Living Life On
The Other Side of Death
By Philip A. Matthews
The awesome power of radical submission to God lies in this fact: You can only kill a person once, and if he comes back to life after you have "killed" him, there is absolutely nothing more you can do to him. This truth is found in Romans 6:9 (NLT): "We are sure of this because Christ rose from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power [or 'dominion' (KJV)] over Him."
This is why Jesus Christ came back from the grave proclaiming, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto Me" (Matthew 28:18). Satan had done the worst he could possibly do to Jesus, mercilessly torturing and ultimately killing Him. In spite of it all, Jesus arose and came back to life! Now what can Satan do to Him? Can he threaten Him with death again? Can he strike fear into Him with pain, or danger, or loss? Jesus could say, "Been there, done that. What else do you have in your arsenal, Satan?"
Thus, by radically submitting Himself to God and dying to this world, Jesus was ushered into the most powerful position a human being can ever be in: Living life on the other side of death!
The truth is, a person who has truly died to himself and crucified his flesh can live beyond the corrupting reach of the fear of death. In other words, a "dead" man does not respond to the fear of death-the threat of loss, trouble, danger, social or economic pressure, or even physical death itself-because he is already "dead!" Satan has no power over him to pull or push him around with the fear of death. This is the most powerful position in the world to be in.
Paul states this very well in Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV): "Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." The Amplified Bible says "that by [going through] death" Jesus would "bring to naught and make of no effect him who had the power of death."
Jesus went "through" death and came out on the other side, forever untouchable and even unlimited by the laws of nature. We are to die to ourselves and be "buried with Him," then raised by His resurrection to "walk in newness of life," which is symbolized by baptism (Romans 6:1-6). And this "newness of life" is the term used to describe radical Christianity and true discipleship: Living life on the other side of death.
After all, what's so new about a life that is still being lived with the scars of the past, the anxiety of the present, and the fear of the future? Only after you die to this life through submission to God are you free to really live.
Obviously, Satan's power over mankind is centered in his ability to scare us into compliance by threatening us with death, loss, suffering, rejection, insecurity, danger, pain, purposelessness, fear of missing some wonderful, life-enhancing opportunity, and other common negatives, which we so greatly want to avoid. We typically spend our lives struggling to avoid death in its various forms, making all kinds of sinful, selfish compromises to save and enhance our lives. But by dying to ourselves through absolute submission to God, Jesus Christ lifts us beyond that fear of death so that we can live powerful lives of holiness and obedience to God alone. A person who has lost it all has nothing more to lose.
Fear, the dominant human motivator, dissipates when you realize that "your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3), that is, everything in your life has been yielded and submitted into God's will. You have no life that you have deliberately left outside of the will, word, and way of God.
"What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?" the old song "What A Fellowship" asks. You are hiding in the arms of God, protected from everything that can really hurt you. This is a place-the only place on earth-of true relaxation. Whatever God wants-whatever He wants to do with you, with your life, in your life, to your life-is just fine with you.
Whether you live or die, whether you prosper or suffer, whether you experience abundance or deprivation, whether you gain or lose, whether you find fame and acceptance or toil forever as an unknown-all is still in the hands of God. Thus, fear is cast out ("Perfect love casts out fear," 1 John 4:18), and your peace and happiness are permanent and invulnerable.
"I find no need to worry when things get out of hand.
Why should I lose my courage? It's all still in His plan.
Just give me faith to trust You, to trust when I can't trace,
For I know everything to be A little part of Your plan for me."
A missionary group was on its way to a wild, dangerous region from which few men had ever returned. One of their friends, fearing for their safety, tried to persuade them not to go with the words, "Don't you know you might die there?" The missionaries replied, "We died before we ever left home."
In like manner, we might say that Jesus "died" in the Garden of Gethsemane, long before He was actually nailed to the cross. Once a person undergoes this "death," Satan ceases to have power over him. You can only kill a person once.This is the awesome, life-giving power of radical submission to God.
"He Hath Nothing In Me"
Right before He went to the cross, Jesus gave us the one secret to permanent and impenetrable victory over the devil. "Hereafter I will not talk much with you," He told His disciples, "for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30).
The Amplified version says it this way: "I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me-he has nothing in common with Me, there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me."
But the truth was that Jesus had "emptied Himself," not only of His right to be equal with God, but also of His natural human desire to stay alive and to receive respect and decent treatment from other people. This secret is stated plainly in Philippians 2:7: "But [He] emptied Himself..." (ASV). "But [He] stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity]..." (Amp). So Satan didn't "own" anything within Jesus to use against Him.
The problem with Christians today is that very few of us are truly emptied of ourselves. Instead, we are literally full of ourselves. Most of us, leaders and laypeople alike, are filled to the brim with our natural human ambitions, our own desires, our demand for respect, our wants, whims, and wishes, our goals for personal fulfillment, our need for comfort, convenience, and safety, and such like. Thus, Satan is easily able to manipulate our inner selfishness to tempt us, to defeat us, and to drag our Christian witness through the mud. We make the devil's job far too easy. But to be Christ-like and victorious, we must empty ourselves and be able to say like Jesus, "The devil shall find nothing that belongs to him in me." Radical submission empties you of yourself.
By the way, this state of being emptied of oneself is the true definition of humility. When Paul says that Jesus "emptied Himself" in the verse above, he also says it this way later: "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). In the same way, it should be obvious that pride, the opposite of humility, is merely the natural state of not being emptied of oneself.
Humility gives us unlimited spiritual power and ability; pride keeps us forever vulnerable to the devil and his ability to manipulate human beings. The humble, self-emptied person, like Christ, can forgive, sincerely "pray for those who spitefully use" him (Matthew 5:44), and move on with life under any and all circumstances.
The proud, non-emptied person cannot forgive, cannot sincerely pray for his enemies, and is doomed to spend lots of time moping, complaining, rehashing events in his mind, and hoping for some kind of retaliation or vindication. The humble person can live holy and lovingly; the proud person is driven to live selfishly.
Excerpted from The Awesome Life-Changing Power of Radical Submission to God
© 2008 Philip A Matthews