When I meet the Lord and receive my first hug from Him I believe that it will be a two-armed bone crushing hug. A hug that crushes all of my shame and all of my guilt, all of my pride and all of my good deeds. It will leave me standing before Him just as He created me, stripped bare with nothing to offer Him but love in return. And I believe that He will look on me with approval not because of anything I have done, but because I have been washed in the blood of Christ and His righteousness has been counted as my own. Can you say the same? If not, begin your journey toward faith today. And if you are like me, on your way to heaven, remember to set your eyes on the great hope that lays before you. Do not be seduced by the things of this world. All the riches of this world pale in comparison to the richness of knowing God in Christ.
For further reading this week, check out these passages:
- I Corinthians 15: Resurrection 101
- Ezekiel 37: "I will be their God and they will be my people."
- Revelation 21: "Now the dwelling of God is with men." Oh Lord,
hasten the coming of that day!