“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (Jesus Christ, John 5:24). Death began in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed His word, they would “surely die” Genesis 2:17. Unbelief and rebellion brought spiritual death and separation from God. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men…” (Romans 5:12). The Bible clearly describes the ‘dead’ state of man’s soul due to his sinful nature:
“For every living soul belongs to me…The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world….” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
“When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ”. (Colossians 2:13)
Common responses to this dead spiritual state are denial, compensation, and acknowledgement. Lofty pride leads many to deny that they are spiritually dead and in need of God. While ‘sin is sin’, pride is called the mother of all sin. The Bible states more than once that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6) and “detests the proud” (Proverbs 16:6). “Pride goes before a fall”, “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18) – this is the sin that aptly describes the fall of Satan from heaven to earth – and God’s proclaimed judgment upon him for hell.
As this judgment has yet to be enforced, Satan has a dominant influence over this world. He is known as the “The god of this age” who “has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4) This world is on a course, one which opposes the Word of God and ever increases man’s focus on himself, this temporal life and the ways of this world. God however, admonishes: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
Even so, heart and soul yearn for wealth, achievements, fame, status, and talent. Politics and nationalism are a captivating but hollow vein of influence and power. Two kingdoms vie for man’s allegiance with no middle ground.
“…friendship with the world is hatred toward God…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
Compensating for their lack of spiritual life, many turn to sensual pleasures. Drugs, sexual encounters, alcohol, and entertainment are often sought, albeit futilely, to bring life to the soul. Sensual life replaces spiritual life. Others, acknowledging their dead spiritual state, seek religious and spiritual practices. Some gain validation through religious sacraments, choosing to believe that ceremony and rites can impart spiritual life. Religious practice may appease conscience and even improve lifestyle but in itself cannot bring about right relationship with God.
God Himself reached out to mankind through prophets, teachers, and anointed leaders. Through prophecies and divine providence, God prepared the world for His son, man’s Savior and Deliverer, to reconcile man to Himself. Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the coming Messiah, giving His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins…If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives…we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins….” (I John 1:9-2:2)
Only one faith puts forth God as a Father, as One seeking those who are lost, reconciling man to Himself – establishing a personal and eternal relationship. God’s love unveiled to us gives us new life.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Without Christ, we are powerless to release our guilt or redeem our failures. Repentance and surrender opens to us the life and lordship of Christ in us. This life brings death – death to ‘self’, death to the ways which oppose the ways of God, death to the ways of this world and the spirit of this age. In fact, we are called to ‘die’ as Christ did:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
At this juncture many would-be followers turn from the Lord.
The apostle Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) in order to live for Christ, in order to fulfill the call of God upon his life. “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) It is not God who will agree to our standards and will, but we who must submit to His standards and His will for our lives. Only then can we, in agreement with Him, walk with Him. At this critical crossroad we must ask, ‘Will I live for myself in this world or will I live for the Lord?’
“But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him…Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”. (1 John 1:5-6)
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21) Jesus will “love and show Himself” to the one who obeys!
This is the Christian life, a life of salvation and deliverance, a life that glorifies God in this world. It is the one in whom Christ lives – through obedience and surrender. The Life of Christ in us thrives through the study of His Word, communion with Him in prayer and fellowship with believers. We walk with a view of eternity as we cross over from death to life in Christ.