“. . . just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”
is indeed a joyful time of the year as we celebrate the anniversary of our Savior’s resurrection. He who died for us rose again and lives forevermore! What greater joy for us than to know that our Redeemer lives! That joy comes from comprehending by faith the wonder of God’s love and the forgiveness that is ours in Christ Jesus. So we know a great sense of relief from guilt and we know peace and hope, but do we fully realize the power of the resurrection? Perhaps one’s first thought relating to the power of Jesus’ resurrection is that our mortal bodies too shall rise from the grave, but there is an exceptional power, a wondrous and gracious power that the Lord brings us now in His resurrection. The power of the resurrection is what we need in order to overcome sin in our lives.
We often speak of the weakness of our sinful flesh. What we really mean is that we are giving in to our fleshly desires. We all too often depend upon our strength to resist sin; or, worse, we fall prey to the popular idea that the best way to get rid of a temptation is to give in to it. That is exactly how helpless we are on our own, battling sin in our lives. Without Jesus, we were totally sinful. But then Jesus came into the world and lived the perfect, sinless life we could not live, and offered His holy precious blood for us and for our sin. On the third day He “was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.” Christ’s victory over death is also His victory over sin and its power. As we are called to faith in Jesus as our crucified and risen Lord, we are granted newness of life.
Jesus’ death counts as our death for sin. Jesus’ resurrection brings us new life. By the Spirit’s working in our hearts, we are enabled to live in the power of the resurrection. The Apostle Paul expounds a few verses later in this sixth chapter of Romans, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him . . . Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Perhaps we need to give some thought to being dead to sin, and what this means. It involves a conscious sanctified state of mind: we need to think about what we are doing. People sometimes consciously think about leaving others out of their lives—those others are “dead to them.” This is what we ought to do with sin, not people. We will not allow sin a place in our lives. This is especially important for those sins which have been a problem in our lives. The devil would tempt us, and our flesh would find these sins appealing instead of disgusting, but the Spirit of our Risen Lord would declare us free from slavery to the lusts of the flesh. By the power of the resurrection, we can say “NO!” to sin, and “YES!” to righteousness!
Sin is death, but we have died with Christ, Who also rose again and lives forevermore. We have been raised to newness of life. Let us live in the power of the resurrection, so that each and every day may be lived in true repentance, confessing our sins where we have fallen short and striving for every thought, word, and action to be driven by the love of Christ, Who died for us and rose again, Who is our life now and forever.
Theodore Barthels is pastor of St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Austin, Minnesota.