A New Identity in Christ
A New Identity in Christ (Romans 6:6-11)
Would you like to experience consistent triumph over temptation and sin? Would you like to end each day knowing that you had more spiritual victories than defeats? You can do so. In fact, it is your birthright as a Christian. In Christ you have a new identity. The "old you" died with Christ on the cross. The "new you" walked out of the tomb with the risen Christ. When you believe this and act on it, you can experience consistent and increasing victory over sin.
Our Old Self Dies on the Cross with Christ
An old spiritual says, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" The answer is an emphatic, "Yes!" You were not only there, in the most real sense you were on the cross with Him.
This is a primary truth of Christian living: "We know that our old self was crucified with him" (v. 6a). What Paul calls our "old self" means our old ego, our former self outside Jesus Christ. The whole reality of our life without Christ hung on the cross with Him. The totality of our whole fallen self was crucified with Him on the cross. The emphasis rests on the once-for-all decisiveness of that crucifixion. Our old self was cocrucified with Christ. This is not simply a pretty idea or a piece of fiction. It is not playing psychological mind games. This is the way God sees you at this moment.
This is a positional truth of Christian living: "that the body of sin might be rendered powerless" (v. 6b). When you act on the fact that your former self died with Christ, you enjoy a new position before God. Your body as a staging ground for sin is rendered inert and inoperative. The human body is not itself evil. It is, however, the instrument that sin employs to express itself. Sin cannot lie without the human tongues, steal without human hands, etc. When you truly believe that your old, former self died with Christ, your body is reduced to inaction as a staging ground for sin. This is not a matter for conjecture or even rational explanation. It is a simple reality. If you believe that your old self died with Christ, your body is paralyzed at the point of sin. Sin is deprived of its strength, force, influence, and power.
This is a practical truth of Christian living: "that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin" (vv. 6c-7). Death cancels all obligations, breaks all ties, settles all old scores. If a slave is dead, his master has no more claim over him. We were once slaves to sin, but our death with Christ releases us from a hard taskmaster. We can deliberately tell the Adversary, "The person you held in bondage is now dead."
Our New Self Rises from the Tomb with Christ
It is not enough to die with Christ. We also emerged from the tomb with Him in resurrection life. This is a matter of profound personal belief: "If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him" (v. 8). This does not refer to the resurrection of the body at the end. This points to the resurrection life of Christ that we share right now. It is an article of faith to be accepted as reality, believed in as a certainty: "we too may live a new life. . . . alive to God in Christ Jesus" (vv. 4b, 11). It is a willingness to act on the fact that I now live in a whole new dimension of life. It is as if a fish lost its gills and could breathe air, or a person sprouted wings and flew like an eagle! What cannot happen in nature has happened in grace.
This is a permanent blessing: "For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him" (v. 9). Nothing can suppress, interrupt, or end our life in Christ. His life is now continuous and endless. Unlike Lazarus, He was raised never to die again. This means that no circumstance can ever cut you off from His resurrection power. If anyone else becomes your whole life, that person may die. The life that Christ now lives He lives to God (v. 10). His life forever reigns in joy and power before God. You can make a permanent move from life's basement to life's balcony.
We Must Count on This as the Truth
Your death with Christ and resurrection with Christ must be reckoned as truth, or you will not experience the power (v. 11). You must agree with God to see yourself as you are revealed to yourself by the gospel. This is not fiction. It is a fact to be appropriated in faith. You may say, "My old self is alive and kicking. If it is a corpse, it is the most lively corpse I have ever seen." Such excuses refuse to accept the verdict of God on your old self.
Start today to act on the fact. You have taken off the old self. You have put on the new self (Col. 3:9-10). Put off the old self. Put on the new self (Eph. 4:21-22). Welcome to the new you.