“If we’re not set free from sin until we die, then Jesus isn’t our savior—death is.” —Georgian Banov
Georgian’s quote above is one I like to revisit from time to time, as it puts life in perspective for me. I invite you to pause and reread his sentence slowly. Let the words marinate in your spirit.
If we’re not set free from sin until we die, then Jesus isn’t our savior—death is.
Read it one more time, even slower.
If we’re not set free from sin until we die… then Jesus isn’t our savior… death is.
Man, that just resonates, doesn’t it? I’m going to unpack a little treasure out of this statement… it’s something I’ve actually written extensively about here, here, and here, but it’s a truth I’ve learned the Church needs to recognize.
See, there are some Christians who are victims of identity theft. No, I’m not talking about having their credit card stolen or their Social Security number exploited; believe it or not, it’s much more serious than that. Let me explain. Without Jesus, a person is a slave to sin (Romans 6:20), and no amount of good deeds he has done will change the fact that he’s spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). He is in desperate need of an “outside party” to come and rouse him from his death. But when a person receives Jesus—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—when a person receives Jesus, he is resurrected from his spiritual death. He is resurrected into a new sort of man, so altogether unlike who he used to be that the Bible describes him as a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The breathtaking standard for this new creation is that he lives in good standing with God (Romans 5:1), has a propensity for righteousness (Ephesians 2:10), is victorious and more-than-a-conqueror in all things (Romans 8:37), and can no longer be appropriately labeled “a sinner.” This person may indeed still stumble as he is learning to walk, but it’s entirely different from someone who is a slave to sin. Instead, he can be appropriately labeled a “son of God” (Romans 8:16).
Here, look at Romans 6:6-7 which declares, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him [Jesus] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Set free from sin? Paul is not describing when we finally reach Heaven in this context. He’s talking about life now with Christ! And I believe he’s not just describing the act of sin but the curse of sin in the world, including sickness and diseases.
1 John 3:6 announces, “No one who lives in Him (Jesus) keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” And 1 John 3:9 tell us that “no one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
Wow! When we are born in God, or “saved,” we receive a new identity. We are no longer sinners. We are God’s people! Again, we may stumble as we are learning to walk, but it is entirely different from someone who is a slave to sin.
Now, our shrewd enemy would love nothing more than to rob believers of their powerful new identity—and for obvious reasons! If he can’t take us away from Jesus (and he can’t), then he will try to render us powerless and ineffective. He will try to persuade believers to get wrapped up in addictions and mindsets that are simply illegal in the Kingdom (or, the identity they used to wear before Jesus saved them)—and worse, he will tempt them to sadly accept these entanglements as their true identity, thus sealing their fate. They powerlessly look ahead to Heaven, as they believe only in Heaven can they be truly free, and fail to fulfill their assignment on earth of bringing the Gospel to all nations.
But, friends, we needn’t wait until Heaven to find freedom from the curse of sin! Jesus commanded us to pray Heaven to come to us (Matthew 6:10) and to prioritize seeking His Kingdom before even eating and drinking (Matthew 6:33), and He even announced that the Kingdom has arrived on earth (Luke 11:20)! And, yes, while the Kingdom of God is one of those beautiful paradoxes that is “now, but not yet,” Jesus also came to give us “life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10), the quality of which begins upon salvation and lasts throughout eternity!
Don’t be a victim of identity theft! For the sake of God’s glory and your assignment on earth, don’t live one bit below the standard God purposed you for! Remember that you are a new creation! Old things in your life have passed away, like unforgiveness, pornography, brokenness, and a victim mentality. And behold, the new has come! Your life, should you step into it, is full of triumph, faith, laughter, gentleness, forgiveness, and freedom! Abundant life is yours, in Jesus’ good Name!