I’ve been making my way through an excellent book called Visual Theology, in which the author masterfully illustrates foundational Biblical truths in a fresh and transformative way. One chapter in particular focuses on the concept of putting sin to death in our lives. This is what we as Christians are called to do daily, relying on the power of God through his Holy Spirit that dwells in us.
I love the story the author uses to describe the life of someone who has believed in Jesus Christ for salvation and is no longer the same. How many of you are familiar with the story of Lazarus? Lazarus was a very close friend of Jesus’, and we read in the Bible (John 11) that Lazarus dies and is buried. His friends and family are mourning his death, understandably, but Jesus intends to perform a miracle that will glorify God. Upon arriving in the village where Lazarus was buried, Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, express their sorrow over the fact that Jesus is late. If he had been there sooner, he could have prevented the illness from leading to death. But Jesus is God, and he has power over death. Jesus shouts toward the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!” Immediately the dead man walks out, no longer dead, but still completely wrapped in strips of linen…like a mummy. Jesus instructed those around him to remove the linen strips and let Lazarus go. Only dead people wear strips of linen.
Now the remarkable connection between the life of a Christian and the story of Lazarus is this: there is a difference between being dead and being alive. Someone who is alive is expected to act alive. If they were previously dead, it would be even more absurd to voluntarily go back to being dead. Lazarus was no longer dead, so why would he continue to wear strips of linen all over his body and face? In the same way, you and I have been given new life through Christ, so why would we continue to live the same exact way that we lived before we met Christ? Before Christ, the Bible says that we were dead, walking in sin, just like every person in this world (Ephesians 2:1). But Jesus rose from the dead, and he has made us alive with him (Colossians 2:13), so let us remove the habits of our spiritually dead selves and start practicing the things that spiritually living people do. Through his word and his Son Jesus Christ, God has given us everything we need to live this new life (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
Brothers and sisters, have you been raised from the dead to new life in Christ? If so, are you still walking around with sin in your life, like a mummy covered in strips of linen? Remove them, and don’t run back to the grave!