Summary: This difficult passage points us toward who we are in Christ and how He grows us.
HOW GOD GROWS US THROUGH STRUGGLES:
1. AN EASY LIFE? God does not take away our struggles, though He does ensure they don’t overwhelm us.
- In verses 8-9, Paul shares four statements that we’d rather not hear. They speak clearly to an uncomfortable truth: God’s goal is not to make our lives easy.
- We want our problems taken away, but God doesn’t promise that.
- He does promise that we will not get overwhelmed by our struggles.
- These two verses, all by themselves, are enough to destroy the heretical prosperity gospel. They make clear that God is not interested in just making our lives easier and more prosperous.
2. THE NATURE OF OUR SALVATION: Spiritually speaking, the old me died with Christ on the cross.
- Romans 6:2 – “We died to sin . . .”
- Romans 6:6 – “Now if we died with Christ . . .”
- Romans 6:8 – “Now if we died with Christ . . .”
- Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live . . .”
- 2 Timothy 2:11 – “If we died with Him . . .”
- In the first half of v. 10, Paul shares a phrase that might initially sound strange to us. “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus . . . .” Let’s talk about that idea and look at some helpful Scripture references.
- This is an essential and poorly understood spiritual principle. Most know that Jesus died on the cross. They further know that Jesus died for their sins. Let’s grab for a moment onto the statement you may have heard that “Jesus died in my place.” This is what we’re getting at here. In the sense that Jesus died in your place, the old you is dead. He died on the cross. Jesus took your sin upon Himself and so there is a real spiritual sense in which the sinful person you were died with Jesus on the cross.
- The importance of this can hardly be overstated. It informs who we are as Christians. It informs who we are in our unsaved condition. It informs how we understand what Jesus did for us.
- A crucial problem with the lack of change in Christians’ lives today is that we don’t understand what has happened to us. The old man is dead. He died on the cross. We shouldn’t want to live for sin anymore – that me is dead and gone.
3. THE NEW OPPORTUNITY: That spiritual death opens the door to live out “Christ in me.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
- In the second half of v. 10, Paul tells us the result of us accepting Christ’s death: “the life of Jesus” is “revealed in our body.” Now that the old man is dead, the new creation in Christ has the chance to live.
- So now that the old me is dead, there is freedom to live out the new me. That’s the me that’s alive in Christ. I am a new creation. Christ now lives in me!
- This is why we shouldn’t say (as a Christian) that “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” That’s no longer true. What is true is that “I was a sinner saved by grace.” What is now true of me as a Christian is that “I am a new creation in Christ.” That’s the core identity I now have. Understanding I am is crucial for understanding how to live out my life.
4. WHERE THE DAILY STRUGGLES COME IN: Daily struggles provide a resistible opportunity to choose to live out my life in Christ.
- Luke 9:23 – “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
- Ephesians 4:22-24 – “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self . . .”
- Colossians 3:9-10 – “. . . since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self . . .”
- The first half of v. 11 takes this truth from the larger scope and applies it daily life. Not only did our old self die, but we also make the choice in our daily decisions to live out that truth by taking up our cross and denying ourselves.