Have you ever gone out to get in your car, turn the key and nothing? Your heart sinks. Your agenda is crushed. Your plans ruined. What do you do? Sit there and hope it will start the next time you turn the key? Bang on the steering wheel? Plead with it to come back to life? If you’re like most families, you change cars. Or call for assistance. But you don’t just spend the day sitting in a dead car.
This lesson was first learned in the days of the old West. You’re riding into town and suddenly your horse drops dead underneath you. What do you do?
1. Buy a stronger whip.
2. Sharpen your spurs to hopefully get his attention.
3. Say to the people looking at you, “This is the way I’ve always ridden this horse.”
4. Lower your standards of getting anywhere so that riding a dead horse is really okay.
5. Hang out with other dead horse riders to get tips on how they ride their dead horses.
6. Get a rump sticker that says, “This horse isn’t as dead as he looks!”
7. Criticize all the other horses as being too high maintenance.
8. Read books or watch videos that might help improve your riding ability.
9. Convince yourself it’s just easier to sit on a dead horse that goes nowhere than try to
ride one you can’t control.
10. Or, from the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, when you discover that you are
riding a dead horse, the best thing to do is dismount.
Paul describes our spiritual condition prior to salvation as being dead. Insensitive to the things of God, unresponsive to His desires, we couldn’t feel His presence, His activity, His love. We were so dead we were not even aware He was there. We looked at a sunset and only saw the sunset. We looked at a mountain range and only saw the mountains. We looked at the stars and only saw stars. God’s fingerprints were all over everything but we never noticed.
All the while, like the walking dead, we were staggering toward the edge of a cliff, heading toward the pit of His wrath because this spiritual condition was hostile against God. We were enslaved by this dead life, held captive to its deadness, stuck riding a dead horse.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive… (Eph 2:4-5)
We were dead. We are now alive. But all we knew was the old, dead life. How do we now live in this new life? The Heart of Romans – The Heart of God.
Paul writes Romans 6:2 – How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:2)
Death separates. The most painful part of losing a loved one is the separation. Prior to salvation, we were spiritually dead: separated from God.
To die to something is to separate ourselves from it. No longer under its control. No longer identified by its power over us.
In the days of slavery, a person often was born a slave, lived a slave and died a slave. After the Emancipation Proclamation, a person might have been born a slave but now he would live as a free man. He was no longer who he had been. He was given a new life.
Mr. George Johnson was slave freed by the Emancipation Proclamation: I got my name from President Jeff Davis. He was president of the Southern Confederacy. He owned my grandfather and my father. Brought them from Richmond, Virginia. And he owned me.
George’s story began with him born as a slave but ended with him a free man. How do you stop being a slave: you recognize your freedom and separate yourself from that old life. You die to that old life.
What we have died to can no longer control us. An old master might call and order a former slave to work. Freedom means he doesn’t have to anymore. The old master might try to force him back into slavery. Freedom means he can simply refuse and walk away. Why, that old life no longer owns him.
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; (Rom 6:6)
Paul draws a line to show the before and after of salvation and the way you live on each side of the line is different because the power of each life is different.
The power of the old life is called Sin. (with a capital S)
There is a difference in Sin and sins.
Sin is the hostile nature within us, the power of rebellion that Adam gave in to and passed on to us. It is the desire to rule our own lives without regard for who God is or what He wants. It drives us to commit sins.
Sins are the activity of Sin. Sin is the motivation, sins are the actions.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:28-32)
When God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were sinners, Jesus died for us, God forgave us, removing the barrier for relationship with Him. He was not just forgiving the activity of sinning, but breaking the control of the power of rebellion that had reigned in our lives since birth and held us in its grip.
How did we know Sin was there ruling in our hearts—look at the activity.
Jesus paid our debt which translated into a change of ownership. We are no longer bound by the desires and impulses of that power, dominated by Sin’s activity. Sin doesn’t own us anymore. The slave has been set free.
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. (Rom 6:4)
By His death He broke the power of Sin over us. When we accept His death as our death we separate ourselves from that old life and are raised to a whole new life.
We were changed - Transformed: Metamorphosis—caterpillar becoming a butterfly
I was a droopy, leaf-eating caterpillar crawling wherever I could to satisfy my hunger. But God placed a greater desire in me. A desire so great I would die to the old caterpillar life and live a new life as a butterfly.
[The caterpillar I was has] I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh [as a butterfly] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
Never look at the cross without seeing yourself there. Why? It took death to break the old mastery of Sin over you. His to establish it and yours to benefit from it.
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin [the power of rebellion that wants us to rule our own lives without regard for who God is or what He wants] might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom 6:6-7)
Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:21-23)
On November 18, 2014, Ricky Jackson walked out of prison a free man, 39 years after a conviction based on the story of a twelve-year-old boy was overturned. According to this young witness, Jackson and two other men killed a money-order collector at a Cleveland grocery store. The only problem was that wasn’t the truth. Eddie Vernon, who helped build the case against Jackson in 1975, had lied. When Vernon, now 51, admitted his lie, Jackson was brought before Judge Richard McMonagle. The County prosecutor told the judge that the case against Jackson had fallen apart – based on the recantation of Eddie Vernon - and moved the judge dismiss the case. "The state concedes the obvious," the prosecutor said. Jackson broke into loud sobs, his face buried in his handcuffed hands. "I can't believe this is over,'' Jackson cried. He thanked his attorneys and supporters. Then someone called Jackson's family and handed him the phone. His eyes, though soaked from tears, beamed. "It's over,'' Jackson yelled into the phone, "I'm coming home. I'm coming home. Be here to get me Friday, please. Let everybody know.''
We too were condemned by a lie. “Eat the fruit. You won’t die.” “You don’t need God.” “The wages of sin isn’t death.”
We too were set free by the truth.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8:1-2)
“The gift of God is eternal life.”
1. As a Believer, Sin no longer owns you.
2. That old horse has died so get off of him.
3. By embracing Jesus’ death as payment for your Sin debt God gave you a new life.
4. So live like a person set free: a slave who’s been emancipated or a man released from death row who’s heading home.