Death Before Life
The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him. 2 Timothy 2:11
In my addiction, I wanted a better life. I wanted to be sober. I was addicted though and so, I just kept doing the same old things that made me hate my life. That’s the nature of addiction – repeating some behavior despite the consequences. The absurd thing was, I knew what it would take to get there. There was a mountain of misery that lay between me and recovery though. I needed to confess to my wife and my job. I needed to face the consequences of my actions and go to treatment. I knew what I needed to do to put my drug use to death, but I just couldn’t because I knew how painful it was going to be. On the other side now, living in recovery for the last seven years, I can say that it was absolutely worth it. At the time though, the idea of radical transformation was terrifying. Putting the old life to death was hard, painful work.
Still, if we want the new life, this is our only option. In today’s passage, Paul reinforced this principle. To find new life in Christ, the old life needs to die. Whether it’s drug addiction, pornography, gluttony, pride, anger, resentments, or greed, it must go. Whatever it is that we struggle with, that turns us to ourselves and away from God, must be put to death if we want to pursue the new life of joy and peace for which we were made. We cannot enjoy the old life and the new life at the same time. It’s one or the other.
The problem, just like my drug problem, is that abandoning those things is painful. We do them for a reason. They provide us with some comfort. Yes, they turn us from God and ultimately make us miserable, but we do find immediate gratification in them. Putting them to death is hard. Not everyone has to go to treatment, but radical transformation always requires some radical change, which is scary and uncomfortable.
Daily though, if I want to continue seeking new life, I must work at this. It isn’t something that I do once and then I’m done. I’m still working on some struggles. Yes, I know a new life of recovery, free from drugs, but I still struggle with my pride and gluttony. I enjoy my life of sobriety, but I’m not perfected yet. I still need to grow and change.
Daily, if we want the new life, we must choose to do what it takes to separate ourselves from the old. Then, we must pursue our relationship with God. Only through the death of the old life may we find new life in Christ.