In the movie The Sixth Sense, young Cole Sear (played by Haley Joel Osment) famously whispers to Bruce Willis’ character (Malcolm Crowe), “I see dead people.” Cole is cursed with the “ability” to see dead people.
In our Christian life, we’re often “cursed” with the wrong perception that makes us think we are dead people, as if we were spiritually dead. In our ministry to one another as spiritual friends and biblical counselors, we’re often “cursed” with the wrong perception that makes us think that our fellow Christians are dead in their faith.
YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
When we fail to understand our salvation in Christ, then we end up counseling Christians as if they were non-Christians.
Through regeneration, Christ instantaneously imparts new spiritual, eternal life. In Christ, we are no longer spiritually dead. We are a spiritually resurrected people.
When you look at yourself, do you see a dead person, or do you see a spiritually resurrected person? When you look at other Christians, do you see people who are dead, or do you see people resurrected with Christ?
PAUL SEES RESURRECTED PEOPLE
Why is this so vital? Why start with theological truths about who we are in Christ? Why not “cut to the chase,” and teach how-topractical biblical counseling? Why focus on our salvation before describing the process of sanctification
Christian growth in sanctification demands an understanding of Christian regeneration by grace through faith. Counseling Christians requires an awareness and application of who Christians are in Christ by grace.
The Apostle Paul precedes the Christian living section of his letters with content about the nature of the Christian life. First he tells us who we are in Christ (Rom. 6:1–10), then he tells us, based on that awareness, to “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Paul sees a resurrected people.
The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus robes us in the gown of regeneration. Wearing our robe of Christ’s righteousness, we can shamelessly enter the Holy of holies, standing confidently before our Father (Heb. 10:19–23). On the basis of our new nature in Christ, we encourage one another to live godly lives today (Heb. 10:23–25).
Peter exhorts us to consider the radical change that takes place the instant Jesus saves us in 2 Pet. 1:3–4:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
CHRISTIAN, DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
Had Adam and Eve been asked, “Who are you?” they would have replied, “We are image bearers of God.”
Their fallen descendants received an entirely different “self-image.” In answer to the question, “Who am I?” the honest sinner must respond, “I am a fallen image bearer.”
How tragically sin corrupted the core self. Made to reflect God, we no longer even adequately reflect humanity. Created with dignity, depravity permeates our fallen existence. The fallen human personality structure is perverted and polluted, sickened by original sin. The cracked, marred mirror that is the human psyche now deflects away from God. No one looking upon the fallen human soul could guess the glorious nature of God.
In Christ, you are the exact opposite of the person you used to be.
How majestically salvation purifies the core self. Modeling our gown of regeneration, we stride down the aisle showing off not our beauty, but the genius of the One who designed our gown. We display Christ’s nature. “The first duty of the Christian,” wrote John Calvin, “is to make the invisible kingdom visible.” God regenerates us to display his reputation.
When asked, “Who are you?” the Christian can respond, “I’m a new creation in Christ. Christ made me new because I’m his opus. He gets the credit, the glory. Yet I reap present and eternal benefits. I’m delivered from a sinner’s depraved self-image to a saint’s dignified Christ-image. I gain Christ-esteem.”
Christian, do you know that the old you is dead? Crucified with Christ (Rom. 6)?
Christian, do you understand that God created the new you to be like Jesus in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24)?
In Christ, you are the exact opposite of the person you used to be. That’s good news. The good news! Gospel news! News that glorifies God and benefits you. Don’t deny it—enjoy it.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Who do you see when you look at yourself as a Christian: a dead person or a resurrected person?
In your life and ministry, what difference could it make if you saw Christians as resurrected people?
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22
This post is adapted from Dr. Kellemen’s book Soul Physicians.