Death of the Old Adam, Death of the Old Eve

Jesus said that if you would gain your life in this world… you must lose it.

Is there any dying going on in your church? Are people losing their lives on a regular basis?

It’s supposed to happen, you know.

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?

18 Responses

  1. The greeting of the Puritans,”Did you mortify today?”
    did you kill the flesh? We don’t hear that a lot do we?

  2. Willohroots,

    I didn’t know that. Thanks for that one!

    Yeah, sure,we hear it all the time.

    My pastor told us about a professor in seminary who used to regularly ask people “How’s your deathwalk going?”

    Thanks Willohroots!

    – Steve

  3. I love this subject. A few years ago I read and studied a book on Romans 6:1-14 called “The Marvelous Exchange. The author, Dick Flaten, was a friend of my father-in-law. They preached together at a church in Colorado Springs. Sadly, the book was published after Flaten passed away.

    But it’s an incredible study on the subject. Here’s the text before I go on rambling…

    Romans 6:1-14

    1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

    2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

    3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

    4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

    5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

    6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

    7 for he who has died is freed from sin.

    8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

    9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

    10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

    11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

    13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

    14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

    In Romans, Paul tells us that we have been baptized into the death of Christ. Now there’s an interesting idea. We are to identify with His death because He died for us…for our sins. As a result we are no longer slaves to sin. As a believer in Christ, sin no longer has control over us. Does that mean that we will never sin? No. That’s not the point. It means that we are no longer controlled by a will to sin. We are free to NOT sin.

  4. Amen Roger, am I the only guy that keeps crawling back into the chains? I mean there are victories, but with the price that was paid I really should be a better man than I am. thank God for His mercy!! I put up a new post I am kind of nervous about, Image, feed back is needed. stop over
    Steve, this might be right up your alley, maybe.

  5. Roger, Willohroots,


    Sin no longer has DOMINION over us.

    We still sin, but it doesn’t have the last word any longer…Christ does. And Christ declares that we are forgiven for His sake.

    Thank you guys! Good stuff!

    Willohroots, looking forward to checking out your new post!

    – Steve

  6. This is challening to say the least! I once belonged to a church that was dying to self, but the somehow wanted to pursue the seeker-sensitive type of preaching, which has killed the Spirit within the congregation.

    I distinctly remembering hearing, “This church is dead,” when I went to visit for a baby dedication almost 3 years ago.

    Now I belong to a church that emphasizes living a crucified life for Christ, making our bodies a living sacrifice daily before God.

    Thanks for this post my friend.

  7. Paul uses the words “have died”…and he means it quite literally – in Christ. Not, have died ‘if’, or have died ‘when’ or have died ‘but’. Pauls’ language in Romans 6 is not the language of symbolic identification it is the language of actual participation.
    In baptism Christ Jesus begins to accomplish the promises of the gospel: to bring life out of death, forgiveness out of sin and salvation out of damnation. I have never seen a church or Christian yet that is much good at dying to self. But Christ Jesus is the Master at putting us to death and raising us with Him….again and again.

  8. i gotta admit ive not come across the idea of the sermon on the mount as an instrument of death. i may need to simmer on that one for a while.

    i wrote a blog a few days ago about less of me more of jesus having its ultimate end in my death. this is timely stuff. thanks for the bread.

  9. Steve,

    I think Forde bringing forth Luther and the early Lutheran reformers on this “death – life” (which includes the rebirth/regeneration) is helpful. We must be aware of the deadly danger of thinking ad modum Aristotelis (the part of the HD that is not emphasized enough), in the mode of Aristotle. That is that “mortification” is the legal scheme whereby there is a motion of less sinful more righteous. Luther’s main battle with Rome, in fact the crux of it is with this idea of “motion” which many protestants still cling to.

    The Old Adam/Eve are slain by the utterly by the unconditional declaration of the justifying word and that declaration by God, imputed, IS our death and our life, the new beginning, resurrection, rebirth/regeneration. Forde writes, “To face death is to be put in the position of not being able to do anything according to the ways of the world-the law, religion, the upward climb-with all its plans and schemes. They suddenly stop, come to an end: “I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” Both our vices and our virtues come to a FULL STOP. “You have died,” says Paul. It is all over!”

