By Robert Halsey Pine
“What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-11 NRSV).
It is hard for us to think that one side of us should be dead. When we accept Jesus Christ’s life and death, which were for our benefit, we accept that we have died to sin. This is one death that must not be resurrected. To resurrect sin in us after accepting the sacrifice of Christ Jesus is to become partners with Satan. As our sin has died, we are baptized and raised with Christ to a new life.
Several years ago, I had a near death and a death experience all at the same time. It was during the time of my having a brain tumor removed. While I was exposed to the possibility of death through a surgery that took nearly half a day, I experienced and welcomed a death to sin. For the first time in my life, I knew for certain that I was forgiven for my sins and that God had washed me clean and bright. At that time, I knew that I had died to sin and was “baptized into death” from where I was able to walk in Christ’s new life for me.
I have a new and great re-sponsibility. Satan is busy with his pick and shovel trying to resurrect my dead sins. It is a minute by minute and hour by hour vigil that I must keep. On occasion, Satan digs hard and fast enough to expose a corner of sin’s coffin, but I rush to push the dirt back in to cover it. It would be easy to cancel my watch and let the dead part of me back in, but I remember that feeling and presence of God with me in the hospital. I remember the second chance that He gave me and the new clean feeling that accompanied it.
Our challenge is to seek a death to sin without being pushed there by a near death in the natural life. Some of us are just stubborn and have to be hit with an oil-soaked two-by-four in order to wake up. And sometimes that is not enough. We must listen to St. Paul when he says about Jesus, “The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Robert Halsey Pine is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.