Summary: What does it mean to "die to sin?"
OPENING: A man met a friend of his one morning and hailed him with, "Say, Sam, have you seen Melvin lately? I’ve been looking high and low for him."
"Well," said the friend, "those are the places to look. He died in January."
APPLICATION: The Bible tells us that all men have died to something. For example: Before you became a Christian you were dead to the things of Christ:
Ephesians 2:1-3 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."
BUT, once you became a Christian you were dead in Christ. Galatians 2:20 tell us: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
I. Now, what does that mean - "I no longer live?"
In Galatians 5:16-24 Paul tells us:
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
The King James Version is more accurate here. What the NIV translates as "sinful nature" is literally "flesh." Thus, what Paul is saying is that we should live by the Spirit and not by the "flesh." Why would Paul use that word?
ILLUS: Flesh is where I make contact with the world (one of 5 senses is touch). Flesh is where I sense pleasure and pain. Flesh contains my bodily organs, my life blood. When someone looks at me and recognizes me - it’s my flesh they see. My flesh (for all intents and purposes) is ME.
And I do things for my flesh. I lavish it with lotions, colognes, and soaps (aren’t you glad). I take hot baths, enjoy a good backrub. Flesh is God’s code word for our endeavors to serve our personal desires. AND SIN can be boiled down to that which helps us serve our "flesh" by either bringing it pleasure or avoiding pain.
The Bible tells us we have a Choice: live for self or live for God. Whichever one I chose, I have die to the other (you can’t serve 2 masters).
Romans 8:5-9 says something interesting on this matter (from the KJV this time):
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (or fleshly) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
II. In Romans 8:9 Paul makes a curious statement
"If… the Spirit of God dwell in you." What did he mean by that? He meant "did you make the CHOICE" to die to the flesh? Paul continues in Romans 8:10-11 (NIV)
"But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."