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Dead Man Walking

url-1My wife and I spent yesterday ministering to men on Death Row. This is an experience that always    causes me to focus on the eternal. Many things that are common subjects for messages in churches and the media are irrelevant in that setting. I feel that it strips us down to what is important in the Word of God. The idea that God has a wonderful plan for our life doesn’t really resonate with condemned men. This isn’t just true for men on Death Row but there are many believers all over the world who are persecuted and even killed for their faith. While God does have a plan for our temporal lives, it may not be one that most would find appealing. What God does have is an amazing, fantastic, wonderful plan for our eternal life. The life that lasts more than just a century or less. Jesus promised us eternity without pain, suffering, sorrow, disease, hunger or any kind of deficiency. A life filled with joy and abundance.

One of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith is that in order to live forever, we have to die now. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.(Luke 9:23) This must have horrified the people listening. They had seen the brutality of being executed by crucifixion.  This was a fate that no one wanted. On another occasion He told them, For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.”(Mark 8:35) Jesus is telling us that living for ourselves will only lead to death but living for God will result in eternal life. In order for us to understand this concept, we have to realize that the temporary life that we know is limited by sin and corruption.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) The action of sin in our human bodies degrades them causing them to deteriorate and die. The life that we are offered through Jesus Christ is not affected by sin and lasts forever, eventually even restructuring our physical bodies Into one that is not corrupted by sin. 1 Corinthians 15: 53-54 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Romans 6:1-11 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

These verses in Romans chapter 6 tell us that as long as we consider ourselves as alive in this world, we will be enslaved to sin. This is why many people struggle but never get free from sin’s hold on their lives. They want to follow Jesus but continue living in this world. Paul clearly tells us the only way to be free from sin’s rule is to die to this world and take up a new life in Christ. This of course means we must submit to God’s rule and set our desires on things in God’s kingdom. If we do this, many will view us as Dead Men Walking but God will see us as truly alive.

* All Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

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