II Timothy 2:11: If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.
Of the seven pillars to understanding your God-given future, number five may sound the most bizarre. Yet, it is of the utmost importance if you are going to live victoriously in this world with assurance of the world to come.
From a Biblical, theological view, people are ill-prepared for a God-ordained future. Personal corruption, walking in sync with a fallen dying world, plagued with bad attitudes and actions that condemn, a stubborn persistence at folly, and making foolish and wrong choices, all these things mar our present and jeopardise our future. Our attempts to overcome these deficiencies include good intentions, good ideas, and good works, including ‘good religious’ works. Yet none of these can remove the reproach, stain, stench or penalty of sin. This does not bode well for the future.
The Fifth Pillar to the Future
How do we overcome these things? Great light is shed from Colossians 3:3-4 (NKJV):
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Hannah Whitall Smith in her multi-million best-selling classic, The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, makes these verses the centrepiece of her entire teaching. Though published in 1870, her practical Bible-based message has blessed many lives for decades.
What do we learn? In order to be future-ready, understand what it means to be simultaneously dead and alive. This truly is the Christian’s secret to a happy, overcoming life.
Truth is that all people are already simultaneously ‘dead and alive.’ The problem is that they are dead and alive in the wrong areas. Put simply, most people are ‘alive’ to this lost, dying, and corrupt world and yet they are ‘dead’ to the holy, glorious, and wonderful, and eternal things of God.
As Ephesians 2:1-2 (KJV) states:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (Emphasis mine).
This means that because of the influence of the world, the devil, and the disobedient spirit, mixed with our carnal nature, sins and trespasses have made us dead to God. This is a serious matter: God is the author of life so to be dead or ‘separated’ from Him means we are truly dead, even if we are breathing in and out. If this situation is not remedied by repentance and faith in the gospel, the eternal prospects are terrifying.
In order to be ‘alive’ to God and ‘dead’ to the world - to reverse the common order - we need Jesus Christ and the power of His cross. While the message of a crucified Messiah may appear to be defeated and foolish, the reality is that it is the secret to abundant life These are the words of I Corinthians 1:23-24, the sermon entitled ‘Christ Crucified’ is the power and wisdom of God.
As we say ‘Yes’ to Christ and the gospel, we upload to Jesus our worldliness, sin, and corruption. He nails these things to His cross. Yet that is not all. Jesus downloads His life and righteousness to us. We stand before God innocent of transgression and righteous because of faith. Indeed, it is Jesus’ righteousness, not our own, that gives us the right to boldly approach a holy God (Hebrews 4:16).
Therefore, we become simultaneously ‘dead’ to the world and ‘alive’ to God. The good thing about ‘dead men’ is that they neither sin nor do they fear.
Of course, the world, the devil, and the demons will be ‘hopping mad’ that you defected from their side. They can manipulate people to cause misunderstanding, rejection, and reproach. Yet, remember that ‘dead men’ don’t hear, see or feel anymore. Psalm 38:12-14 (NKJV) says it well:’
Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long.13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. 14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth is no response.
This might seem like a ridiculously passive response in the face of aggression, but it contains the spirit of wisdom - be deaf, mute, and, if necessary, blind - to the deceitful and opposing forces of the world. It is also a practical demonstration of the spirit of meekness, which is the only way to inherit the earth (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5).
Pearls of Wisdom from Romans 6
The future-ready principle of ‘dead to the world, alive to God,’ is greatly amplified in Romans Chapter 6. Without exaggeration, this chapter is your ‘Declaration of Independence’ from a sin-dominated ‘self-life.’ Consider the benefits:
• Dead to sin means you will no longer live in it (v. 2);
• Water baptism identifies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; therefore, you can ‘walk in newness of life’ (vs. 3-4);
• Identify with Christ’s death and you will also be identified with His resurrection and life (v. 5) - without this there is no God-given future;
• He that is dead through Christ is freed from sin (v. 7);
• Dead with Christ means you will also live with Him (v. 8);
• Practical point: Reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God (v. 11); ‘reckon’ is an accounting term, so budget into your life that you are simultaneously ‘dead and alive;’
• Yield yourself to God, as one alive from the dead (v. 13); you will serve to whom you yield, whether to sin or God.
• Sin will not dominate your life because you are under grace and not the law (v. 14);
• Made free (dead) from sin you became the servant of righteousness (v. 18);
• Free from sin (dead), servants of God, you have your fruit unto holiness and everlasting life (v. 22);
• God’s free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (v. 23).
‘Future-ready’ living ultimately is obtained by hearing and doing the Word of the Lord so that you build your life on an unshakeable rock, from which you will never be washed away (Matthew 7:24-25).