For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:21,22
We teach a lot about being in Christ, but we live as if we don’t believe it to be true. It seems too good to be true that when we are saved God would give us a new heart, a new man, a new, born-again spirit, and a new identity. We have such a hard time believing this that we spend most of our life living from our old identity, as we continue to believe we are our old man even after we are saved and given a brand-new identity. The Bible says that in Adam all die, but in Christ, all shall be made alive. We were born sinners in Adam, but we are born again saints in Christ. It is important to know who you are because your identity determines your behavior. If you still believe that you are in Adam, then you will live an unholy life filled with ungrateful and unholy thoughts. Once you can see that God placed you in Christ, then from this new identity you will begin to live a life that is pleasing to God.
Much of this false identity from which I personally have suffered comes from many years of religious training where I was taught that I was to die daily to my old man. This concept of dying daily seemed valid and certainly innocent enough. In fact, it sounded like a good and holy thing that God wanted me to do. The words were, in fact, pulled right out of the Bible, and I used them so much that I could have considered them my religious mantra.
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. I Corinthians 15:31
Yet, when we read this passage of Scripture in other translations and put it in the proper context by looking at the verses before and after this phrase, we get an entirely different meaning. The Apostle Paul was not telling us to die to our old man each day. Instead, he was saying that he faced death each day as he preached the Gospel. His life was at constant risk of death.
And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts; those people of Ephesus; if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” I Corinthians 15:30-32 NLT
We would be well advised to rid ourselves of this “I die daily” theology. I am not saying that we should live a life of sin. In fact, I am saying the opposite. If you live from your old identity, you will behave in a sinful manner, but once you learn to live from your new identity “in Christ,” you will be amazed at how Christ-like you behave. Your behavior doesn’t determine who you are; instead, who you are determineyour behavior.
If we continue to think we should die to ourselves daily, we cannot possibly be who God wants us to be. Yes, we have flesh, and yes, we still sin because we have a carnal soul that is programed with a life time of old memories and bad habits. However, to say that we should die to self is using a wrong analogy because the Word of God says that Jesus has already killed the old man at the cross. The key to understanding how to deal with your flesh or your old sinful fallen nature, (the old man), is to understand that your old man was crucified with Christ at the cross. Why would God ask us to die to something that Jesus has already killed off at the cross?
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
When we were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was at that moment in time that we should have identified with His death by faith. The Bible says that when we were baptized “into Jesus Christ” we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him, planted with Him, crucified with Him so that we could be raised to walk in newness of life. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power with which we were raised when we were baptized. From that moment onward, we should have begun to live a brand-new life “in Christ.”
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:3-6
Now, because of what Jesus did at the cross and because we have placed our faith in Him, we can identify with His death and reckon or count our old man dead in Adam, but our new man alive in Christ.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11
People simply have a hard time with this concept when they see the sinful junk that comes from their hearts and souls each day, which in turn causes them to think they need to put to death the old man. Let me go on record and say, “It is impossible for a human being to put to death his sinful, fallen inherited human nature apart from Jesus Christ and the cross.” Only God can kill the old man, and He did it when He sent His Son Jesus to the cross for us, on our behalf. We simply must learn to receive what Jesus has already done for us.
I think part of the problem lies in the fact that we really don’t realize everything God did for us on the day we were saved. Yes, all Christians understand that we were once lost, and when we called upon the name of Jesus He saved us from death and hell. He saved us from the penalty of sin.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
We also realize that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. God is always faithful to us, but God is also just because justice was served when Jesus paid for our sins, in His own body as He was crucified in our place. Jesus taking our place satisfied the justice of God as the LORD poured out His wrath and judgment upon His Son, as He stood in our place as our substitutionary sacrificial offering for sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
We were born in Adam, sinners, spiritually dead, condemned to death and hell, but when we were born again, God forgave us all our sins and placed us in Christ where we were made alive.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:21-22
Due to the obedience of Jesus Christ, the righteous, we can be justified when we place our faith in Him. It was His perfect life that He took to the cross as He died in our place and took the judgment that we deserved. To be justified is to have our debt to God paid in full. He paid a debt that He didn’t owe; He paid it for us, on our behalf. With this payment, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus gets their sinful slates wiped clean.
Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:18-21
In Hebrews, God tells us that with the New Covenant instituted through Jesus Christ, God would not only forgive us of our sins and iniquities but would remember them no more.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: ...For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:10-13
I believe that the key to learning how to shift our thinking from living from the old identity in Adam to the new identity in Christ is to realize that God does what He said He would do. He forgives and forgets. We must learn that our past sins are in the past, under the blood of Jesus, forgiven and forgotten. The Apostle Paul understood that to press onward and upward in God, he must forget the things of his past.
...But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
Since Jesus purchased our sins at Calvary, we no longer own them; He does! Jesus bought our past; He paid for it. Therefore, we have no legal right to our past. In Romans, where Paul lists several things that will not be able to separate us from God’s love, he mentions things present and things to come. He purposely doesn’t mention the things in the past, because they are already dealt with. Jesus bought them, and we have no legal right to go back and pull something out from under His covering, atoning blood.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 KJV
Paul mentions this again in First Corinthians when warning believers not to follow one leader, boasting that they know more than others because of their leader. Paul was saying that everything we have received from God is ours, we belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. In this text, he mentions again the present and the future, but he makes no mention of the past because the past doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to Jesus because He paid for it, as He purchased it with His own blood.
