Living in Christ’s Death
“Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (v. 3).- Romans 5:1–5
The Christian has a sure and certain hope of glory in Christ, but often we don’t hold firmly to that hope. Paul says that God’s way to strengthen hope is by taking us through suffering. We have the privilege of union with Christ, and in this union, we are privileged to suffer as He did. Such suffering produces perseverance, as we remain faithful in the midst of the strong temptation to depart from Him. This perseverance refines our character, creating stability and integrity, and such stability strengthens our hope. When we see God’s faithfulness to us through our periods of suffering, we are encouraged to grasp the hope of glory.
Such suffering is an experience of the death of Christ, and Paul says that we who have died in Christ must also live in Him daily (Romans 6). We are to count ourselves dead to sin and to the world, and count ourselves alive to a new life in Him. Death, the original judgment for Adam’s sin, is what works sin in us. We love death because we hate God, who is life itself (Proverbs 8:35–36). Adam’s sin produces death in us, and our inner death produces sin in us, and this sin leads to the wages of more death (Romans 9:23) and more sin and more death and more sin. If we consider ourselves as already dead and judged, we cripple the inner wellspring of the cycle of sin and death. Thus, according to Paul, because Christ has broken the power of death in us, we never have any reason to sin.
Sin is never necessary, but it is inevitable. It is possible that we will live a perfect life in the Spirit, but it is a fact that none of us will do so. Thus, we must always flee back to the Cross for forgiveness, and we must always appropriate anew the power of the Resurrection to live new lives.
It is the law that shows us our sin (Romans 7). Because we are still sinners, we need the law to point out our failings and drive us back to Christ. Indeed, our sinfulness continues to run down so deep, that the law has the effect of sparking rebellion in us. When God tells us not to do something, we are inclined to defy Him and do it anyway. Realizing this, we are more desperate for His grace, and we run to Him as never before.
Have you been asleep to your sinfulness lately? In your prayers today, ask God to show you where the continuing cycle of sin and death is operating in your life. Then confess these things to Him, and appropriate His forgiveness and the power of new resurrection life in Jesus Christ.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 15:58
1 Peter 1:6–9