Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Anticipating the Grave

Christian existence in the Spirit of God, Paul says in Romans 8:12-17, is learning to anticipate death by dying to the “flesh” in the here and now. Here’s a fine quotation from Tom Wright:
“but those who are led by the Spirit will find that the Spirit’s inner agency enables them, if they will, to say ‘no’ to the practices that carry the smell of death with them” (592).
The promise of 8:13 is set up in a conditional sentence: “if you put to death… by the Spirit of course … the misdeeds of the body/flesh, you will live.” Why? Children of God (I’d translate it with some kind of gender neutrality) are “led by the Spirit of God.”

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Doug Wilson

posted August 1, 2006 at 1:36 pm

I like this, Scot. So our ultimate, inescapable physical death will not come as much of a shock — since we’ll have been “practicing dying” for a long, long time.

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Theophilus Punk

posted August 1, 2006 at 3:41 pm

I’ve spent the last several months watching a man from my church die of cancer (more details on my blog,, “Dying Lessons.”)
My friend has truly illustrated this truth. As his body has wasted away to barely half of what he weighed before the cancer was discovered, his spirit has become more alive, in anticipation of “the life that is TRULY life.”

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posted August 1, 2006 at 5:02 pm

Scot, will you say more on how you see this prepares us for actual death?
And, I’ve fought cancer the last 10 months, and the thought of dying has been far from a warm, fuzzy experience. My being says I want to live, I don’t want to leave behind what I experience here. It is quite scary. But part of that scary is the loss of control over my body, that I thought I had. And angry. I, too, had a friend die of cancer after a 7 yr battle. She had a strong desire/force to live up till the week she finally saw she was going to die. I think death is not good, and I have strong feelings when death is painted a warm, fuzzy moment. Thank God for the other side, but there still is loss of control, and loss of what he have in this life.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Your issues here are pastorally serious, and I’m but a blogger on Romans. The issue for Paul is “death to sin/flesh” and not really learning how to face death at a personal level.
Still, what he says has an impact: as we die to sin we see what sin and the flesh have done to the Eikon God has made us to be. So, we die to the flesh in order to learn that life is in God, through the Spirit, and empowered by the resurrection of our Lord. The resurrection, of course, sets the tone for why we can face our flesh and face our death: if Jesus has died with us, both to the flesh and in the body, then we can be in him and enjoy his work.
I agree: the prospect of death forces upon us the misery of leaving those we love, and seeing plans unfulfilled, and of not seeing all we think we were meant to see. We should detest that, protest it, and shout out with Paul that the sting of death is losing its power in us as we turn to face the glorious face of Christ.
Our prayers are upon you.

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posted August 1, 2006 at 5:45 pm

I remembered again, a couple weeks ago it occured to me that as a christian, it was my responsibility to go through what I’m going through, living in the Spirit. Cancer and death are powerful words in our society, but we all have our struggles, and it is in those struggles we can learn to turn to Daddy God and have one more lesson in dying to self and sin, and turning/surrendering to God – living in the Spirit.
I’m finally doing better this week per health stuff. I want to shout from rooftops cuz I feel so much better, but have to restrain myself and wait, so to keep getting stronger (to climb those roofs so to shout lol.) A one year follow up scan will be between now and Dec, we’ll see what the news is from there.

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