We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. II Corinthians 4:10-12 NIV
These verses are difficult and I know I don’t fully understand them.
How do we carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies?
How does our being given over to death, work life in others?
My life before I loved Christ was hopeless. Trying to please others in order to receive the acceptance and love I craved, was an endless loop of attempt and failure.
When I began to read the Bible, I came to understand my problem was sin. Not only the hereditary sin I received at birth – the belief I was in control of my life and my happiness – but also the sin’s I committed. And the Bible states clearly that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 3:23)
I was living in a state of death caused by my sin and separation from God. But I yearned for life – for hope – for love.
God answered my cries of desperation and he showed me his provision for me in Jesus’ death – his for mine. Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
By identifying with Christ in faith, I accept his payment for my sins and receive his right relationship with God.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV) gives me some clarity as I consider this precept. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Back to II Corinthians 4, the autonomous life I lived which bore only the fruit of anger and self-condemnation has gone to the grave with Christ, and I am living a new life – a resurrected life now. The death of Christ represents my birthday. The fruit of my new life is evidence of the Spirit of God who dwells in my heart. These are love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, etc. (Galatians 5)
As long as I am living in this body, however, I will be tempted to revert to my old ways of operating, to believe the old lies which either tell me I am worthless or happiness can be found apart from God.
By walking habitually in the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I’m reminded my old life is dead. My desires have changed. In this new life I want to be like my Father, I want to share the story of his love in Jesus Christ. I’m willing to sacrifice for the benefit of those I love. By sharing the love I’ve received, the joy which fills my heart, and the hope which drives me on, others can experience new life as well.
Life from death may seem ironic, but we see similar patterns in seasonal changes and forest fires. Jesus referred to his impending death as a kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying in order for many seeds to sprout (John 12:24).
So then, death is at work in me, but life is at work in you.