    Thus, the true death, the second death and the resurrection is not a motion, “how is your walk today” but the cessation of motion and hearing the Divine declaration of the reality.

    Forde continues:

    “That the early Reformation looked upon justification this way (forensic not legal but death-life –ldh) can be amply documented, as we saw already in looking at Luther’s statement about Baptism in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (The ‘captivity’, by the way, is precisely captivity to the scheme of law), and the development of the law-gospel distinction. Here we must look at one or two other prominent examples. Commenting in Gal. 2:20, Luther says,

    “I am crucified with Christ.” Paul adds this word because he wants to explain how the law is devoured by the law (Christ). If Christ is crucified to the law, sa also am I. How? Through faith. I am crucified to the law; I have nothing to do with it, because I am crucified to it and vice versa, because I have died with Christ through grace itself and faith (per ipsam gratiam et fidem)…If you believe in Christ then you are co- crucified through faith spiritually, just as he is dead to the law, to death, …”.

    Receiving and believing the word of justification is death and resurrection (this is the rebirth as Jesus spoke to Nicodemas which is why baptism per Christ is regenerational –ldh). It is the end and new beginning. Nor is this spiritual death and resurrection to be confused with a kind of imitation or following of Christ’s example in “mortification of the flesh”. All of that is indeed to follow, but must not be confused with the death and resurrection administered (LDH emphasis added) by the justifying word itself (LDH emphasis added). Luther says quite explicitly:

    Paul is not speaking here of the imitation, which means to become co-crucified. That happens in the flesh, as Peter (1 Pet. 2:21) says: Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. Here Paul does not speak of that crucifixion, but of the primary co-crucifixion by which the devil and death are crucified. Where? In Christ, not in me. That crucifixion by which I die to the law is resurrection, because Christ has killed my death and bound up my law. And I believe that. (NOTE: Resurrection itself, the rebirth, is ITSELF extra nos, i.e. outside of us and not within. –LDH)

    To hear and believe the word of justification for Jesus’ sake is to die and be raised in him. Since he has died and been raised not even that can be turned into some kind of law, some “way” for us to traverse. It is not an action or movement on our part but simply a passion, a “suffering” it TO BE SO (LDH emphasis added)”, a BEING (LDH emphasis added) slain and raised up. Faith ARISES out of that PASSIVITY (LDH emphasis added). Faith comes by hearing! But at the same time it must not, as Luther said, be looked upon as being merely “allegorical” or “symbolic.” The death inflicted by the justifying word which reduces us to nothing is the real death, the true spiritual death, the death of sin, the death of all defiance against the God who “will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Since it is the death of sin, it is also the death of death. The other death, the physical death of the body that we must die at the end of our days, is for Luther a more minor matter. He called it das Todlein, the “little death”. The spiritual death encountered in the unconditional address of the justifying word is the major death, the death we experience. Everything depends, for us, on whether we survive that word and believe.”

    Forde continues further down…

    “The Old Adam or Eve in us can’t survive in the face of that attack and so clings desperately to the last hope. “We have to do something, don’t we?” How like us, in the last extremity to bank on that little “something” we had planned to get away with! Our very questions expose us! The divine declaration does exactly what was claimed: it shows us to be sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God.



  10. Pastor Mark,

    We don’t want to die, do we? God is His grace and mercy does bring death upon us.

    In HIs Word and sacraments He does this FOR US, out of the goodness of His merciful and loving heart.

    As you say, He does this for us over and over agin until He raises us up for the last time. Then there will be no more dying…forever.

    Thanks Pastor! See you tomorrow!

    – Steve

  11. Graceshaker,

    The ides was new to me, also. But when you examine it, you can mine some awesome gems from those scriptures looking at it that way.

    I’ll make sure to go and check out your post on your blog!

    Thanks Graceshaker!

    – Steve

  12. Larry,

    “To face death is to be put in the position of not being able to do anything according to the ways of the world-the law, religion, the upward climb-with all its plans and schemes. They suddenly stop, come to an end: “I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” Both our vices and our virtues come to a FULL STOP. “You have died,” says Paul. It is all over!”


