January 31, 2019
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:24-8:2
From Our “Here”
In their book, Frozen in Time, Owen Beattie and John Geiger describe how a team of anthropologists exhumed the bodies of three sailors from an ill-fated 1845 British expedition to the Arctic. The expedition’s ships, Terror and Erebus, vanished; the Terror was only recently discovered at the bottom of an Arctic bay in 2016. The three crewmen had been buried on a remote rocky island early in the voyage before the ships were lost.
Examining the bodies, the team uncovered clues to the fate of the rest of the crew. Modern analysis points to malnutrition and lead poisoning as the causes of death. Nearly 175 years after death, the recovered bodies have an eerie life of their own. The frigid arctic conditions basically freeze-dried the corpses. The eyes of one, John Torrington, only 20 years old at his death, are open in published photographs. His lips pull back in an almost-grin.
“Every time we find the well-preserved body of someone who died long ago—an Egyptian mummy, a freeze-dried Incan sacrifice, a leathery Scandinavian bog-person, the famous iceman of the European Alps,” writes best-selling author Margaret Atwood in the introduction to Frozen in Time, “there’s a similar fascination. Here is someone who has defied the general ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust rule, and who has remained recognizable as an individual human being long after most have turned to bone and earth.”
…To God’s “There”
A melding of death and life touches each of us at the core of our spiritual journey. Read the Book of Romans and you’ll find the apostle Paul reflecting on his “dead” identity as a sinner separated from God, and the new life Christ brought him at salvation. Because Paul still inhabited his earthly body when he wrote Romans, he still struggled with personal tendencies from his sinful past. But Paul offers a victorious proclamation in Romans 7:24-8:2.
All followers of Christ have to diligently confront habits and desires from our “dead” past. But all of us can count on a day when we will forever bid farewell to death and embrace eternal life in God’s presence. Our responsibility, besides living faithfully for our Savior and growing in our ability to shun sin, is to point others who remain bound in their dead identities toward the new life available through Christ.
Making the Leap
One of Satan’s deceptions is that any personal shortcoming disqualifies a Christian from sharing the gospel. Too many Christians fall for that lie, neglecting to tell others what Jesus has done for them because they remember only too well their past sins or current temptations. Paul, the preeminent missionary of the Early Church, admitted he struggled with temptation. God can use you, even in the midst of your personal battles, to be His witness to the ends of the earth. Trust Him to lead you to your own spiritual victory and to others who need to know the truth.