February 1. Romans 8:11. The Spirit of Life, Buster Scruggs, and the Meaning of Death.

Romans 8:10-11. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Here’s the bad news- your body is dead because of sin.

Here’s the good news – your spirit is alive because the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.

So, if the Holy Spirit raised Jesus’ dead body from the grave, can he do the same for you and me? Will he do the same for you and me? Are you sure? How can you be sure? Because the Spirit of life dwells in you, that’s how. Because you have Christ’s righteousness.

One day our mortal bodies will be just as immortal as our spirit is now.

Q: Romans 7:24. Who will deliver me from this body of death?

A: Romans 8:11. he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This is the finale of “to live is Christ.” Not only are we forgiven and guilt free. Not only are we dead to the internal power of sin and the law so that sin no longer has to control us daily. Not only are we regenerated spiritually and alive to God so that we can live holy and righteous lives. Now, beyond all of those blessings, we know that we will live forever physically in the body, with the bodily Christ. Death now has meaning. And if death has meaning then life has meaning.

We live in a culture that struggles to find meaning in death. I recently watched the Cohen brother’s Netflix original movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It’s an anthology of six stories set in the “old west” of late 19th century America. Each chapter tells a story of death. It’s well done (but violent).

Scruggs is asking us to confront the reality of death. As Brett McCracken has written, “it is a feel-bad movie with a nihilistic bent.” In Scruggs death seems so random and even pointless. Sometimes comical, sometimes scary. Sometimes the “bad guy” dies. Sometimes the innocent “good guy.” But as McCracken asks, “Is it right to dispense with the categories of good and evil all together?”

Romans 8 doesn’t.

Those who are righteous live.

Those who aren’t righteous die.

Romans 8:13. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Maybe what the Cohen brothers are on to is that when we look at humanity and judge people simply from their behaviors the line between good and evil becomes very blurry. If the good are evil and the evil are good, then life, and death, become the comedy they have turned it into. If death comes to us all, both good and evil, then what’s the point?

Ecclesiastes 7:15. In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness.

If the righteous just perish anyway, then life and death are meaningless. But maybe the better question is, “were they really righteous?”

The answer is of course no. The righteous don’t actually die in their righteousness because “none are righteous” (Rom. 3:10). All deserve to die. Death was never meaningless. Death was the wage of sin. It always served a purpose.

Here’s the good news that Buster Scruggs, and most of the world fails to see – there is a righteousness available for us by faith. And this righteousness is given to us by the Spirit of God. It is Jesus Christ’s own righteousness imputed to our account when we trust in him by faith. When we receive his life as a free gift. When we turn from our own self-righteousness and throw ourselves on the mercy of God.

When this happens you receive life because of righteousness. His righteousness. His life. Eternal life. Eternal life for your spirit and your body. To live is now Christ.

Death is not meaningless. It’s either your wage for your sin, or it’s your passage into Christ’s eternal, immortal life. When you are in Christ you know the meaning of your death. Now you’re able to live a life of meaning. A fearless life of Christ’s own love.

As You gave Your life to make me new / You rose from the grave, so I can too

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