Death with Christ

A Christian has not only to accept that Christ has died for his sins, but also to accept that he is dead with Christ: to reckon himself so. One expects that all persons who call themselves Christians would accept the first proposition, that is, that Christ died for them. However, the second proposition, that they are to reckon themselves dead with Christ, may puzzle some because they are not physically dead. The proposition may consequently seem unreal. However, the following remarks one trusts will be of help.

Paul states as to himself: “I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live” (Galatians 2:20) and as to others: “In whom also ye have been circumcised... in the circumcision of the Christ” (Colossians 2:11). Circumcision of the Christ means the cutting off of the Christ, that is, his death. Paul goes on in verse 12: “Buried with him in baptism”. From this we can see that baptism is burial and we are buried because we are dead. A Christian is therefore to regard himself dead, as Paul says elsewhere: “So also ye, reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

Previously, we were, as Paul says, dead in our offences and sins (Ephesians 2:1). This means dead to God and may be explained by what is said elsewhere: “She that lives in habits of self-indulgence is dead [while] living” (1 Timothy 5: 6), that is, spiritually dead though physically alive.

To summarise what we have been saying: we, before we became Christians, were dead as regards God (had no life Godward) though we were physically alive on earth. Now we are to regard ourselves as dead as to all that we were in a moral sense but alive as regards God. Note he says “in Christ Jesus”. He is not thinking of physical life and death. Paul accepts that he lives in flesh (Galatians 2:20) but morally he regards himself as dead.

We have therefore two things here:

(1) The outward thing: baptism, that is, burial. This is the outward demonstration that we have died. Jews, I have been led to believe, regard a person who becomes a Christian as dead.

(2) How we are to think of ourselves, that is, as having died.

Some may say: “Is not all this very unreal and simply an artificial scheme to absolve Jews who have