AM I DEAD OR ALIVE OR BOTH?
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
Do you realize that all born again believers died? Colossians 3:3 reads: For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Of course, this statement of fact is being written only to saved, baptized in Jesus Christ believers. “For you died …”
How did you die, might be the next logical question. If I’m able to read this, how can I be dead?! The answer is: You died when Jesus Christ died on the cross.
Let’s take a look at another portion of Truth by turning to the Bible in Romans 6, starting with verse one:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Ah ha! In the above portion of scripture, we get an expanded understanding of our “dying.” It says believers in Christ Jesus “died to sin.”
That’s interesting … isn’t it? God has declared as fact that believers died to sin, yet we all know that evidently in most of us, it keeps getting resurrected to newness of life sometimes more than it should, because otherwise why would we be giving place to it in our lives when temptation knocks? Saying it another way: Why do we work so diligently to give “miraculous life” to something that God finds so detestable that he took it to the grave with Him to be buried forever? Could part of the answer be that we don’t find our pet sin nearly as detestable as God finds it? Ouch.
Let’s continue on with Romans 6, picking it up in the fourth verse, and read through verse seven:
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Let’s ask ourselves perhaps one of the most important questions we could ever ask ourselves right now. How often through the week do we say to ourselves: “I died to sin. I died to sin. I died to sin. God says I died to sin. I believe God knows what He’s talking about. I died to sin. I agree with God. I died to sin on the cross when Jesus died on the cross.”
That is worth repeating over and over and over, isn’t it? “I died to sin on the cross when Jesus died on the cross … because my old sinful nature was put to death at the same time Jesus was put to death!
We like to remind ourselves - and it’s vitally important that we do - that Jesus took the punishment for our past, present and future sins upon the cross of Calvary. Or elaborating on it a little different way, God the Father took out all His wrath on Jesus Christ that day so all the Father’s wrath would be removed from believers on the Judgment Day, which is in fact, absolutely true. Yet we don’t see the complete picture that happened that day of the crucifixion of Jesus. We born again believers also got crucified with Him that day! Our old sinful nature got put to death by God right alongside Jesus who didn’t have a sinful nature!
Colossians 3:3 needs to be repeated often and personalized: “I died! I died! I died! My old sinful nature died when Jesus died … and the good news is … I didn’t stay in the grave as Jesus didn’t stay in the grave, but as the Father resurrected Jesus back from the dead, the Father resurrected you and I back from the dead as well, to newness of spiritual life!”
The proof? Romans 6: 8-11: Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, [meaning you too died to sin, once and for all, and the only life you now live is to God, and for God] but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is going on here? What is God trying to get at in all this? Is He playing some weird mental game with us to baffle us, or what? Not at all! God is revealing and equipping us with a weapon to conquer sin in our lives that Satan has great difficulty with combating.
To help to understand this incredible weapon God has given us to conquer sin (Or spiritual strongholds: see 2 Corinthians 10:4) in our life … let’s see it from another perspective. Everyone of us have been given the power to “resurrect”, all on our very own. We don’t need God to give us any more power to “resurrect”, nor do we need power from Satan to “resurrect.” God has give you and I the full, complete, unstoppable power to “resurrect” sin in our lives any time we want. And here is the flip side of that power. He has also given us the power to not resurrect sin in our lives. What is the “fuel” of that power not to “resurrect” sin in our lives? We died! The old man of sin died! The old sinful nature of you and I got crucified some 2,000 years ago (depending on when you read this)! It was put to death on the cross that Jesus died on! It is not to be resurrected to newness of life, alongside holiness and righteousness. The only thing that was to be resurrected from that tomb Jesus resurrected from was to be holiness and righteousness in each of us, which is really just obedience to Truth.
