Resurrection is the consummate display of the power of God. In the resurrection of Jesus, God’s power, through the Spirit, reaches down and undoes the greatest power in all creation–the power of death.
God’s own identity is shaped by this moment. Not only is God the God who created all things, calling the things that are not so that they come to be, God is now the God who gives life to the dead (Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 1:9).
The power of God, the power of the Spirit, the power of new creation, the power of the arrival of new humanity–this is all the resurrecting power of God. And it is all the power in which God envelops God’s people when the gospel comes with “the power of God for salvation.”
The power of God for salvation is power for eschatological salvation, and new, resurrected bodies. But that eschatological future impinges on our present: God gives us the Spirit, God calls us beloved daughters and sons.
God, in other words, opens up to us the resurrection life of Christ, so that we might now start becoming conformed to the new image of God. God extends to us the power to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to walk in newness of life.
In Romans 6, Paul digs deep into his union-with-Christ theology: we are baptized into Jesus’ death. His death becomes our death–the death of our old humanity that is enslaved to sin and death.
But this does not leave us on neutral ground. He summons us to make real in the present the identity that is coming to us in the resurrected Christ: “Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and your bodily members as weapons of righteousness to God.”
We are those who are, at root, “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
The resurrection life of Jesus becomes our resurrection life. And it is the life in which we have the power to walk in a manner worthy of the God who embraces us into God’s family.
When Ephesians 4 or Colossians 3 talks about laying aside the “old self,” and putting on the “new self,” the Greek is actually saying, “the old humanity” and “the new humanity.” The reality that those texts invite us into is a full participation in the new creation of which we are a part as we are joined to Christ, the firstborn of the new creation.
What does all this mean?
In short, we should never undersell the notion that sanctification is really possible. We should never allow the realities of our day-by-day failings to overwhelm our deep conviction that God is making all things new, beginning with the humanity that has been united to the Human One in his conquest of sin and death.
Resurrection means transformation–both the transformation of our bodies that we look forward to, and the transformation of our lives day by day.
Resurrection means we always have hope: hope that God is greater and stronger than our looming death, hope that God is greater and stronger than our besetting sins, hope that God is greater and stronger than our besetting sorrows.
Every tear wiped away.
No more sin.
No more death.
Resurrection means transformation.