Living in the past, present, and future

No, this is not about Star Trek and a ripple in the space time continuum. It’s about where you live your life. Some people live their lives in the past, either reminiscing about “the good ol’ days” or burdened some event or hurt that keeps them from being able to move forward. Others live in the future, always hoping for something better and dreaming about a better life, but unable to enjoy the present. Some just live “in the moment”, focused only on themselves and the present with no plan or hope about the future and no regard for others.

At the end of Romans 5, Paul declares that though we sin, God’s grace abounds still more. Paul then goes on in Romans 6 to anticipate that some would say that if grace abounds, why shouldn’t we go on sinning, even deliberately. His answer to this is that we are to live in the past, the present, and the future. We can see this by making note of the verb tenses in the first fourteen verses of this chapter.

We live in the past by recognizing what has already been accomplished for us by Christ. Having our identity in Christ we are now dead to sin and alive to God. In Adam we were dead in Christ and dead to God but that changed when Christ died and we placed our faith in His death and resurrection. We are now dead to sin and the divine life of Christ has been placed within us by His Spirit. These are actions that have already been accomplished and puts us in a position in Christ which continues.

We live in the future by holding to the promises made in these verses, specifically that because we have been identified with Christ in His death (past tense), we will also share in His resurrection and sin which plagues us will finally and ultimately have no dominion over us. If we have died with Christ, we know and believe that we will also live with Him. (verse8)

The difficult part for us is living in the present but keeping the past and future in mind are critical for us to this. First, we need to “believe” in our heart (place our faith in, depend upon) in the work which Christ has done for mankind. Verse 8 says “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.” Secondly, we need to rewire our thinking. Verse 11 tells us we “must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.” Rather than just being a creed we recite, this truth needs to begin to permeate our thinking and in that we will find transformation in our lives. This leads us to our final thought, we need to begin acting differently. When our heart is right with God, and our thinking is rewired, we will stop presenting our bodies to sin to be used for unrighteousness, but instead will present our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. You can’t sit on the tracks and wonder why you get hit by a train and in the same way we can not keep putting ourselves in places where we are vulnerable to temptation and wonder why we sin.

If we live in the truth of Christ’s work in the past, and are assured of sharing His glory in the future, we are able by the power of His Spirit to live today in victory over sin and for His glory.

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