indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. [2 corinthians 1:9]
in truth, you have two sentences of death on you.
1. because of your sin nature inherited through adam and eve, you will die. one of the God’s judgements on their sin was a sentence of death.
by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” [genesis 3:19]
2. because of your new nature, you have been appointed to many daily deaths with Christ to transform you into the image of Christ.
for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [2 corinthians 4:11]
in the first sentence of death, you have very little to no influence in regards to when the sentence will be carried out.
your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. [psalm 139:16]
in the second sentence of death, you have much more influence. we have been crucified with Christ. this was done to us when we born again through faith in Christ’s complete work. [gal 2:20] however, we are called to continue to actively participate in putting to death our old nature.
put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. [colossians 3:5]
and why does God call us to this – so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [2 corinthians 4:11] this is what was happening in paul through this death incident in asia. look back at the passage, paul says this happened not so God could rescue them. but rather, it happened – to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
God was at work in paul who was not fully relying on God. he was doing ministry: preaching, leading, serving, suffering – but in his own strength. this was a big enough miss that God wanted to put his rebellion to death. and so, he brought the death to paul. not to his physical body, but to his old nature. through this death, came resurrection life – a life more dependent on and a more fully reliant on the strength of God alone.
what is God asking you to put to death with him today? what attitude, what action, what hope, what comfort, what desire – must go. it is producing fear, rebellion, or reliance on something or someone other than Christ alone. for this reason, it must go. ask him. he will tell you. then confess this as sin and ask him to kill your desire for this. just as important, ask him to give you a greater desire for Jesus than the sin. make this a daily prayer and get another believer to join you in the putting to death of this area with Christ.
~ john ryan