Have you been to your own funeral?

Knowing_thisOne thing funerals do is bring closure. When we see the body in the casket, we know for certain we’re not going to see them again on the street somewhere. This is why it’s important for families to recover the body of missing loved ones. They can stop wondering what happened and go on with their lives.

Likewise, as it’s been said, we, as believers, need to attend our own funeral so we can have closure.  For Christ’s death on the cross was our funeral. Notice how Paul says this….(bold-text added for emphasis)…

“Knowing this,
that our old self was crucified with Him,
in order that our body of sin might be done away with,
so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Rom.6:6-7 NASB)

First of all, we must know something. In this context, “know” doesn’t mean that we have head knowledge. It means that we’re convinced because the Spirit has revealed it to us. This is the same way we trusted Christ for salvation.

Secondly, Paul puts this event in the past. We were crucified, we have died with Christ. When did this happen? On the Cross 2,000 years ago.

So when we finally see ourselves dead and buried with Christ, religion ends for us. We won’t be looking for our old sinful selves anymore, trying to make him or her behave. Why? Because we’ve seen our corpse as surely as we know Christ was buried. Furthermore, we see our new life raised with Christ!

And it can be pretty frustrating if we don’t have this closure.

– We will keep trying to reform ourselves instead of living Christ’s life.

– We will be caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of doing good and blowing it…with much of our time being filled with condemnation and guilt and shame instead of peace and joy in the Spirit.

– We will also live on the treadmill of performance, seeing our relationship with Christ as serving Him rather than resting in Him.

– We’ll talk about our constant struggle against sin as if we were powerless against it.

– We will keep trying to crucify ourselves when the fact is, we’re already crucified with Christ (Gal.2:20).

Good news…the black dog is DEAD!

So, where did we get this schizophrenic brand of Christianity…believing that we have two natures–our old sin nature and our new nature in Christ? It came from “preacher-talk,” not the Bible (at least, not the original Greek texts). And I submit that this has really messed us up and kept people in needless bondage.

This view was popularized by an illustration that preachers would use called the “Black dog/White dog.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Basically it goes like this. There’s an Eskimo fisherman. He had two dogs; one white and one black. Every weekend he went to the city where the dogs would fight. The people would gather and put bets on the dogs. Some of the people would win but the one who always won was the fisherman. One of his friends visited him after a while and asked him how he did it that one week one dog would win and the other week the other. ‘It’s very easy’ said the fisherman. “The one who I feed always wins.” So, this was used as an analogy of our two natures: sin nature (black dog) and our new nature (white dog). The moral of the story is that we must feed our new nature and starve out our old sin nature.

This all sounds great. The only problem is, it’s not true!

Paul is insisting that our “black dog” is dead! It was nailed to the Cross and buried with Christ (Rom.6:4, 6).

Beloved, do you really think that God would set us up for failure by leaving us two conflicting identities living together? One’s for God and the other is His enemy? Certainly not!

Didn’t we get the memo from Jesus? He said a house divided will not stand (Matt.12:25). And besides, God has no intention of joining Himself to our old Adamic sin nature.

Again, there’s a name for this dual personality disorder–schizophrenia!

The truth that will make you free from powerless schizophrenic Christianity is that we have been crucified from the Adam’s family and included with Christ. Hallelujah!

What about Romans 7?

Some will point to Romans 7 as their proof-text for having two natures. But Romans 7 cannot not contradict Romans 6, so we must dig deeper to see what Paul is talking about.

Briefly here, the context of Romans 7 is about how the Law revealed that we were held hostage to this “black dog, but now we are free (Rom.7:5-6).

Notice that Paul talks about his failure in the past tense, looking back to when he was under the Law (Rom.7:13).

He concludes that Christ set him free from this body of death! (Rom.7:24-25).

For us in Christ, Paul is not talking about our old sin nature in Romans 7, like we still have this Adamic albatross hanging around our neck. No, he’s talking about something quite different–the flesh.

The flesh–eating from the wrong tree

When the Bible talks about the flesh here, it’s not talking about our physical body but about how we default to meeting our own needs apart from Christ. It’s the life of self-effort, self-sufficiency–the carnal mindset, which is thinking like “mere humans” (1 Cor.3:1-3).

It’s “earth-to-heaven” thinking instead of living from heaven to earth (Eph.2:6; Col.3:1-3; Phil.3:20). It’s not living according to who we really are, our new true self in Christ (2 Cor.5:16-17).

