“For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:10-14)
Servanthood is inevitable. You either serve your selfish appetites (sin) or you serve the Father (grace). There is no middle ground and door between the two is dying to self, in order that you might experience a renewed life. With new eyes to have a vision of eternity. With new ears to hear the beauty of creation. With new hands to touch the lives of others. With a new heart broken for the things that break the heart of God.
Jesus once said “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). I’ve never been one that likes the modern use of the phrase “my cross to bear.” Its use implies that in the experience of life, we are expected to inevitably suffer on a daily basis for just existing. However, the reality is that Jesus is calling us to do three things:
- Set aside our worldly passions and self-centered ambitions
- Identify with His suffering with gratitude and humility daily
- Renew our vision towards His Kingdom
It begins with repentance. It begins with laying aside our selfish ways that have caused us to continually run headlong into the same wall over and over again, frustrating our efforts at life. Instead of living life blaming everyone around us for why things are going our way, perhaps the best place to look is inward and examine our own heart. As Paul wrote “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Once we experience repentance, we need to remember to daily and humbly recognize and honor and submit to the sacrifice that Jesus paid on our behalf. Yes, the Scriptures do say that there will be suffering in this life. But all of us suffer – it’s the human experience. But suffering is a state of mind, more so than a physical reality. Sure, there is physical pain and mental emotion pain, but suffering is allowing that pain to paralyze you to the point that you begin to implode upon yourself. When we identify with His suffering, it doesn’t mean that we go about our renewed life hunched over and complaining all the time about how difficult the Christian life is. It is difficult, yes. But it is far more rewarding when we recognize that we do not have to work for or earn the Father’s favor. He paid the price to make us His own. That blood redemption is what makes all the difference.
Once we recognize and identify with the price that Jesus paid to redeem us, then we are called to renew our vision for His Kingdom. This means not allowing our lives to be characterized by sin, but by redemption. Not to allow our lives to be ruled by the failed kingdom of this humanistic existence, but to be ruled by the grace of our Abba Father who love us, comforts us, and empowers us to be His ambassadors in this world.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) Just as today, ambassadors between nations and kingdoms are sent to do 2 main missions: 1. represent the executive leader of the country they serve and 2. appeal for relational reconciliation between the members of the two kingdoms. Ambassadors are expected to represent the king, President, etc. in their behavior and actions and decisions in the execution of their duties. More importantly, we are called to reconcile the world to our Creator and draw all into a relationship with Him so that we might all experience the joy of His Kingdom.
That is what it means to no long let sin have “dominion over you” but to live “under grace.” It does not mean that we live wanton lives disregarding the dictates of God’s word. As with any Kingdom, there are rules for order and expectations of behavior in society. We cannot live a libertarian existence in the Kingdom of God and expect to experience the grace and joy that the Kingdom affords. If that is the case, then we are quite literally spitting in the face of Christ and saying that His sacrifice was worthless.
Repent your behaviors. Reset your attitudes. Renew your vision. It’s a daily habit. It’s a daily requirement. For the sake of the Kingdom.