Jesus said that if you would gain your life in this world… you must lose it.
St. Paul tells us that “the law brings death.”
There is no life in it. Life… the authentic, genuine life in Christ that the scriptures speak of, and that the Saints testify to, is found only through, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Back to death.
The new life in Christ Jesus can only come about as a result of the death of the old Adam/Eve. The old Man/Woman must be put to death and not coddled.
OK, I’ll buy that…but how? We mentioned it earlier…God’s Law.
The law will do it’s job on us. It will expose our sinfulness. It will demand from us. It will wear us down. And it will kill us.
In many churches today, there is no dying.
The old Adam/Eve are celebrated! They are wined and dined on a diet of Christian progressivism. They are not killed off but improved upon, made well, made better and better…striving to be like Jesus.
How is that dying?
The law needs to be wielded like the sword that it is. It needs to be pointed directly at the heart of the old Adam and run clear through him. All the old Adams and Eves need to die… and that is me and you and everyone else in the pews.
Does this need be a fire and brimstone type sermon with finger wagging and high energy emotions? No. Not really. It can be…but it’s not necessary.
The law is so powerful, so intrusive into all of our lives, that it can just be as simple as pointing out how you are being had all week by your own sinfulness, the demands of work, of homelife, of city and nation, and the devil, who is real and who is after you. The law does it’s work on you by making you realize how far short you have fallen from the standard that God uses for measuring our performance …and that is ‘perfection’.
“Your righteousness must EXCEED that of the Pharisees and scribes.”
“You must be PERFECT as your Father in Heaven is PERFECT.”
” SELL EVERYTHING you’ve got and follow me.”
That is the Law. Jesus’ sermon on the mount wasn’t a lawnmower manual on ‘how to’ become a better Christian…it was a death sentence, handed directly to you and executed right then and there. He was trying to kill us!
He was trying to kill us off to the ‘God project’ which is “religion”! Our efforts at making ourselves more presentable is not making us better…it’s making us worse!
We need to die. And when we are sufficiently dead enough, to self and our little game of self justification, then that pure sweet sound of forgiveness spoken from the cross and spoken over you at your baptism can go to work on you and in you, and raise you up, and breathe new life into you and make you whole again.
It is the other side of that two-edged blade of law and gospel. The ‘life’ side.
It is Jesus’ declaration to you. In the words of the pastor, in the water and Word of baptism, in the bread and the wine of His supper…”You are forgiven!”
Death and resurrection. Repentance and forgiveness. A picture of baptism.
All…for you! Go now… and live! You are free! That’s the gospel!
All of that came as a result of a death.
Is there any dying going on in your church?