Either Way, We Die for Christ
James R. Aist
“For to me, to continue living is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21
There has been an apparent uptick recently in the persecution of Christians for their faith in Jesus Christ. This persecution has taken many forms, including loss of property and/or livelihood, jail time and fines. Many have even lost their lives for refusing to renounce Jesus. These martyred believers have clearly died for Christ. But, what about the rest of us? Are we, too, called to die for Christ, even though we live?
Indeed, we are all called to die for Christ. While we live, we are to be dead to sin, so that we might live for Christ (Romans 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24). We may also have to suffer loss of property and/or livelihood, serve jail time or pay fines for our Christian faith. Jesus put it this way: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24).
For our further instruction, the Apostle Paul elaborated considerably on these points:
2 Corinthians 4:8-11. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; and always carrying around in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that also the life of Jesus might be expressed in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that also the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh;”
Colossians 3:3-4; 8-9. “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then you also shall appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death the parts of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. But now you must also put away all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie one to another, since you have put off the old nature with its deeds.”
So, you see, believers who are executed (martyred) because of their Christian faith die physically for Jesus and go immediately to be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:8). And, those who live on become dead to sin, make tangible sacrifices, live righteously and eventually go to be with Jesus as well. Either way, if you are a born-again Christian, you will die because of your faith in Christ and receive your reward in heaven when the time comes.
In the eyes of God, you and I are “to die for”, and Jesus did just that: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Our fitting response, then, is to die for Christ, one way or another.