Let's quote from a source that I believe musters much credibility in the Body of Christ. On page 124, fourth paragraph, from the soft back edition of: Freedom From Addiction, authored by Neil T. Anderson along with Mike and Julia Quarles, a message Mike listened to from the speaker God used to help set Mike free from his chronic alcohol addiction makes this incredibly insightful statement: " Romans 6:2 says we are dead to sin. You don't act dead to sin, you don't feel dead to sin, you don't even look dead to sin. You think that's just a positional truth. Listen, if that's what God says about you, that the truth about you."
Here is such a key insight: If you have been taught and believe that God is speaking solely of "positional" truth regarding our standing or identity in Christ, do you realize that you have not tapped into the full power available to you from God to help you break your addiction/s -- to help you break every stronghold of sin you struggle with? Yes, God wants us to know how secure our future in eternity is with Him, but He also wants us to get His crystal clear message: We do not have to settle for hoping "someday" the power of sin will be broken off our lives (Though of course it will once we receive our glorified bodies). It was broken off our lives at the Cross! How so? Because we died! We died to sin (See: Romans 6:2). Because scripture declares our old man (our old sinful nature) was crucified with Christ. Not just "positionally" died; not just imaginarily died; not just hopefully died -- our old sinful nature, our old man, factually died, God declares. Dare we argue with Him, just because it makes no intellectual sense to us?
Were we to stay "dead" in the grave then, or did God have something to replace our old man; our old nature? Yes He did! When Christ resurrected from the grave, our new man; our new nature, resurrected with Him! Does it mean then that our "new nature" can't sin now? No - of course our new nature; our new man, can and does sin. But God says you now have power from Him to apply this truth when the temptation to sin tries to pull you constantly back into it: "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:11).
So what is the conclusion of the matter? Let’s read Romans 6:12-14: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Though this is not the place nor time to do an exhaustive teaching on justification and sanctification, it is important for any young Christian to know that God wants us to realize that we can be completely secure in our salvation in that it was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that “justifies” us before God. We’re in “good standing” with God the moment we put our trust in Jesus Christ to save us from all sin, and God’s sentence of eternal wrath previously pronounced on us gets instantly removed, once and forever. ("He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36). The moment we put our trust in Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sins, He “becomes my sin” and I “become His righteousness.” (But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:8-9.) And - (2 Corinthians 5:21: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him). That “unfair” swap was actually done at the cross, but it doesn’t get appropriated personally to any of us until we make Jesus our Savior and Lord.
We then do well to understand that sanctification is the daily, weekly, yearly, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in believers to “work out” obedience, righteousness, and holiness (in other words, allow God to break the sin-cycle(s) – disobedient sin nature in each of us.) Truly, God assures us that when I am tempted today to sin, and give in to that temptation and commit the act of the sin, God says there is no need for me to condemn myself so badly that I allow myself to feel like God just wouldn’t forgive me nor accept me into heaven because of the terribleness of my sin, which the devil constantly wants us to believe.
Thank God for Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Then jumping ahead a few verses to Romans 8:10: And if Christ is in you, the body is dead (not just "position- ally" dead; emphasis mine) because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Are you catching this? Are you seeing something here you may have never seen before? In the mind of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was so complete – so victorious – so successful -- that in regards to being justified in His sight, eternal punishment for our sin simply isn’t something God thinks about when He looks at us. All He’s able to see is the holy robe of Jesus covering our sin, and it glitters and sparkles with His holy blood-bought glory.
Yet is God in “denial” or somehow “blind” to my sin if I sin tomorrow? Absolutely not! He sees it clear as black snow at high noon, and He fully expects us to acknowledge it to Him, quickly tell Him we’re sorry for giving place to it and mean it with sincere sorrow (the first part of repentance), ask Him for forgiveness of that sin (which 1 John 1:9 promises He will), and then execute the second part of repentance, which is to either immediately not commit that sin again … or take the matter to Him if it’s a sin you keep committing over and over, and begin to actively invite Him to help you strangle the life out of whatever is causing you to keep giving into the temptation of committing that sin over and over. That is part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose in us, we must accept and realize. Again, this process of becoming less and less sinful in our lives and more obedient, we refer to as sanctification. At the cross, I was justified and empowered through Christ, and day by day, the Holy Spirit is striving to get me to act like the child of God He saved me to be – an obedient one. One that strives to mirror the image of Jesus Christ. [An important note: If we constantly keep committing the same sin over and over, we then must come to grips that there may be a stronghold (See: Corinthians 2:10-4) in us that will take extra measures to have broken. When we are ensnared in an ongoing sin, such as drug addiction, we may need to seek out competent Christian counseling to work with God to have that stronghold broken in our lives, otherwise we may keep committing that same sin over and over, which can lead to prison and even premature death, not to mention social, mental and physical problems].
