That’s the paradox of Christian life. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
For the college students, I invite you to lose your life for Jesus. You are in the prime of your life. Invest the best years of your life for Jesus. Offer the next four years to Jesus and you will leave Pasadena, or Eagle Rock or wherever you go to school with more than a piece of paper.
What is the alternative? You clutch onto your life and the Bible says, ultimately, you lose. Instead, offer your life to God and you may lose for a short while, but you will be the big winner for eternity.
This is the Biblical definition of freedom. The gospel frees us from the puny prison of self. The Bible says, count yourself dead to sin. Don’t think about yourself. Your sins are forgiven and forgotten. And we are alive to Christ and we offer our bodies in obedience to His word. This is how we live the new life Christ promised. A life that thrives. A life that is alive to Christ, not ourselves.
How does counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ accomplish sanctification?
Well, other than what we read here, I honestly don’t know how sanctification works. I just know that the work of sanctification, or regeneration, or transformation, or bearing fruit, or whatever you want to call it is entirely out of our hands. Only God can change people.
But I can say a couple things that I do know about sanctification. From my experience, I have never met a self-engrossed, narcissistic Christian who is also sanctified and mature. And any time I have met a Christian who bears the marks of sanctification and maturity, there are two distinct commonalities. 1) they are God-focused, not self-focused. And 2) they are living for others.
J.O.Y. — Jesus, Others, You — that spells joy. If you reverse the order and you place yourself as the first priority, that spells YOJ. That’s jibberish, it doesn’t make sense. And if you live like that, there will be no joy and I can assure you that you won’t get very far in terms of sanctification.
Are there areas of your life that are not sanctified? I invite you to apply Romans 6:11 to that area of your life. Count yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ.
As a college minister, over the years, I have had to counsel brothers over various issues and one issue that always come up is pornography.
It’s one of those problems that doesn’t have a simple solution. Because temptation is around every corner. Every time they fail, they are filled with such a debilitating sense of guilt and shame and defeat. Some resolve to never commit this sin again and they try their best to work harder to be pure. But when they fall and they almost always do, they become increasingly defeated because their thoughts condemn them. I thought I tried and I just can’t do it and they stop trying after a while.
Satan uses our thoughts to condemn us all the time so even after we repent, there is a lingering voice of accusation — Satan tempts us into thinking, you are still guilty, God doesn’t forgive you. And we believe the lie.
Let’s apply Romans 6:11 to this situation. First, we need to count our sin of lust as something that is dead. We repent, we receive God’s forgiveness and we forget about it. Then, we apply the second part of that verse. We count ourselves alive to Christ. We lose ourselves by focusing on God and service to others.
Brothers who try to tackle the sin of lust head-on almost always end up being defeated. But those who lose themselves by being alive to Christ and living for a higher purpose have a much greater chance of victory and sanctification.
Are there areas of your life that have not been sanctified? Are you trying to tackle these sins head-on. If so, then you are probably going to be frustrated. Instead, practice Rom 6:11, count yourself dead to sin. Receive God’s forgiveness and forget about it. Deny yourself. Don’t think about it. That’s the first step.
Instead, commit to being alive to Christ. Focus on Jesus. Read his words and offer your bodies in obedience to what he says. Serve others. Get involved with people at a deeper level.
This is how we live the new life in Christ promised in Romans 6, a life that thrives. In the process, God will sanctify us.
I want to end with one final verse — Gal 2:20.
This is more than a verse that we should remember during someone’s baptism. It captures the essence of sanctification.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We are dead to sin and we no longer live, but Christ lives in me. He occupies the center of your heart, it’s no longer yourself. Be alive to Christ. Offer yourself to him. Let Christ’s life shine through yours.