The challenge of staying dead

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

2 Timothy 2:11 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him…

The life of the believer is all about dying to self and living for God. The problem with this simple concept is that our self continues to want to live. Paul calls this conflict the struggle between the old self and the newness of life.

Romans 6:1-7 – What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Messiah Yeshua were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin.

Paul uses this metaphor of the old self dying throughout his writings:

  • Romans 6:11 – So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua.
  • Galatians 2:19 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.
  • Colossians 2:20 – If you died with Messiah to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?
  • Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.

All of these references are simply speaking in metaphorical language about how that, in the believer’s life, one must forsake all previous disobedience to God with the finality of death. A dead person cannot commit sin; this is how abruptly and decisively we must act within the remaining time of our lives.

Paul continues his thought in this “trustworthy saying” that he was committing to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:11-12 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;

Paul here conveys a sense of endurance in remaining dead to those things that displease God. The word for endure literally means to “stay under,” as in remaining, persevering, bearing up under trials. However, Paul also presents Timothy with the opposite result if we choose to yield to our self and deny the One who calls us to himself.

2 Timothy 2:12-13 – if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

This is reminiscent of the admonition of Yeshua, explaining what will be the state of those who refuse to give up their sinful actions, the breaking of God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name? ‘ “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ‘

This is why we are constantly reminded to endure and to bear up our trials with a persevering and faithful spirit. The writer to the Hebrews and James also provide similar encouragement under trial, even referring to the endurance of Messiah as a motivating consideration in the believers’ own endurance.

  • Hebrews 10:32 – Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.
  • Hebrews 12:3 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
  • James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

We should recognize that it is through these types of struggles that God is causing us to grow and continually be renewed to become more like him.

Colossians 3:9-10 – …you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

As we grow in the image of God, we can then become more useful to him in the accomplishment of his purpose in expanding the kingdom of God on the earth. This is why this encouragement to remain dead to sin must become a guiding principle in our daily lives.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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