Being Dead is a Process of Living


John Stott
John Stott

In the early church, the understanding was that if you were alive to God you were a new man. Not a perfect man or woman but new–changed. Romans 6:4 says we walk in newness of life–that we have been baptized into a new life. John Stott in his commentary on Romans 5-8 (Men Made New) writes that when a man enters upon the Christian life he is committed “to a different kind of life.” He has died to one and been born to another.

Understanding this is not always easy. Explaining it to a new Christian can be particularly challenging. There is nothing magical about the process of being dead to sin but alive to God (cf. Romans 6; Galatians 2:19-21). So if you are struggling with continuing sin in your life, good. Keep struggling. Don’t let sin reign in your body. But don’t forget that grace is greater than all your sin. Go and read the sixth chapter of Romans and enjoy this little dialogue as well. 

Christian:     [With great confidence]  “Now that you’re a Christian you’re dead to sin.”

Believer:       [With great surprise]   “I am!”

OC:   “Yep.”

NB:   “I’ll never sin again?!”

OC:   “No, I didn’t say that.”

NB:   “You didn’t say that.”

OC:   “No, I didn’t say that?”

NC:   “I don’t understand. Didn’t you just say that I was dead to sin?”

OC:   [Losing some confidence] “Yep.”

NC:   “Can a dead man do anything?”

OC:   “Well . . . no . . . but . . .”

NC:   “If I’m dead how can I do something sinful?”

OC:   “Well you see . . . it’s kind of like being alive!”

NC:   “Oh great! Now you’re telling me that being dead is like being alive.”

OC:   “Let’s try this from another angle.”

NC:   “Yeah, let’s.”

OC:   “How do you feel?”

NC:   “Well I woke up with a sore throat . . .”

OC:    “No, no . . . not how you feel phys . . .”

NC:    [Interuppting]                              “Didn’t you just ask . . .”

OC:    [Interuppting]                                             “I mean spiritually . . .”

NC:   “Well you should have said so!  I guess I feel okay  spiritually.” 

OC:    “Do you feel any closer to God?”

NB:    “Well, I guess so . . .”

OC:    “That’s because, spiritually speaking, you’re alive.”

NC:    “Tell me something.”

OC:    “What’s that?”

NB:    “Didn’t you say that I was dead to sin?”

OC:    [With great confidence again]  “Yep.”

NB:    “Now you’re saying I’m alive.”

OC:    “Alive to God.”

NC:    “What does that mean, ‘spiritually speaking?'”

OC:    “It means you’re dead to sin.”

NC:    “Back to that again.”

OC:    “You need a lot of closure don’t you?”

Read Romans 6. You’ll figure it out.

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