Dead man walking. Ever heard the phrase before? One definition of the phrase is “any person in a doomed or untenable situation.” This basically describes man’s spiritual condition upon conception. “Unfair!” you may shout. What has he even yet done to deserve such a fate?” The sad, but true answer is nothing. He had to do nothing more than simply inherit the spiritual condition of his parents, who inherited that of their parents, and so on, all the way back to Adam.
Dead to God, Alive to Sin
What exactly is this spiritual condition? Paul writes, in Romans 5:12, “… through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men…” When Adam and Eve chose independence from God by eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they experienced spiritual death—at the very core of their beings, they were separated from God’s life and power. At this point, their condition changed; their human spirits, which had been alive to God prior to the Fall, were now dead to God and alive to Sin. It is this dreadful condition into which we are all born. Just as a genetic predisposition to a physical condition may be inherited through one’s genes, our spiritual condition is also a matter of who we were “born in.” Since we were all “in Adam,” when he sinned, we sinned. When he died spiritually, we died spiritually and were left to our own resources. When he was condemned, we were condemned. When he became a sinner, we became sinners.
So, man, even before birth, is sentenced to death, and lives life futilely trying to avoid the pain of this reality, searching for meaning and significance in situations, circumstances, and others, which only results in a life filled with conflict and frustration. As the years pass, and no fulfillment is found living from his own resources, man is left wondering what the purpose of his life is. What he really needs is to be rescued from his hopeless situation and to be given a new set of “spiritual genes.” He begins to cry, like Paul, “Wretched man that I am? Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
Adam and Eve’s sin, in choosing to live life independently of God, was no surprise to God. In fact, He had a wonderful plan to restore them and their descendants (us) to Himself from before the foundation of the world. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “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 together with Christ.” Because of God’s great desire to be in relationship with mankind and that we be connected to Him as our very Source of living, God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as our way out of our hopeless situation. When we choose to accept this indescribable gift, we experience salvation from our hopeless situation, and at that moment, God takes us spiritually out of Adam and places us into Christ’s life—eternal life. Eternal life is something we enter into and become a partaker of at the moment of salvation. It is receiving a new life altogether—Christ’s life. Colossians 1: 13-14 tells us that “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Essentially, Father God did the impossible—He rescued us from our life in Adam and transferred us into Christ.
So where were we when Christ died, was buried, resurrected, and ascended? Since God placed us “in Him,” we, too, participated in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Paul speaks of this death of our “Old Man” in Galatians 2:20: “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 I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” It is only through faith in this glorious exchange that we can experience the victorious abundant life that Jesus came to give.
A Moment-by-Moment Choice
Why is it, then, that our lives as Christians often seem anything but victorious? The answer to this lies in the fact that now we have a choice to make in every situation and circumstance in our lives. We must ask ourselves—Am I going to go back to living out of my own strength—my old ways of doing life—or am I willing to allow Christ in me to live through me? It is a moment-by moment choice to live out this truth of exchanged life, a Christ-centered life rather than a self-centered life that “puts no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3), that will allow us to experience the reality of our identity “in Christ.” We rejoice in the liberating truth that because we are now “in Christ,” we are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), having passed from death to life.
Next month we will further discuss God’s desire for us to live in a moment-by-moment attitude of surrender to Him.