Death Comes First

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What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

(Romans 6:1-7)

When reading the apostle Paul, one of the defining characteristics of his thought is the absolute necessity of death for those who wish to walk with Jesus. We are to crucify the sinful nature, crucify our minds, put to death the old self.

But far too often, we Christians want to run to Easter. We want the joy of the resurrection without the suffering of death. We long for a new life, while clinging to so much of the old. It seems we forget what should be obvious: Resurrection can only occur where there is death.

God longs to resurrect us. He is the giver of new life. That is his part. He brings the dead to life. No one else can do it.

But our role is to put things to death. To crucify that which needs to die so something wonderful can take its place. We often lament that we live in a world that has become so good at dishing out death. And yet, the one place where death would be good for us, we often shrink from killing.

We want resurrection for our marriage, but are we willing to first put to death the selfishness that is destroying it?

We want so desperately for others to view the kingdom of God as we do, but are we willing to crucify the arrogance and self-righteousness that pushes so many away?

We demand that our brothers and sisters conform to the values of Jesus, but are we willing to destroy that part of us that berates and mocks them when they don’t?

We want the freedom that comes with new life in Christ, but are we willing to take the responsibility of crucifying our sinful nature to get it?

Yet, God’s call is clear this Friday. Be crucified with Christ. Put to death the old.

Make no mistake, there are but two requirements for resurrection: the grace of God and death. Let us not forget which part we must play. It is Good Friday. Easter is coming, but first there must be death. But not just Christ’s death, our death.

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