An Unforgettable Funeral!

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— Romans 6:11

When I was first starting in the ministry, I served as an assistant pastor in a denominational church. Because I was in training for ministry, the senior pastor wanted to teach me how to conduct funerals. To instruct me, he took me to funeral after funeral so that I’d learn how handle myself in delicate and difficult situations.

One funeral in particular was an experience I shall never forget. In fact, even today I can still vividly picture it in my mind’s eye. It was a funeral conducted for an unsaved family whose son had tragically died in an accident. The sorrow and remorse in that room was so thick that it could nearly be cut with a knife. Perhaps there is nothing sadder than a funeral with a room full of unbelievers. They have no hope, and when they lose a loved one, it is truly a catastrophe because their lack of hope overwhelms them. But even worse than attending such a funeral is being called upon to conduct it!

As the mother approached the casket to tell her son goodbye one last time, I watched as she crawled into the casket with that dead body. She was so overwhelmed with grief that she clutched that dead body tightly, pleading, Talk to me! Talk to me! Don’t leave me like this!” Funeral workers had to pull her out of the coffin and escort her to the limousine that waited to take her and the rest of the family to the cemetery for the burial.

That early experience is forever etched in my memory. I’ve never forgotten that pitiful sight when this mother gripped her son’s dead body in her arms and begged it to speak to her one last time. But that body was not going to talk to her. It was dead. The empty shell that lay in that casket was the deceased, expired, finished shadow of a man who had once lived but now was gone. There was no heartbeat, no breath in his lungs, and no pulse in his wrists to detect. The clock had quit running for that man’s life, and there was no turning the clock back to make it start ticking again. It was a “done deal.” This man’s life had expired. All the mother’s pounding on her son’s lifeless chest wasn’t going to wake him up!

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2As I drove off to the cemetery that day to conduct the gravesite rites, everything I had seen in the funeral home that morning rolled over and over in my mind. The permanence of death and the inability to produce a response from a dead body particularly stayed in my mind. I thought of how that sorrowing mother tried so hard to get that dead body to respond to her, but it simply could not respond because it was dead. As I meditated on this whole scenario, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart from Romans 6:11. It says, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What a glorious thought that is! Our old man is “dead” to sin because of the work of Christ on the Cross!

As soon as I got home from the gravesite service, I reached for my Greek lexicon and looked up the word “dead.” As I expected, it was the Greek word nekros, which is the Greek word for a corpse — in other words, a dead body with no heartbeat, no breath in its lungs, and no pulse to feel in its wrists. It doesn’t matter how loud you scream at it, pull at it, or pound on its chest, it’s impossible to get a response or reaction because its life is expired. Its life has ceased. In God’s mind, that is how dead we are to our past and to the sinful impulses that once ruled our lives. In God’s mind, who we used to be is never to be revived.

According to the Greek text, that part of Romans 6:11 could be translated, “Continually consider yourselves to be dead to sin.” In other words, if sin tries to act up, we are to keep reminding sin that it is has no power over us. The word “reckon” that is used in the King James Version is the Greek word logidzomai, which means to count, to deem, or to consider. Paul used it in the present imperative case. This means it is a command that must be acted upon continually. Putting all of this together means that we are commanded to continually deem our old selves — that is, the personality that existed before Christ — to be as lifeless as a corpse with no life left in it. It is as dead as dead can possibly be, which means you are not who you used to be. That person who once lived is dead, lifeless, gone, and buried forever in the mind of God. This means you are free of your former identity.

So if your old identity is dead, who are you now? Romans 6:11 says that you are “…alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word “alive” is the Greek word zoontas, a present active participle of zao. When zao becomes zoontas, it doesn’t just refer to life, but to overflowing life, profuse life, life abundant! It is truly the picture of one who is living to the fullest. And because it is a participle, it means this is forever who you are in Christ!

This overflowing life is a permanent condition in Him! There’s no reversal to our old identity. When we died to sin, God quickened us alive with Christ for all of eternity. Therefore, we are forever alive unto God because of what Christ Jesus has done for us! We are new individuals with completely new identities. We are in Christ Jesus!

When I closed my Greek lexicon and paused from my studying, I thought, Wow — that was a lot to get out of an experience at a funeral! And to be honest, I’ve been getting something out of it all these decades since that funeral occurred! It is impossible to exhaust the revelation in Romans 6:11, which declares the old man is dead and an entirely newly created man has arrived in Christ. But that, my friend, is the case!

Who you once were is not who you are now. Today you are a new creature in Christ Jesus, and the person Jesus has made you has become your forever-new identity! It’s a good time to shout, “Amen!”

Moscow Good News Church

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father, I thank You for the fresh breath of Your Spirit that has swept across my heart. I praise You for giving me new understanding of my identity in Christ. I am overflowing with gratitude to You as I realize that Your great plan of redemption truly caused old things to pass away and all things to become new for me in Him. Through Your great mercy, I was crucified with Christ. When I accepted that exchange, my spirit was recreated by the life of Christ that filled me and made me an entirely new creation in Him. Now with my life hidden in Christ, the old me no longer exists, and this body, once devoted to sin, is now the dwelling place of Your Spirit. My body has no right to dictate my attitudes, actions, or appetites because I am free to reckon it dead. I am forever new because of You. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me walk in the newness of this life so that I will be an instrument You can use to demonstrate the reality of Christ’s life in me, the Hope of Glory on the earth!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

Moscow Good News Church

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I joyfully confess that I am not who I once was. Today I am a new creature in Christ Jesus, and the person Christ has made me to be now is my new identity! I am forever alive unto God because of what Christ Jesus has done for me! I continually deem my old personality that existed before I was born into Christ to be as dead as a corpse with no life left in it. I am not the person I used to be. That person who once lived is dead, lifeless, gone, and buried away forever in the mind of God. I am free of my former identity forever!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Moscow Good News Church

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Do you believe you’ve ever really had a revelation that your old man is dead and that you are a totally new individual because of what Christ has done for you?
  2. Just think of it — nothing about who you were before your conversion really applies to you now. Do you see more clearly how radical salvation actually is after reading this Sparkling Gem?
  3. How does it affect you to think that before God, you are a completely brand-new person and that you will never revert to the personality of your old nature again? How will this affect the way you choose to think and act from this day forward?