One of the great contrasts presented by the Scriptures is that between death and life. There are accounts that contrast physical life and death (i.e. the resurrection of Jesus from the dead). And, most importantly, there are accounts that contrast spiritual life and death. So, the ABCs of Christian living begins by considering the fact that Christians are spiritually alive!
Alive Through God
Those who are Christians are spiritually alive. But, this was not always the case. Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Notice the cause for this spiritual death was our sins! This is just as Isaiah 59:1-2 states – that our sins separate us from our holy and righteous God. Remember, death refers to a separation – physical death is a separation of the body and the spirit (James 2:26); and spiritual death is a separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). So, because we had each made the decision (or decisions) to live according to our own fleshly desires rather than obey God’s holy commandments, we were separated from this God.
The Scriptures warn that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This separation from God is what we all deserve for sinning against God. Ultimately, dying (physically) in our sins would result in the “second death” – eternal separation from God in Hell fire (see Revelation 21:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 25:41).
While we deserve spiritual death (and eternal spiritual death in Hell fire), notice what is said in Ephesians 2:4-9 says: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
It is only by the love, grace, and mercy of God that we (who were spiritually dead in our sins) could be made alive! God, who sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross, has made it possible that we can be brought back into fellowship and harmony with Him once more, having our sins forgiven! Nothing that we could do (of ourselves) could merit such a blessing – it is only through God’s sacrifice that we could be forgiven of our sins and have peace with God!
Therefore, it is only through God that Christians have been “begotten” to a “living hope” – an “inheritance” that is “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,” which is “reserved in heaven” for those who are Christians (1 Peter 1:3-4)! So, rather than experiencing the wages of our sin (spiritual death, particularly eternal spiritual death in Hell fire), Christians have come to partake in the “gift of God,” which is eternal spiritual life in Heaven – through Jesus Christ!
Alive To God
So far, we have focused on what God has made available – spiritual life in Christ Jesus (though we do have personal responsibility in being obedient to God’s commandments to have the spiritual life we’ve just described, see Revelation 22:14). Now, I want us to see that being alive through God also means that we must be alive to God!
After describing how that God has made us (who were once dead in our sins) alive through Christ Jesus, consider what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” So, you should realize that God did not offer His only begotten Son to die on the cross as the sacrifice for sins so that we could live in whatever way we desire to live! Instead, He sent His Son to die so that we would be redeemed from our sins and live life in His service (see Titus 2:11-14)!
In Christ Jesus, we are described as being new creations – because “old things have passed away” and “all things have become new.” So, those “old” and sinful things we were involved in prior to becoming Christians (that caused our spiritual deaths) are put to death in our lives (Colossians 3:5-9)! Now, the Christian lives in a “new” and transformed way that is patterned after God’s true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 2:22-24)!
Consider the language of the apostle Paul in Romans 6:11-13 (after demonstrating that Christians have died to sin, been buried with Christ in the waters of baptism, and raised to walk in newness of life): “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
So, we have a choice. Either we can present ourselves alive to sin (live for sin) and be dead to God (separated from Him) – or, we can present ourselves alive to God (live for Him) and be dead to sin (separated from sin). We cannot be alive to God and alive to sin!
Therefore, if we want the blessings that come from being alive to God (i.e. peace with God and eternal life in Heaven), we must give our lives entirely to Him now, to be used in His service. That is, we must present our lives to God as “instruments of righteousness.” Meaning, that we give God control of all the members of our physical bodies, allowing Him to use us in His service according to His desires (rather than using the members of our bodies as “instruments of unrighteousness to sin” and live according to our own earthly desires)!
Those who are Christians were once dead in their sins; but, have been made alive through God. Consequently, Christians possess the “living hope” of eternal life in Heaven. However, God requires that those who have been made alive through Christ Jesus consider themselves dead to sin and alive to Him by using their lives completely in the service of God!