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July 1990

You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rm. 6:11)

In order to understand the full meaning of St Paul's words, we must take into account the idea behind them. In baptism we chose Jesus and through his grace he took possession of our whole self. We became completely one with him, sharers in the mystery of his life. We have died and risen with him: we are dead to the world and to sin and have risen to new life.

You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The first thing St Paul wants to tell us is that if we have understood what baptism means, then for us sin is already dead, it no longer exists. We should live our life for God, in union with Jesus.

Sin is dead first of all in the sense that in baptism we bid farewell to it, cutting all links with it. But sin is dead also and above all in the sense that in baptism Jesus overcame it and deprived it of its power. From the moment Jesus began to live in us, sin lost its hold over us. It can no longer enslave us.

You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Of course, Jesus asks for our full co-operation. On the other hand, after what has been said above, it would be senseless to return to sin, to compromise with it. Such an attitude would be in direct contradiction to the choices we have made and the new reality we carry within us.

This doesn't mean that we will never sin again. However, it is one thing to experience sin as something momentary, a sign of our great weakness, after which we start again with humility and with ever greater trust in God's grace. It is quite another thing to compromise with sin, as if our choice of Jesus could be reconciled with the satisfaction of our wrongful desires and the mistaken ways of the world.

You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

How can we live this Word of Life? First of all, we must be more and more conscious of the fact that the Christian life involves a new outlook and also great integrity. In addition, because we are Christians, we must be both logical and optimistic. We must start from the fact that Jesus lives in us and accept all the consequences of this: we must fight against sin, go against the current, and live with Jesus by putting his words into practice.

It is true that for many reasons we may still sin. We are weak and we are still on our journey. God often permits sin so that we may grow spiritually and be purified, so that we may become more humble, more prudent and so on. It is still true, however, that we should no longer be afraid of sin, because now there is someone within us who is more powerful than sin: Jesus.

If we listen to his voice, by living out his words, especially those which ask us to love our neighbours, sin will gradually disappear. It might not happen at once but, little by little, we will become dead to sin.

Chiara Lubich

 

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