If you were a notorious criminal in the days of the old west, someone like Billy the Kid or Jessie James, your name and picture might be printed on “Wanted” posters offering a reward for your capture . . . whether you were DEAD or ALIVE. The law didn’t care if you were brought to the courthouse sitting upright on your horse or lying face down across the saddle. The proclamation meant that anyone who chose to shoot you in the back without warning, as Robert Ford did to Jesse James in 1882, was entitled to a cash reward for doing so. This was one poster you did not want to see your name on!
Today there is a similar “poster” that you DO want to see your name on—posted not by the law but by our Lord: WANTED DEAD AND ALIVE. Jesus wants you . . . He wants you both dead and alive!
The irony of the Christian life—the first shall be last and the last shall be first; you must lose your life in order to find your life—is profoundly proclaimed in this peculiar saying: WANTED DEAD AND ALIVE. The Christian life is to be marked by the following:
- Dead to sin . . . alive to righteousness
- Dead to evil . . . alive to good
- Dead to self . . . alive to the Savior
- Dead to worldly wisdom . . . alive to God’s wisdom
- Dead to selfish ambition . . . alive to sacrificial service
What a remarkable condition for the blood-bought child of God, to be both dead and alive at the same time! Scripture instructs Christians to “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Please understand that this does not mean that believers no longer sin. To the contrary, 1 John, which was written to those who believe in the name of the Son of God, asserts that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The only Christians who no longer sin are those who are already in glory with Jesus.
Paul’s instruction to the Roman Christians meant that we are to be dying daily to our old, sinful self and becoming increasingly more alive to our new, saintly self. We are slowly being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29). You desire less and less of what this world offers and more and more of what Christ offers.
So . . . does this describe your life today? To be sure, sin remains in the life of the Christian, but it no longer reigns. Jesus has taken over the throne of your life; He calls you to die daily to yourself and to live for Him. When you are living for Jesus, you are able to live above and beyond your little kingdom, the one marked by self-protection, self-absorption, and self-reliance. The grace of the Gospel frees you to expand the borders of your life past the narrow boundaries of physical comfort and personal concerns. You begin living in a place where His goals are your goals . . . His plans are your plans . . . His desires are your desires . . . His purposes are your purposes.
This is living for the Kingdom of God; and this is the only place where life is worth living. This is the gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!