Death Precedes Resurrection

As one of my favorite worship leaders has said (and wrote the book) “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die”. Each and everyone of us has within our Natural man this self-protecting, self-preserving, self-providing, self-promoting Self, ie. Me. We want to live. How then can we be resurrected until we die?

Do you want to experience the Resurrection and the Life? Do you want to experience Real Life, Abundant Life? Then you must die. Seems paradoxical doesn’t it? That’s because we operate too often in the mind of our soul and not the Mind of Christ. Spiritual things are foolishness to the carnal man, the natural man (e.g. the man living for Self without being led by the Spirit). And by the way where does the Spirit often lead us? Into the Wilderness, a barren place, to be tempted and tested. Tested in what way? To see if we are living to protect and promote Self or trusting in the Word of Life who is our Life, none other than Jesus the Christ of God, our so-called Lord.

There are so many statements that speak to the need for the death of our natural man and the resurrection of the new man that I cannot even take the time to begin listing them. “He who loses his life for My sake…”,  If any would come after Me, let him …”, “Unless a seed fall to the ground and die …”.

And a familiar passage to all of us (hopefully) addressing this concept head on: Romans 6:3-13 – “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

Here is an  excerpt from a favorite author of mine that tells it better than I could hope to:

The Lord God then took the man, and placed him in paradise of delights, to till it and keep it. And He gave him this commandment, saying, Eat of the fruits of all the trees of the paradise. But eat not that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

After God has put man into this paradise of delights, which is the center of his soul, and has given him His grace to overflowing, and a grace which protects him everywhere, so that he cannot fall away without a notable infidelity: after, I say, having loaded him with such great gifts, He desires him to dress and keep the paradise. It is in this that the soul’s fidelity consists, to dress and keep what God has confided to it.

What is this keeping, my dear brethren? Learn it of Jesus Christ: “Watch and pray,” said He, “that ye enter not into temptation: for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We must, then, keep this earth by watching, and watching on God continually; for this is the kind of watching that God desires unless, that it may be always sustained by prayer, as David said, “I will watch on Thee, from early dawn; for it is in vain that we watch over the safety of our city, if the Lord keep it not Himself.”

But, it will be said, if I keep not watch over myself, and thus neglecting myself, I am content to wait on God alone, I shall be surprised by mine enemies. It is quite the contrary; for so soon as we forget ourselves to think only on God, the love that He bears to us makes Him take the more care over us; for He never allows Himself to be conquered in love, although He suffers Himself to be conquered by love. Are we not much better guarded by the strong and mighty Protector than by ourselves? It is certain that a stronger than we would disarm us, and seize upon the very things we were guarding so carefully. But if we put all our affairs into the hands of God, shall we not be able to say with the utmost confidence, like another St. Michael, “Who is mightier than God?”

God wishes also that we cultivate this delicious paradise of our interior. And what is this cultivation? Our Divine Master will teach us: “Deny yourselves (says He), and take up your cross daily.” To deny ourselves unceasingly in all that nature might desire contrary to God, and resign ourselves correspondingly, so as to bear equally the many crosses, pains, and difficulties that God permits to happen to us, —this is the work of man, who, aided by the abundant waters of grace, which fail him never, dwells in the order of the will of God, and arrives thus at his end.

God permits man to taste of all those delights represented by the fruits — that is to say, of all the virtues — but He forbids him that of the knowledge of the good and evil, which is the usurpation of our own conduct to the prejudice of the reign of Jesus Christ over us. If you taste of it, He says, ye shall die; for it is thus that we seize upon what belongs to God alone, and attribute it to ourselves, regarding as a fruit of our cares what comes from His pure goodness. And as every tree that is not grafted into Jesus Christ cannot bear good fruit, so all good fruit comes necessarily from Him, in whom we are grafted, that He Himself may bring forth fruit in us. Now he who desires to conduct himself, and who would withdraw himself from the dominion of Jesus Christ, attributing to himself by his reflection the good that God does in him by Jesus Christ our Lord, seizes upon it with complacency; and it is thus that in so marvelous a state of grace we give entrance to sin, curiosity, and self looking into the goods of God, bringing death to it.

-End of passage.

You see, it is this conducting of ourSelf to our ends and agendas that is seizing the dominion of Jesus Christ. It is this living for Self as opposed to denying Self and taking up our cross and dying daily that keeps us from the resurrection Life of Christ, Real Life, Abundant Life.

We (Christians) often say very glibly at this time of year. “He is risen!” To which the traditional response (dating back to that first century) is “He is risen indeed!” Has He indeed risen in you? Not if you are still living for Self. If you have not yet died, you cannot be living His resurrected Life. Death precedes resurrection.