(From our church-wide devotion book at Pinedale Christian Church, "You 2.0â€)
Youâ€™ve probably heard about Saint Augustine â€“ he is a great writer and thinker and theologian from the annals of Church history. You probably knew that, but you may not know that before he was a Christian, Augustine had a problem with sexual self-control... and thatâ€™s putting that pretty mildly.
One day, after he became a Christian, one of his Augustineâ€™s mistresses spotted him on the road and approached him. This was one of the people Augustine had been particularly attracted to over the years, and she wanted to pull him off into a fling, which, in those days, would have lasted for several weeks. So she started to flirt, and then she invited him to go back to her place. Augustine answered, very kindly and very nicely and very courteously, â€œThank you very much. Thank you. Thatâ€™s great. Thank you. Glad to see you, but no. No, thank you.â€ He started to walk away.
The lady was shocked! How could Augustine turn her down! This had never happened. But suddenly, it occurs to her, â€œMaybe he didnâ€™t recognize me.â€ She turned to him and said, â€œAugustine, it is me!â€
Augustine turned around and smiled and said, â€œYes, I know. But it is not me.â€
As we come to the end of this wonderful journey, letâ€™s take one more look at the word this new version of you â€“ You, 2.0. We said on the first day of this study that the change God works in us being on the inside. It begins at the intersection between sin, grace, and our new identity.
In Romans 6, Paul has just explained the problem that plagues every person who has ever been born on this earth â€“ the problem of sin! The reason we need to change is because of sin. It started with the first people on this planet, Adam and Eve, and it passed to each one of their descendants, obviously, including us. We all struggle with sin, and we all have areas of sin that plague us more than others.
Worse still, sin brought death, which dooms us... except that Jesus Christ came to earth and did what no law could ever do â€“ He paid the ultimate, once-for- all penalty for our sins. He gave us grace and righteousness. He made it possible for us to stand before God, forgiven. This is the Gospel!
But in Romans 6, Paul muses aloud that some people seem to think thatâ€™s the entire story. Jesus dealt with my past and my future, and He has grace for the present. So He really doesnâ€™t change anything today. Iâ€™ll live how Iâ€™ve always lived â€“ no change required â€“ and when I sin, well, God forgives, right?
To that way of thinking, Paul says, â€œYou donâ€™t understand the full story. Jesus didnâ€™t die and rise from the dead simply to forgive you. He rose to live His life through you. Thatâ€™s a big difference.
Look again at Romans 6:1-5, â€œWhat shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.â€
In simplistic terms, Paul argues that when you are baptized into Jesus â€“ when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior and are baptized â€“ it was more than a religious ritual you observed. Instead, it represented a union that you entered into. You gave yourself to Him, took His name, and became one with Him.
In fact, your life becomes a picture of His burial and resurrection. (Skim verses 4-5 again). Many of you have been baptized. (If you havenâ€™t taken that step, yet, I hope you will soon!) Baptism paints a picture. When you are baptized, you go under the water. That pictures identification with the death of Jesus. He died and was buried, and likewise, the old me dies and is buried with Him. When you rise up from the water, you identify with His resurrection. He rose again, and so do I, a new creation in Him.
The picture of baptism is unity with Christ. Thatâ€™s the word Paul uses here. We are â€œunited with Him.â€ In the Greek, thatâ€™s actually an agricultural word. It means we have been grafted into the root â€“ inserted into the very roots of His life. Jesusâ€™ past is now our past. Jesusâ€™ future is now our future. We died in Him. We rose in Him. We are seated at the right hand of God in Him. We are one with Him.
Talk about transformation!
So here we are, at the finish line of a 40-Day journey. What is God doing inside of you? Where is He leading you? In what areas do you feel Him calling?
Following Jesus requires boldness and courage. It means living for something bigger than your life. It means accepting a new name and a new mission. It means daily surrender so that Jesus lives His life through you. Thatâ€™s a new life â€“ a new version of you. Donâ€™t look back!