One 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)…
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).
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.