June 12, 2020
Your Victory in Christ
By Skip Heitzig
I think it's safe to say that most people nowadays see profound change happen in their lifetime. My parents' generation saw the first television broadcast. My generation saw the 8-track tape and then the cassette tape, which I think you now have to go to a museum to see. And today's child will not know life without Wi-Fi or smartphones.
Technology is almost constantly changing. But what kind of change are you as a believer experiencing on the inside? What phase of spiritual growth are you in? In Romans 5-6, Paul the apostle described four stages of the Christian life:
1. Spiritual death. We were all born physically alive but spiritually dead, separated from God. Why? Because "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). You know the story: Adam took from the tree God told him not to touch, thus generating a constitutional change in his own character—from innocence to sinfulness—that affected all his progeny. So now we're all born with a sin nature, spiritually dead to the core.
2. Spiritual life. "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21).
Paul was saying that the Old Testament law amplified the problem of death brought by sin because it revealed just how far we've fallen short of God's standard (see Romans 3:23). But then Jesus came along and brought eternal life. How? Through grace. If you're a saved person, He has shown you unmerited and undeserved favor by giving you abundant spiritual life.
3. Spiritual struggle. Paul went on to write, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). In other words, when Jesus delivers you from death, you don't go back to the cemetery and play around.
Yet there's still a spiritual struggle—a conflict between our old nature from Adam and our new nature in Christ (see Galatians 5:17). That struggle is normal, but unfortunately, many Christians stop here, thinking, Well, I guess I'll just never have victory over my sin. This leads to our final point.
4. Spiritual power. "Therefore we were buried with [Jesus] through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
Now, it's true that you won't be completely rid of the old nature until you're in heaven. But the same power that raised Jesus from the dead can be yours to conquer sin and live the new life now. Paul illustrated this by pointing to baptism, which signifies being buried in death and raised in newness of life in Christ.
So keep going. Keep walking. Keep learning. God wants you dead to the old and very much alive to the new (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Yes, you'll stumble and struggle. But keep pursuing Jesus and looking to Him, the author and finisher of your faith. Only He can bring new life and lasting spiritual growth.