So, don’t boast about following a human leader. For everything belongs to you; whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. I Corinthians 3:21-23 NLT
When we suffer from regret it is a sure sign that we are still trying to live in the past. Yet, we have no legal right to our past, because it has been paid for by Jesus Christ. This is something I have personally struggled with at my age, as sometimes I get upset at myself for wasting so much of my life living through the lenses of my old identity in Adam. When people have trouble with bitterness or unforgiveness it is because they are living life in the past from their old identity in Adam. The key to a victorious, Christian life is to forget the past; put it all under the blood of Jesus and live today from our God-given new identity in Christ. Live in Christ and be freed from regrets. Live in Christ and learn to forgive everyone who has ever done you wrong in any way. Forgiveness comes easy to us, as we live in Christ.
There are sinful things that we did, mistakes we made that hurt people and hurt us that we regret and even continue to grieve over that are simply no longer true. Yes, we did them, but they are no longer true, because they are forgiven and forgotten, as they are placed under the blood of Jesus. Jesus re-writes our history when He forgives us of things from our past because He also forgets them and puts them in the Sea of Forgetfulness behind the back of our Heavenly Father.
When we realize that past sinful mistakes are no longer true because of what Jesus did for us, then we can begin to shift our thinking from living in Adam to living from our new identity of being in Christ. We don’t own our past; the blood of Jesus covers it. Jesus Christ bought our past. He owns it. It is not ours; it has been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. Our identity in Christ begins at this point.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
We are dead and our life is now hidden with Christ in God. Our old man is now dead, crucified, buried, planted with Christ and we have risen with Him to walk in newness of life. In Adam, we are now dead, but in Christ, we are alive unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11
Once I learn to believe that Jesus has forgiven me of all past sins and that He also has forgotten them or wiped them clean, then I can begin to accept who I now am in Christ. The day I was saved, I received a new regenerated, born again spirit with a brand-new identity where all sinful things have passed away and all things become new. I am now a new man in Christ.
Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17
I am not saying that we are now perfect and that we don’t need to continue to confess, repent and deal with sin. We will always have a carnal soul that we need to deal with every day as we continue to live in time on planet earth. Our souls will always need further sanctification. I personally confess sin each day of my life, and I continue to ask Jesus to wash me in His precious blood.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2
This is why we must continue to study the Word of God so that the washing of the waters of the Word of God will sanctify our carnal souls. Our souls have a memory that has a lifetime of bad thinking, carnal images, ungodly thoughts, and bad habits that are like an old computer that needs reprogramming. Much of the New Testament is instruction from God on how to deal with this sin-problem that our carnal human soul generates daily. Nonetheless, this carnal soul is not “the old man that we inherited from Adam the first.” The old man was that wicked thing with which we were born, the thing that we could not possibly change or kill off by human effort. So, Jesus died on the cross to kill him; therefore, we are crucified with Christ.
This carnal soul that we would love to rid ourselves of once and for all will always be a part of our life. It will never be perfected 100% while we are humans living on this earth. At the judgment seat of Christ, the Bible says we will pass through the fire, and the fire will burn away all the wood, hay, and stubble. It will be at this point that our souls are perfected. However, my carnal soul is not who I am in Christ.
In Christ I am exactly who God says I am; a saint. I was born a sinner in Adam but born again a saint in Christ. I was born with a sinful nature that was a continual offense to God, but I was born again, a saint with a holy nature that is righteous in Christ.
So, we can now choose to live from our new identity in Christ and believe that we are who God says we are, which will produce holy sanctified living. Conversely, we can continue to believe that Jesus did not kill the old man at the cross, and spend the rest of our lives trying to kill him off ourselves, which is an act in futility, because it is impossible for us to do what only God can do. When God’s Word tells us to put off the old man and put on the new man, He did not mean for us to do this 40 times a day as we continue to struggle with our flesh. Instead, He meant for us to do this one time, and leave him in the baptism pool where he was buried with Christ. We should put on the new man the day we become aware that God has given us a new man, or a new identity, and we should live the rest of our lives looking through the lenses of this new identity.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
We need to learn to live from the new identity of being in Christ in order to live the righteous life of Jesus Christ. If you think you are a dirty, worthless, no-good, dirt-bag sinner, then you will live like a dirty, worthless, no-good, dirt-bag sinner. However, when you can see yourself like God sees you, a saint, a righteous one, a holy person, a chosen one, the elect of God, with all your sins forgotten, a citizen of heaven accepted in the beloved Son of God, then you will begin to live like a saint.
I believe the shift in our thinking from living in Adam to living in Christ comes when we finally understand what happened on the day we got saved. We were justified, which means that we were put in right standing with God, just as if we didn’t sin. We were saved, which means that our sins were forgiven and forgotten, and we were made righteous. All the sins from our past, which we had previously allowed to define us, are now gone. Things that were true about us are no longer true because of what Jesus did. Jesus purchased our past; He now owns it. So, we have no legal right to our past. We need to let it go and praise God for how He made the sinful things of our past disappear. We should rise every morning grateful for who we are in Christ and what that means to our lives.
Make the shift in your thinking from living in Adam to living in Christ, and it will change your life eternally for the better.