I love traveling abroad, but I hate jet-lag. When I returned from Thailand (which is 12 hours ahead of Georgia) last January, it took me at least a week to recover. Even though 2pm felt like 2am, the reality was—no matter how I felt—that I was in Georgia, the sun was still up, and I was at work instead of my bed.
As Christians, our daily struggle against all sin can work kind of like a spiritual jet-lag, especially for those of us beset by addictions. We may feel like we are still enslaved and powerless against sin, but the reality is, those who are “in” Christ have been raised to newness of life. We are clothed in His holiness and righteousness. The power of sin is broken. God the Holy Spirit lives in us. Though we are still in the world, we are new creations. This is the power of the resurrection.
So, when we talk about the “Power of Resurrection,” we aren’t just referencing the sheer power of God to raise a man from the dead. We are talking about much, much more.
In Romans 6:1-14, Paul describes perhaps the sweetest part of the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe: the power to unite us to the person and work of Christ through faith. Everything Christ accomplished through his life, death and resurrection is ours. It has been given to us as a free gift. Those who are in Christ share in all of who He is and all of what He has done through our union with Him by faith.
The power of the resurrection is not that our old sins are forgiven and God has given us a second chance to try harder to live a perfect life. That’s not good news, because in 10 minutes we would ruin it. Likewise, the power of the resurrection is not that we have been given some extra bit of something to help us live a better life. Rather, the power of the resurrection is that we have been united to Christ by faith, wherein we are promised the forgiveness of our sins and a new, eternal life in him. His resurrection is our resurrection. His righteousness is our righteousness. His life is our life. His work is our work. His inheritance is our inheritance. By grace alone through faith alone we are, by the power of the resurrection, found “in” Christ. To be “in” Christ means that all of who he is and all of what he has done is ours, whether it feels that way or not. That is gospel. That is good news.
What does this mean for the Christian battling addiction?
Very simply put, it means that if you are “in” Christ through faith, then the old has gone and the new has come. What Paul unpacks at length in Romans 6:1-14, he says very succinctly in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
The old person who was enslaved to sin, who was covered in shame, who was corrupted by and powerless to sin, is dead and gone. That person has been crucified with Christ. In Christ, God does not see you or regard you as this old person anymore. God sees the true you. You are raised from the dead with Christ. You are a new creation in Christ. You are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. You are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. You are a child of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, who lives in you.
We may not “feel” this to be true all the time, but if we are “in” Christ through faith, then God says this is our new reality for all of eternity. Therefore, the Christian’s fight against addiction is the fight to recognize reality. It is fighting by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to believe what God says is true of us “in” Christ over and above what we feel or what we are tempted to believe to the contrary. Paul says we are to “consider” or “reckon” ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We should remind ourselves daily that we have been crucified with Christ and that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us and that the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God.
We all must come to terms with this spiritual jet-lag. Though our heart, mind, body, and all the world may tell us we’re in the dark of night, the reality is: it’s midday and we’re walking in the brightest light of them all.