"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deut.30:19)
Each morning as the sun shines through my window, signaling the start of another day, I am faced with an array of choices. The first choice is whether to get up right away or roll over in my warm bed for a few more minutes of sleep! Then come other choices, such as what to wear for the day, what to eat for breakfast, what should I do about combing my hair or brushing my teeth, what should I say to my spouse or children as I leave for work, and so on and so forth.
Everyone faces these types of choices each morning. Many of them we don't even think about anymore, as they have become a foregone conclusion as to what choice we'll make. We have developed a pattern of what we do, and we basically stick to it every
day. Apart from the physical choices we make, there are also spiritual choices we make every morning as well. While we could highlight many areas in the spiritual realm, I believe it boils down to this: are we going to choose life or death?
Now, I'm not speaking of the eternal sense, because once we're saved the Bible says we have been given everlasting life (Jn.3:16) and we have passed from death unto life (Jn.5:24). Christians need not fear eternal death, which is separation from God forever in the lake of fire. Praise God for that! But, is there a sense that, practically, we can still experience the stain of death in our Christian lives? Although Christ is within us, can we live apart from Him (which is the essence of spiritual death), and thereby experience all the devastating results of sin? I believe the answer is yes, as the Word of God even uses this terminology.
In Romans 7:24 the apostle Paul asks, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He is not speaking of his pre-conversion days, but as a child of God who was facing the daily flesh/Spirit battle. Just a few verses later he states, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom.8:2). He is not simply speaking of going to heaven (although that is included), but he is referencing a normal daily experience. The law of sin and death is still seeking to operate within us, but as we yield to the Spirit of life (Christ's life) in us, we overcome the law of sin and death moment by moment. He goes on to say that “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom.8:6). It is important to remember that Paul is writing to believers and he is addressing something that was pertinent to them. When they lived from a carnal (fleshly) mind, they were living in spiritual death (separation from God). John says in 1 Jn.3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” My personal belief is that this is not referencing saved verses lost people. Again, John is writing specifically to believers, and the theme of 1 John is fellowship/abiding in Christ. The only way we can faithfully love the brethren is when God's love is flowing through us; if we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ then we are abiding in a state of death – living apart from Christ and His supernatural enablement to love.
Understand, in God's sight death is not first a physical act – it is first a spiritual state of being. On the flip side, life in Christ is not first the physical act of going to heaven when we die; it is also first a spiritual state of being. Listen to Romans 5:17, “For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” In Adam death reigns (has the rule or authority), but when one is born again, he is united with Christ and now has the ability to reign with Him in His victorious life over spiritual death and sin. Salvation is not first about changing from bad behavior to good behavior, or even changing eternal destinies. Salvation is first about life/death. It is about God's life being born into us, awakening us from our spiritual death. Of course, this has an impact on our eternal destiny, but it also affects everyday living because God's own life now indwells us!
Jesus is our spiritual life – in the future and in the present. The Bible over and over again makes this clear. There are many other verses, but these will suffice for now:
Jn.1:4 - “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
Jn.14:6 - “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Gal.2:20 - “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.”
Col.3:4 - “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
1 Jn.1:2 - “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)”
1 Jn.5:12 - “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
The spiritual life that is in Christ is both quantitative (lasting forever) and qualitative (a different quality of life because it's God's life in you). This is why it is possible to always be loving, always be patient, always be pure, always be giving, always be joyful – because the seed of those things are within us in the life of Jesus. Christian growth is not you trying really hard in your flesh to live this way – what a counterfeit to God's reality, and a poor one at that! Growth happens every time we by faith choose His life within. As we yield to Him and admit our weakness and total inability to live up to His standard, His Spirit enables us with all that we need. John 7:38 sums it up well: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The word believeth is in the present tense; so as one keeps on believing (exercising faith or dependence), God keeps on enabling by His life within. What a tremendous truth!
I have taken time to lay some groundwork to help you understand the main point, which is this: we daily have a choice. The issue is in which state are we living. We can daily choose life (the Spirit of Christ within us and all His resources), or we can choose death (living from the flesh, separation from God). We choose life by faith, depending on Christ within, or we choose death by unbelief, not taking God at His Word and just striving in our own flesh. All believers go back and forth between these two states, some to a greater degree and some to a lesser degree. The goal should be to always choose life and walk in the Spirit 24/7. But it is not automatic. Just because we walked in the Spirit yesterday, accessing Christ's life within us, doesn't mean we'll make that same choice today when temptations and trials present themselves. It is vital that we stay humble, being honest with ourselves that we are nothing and that Christ is everything, and daily keep looking unto Jesus.
God has set before us the way of life and the way of death. Again, this implies much more than just going to heaven or hell. This choice affects my victory over sin or my defeat. It affects my love for others or my selfishness and bitterness. It determines the level of my peace and joy. It determines how I treat my spouse and children. It impacts every area of my life! God has provided us with life more abundantly (Jn.10:10), but we must daily draw upon it. My friend, choose life today – choose Jesus!