“The Walking Dead”
No, this article is not about zombies. At least not in the way you might be thinking.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:3-6).
Fourteen years ago, I buried a man. Actually, I buried an entire way of life. After hearing the truth of the gospel taught, I understood that my sins had made Jesus’ death a necessity. My sins put Him on the cross, just as surely as the sins of the Romans who nailed Him there or the Jews who shouted and begged for Him to be crucified. Through the wisdom of the Scriptures, I came to understand and believe that it was no common man who died that day – rather it was Deity having taken on flesh who suffered, bled, and felt the sting of death. Some deny that Jesus is Deity, God the Son…but this should not be difficult for us to understand. Jesus plainly stated the fact of it: “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,’” (John 8:58). The prophet Isaiah also told mankind that the Savior would be Deity: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This amazing Savior, through Whom all things were made (John 1:2-3), shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice that could atone for sins and reconcile men to God Almighty.
How could I not confess that truth before others? It was so obvious; it seemed to leap off the Bible’s pages! Who with an honest heart could deny the truth of it? With knowledge came understanding: the understanding that I, too, was to blame for His death. Sickened and ashamed of myself, I repented of that old life…the selfish, sinful life that had made the Savior’s death necessary.
Such belief was good, as was a penitent heart; more than good, both of these were necessary for salvation (John 3:16; Acts 3:19). But I still needed those sins washed away. Jesus was clear that baptism was necessary for that to happen: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The apostle Peter taught the same thing (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21); so did Paul (Galatians 3:27). And so, fourteen years ago (it seems like a lifetime, and in many ways, it has been!), I stopped resisting the gospel’s call and was baptized into Christ to have my sins washed away.
A number of things happened on that day. My sins were taken away, just as Paul’s had been when he obeyed the gospel (Acts 22:16). I put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). The Lord Himself added me to His church (Acts 2:47). And, as Paul described it to the saints at Rome, I buried a dead man. I was no longer the man I had been; I had been made new: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God be praised, both for His wonderful plan of salvation for man, and for His longsuffering to grant us the time to obey it!
You may be asking, “What does all this have to do with the walking dead?” Remember the words of Paul: “…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6). This is a glorious statement…but it is also a warning to us. We must not dig up the dead! Leave our old man buried, where he belongs.
Woe to those who have been made clean by the blood of Christ, only to turn around and dig up their old lives again! Christians are supposed to have put on Christ and been made new. Whenever we return to our old lives of sin, it is like putting on a shambling, rotting corpse. Disgusting image, isn’t it? Imagine how it looks to God, who gave His Son’s blood to wash all that sin away.
We cannot live in darkness and light at the same time – we must choose one or the other. I am afraid that some think God will be fine with us keeping a little darkness. This shows a grave misunderstanding of God’s character: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:5-6). If we turn back to the pollutions of the world after having had them washed away, Peter says that we are like dogs returning to our own vomit (2 Peter 2:20-22).
So leave your old man dead and buried. He has no business walking this lighted path with you, O Christian. That life is over, and a much better one has begun – a life in fellowship with the King. Yes, we all stumble in this life. When that happens, God has given His children the ability to ask for forgiveness (Acts 8:22). But beware: we may think back to the enjoyable fleeting moments of a life of sin, and we might take out the shovel, intent on digging up that old man and letting him walk the earth freely again. Before we do that, we need to think clearly and honestly.
Do we want to embrace the dead, that lifeless corpse of an existence that beckons us on to Hell? Or will we embrace the light, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)?
Each one of us will make a choice. Which will you choose?