Are You Dead?

Are You Dead?

Sep 22, 2016

by Daniel Lovelace

I want to ask you a bit of a strange and maybe obvious, yet sincere question: How would you live differently if you were dead? How would situations and circumstances affect you? How would people affect you? Let’s say someone talks bad about you, causing people to think ill towards you. Say another steals something of yours, or someone else threatens you. How would you respond to them?

Let’s add a kinda crazy spin to that question. Let’s say after you died, someone else took your body and lived through you. How would you live then? How much significance would his perspective and action carry? What if he had an entirely different viewpoint on life than you previously did?

To mix it up even further, let’s just say that when you died and someone else lived your life, this happened with you and Jesus. You died, and the new life you have is the very life of Jesus Himself.

As many of you may realize, I’m not speaking hypothetically for the believer on that final point. Our mind and emotions might not even be on board with that, but at the deepest core of our being — our spirit — this has become a reality for us who have placed our faith in Jesus as Lord. We have died, and our new life is in Christ Jesus, as Galatians 5:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

This Sabbath Recorder issue centers around tolerance. My main point that I want to make is that as believers, I think it’s become too common for us have tolerance — or simply toleration — for things and in ways that don’t line up with the life we now live in Jesus. To the side of intolerance, we’ve become so quick to attack or hold offense towards someone who injures us in some way. Yet on the side of tolerance, we are also quick to shape our understanding about ourselves, others, and even God, based around the perspectives and actions of others.

Perhaps some of you have noted how in the past I’ve emphasized that because we have the life of Jesus, we have His righteousness — His full acceptability before God the Father. But we also have received something else of His. It is something humankind was created to have, but we’ve created such a culture against it that it seems undesirable, almost even wrong. It is something that shifts our whole basis for tolerance. That something is being dead to self, and in a lot of ways, it looks a lot like being a dead version of you — a version He lives through instead.

Imagine a life where you don’t have an effect on you. Where the pulls toward sin don’t rule you, and where your cravings don’t lead you. Where the center of your life isn’t about what you want and what makes you look good, but around what Another wants, and what makes Him look good. This is a life dead to self and alive to God.

To the degree that you don’t affect you is the degree where people don’t have an effect on you either. It’s in this place that they don’t cause you to fear, they don’t offend you, they don’t push your buttons, and they don’t shape how you believe — about God, others, or yourself. Your attachment to others is cut off when your attachment to yourself is removed — by receiving the new life in Jesus.

When we look at the Word, we can see that this was the kind of life that Jesus modeled for us perfectly. He wasn’t centered around establishing, directing, protecting, and providing for His life by His own means, but rather He willingly centered His life around the will and direction of the Father. (John 5:19, 12:49-50)

Jesus was so absorbed in the heart of God the Father, that when people looked at Him, they saw a perfect image of the Father. Just as Jesus was dead to self, He also understood that He wasn’t defined — positively or negatively — by people’s attitudes or actions toward Him. He was never shaken to be broken or retaliate towards them when they failed to see something true about Him.

Now yes, Jesus wasn’t robotic, but was loving and gracious towards others, and lived a life centered around serving them (Mark 10:45). In humbling Himself, He also received what is good and necessary from others as well. But that too is a life absorbed in the standards of the Father instead of the standards of self. Further, that doesn’t mean Jesus was a spineless pushover, either. He stood firm on God’s Truth, and even spoke boldly and angrily at times. It wasn’t from a heart centered around defending His rights, possessions, and reputation, but from a heart centered around a passionate love for the Father and His Truth. Finally, Jesus died for us so that in His death we can die to a life of self, and live His life.

“And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live might no longer live

for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”

—2 Corinthians 5:15

As I’m growing, I’m realizing that the way out of the old patterns of a self-centered life isn’t by beating ourselves up over this and trying harder to do better, but in recognizing the Truth of the Gospel and letting God transform our minds by it so we can better live from it. (Romans 12:2) Brothers and sisters, we have died, and a new life that we were designed to have has been raised in Christ—a life in His image—a life people can look at and see Him!

Yes, we may make mistakes. We grow in living out the life we have in Jesus step by step with our Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. But that begins with our understanding that we aren’t who we were. We are dead to self and alive to God. We have no right to affect us. People have no affect to direct us. The enemy and all his forces have no right to affect us. By the cross of His death, Jesus Christ the Lord has affected us once for all time — bringing an end to who we were in our selves, and a beginning of who we are in Him!

If we are in Christ, let’s stop being tolerant of any idea that paints us as being alive to self and only tolerate the idea that we are alive to God in Christ.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent

His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.”

—1 John 4:9

Daniel Lovelace is a 25-year old currently living in Ashaway, RI. He lives life in Christ while he serves as Assistant Pastor at the First Hopkinton SDB Church, RI.

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