Friday, February 10, 2012

The living death of his own soul

In his Gothic novel about the hedonistic Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde penned a line that caught my attention. Towards the end of his life, the protagonist Gray began to contemplate his many years of fulfilling every desire of his soul in his pathetic pursuit of pleasure. Still unrepentant for all of his misdeeds, the main character was burdened by something; "It was the living death of his own soul that troubled him."

This sentence jumped off the page as I read and I immediately recognized that Wilde had done a wonderful job of describing the life of those who don't know Christ. Just like the novel's anti-hero, unregenerate people exist on this earth as souls in a state of living death.

The Bible says that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and this sin has brought with it death; "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans 5:12 ESV). Even as we live, we live in a soul-state of death. Without Christ, we are dead to God, without hope in this world (Ephesians 2:12).

In that futile state, even the seemingly "good" deeds we do are nothing more than dead works (Hebrews 6:1). Paul the apostle put it very succinctly; even though we lived, "death reigned" (Romans 5:17). And that is where we were, dead to God and alive to sin.

Fortunately, God did not leave his elect in that state of living death. God saved us. Paul tells us, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses" (Colossians 2:13 ESV).

If we have been regenerated-born again-than we are no longer living that ersatz life of deadness. We are "made alive". Interestingly, because of death-Jesus' death on the cross-we no longer are dead to God and alive to sin. Rather, the contrary is true; "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17 ESV)

Christians no longer share in Dorian Gray's living death. Christians now reign in life being in a state of death towards sin but alive unto God!

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