A few weeks ago, Christians celebrated resurrection Sunday. Easter is a marvelous time of year in which believers look back and rejoice Christ’s victory over sin and the grave, and it is a time for thankfulness and hope. However, as is the case with holiday festivities, it is easy to forgo any change in mindset or lifestyle in light of these reflections. It is important to realize that Christ’s victory thousands of years ago should cause us to live differently. A transformation takes place in the life of a believer when they choose to follow God, and with this transformation comes a noticeably different life with different behaviors and priorities. One needs to look no further than the apostle Paul’s conversion to understand how radical a change takes place in the life of a Christian. Ultimately, we can celebrate Christ’s resurrection all we want. If we fail to live a life worthy of being called a “little Christ”, such celebration is for naught.
In fact, Paul himself had some thoughts on the resurrection’s effect on our lives. In sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Rome, he writes, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (vv. 4-5). Baptism here is linked with Christ’s death, specifically his burial. Paul takes the illustration of our submergence into water during baptism and associates it with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Since we have then died with Christ, we have then been united with him in his resurrection. The true power of the resurrection here, according to Paul, is its ability to transform our lives and break the chains that bind us to sin.
This “newness of life” as the NASB translates, is the transformed life. Though we may still stumble and falter (see Romans 7:14-25), Paul assures us that there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ (8:1). Knowing that our bondage to sin has been severed by the resurrection, we can now serve righteousness through our obedience to God. The apostle continues in chapter six, “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (vv. 12-14). Since we know and celebrate Christ’s resurrection and recognize newfound freedom in our lives, we must also recognize that we are no longer slaves to the same pattern of sin. Part of repentance and steadfastness against sin comes from understanding that we serve a new master.
It is through power of the resurrection and not our own wills in which we can resist sin and serve God. Any attempt to conquer sin through our own might will inevitably end in failure. However, since we have been resurrected with Christ, we are able to live transformed lives and serve him. This greatest gift that has been given has defeated the power of sin and death, and we are right to celebrate resurrection Sunday. Ultimately, the best way to celebrate Easter is to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1). He is risen. He is risen, indeed, and because he is risen, we too might walk in newness of life.