Then continuing with the flow, Romans 8:11-13 gives us both the assurance that we’ll make it to heaven with a mirror to see how well we’re doing in the “overcoming sin in our lives department” until we get there:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; [Meaning that if you and I continue to allow on-going sin in our lives without getting ruthless with it with God’s help to quit giving it fuel, it’s guaranteed to begin bringing disharmony with God (and usually others) in our personal relationship with Him, which is “spiritual death.”], but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live [Meaning that if you and I will continuously work with God to allow Him to show us how to quit committing the same sin(s) over and over, it will create an increase of harmony in our personal relationship with Him and others, which is “spiritual life.”].
Then God gives us a mirror to daily examine ourselves with in Romans 8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. You and I are not allowing the Spirit of God to affectively “lead” us if we refuse to recognize sin in our lives, which then means we’re content to let it reign in us, and thereby asking God’s forgiveness of it from time to time without any remorse. Solely asking forgiveness for our sin is just the first part of attacking the stronghold that is empowering the sin to be repeated over and over in us. God always forgives us when we ask Him for forgiveness, (Again, see: 1 John 1:9), but receiving His forgiveness for committing the sin usually doesn’t break the power of the sin we committed. If forgiveness is all we implement, we’ll probably keep committing the same sin in the future as temptation arises. God wants us to first ask for forgiveness for committing the sin, and more importantly – secondly - seriously asking Him for a way to not keep giving into temptation to commit it again in the future. He wants us to get ruthless with Him in attacking whatever reason(s) there are in us to being vulnerable in committing that sin again in the future. That is what “being led by the Spirit” primarily means in Romans 8:14.
God has opened doors for Kathleen and I to teach and minister to a group of prison inmates under the umbrella of Alpha Prison Ministries starting in January 2004 in how to gain “Victory Over Addictions.” We’ll be using Neil Anderson’s materials, one of which is his book Victory Over Darkness as a resource to help prisoners become more equipped to deal with living inside as well as outside of prison once they are released. Just because a person goes to prison and is not able to have their addictions fed doesn’t mean that addiction is necessarily broken once they are released from prison. Strongholds can lie dormant in each of us, and only until we’re free to be tempted can we know whether that stronghold still has power in us to coax us over the line to give place to that temptation again or not. Knowing that temptation will come, once out of prison, and not give place to those dormant strongholds (addictions) … and helping the inmates have a plan from God to escape that temptation (better yet allowing God to break the stronghold before they even get released from prison!) will be one of our many purposes for being used of God in this setting. We ask for ongoing prayer for this assignment from God, because anytime you are used of God to help spiritual strongholds get broken in the lives of others, the devil does not sit back and just let it happen without confrontation. Spiritual warfare intensifies during assignments like this, and you, the readers of our Ministry Updates are the only prayer warriors we know of that pray for us. We thank each of you for praying for us at Precious Testimonies because it may be the most important gift you can sow to this ministry. Of course, in addition to reaching out to prisoners in this fashion, we continue to minister through video and audiotapes, and through the Internet, and seek to be faithful in the harvest field we’ve been assigned to.
