Years ago I heard this great illustration. Imagine you’ve just been discharged from the army. As you are walking across the grounds on your way out of the base your old sergeant sees you and yells, “Hey soldier, where do you think you’re going? Get over here right now and give me 30 pushups.” At first you might feel like you had to obey him. You might even take a couple steps in his direction. Then suddenly you remember – Hey, I’ve been discharged – he doesn’t have any authority over me now. So you say, “Sorry Sarge, I don’t have to do what you say anymore. I’ve been discharged. I have a new life now. I’ll see you later.”
This is a picture of our new life in Christ. When Jesus saves us we’re no longer slaves of sin. Though we may still feel like we need to obey it, it no longer has power over us.
This is because we’ve been baptized into Christ (Ro 6:2) - immersed into him, made one with him. We’re now in union with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. This puts us into a completely new relationship to sin.
First of all, we’ve died to sin (Ro 6:2-3): Christ never sinned but he was tempted and suffered the effects of sin. But when he died on the cross, he died to sin – he could no longer be tempted or affected by it. We too have died to sin with Christ – though we “feel” it’s tempting power, we must remember we’ve died to it. We no longer “have” to sin. We no longer have to obey it, like the discharged soldier. He may still tremble when he hears his old sergeant’s voice. He might feel like he must obey and go back. But he doesn’t.
Like a slave the day after Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation. Now he need no longer jump when his former master yells. But after years of jumping every time his owner barked, he might feel like he still needs to. But his feelings are not the truth. No matter how much he still feels like a slave, he is free.
We’ve been buried with Christ (Ro 6:4): When someone is buried, they’re not coming back. We can’t go back to the old way of life. We’re done with it. It has no appeal. If I propped a corpse against the wall, then held a pornographic magazine in front of it, it wouldn’t be tempted in the least. It’s dead. This is the reality of our new relationship to sin because of our union with Christ – we’re dead to it. When we’re tempted to sin, we must say to ourselves, “No! I’m dead to this! I can’t go back to it. It’s not part of my life now.”
If you’re a Christian, you don’t have to sin any more.
You don’t have to get angry any more. You don’t have to yell at your kids. You don’t have to be angry at your wife. You don’t have to give in to lust. You don’t have to be enslaved by the opinions of others. You don’t have to live in fear of what others think of you. You don’t have to be selfish. You don’t have to gossip or grumble and complain.
We’ve been raised with Christ to newness of life (Ro 6:4). With Christ, we share in the very life of the age to come. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead courses through us. This newness of life is life lived unto God for his glory. A life where even the most mundane things we do are worship offered through our great Mediator, acceptable to God. This newness of life is a foretaste of the life of heaven to come – a foretaste of the power, joy and freedom we’ll know in heaven.
Now you have the power to serve, to bless others, to walk in the works God prepared for you before time. Now you have the power to rejoice in trials. You have resurrection power. Don’t feel it? Ask Jesus for grace and strength. Keep praying. Ask him to help you. You’re one with him. You’ll walk in the reality of your union with Christ more and more the longer you abide in him.