So our new nature wants to glorify Christ, to live in relationship with Him–to eat from the “Tree of Life.” But we still have unrenewed old habits of coping with life in this world. Before we were joined with Christ, we ate off the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”–we were our own savior, judge and provider. Now we’re to learn how to live in our new life in Christ.

Paul tells us to “put off” our former conduct, the old way of thinking, and “put on” this new way of living (Eph.4:22, 24). He’s not talking about fighting two natures here, but letting our life be managed by the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:14-15).

We’ve been set free from the old sin slave master that kept us in bondage, now we need to appropriate our new nature by faith (Gal.2:20).

So, can someone sin without a sin nature? Certainly! Adam and Eve did.

Why is this important?

This is critically important!  Because if we think we’re still under our old sin nature, we will empower sin by our unbelief.

Beloved, this is the key to living in freedom from our past, from condemnation, shame, guilt, addictions, old sin habits, or any other bondage you can think of. More importantly, the key to living in the resurrection power of Christ.

When we’ve been to our own funeral, we know for certain we don’t have two natures living in us anymore. We have been freed from sin’s domination! It’s over and done with forever. Let’s be like Paul and  glory only in the cross of Jesus Christ!(Gal.6:14) For Christ has done it! Amen.

Original image found here

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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10 Responses to Have you been to your own funeral?

  1. John Cummuta says:

    I can’t hear you. I’m dead. 🙂

  2. Amen! This has been something I’ve struggled to understand for a long time. I used to believe that there were two natures living in me (flesh and spiritual) that were constantly at war with one another but the truth is (like you said) our flesh was crucified with Christ when we surrendered our lives to Him and I think the enemy does a good job of making us believe that it still has power over us as it did in the past when in reality we have power over it with Christ in us. Understanding it correctly totally changes the way you live because you can’t blame the nature of your flesh for sin and unholiness when Christ is living in you and He gives you a new nature to overcome all of those things that kept you away from Him. Thank you for this post Mel. It’s very enlightening. Be blessed!

    • Mel Wild says:

      You’re welcome, Anna. Just to be clear, technically, I’m saying that our sin nature is not the same thing as “the flesh.” But terminology aside, I think we’re really saying the same thing here. 🙂 The best way to know the difference is, before we came to Christ, sin came natural to us and didn’t really bother us; afterward, we still may fall into sin but we don’t enjoy it (at least, in the long run). Our new nature is always to glorify Christ and know Him more. On the other hand, the flesh we still contend with is our unrenewed thinking, our old habits of self-sufficiency, trying to live our life apart from abiding in Christ. And if we don’t deal with this, we run the risk of “Christianizing” the flesh, which I will talk about in my next post.

      As you mentioned, this revelation that we only have one nature shows us that we have complete power over sin in Christ. The only power the enemy has in our lives now is what we permit by our unbelief. We now know that we don’t have to live like a slave anymore. And when we finally learn how to walk in the Spirit, we will live constantly strengthened in overflow of God’s empowering grace and fullness of joy. This is the life we were meant to live.

      Thanks for your comments here, as always. Blessings.

      • Yes, that’s exactly what I meant! Sometimes it gets confusing with all the terminology out there. But thank you for always taking complex truths and simplifying it for us. (I’m sure that is what makes you a great pastor!) May we all live with the revelation and truth that we are not slaves to sin anymore and can live empowered by Christ to overcome and lead a holy life despite the temptations and trials that come our way. Blessings to you always!

        • Mel Wild says:

          I totally understand, Anna. I get the terms mixed up myself. 🙂
          You said, “May we all live with the revelation and truth that we are not slaves to sin anymore and can live empowered by Christ to overcome and lead a holy life despite the temptations and trials that come our way. ” Amen and amen! I think that’s a prayer God wants to answer!

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  4. Love this message! I went to a Jesus Culture event earlier in the year and the sermon delivered the same message, talk about a paradigm shift into a freedom way of thinking. Praise the Lord 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Chris. I first heard about this by reading Watchman Nee’s book, “The Normal Christian Life” about 25 years ago. I thought it was so “abnormal” back then. LOL! But, now, it’s becoming the new normal, based on these ancient truths. We’re truly living in phenomenal times today with what’s going on in this generation. Sleeping Beauty is waking up! And as a spiritual papa, I’m very excited! 🙂 The Holy Spirit is getting us all ready for some serious upgrades–the fully empowered life in Christ we were meant to live! Blessings to you.

  5. Pingback: Keeping short accounts with God? | In My Father's House

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