Summary: Are you a Christian? According to some recent statistics, over 80% of Americans call themselves by that label. But being a Christian is far more than giving yourself a label. Being a Christian is being in Christ. In this Easter Sunday message, we’re going
Are you a Christian? These days, that question isn’t so simple, is it? Because all kinds of people call themselves Christians. Over the past couple of weeks, I have read reports about a “pastor” in the Netherlands who calls himself an atheist Christian. He says that God doesn’t exist, but he believes in God as a concept. In Seattle, an ordained Episcopal minister says that she is both Christian and Muslim. What a crazy world we live in. People saying that they are atheist-Christian. Other people saying they are Muslim-Christian. But is that any more crazy that all the people that you and I know personally who call themselves Christians? People who call themselves Christians who may have had an experience in the past… people who may have prayed a prayer or walked an aisle or even gotten wet… people who call themselves Christians, but live like there is no Christ. They live like Jesus died and stayed in the ground.
So, with all of the misuse of the name “Christian” that goes on in the world today… I think we need to spend some time on what the Bible has to say. Our passage this morning tells us that being a Christian means that you are in Christ. You haven’t just accepted Him. You haven’t just signed on to His program. You haven’t just given Jesus a try. Being a Christian means that you are in Christ. You have been purchased with his blood. You have been set aside as His. He has engaged in a hostile takeover and you have surrendered the kingdom of your life to His rule and dominion. You are in Christ—in His kingdom with Jesus as your Lord, and Master and King. Our passage this morning shows us that being in Christ means two things for you. Being in Christ means that you are dead to sin. And being in Christ means that you are alive to God. First, it means that you are dead to sin. Look at verses 1-7:
When you are in Christ, you are dead to sin.
You are dead to the presence of sin. Verse 3 brings up the picture of baptism. What a joy and privilege it was to celebrate the ordinance of baptism this morning. And the reason it is such a joy is because of what baptism is. There was nothing in that water this morning that had anything to do with saving them. There was nothing magical about it. Nothing in the water conveyed any kind of grace to them. But do you know what it did? It showed the world that they are in Christ. It showed the world that they publicly identified themselves with His death. They showed the world that just as Jesus publicly died on the cross, they are now dead to their old, sinful lives. And just as Jesus was raised again on the third day, they are raised to walk new lives in Him—in Christ. They are now dead to the presence of sin in their lives. In the first century, the people were very familiar with ceremonial washings. As a matter of fact, that’s what they thought of most when they saw a Christian being baptized. Until they were clued in to the picture of Jesus death, burial and resurrection, all they thought of was cleansing. Paul played on that when he wrote this text. He gave them the picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus… but he also related that picture to being cleansed from sin. When you are in Christ, you are cleansed from all sin. ALL sin—past, present and future sin. You are cleansed—forgiven. Your sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. They are washed, buried, planted, covered—never to be seen or heard from again. Jesus atoned for your sins on the cross. And when you are in Him, His blood covers them. Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.
You are dead to the presence of sin and you are dead to the punishment for sin. The fact is that sin isn’t just “doing bad things.” It isn’t simply being naughty. You see, God is perfect. And as a perfect being, God requires perfection of His creation. Anything short of that perfection is offensive to Him. It doesn’t just make Him sad or disappointed. Anything short of perfection makes God eternally angry. He is offended. And an eternally angry, offended God is only satisfied by pouring out His all powerful, eternal wrath. He poured out His wrath on His Son on the cross at Calvary. For those of us who have seen the movie Passion of the Christ, those images are stunning. The pain and agony of Jesus is unimaginable. But the physical pain was just the tip of the iceberg. The physical agony was nothing when compared to the isolation and wrath Jesus experienced on the cross. When Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” it was then that He experienced the full wrath of the Father poured out on Him. And why did He have to experience the unimaginable wrath of God? So you and I wouldn’t have to. Jesus took the punishment for your sin. He took that punishment and endured that wrath for you. When you are in Him, your punishment has been satisfied. You are dead to the punishment for sin. You are dead to the presence of sin and you are dead to the punishment for sin. You are also dead to the power of sin.