To encapsulate a little … our human comprehension can struggle with these difficult to understand spiritual matters, yet God wants us to continuously be seeking Him to rightly understand matters of good and evil. For instance, “God tells us that Jesus destroyed Satan’s power at the cross, and Satan can’t touch a Christian now, right?” That’s what is taught in many Christian circles … yet it is a half-truth, which is always a lie! Judgment has been pronounced on Satan, yet punishment has not been fully executed, nor has his power over mankind been fully stripped away from him. Judgment has also been pronounced on every sinner born on this planet at birth, but full punishment has not yet been executed. It will be fully executed on the Judgment Day, if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their only way to have that sentence of wrath removed, which it instantly is when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Teachers telling us that Satan’s power was completely stripped from him over the affairs of Christians give these two scripture passages to support their claim: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15). Where in this scripture does it specifically state that Satan had all power stripped from him over the affairs of Christians at the present? It’s not there. We can assume however from this portion of scripture that God took away much of the “weaponry” or “the effectiveness of that weaponry” from demonic beings over the souls of born again Christian believers.
The second scripture passage is probably the most difficult to gain understanding to, in that it doesn’t imply what we on the surface think it might be implying, which is why the devil has so easily tried to make it say something it doesn’t really say in entirety. The scripture is found in Hebrews 2:14-15. It reads: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The Bible scholars that I’ve chosen to listen to translate this portion of scripture to mean: “The ultimate purpose of Christ’s Incarnation was the destruction of the devil and deliverance from the fear of death (see 1 Cor. 15:54-57). The destruction of Satan does not mean that he is annihilated, but that his power is curbed in the lives of those committed to Christ.”
To take it much future than that completely throws in the face of God these scriptures that follow:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-13. (Then it goes on to tell us what those weapons are in verses 14 through 18.)
Is the devil actually allowed to “devour” us as I Peter 5:8-9 says, or just “roar loud” to bluff us and put fear into us? Let’s read the scripture again: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (We’re not talking about non-Christians here folks, we’re talking about fellow believers in Christ).
Here’s the answer I’ve personally discovered to the above question. Let your anger grow over an issue and Satan will make certain it’ll rip apart relationships and can get you sent to prison and even sentenced to death if we allow too much fuel to be given it. When your anger moves to the stage of wrath (Wrath meaning: vengeance, paybacks, getting even, etc.,) God tells us you’ll give Satan so much opportunity to inflict power on you it is scary! Out of anger grows all kinds of issues such as rage, bitterness, resentment, isolation, rejection, depression, gossip, slander, vulnerability to believe lies, not to mention physical and emotional sickness: the list goes on and on. Being angry is not a sin. But it can quickly move to sin if we aren’t careful in what we do with it at any given time. Once it moves to sin, Satan will immediately be there to try to capitalize on it, be rest assured. Forgiveness is the major weapon against intense anger. Fleeing from it until it’s power dies off can be another. If you are prone to anger, it is wise to seek God for victory over it before you become a victim of it while you’re in a calm state. Have a “plan of escape” when the temptation of anger knocks loudly on your door. Otherwise Satan can “intensely chew on you” if you don’t. If you’ve been told that Satan only “roars loud,” (which he does at times, because intense fear is something lions will use to try to frighten their victims into panicking) and has no teeth nor claws to “devour” you with, whoever has been your “commanding officer” has told you it’s okay to go to war and never worry about dying, because your enemy is all out of bullets and rockets. Satan is the “master” at slowly and discreetly devouring his victims, trying not to be caught at it … and deceitfully try to convince his slow-dying victims to constantly wonder why God is treating them the way they are being treated, when God is screaming: “Satan is devouring you, don’t you realize?! I’m trying to get you to fight him and he’s trying to get you to blame Me!”
We’ve stayed from our main topic of dying and living … though it seems God wanted some of these other issues addressed. When you wake up tomorrow, thank God for killing you, then thank Him for giving you newness of life in His Spirit. Intellectually it’s hard to understand, but you don’t have to understand everything about a weapon to make it work. Use the weapon the way the Holy Spirit teaches you, and you have the rest of eternity to learn why the weapon operates the way it does.
If you would like to read Norm's born again testimony, you can click on this link: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/L-N/Norm.htm
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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