God identifies all believers with Christ, not in some mystical or theoretical way, but by changing our legal relationships. Before our conversion, we were obligated to obey the sinful impulses of our fallen nature. Even when we became tired of sin and resolved to change, the most we could do was rearrange our lives, but we could not change on the inside.
God has done what we could not do. He has given us a new nature, and the personal presence and power of the Holy Spirit so we can say no to our old nature.
To picture what God has done, think of yourself as a tenant in an apartment house. The landlord makes your life miserable and charges exorbitant rent. He mistreats you, barges into your apartment, wrecks the furniture, and then blames you for it. One day a new owner buys the apartment complex. You now have a kind landlord who invites you to live in the apartment for free. Not only that, but he fixes all of your furniture as well! You are relieved, grateful, and looking forward to a peaceful future.
A few hours later there is a knock on the door. To your amazement, there is your old landlord, looking as mean and demanding as ever. He threatens you, reminding you that you have rented from him for many years and are obligated to pay him and accept his authority.
What will you do? To resist him on your own is useless— he’s more powerful than you are. Your best approach is to remind him you are now under a different management, so he’ll have to take up your case with the new landlord.
How much obligation do you have to your old landlord? Your former landlord has no more right to demand a payment from you than he does from those whose names appear in the obituary column. That’s why Paul exhorts us, “From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom. 6: 11 MSG). Your authority to say no to sin is God-given. Although before our conversion we were duty-bound to serve our inherited sin nature, this does not mean that everything we did was evil. Most people are able to control their desires and are capable of compassion and decency.
What it does mean is that we were never free from the futility of unsatisfied desires and frustrated passions. Pride, covetousness, and sensuality were our motivational drives. As believers purchased by God at the cost of His Son, our allegiance is now to Him. By the Holy Spirit He has given us the power to say no to our old sin nature and yes to a new life “in Christ.” 1
Sunday Considerations: Under New Management
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