“We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:2
Paul Harvey tells a fantastic story about an encounter with a kangaroo.
The Italian sailing team was in Australia for the America’s Cup and, finding themselves with some free time, decided to rent a Land Rover for a jaunt into the Australian outback. The team had been outfitted by the designer, Gucci, so they ventured into the bush clad in their Gucci jackets, wearing their Gucci watches, and carrying their Gucci bags.
As they were driving, a kangaroo bounded out in front of their Land Rover. Unable to stop in time, they hit the poor animal. Climbing out of the four-wheel drive, they figured they would at least capitalize on the sad event by getting some close-up pictures of the kangaroo. One of the team members had the brilliant idea of putting his jacket on the critter for a fun photo.
As they got the jacket on the animal, the kangaroo revived and bolted off into the bush—with the jacket, the car keys, and the team member’s wallet!
The moral of the story? Sometimes what you think is dead is not quite as dead as you thought!
That’s the perspective Paul brings to his discussion of our struggle with sin and temptation in Romans 6:1-23. After a wonderfully detailed treatment of God’s grace and our inability to achieve God’s righteous requirements through the law, he anticipates the next logical question. If our sin is an opportunity for God’s grace to be shown, shouldn’t we sin all the more—you know, so that God gets to show lots of grace?
Paul’s immediate answer is forcefully simple: No way! “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” he argues. Then he goes on to say, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).
The point is simple. The behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, and actions that marked us before Christ were part of our old self. That’s not who we are anymore. That person is dead, so we’re now free to walk in a new life. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
The problem is, many of us live as if our old self was like that truck-struck kangaroo. Rather than leaving our old self behind, we decide that we’re better off cleaning it up and maybe even dressing it in some designer clothes. We figure that it’s enough if we take the old self to church and even teach it some Bible verses. If the old self goes on a missions trip or puts some money in the offering plate, maybe it will be harmless.
But before long, it will be obvious that the old self isn’t as dead as we thought. And when the old traits of our old self revive, we’re pulled back into temptations and patterns of behavior that we thought we’d left behind. The old self fights against all that we want in Jesus—things like purity, integrity, holiness, and effectiveness for the kingdom.
Paul, anticipating this problem, says to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). When the temptations surface, we can deliberately choose to say, “I am dead to that temptation and am alive in Christ.”
Today, let’s choose to let the old self stay cross-struck dead and revel in the freedom of walking in our new identity as followers of Jesus!
- Have you experienced new life in Jesus? Can you look back at the moment when you, by faith, trusted in His death to forgive your sins and in His resurrection to give you a new life? If not, you can experience that incredible privilege today!
- In what areas of your life do the attitudes and actions of the old self surface?
- Think of some tangible ways you can remind yourself that you are now “dead to sin” and free from the hold of the addictions and attitudes of your old self. Then rejoice that you have been set free!