“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 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.” (Romans 6:6–11 ESV)
The Zombie – Alive to God, Alive to Sin?
Paul is addressing the question of whether a Christian can exploit grace as an excuse for sin. Is it possible to be alive to God and remain also alive to sin? Do Christians sin? Yes. Let me make that clear. This is no utopian perfectionism and any honest Christian will tell you in some ways our struggle with sin is worse as Christians because it’s actually a struggle. Before we are saved, there is no tug of war. There is no opponent. Sin always drags us across its line. But as a Christian, now I struggle with it.
Salvation is not the removal of sin from my life, but it is the removal of sin as the necessary master of my life. Why? When Jesus died for my sin, I died to my sin. I’m now alive to God.
What do we say to people who claim to be alive to God, but their lives shout that they are still alive to sin? These are the zombies. They are dead yet claiming somehow to be alive at the same time. We can say, they either are not actually alive to God, or if they are, they seriously misunderstand grace. Grace is not permission to sin, grace is permission and power not to sin. Grace teaches us to say no ungodliness and worldly passions. (Titus 2:12)
What I am saying is that if your life looks like zombie land, you are not experiencing freedom from sin and you are not experiencing new life to God. It’s the worst possible scenario. Perhaps somehow you have been confused as to what it means to be a Christian and to die to sin’s dominance and power. It’s called repentance. Perhaps you’ve never seen anyone living the new life in Christ. Perhaps you are not genuinely converted.
But here’s what Paul is making clear: kind of alive to God and kind of dead to sin is not authentic Christianity. This subtle antinomianism lurks in every church. The gospel is cover for ungodly living. Grace is excuse for sinful lifestyles and choices. I’m saved anyway so what is the big deal? You sometimes hear this in the way people talk about their past. Oh, the parties were insane. Insane! We were wild, like crazy wild. I remember times man I was so wasted…my bros were like, dude. I was like, dude. Crazy! Then I came to Jesus… it’s been boring. I miss the good old days.
Yeah, and Israel missed Egypt. Nobody says it that blatantly, but our posture toward our sinful selves is often a far cry from Jesus’ description of the tax collector who bowed in the temple praying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) When that is my posture toward my sin, now I am living out dead to sin, alive to God. That’s even for Christians. We’re often indecisive in our worldly pursuits. But Christians are dead to sin, and we keep dying to it.
Trusting in Jesus applies union with Christ to not only my status before God, but my life before him as well. I don’t want anyone here to be asked what today’s sermon was about and for you to say, Sin. What was the point? Don’t do it.
Christianity is not moral therapy; it is transformation. Do we consider ourselves dead to sin because I treasure being unified with Jesus on the cross? Do we consider ourselves alive to God because we can’t believe that we were with Jesus spiritually when he stepped out of that grave?
Which are we today? Unbeliever? Zombie? Christian?
“So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here