In New Testament times, capital punishment was sometimes carried out by tying a murder victim’s body directly onto the perpetrator’s back. Wherever he went he was literally weighed down by his crime, with no way to escape the stench of decomposing flesh. Eventually the bacteria-filled corpse infected him too, and he died an agonizing death.
“Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24
Some days Paul felt the weight of his old nature pressing in, reminding him of things from his past that he couldn’t change or eradicate (along with his struggle over habit sins). And recognizing how past events can color the present, Paul describes himself as ‘a wretched man,’ and asks, ‘Who will rescue me from this body of death?’
The fact is, you can’t move ahead with ‘the old man’ still clinging to you; you must bury him. Even death doesn’t have the finality that burial does; part of coming to closure involves disposing of the body. Funerals are for the living; they give people an opportunity to accept that their loved one has gone and to put closure on their relationship.
Isn’t it time you and I stopped carrying the past (habits, guilt, regret, and sins) around on our backs—and on our minds? Paul says,
‘…present yourselves to God as those alive from death…’ (Romans 6:13 NAS).
In other words, refuse to let old memories and habits negotiate a deal with you! Bury them, and do it today. You can’t afford a secret love affair with a corpse! It’s time for an epitaph, not a revival! There are things in life worth reviving, but not past sins that Jesus paid for and forgave long ago.
Adapted from “Word for Today” January 1, 2007