    Great observations and insights as always, Larry!

    I often go back to your comments daus and weeeks later to pull out more gems that I may have earlier missed.

    Thanks, my Friend!

    – Steve

  13. “Not, have died ‘if’, or have died ‘when’ or have died ‘but’. Pauls’ language in Romans 6 is not the language of symbolic identification it is the language of actual participation.
    In baptism Christ Jesus begins to accomplish the promises of the gospel: to bring life out of death, forgiveness out of sin and salvation out of damnation. I have never seen a church or Christian yet that is much good at dying to self. But Christ Jesus is the Master at putting us to death and raising us with Him….again and again.”

    Now THAT is the reality!
    Anyone who has suffered under years of ‘holiness’ (Keswick–esque) teaching and ministry (Watchman Nee and Company) will know just how liberating that is – “you HAVE been united with Him in death, and will therefore be likewise CERTAINLY be raised with Him in Resurrection” – that is what baptism is about; union with Christ, now and forever – the BODY OF SIN is brought to nothing, but death is just a step – for the free gift of God is Eternal life in Christ Jesus. Oh, the glorious liberty of His children, that we are heading for such a joy. If we focus there, then we can perhaps begin to glimpse with Paul how this current form of affliction (dealing with the old whilst waiting for the new) is but light and momentary compared to the ‘weight’ (substance and significance) of what lies ahead. That should help us, dear friends, to run the race!

  14. Howard,

    The race is hard at times, the reality of what awaits us is given to us, in the hearing of His Word and in receving of the bread and the wine.

    We return to our baptisms daily…to the realization of who and what we are…the old…dead of the cross…with Christ…and the new…risen from the grave…with Christ!

    Howard, you are always dead bullseye!

    Thanks once again!

    – Steve

  15. Hey Steve,

    Thanks, but I simply leech off of great folks like Forde and others, chew it up in my pea brain.


    That is great stuff. You made be think of something in moving from Baptist/reformed to Lutheran. That ENTIRE daily returning to baptism/simul Justus et peccator as Luther meant it versus Baptist and reformed paradigms which are variations on the OSAS in which there is this “entrance point” and once your in and some how divine that out for yourself your state is such that it is not really the simul. I think this is where a lot of monkey business comes in involving the third use of the Law (which Forde points out is only a cover antinomian operation in an attempt to tame the law and make it a house pet among Christians – which cannot be done).

    Anyway, it goes to the “state of being” of the baptized Christian. In Baptist and reformed paradigms there is to greater and lesser degree, depending on whom you are around and the subtle flavors of it, a “crossing over” whereby the law finally gets its due. As opposed to that ever present state of being of IN BAPTISM per Luther, the true simul (true all sinner/true all just by the justifying Word which is death/life). We find it in particular parts of the languages concerning baptism.

    For example as former Baptist we would always say, “I WAS baptized…”. That’s part and parcel of the Baptist life and really if one is honest best explains the doctrine. It is a “I WAS baptized”. Meaning I “got saved” showed some progress as proof and OSAS, I crossed that threshold and “am in”. Now I don’t need the Gospel either at all or as much (depending on the leanings of the particular Baptist group) as “Joe Lost” over there. My Baptist “simul” is not total sinner (good and bad deeds – all that I do is sin) but rather a mixture like pepper and salt. And grace rather than a purely constant imputed Word spoke to me, begins to take on this idea of “power” (almost like the RC infused concept). And so the speech is captured in “I WAS baptized…back on_____”.

    In the Reformed tradition I saw the language change a smidge but the principles are not that different because there’s still that “threshold” of crossing over and metering out, you hope, some how, “I am elect”. So, in the Reformed camp we always spoke of baptism not as “I WAS…” but rather “How can you NOW IMPROVE your baptism”. Especially among the Puritan writers. But you see there’s still that baptistic and Roman Catholic, thinking in the mode of Aristotle threshold of crossing over and the “simul” or state of being of the Christian, if he/she subjectively discerns they are “IN”, and then on the tread mill of motion and progress per the legal scheme. The Law finally “getting its due” under various legal concepts of progress or “sanctification” or “by the NOW power of grace” or even “out of gratitude” (meaning paying back the loan of justification, ironically John Piper, a Baptist, picks up on this – I don’t normally recommend him because of his Baptist errors though with the sacraments).

