Life From Death

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4-6 ESV).

As I was writing this devotional (several days ago, since I write them about a week in advance for publication and posting), I looked out the west window of my office and noticed some buzzards in the Mesquite tree. After a closer look I saw several on the ground near the burn pile. The weather has been so dry that it has gotten larger than normal with downed branches and scraps from my woodworking. I couldn’t imagine what might be of interest to these critters and then remembered that I had also thrown a dead rabbit out there after one of the dogs decided it didn’t belong in our back yard. I chuckled a bit and called Mary to come look. Her response was classic, “Yuck! What are they doing?” My response was rather matter-of-fact as I said, “Having breakfast.” I know. You probably agree with Mary; however, they have to eat too. And, they eat dead animals. In a very real way, their life comes from death.

Spiritually, our life comes from death also. We call that justification. It is not a process of transformation. It is a declaration that before God we have a right standing, acquitted and righteous. It happens in the twinkling of an eye when we first believe in Christ. Sanctification is a process of transformation. It goes on through life and is based on the fixed, firm, unshakable ground of justification. The greatest thing in the world is to know God without wrath and full of grace because of Christ.

And Christ is the key to both, not law-keeping. This happens, not by preoccupation with the law, but by dying to the law and belonging to another, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. You embrace Jesus. You hold fast to Jesus. You trust Jesus. You treasure Jesus. You fellowship with Jesus. You love Jesus. Jesus becomes the passion of your life. That’s what our reading implies: die to law-keeping and give yourselves to your all-satisfying relationship with Jesus Christ. This thought will be central in the coming days as we examine the “Great Eight” as the eighth chapter of Romans is known. No condemnation, because of Christ; and deep transformation because of Christ. One is called justification. One is called sanctification. We take our stand daily by faith on the once-for-all, unshakable rock of our justification in Christ. And then we give ourselves daily by faith to the sanctifying work of Jesus in our lives. Celebrate your life from His death today!