    However, in Lutheran thought the statement is “I AM baptized” which IS in fact a confession of naked faith in a forensic justification for Christ’s sake, what the devil, world and flesh (and truth be said, most of the outward appearing church) REALLY hates.

    So one has it thus:

    Baptist: “I WAS baptized…” (theology of glory – the default fallen religion of man)
    Reformed: “How do you improve your baptism” (theology of glory)
    Luther: “I AM baptized…”

    Granted there are folks in the non-lutheran camps that adhere more to Luther in many ways than their confessions actually allow, and there are specific Lutherans that are really practicing Baptist/reformed that try to bend their confession more toward the ToG confessions.

    Forde writes concerning good works and if we can speak of a “progress” thus:

    “The simul makes all such schemes of progress impossible. The justification given is a total state, a complete, unconditional gift. From that point of view true sanctification is simply to “shut up and listen!” For there can be no more sanctification than where every knee bends and every mouth is silent before God, the only Holy One. And God is revered as the Holy One only where the sinner, the real sinner, stands still at the place where God enters the scene and speaks. That is the place where the sinner must realize that his or her way is at an end. Only those who are so grasped that they stand still here and confess to sin and give God the glory, only they are “sanctified.” And there cannot be more sanctification than that! Whoever knows this knows that there is an end to the old, there is a death involved, and that being a Christian means ever and anew to be blasted by that divine lightning (for we always forget it) and to begin again. As Luther said, “proficere, hoc est simper a novo incipere.” (To achieve means always to begin again anew).

    The “progress” of the Christian therefore, is the progress of one who has constantly to get used to the fact that we are justified totally by faith, constantly has somehow to “recover,” so to speak, from that death blow to pride and presumption – or better, is constantly being raised from the tomb of all pious ambition to something quite new. The believer has to be renewed daily in that. The Old Being is to be daily drowned in repentance and raised in faith. The progress of the Christian life is not our movement toward the goal; it is the movement of the goal in upon us. The righteousness granted unconditionally is eschatological in character; it is the totality of the “Kingdom of God” moving in upon us. The sin to be attacked and abolished is not merely immorality and godlessness, but also pious presumption, the refusal to believe in God or his creation, always taking flight toward some spiritual dreamland. Sanctification cannot, therefore, mean that the ideas of moral progress blasted by the divine imputation of righteousness are now subtly smuggled back in under the table. The sin to be removed is PRECISELY such understandings of progress. The justification is not a mere beginning point which can somehow be allowed to recede into the background while the supposed “real” business of sanctification takes front and center. The unconditional justification is is the perpetual fountain, the constant source of whatever “righteousness” we may acquire. “Complete” sanctification is not the goal but the source of all good works. That, after all, is what it means to say, “Good works do not make a person good, but a good person does good works.” The imputed, unconditional righteousness is not a temporary loan, or a legal fiction, but a power, indeed, “the power of God unto salvation”. It attacks sin as a total state and will not relent until it has reduced all sin to nothing. It always attacks as a whole, as the unconditional word consigning the old to death and calling forth the new. When the confessions use statement like “Faith will bear fruit!” or “Faith is bound to bear fruit,” that is what stands behind the statement.

     END QUOTE Gerhard Forde, “Justification by Faith A Matter of Death and Life”



  16. Larry,

    Again you have provided us good “meat” for our edification!

    Forde is awesome. If anyone hasn’t gotten a hold of some of Gerhard Forde’s books, you are missing out!

    The distiction between ‘I WAS baptised’ and ‘I AM baptised’ make all the difference in the world.

    It is a matter of focus and emphasis.

    Non sacramental churches naturally shift the onus to ‘you’.

    Sine the human creature DEMANDS evidence…something tangible to see, touch, feel. People resort to their works, their emotions, their feelings.

    But a place to go is to Christ (extra nos) in His coming to us and giving to us freely…apart from anything we think, feel, say, or do.

    Keep it coming, Larry!

    You da man!

    – Steve

  17. I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are really good quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend. 🙂

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