I've heard a lot of strange explanations of Galations 2:20 and Romans 7 where it says that the believer is dead. Dead to what? How did it happen? How do we walk it out? I've heard everything from that's "positional truth" (in other words, it's something that looks good on paper but is of no practical value), all the way to the position that whatever was in us that could sin was crucified, so now we can't sin (I wish that were true!). So here's an illustration of what I think it means.
I live in a hard country. We are under strict totalitarian rule. What the government and its agents say, goes. This with no appeal or recourse. One of the rules is that everyone must serve in the military whenever they are needed, for their entire life. How long these terms are for, how often and when they come are up to the government. They seem to be completely arbitrary about who serves when and where. I've been called up to serve several times. Unfortunately, I always wash out of basic training. This training is long and hard with even more rules than we have to obey in our regular life. Some of these rules seem terribly subjective and even contradictory, so I'm never quite sure if I'm following the ones I'm supposed to. Anyway, I always seem to wash out. Once I got sent home the first week. Another time I lasted six weeks. They wouldn't even tell us how long boot camp was to last, so I don't know how close I came to making it.You can imagine what life is like here. One can never make long-term plans, due to the threat of conscription hanging over one's head. One day a draft officer will show up unannounced at one's door, ask for your papers and take you away immediately. Life here is miserable.One day, however, I received an unexpected boon. In the mail I got an official document from the government. I opened the envelope and, much to my surprise, there was my death certificate. Clearly there had been some administrative mistake. But there is was, notarized and official. I was legally dead. Odd, I thought, but not much practical value. What good is it being dead? But then the next day, an idea began to form in my mind. Would it work? Should I try it? It might be worth a try.I got my chance two weeks later. First thing in the morning I heard a knock at my front door. Sure enough, it was an anonymous government official with two security officiers. I knew what was here for. He said I was to report at once to boot camp. I told him that I was sorry, but that the person he was looking for was dead. He double-checked his papers, muttering about having no record of that. I told him to wait and I'd show him the death certificate. He scowled as he looked at it, then mumbled a 'thank you', turned and left. I was overjoyed. It worked! Never again would I have to go throught the demeaning, back-breaking labor of trying to pass muster at basic training. I was free.Until...In our country, if we want to earn extra money, we can present ourselves to a work detail. One day I decided to do this. I brought my identification and went down to the labor office. But there was a conscription team waiting inside the inner office. After I'd presented my papers and signed up, I was sent through that door and was taken away again to boot camp. I couldn't tell them I was dead, I had already signed up. After four grueling weeks I had washed out again. Exhausted, I went back home vowing never again to fall into that trap.And so I live now, a "living dead" man. Dead to the laws of conscription, but alive and free to live as I wish. All because of my death.
Clearly the land I lived in was the Kingdom of Law. In the Old Covenant they had just the Ten Commandments, or according to some sects, 519. You never know if you're breaking a law or not. You never know when something will be demanded of you. It can happen at any time, for any duration. Worse, we always fail. Worst, we'll always have to try again and fail again. This is living under the law.Then comes the news that we're dead. Dead to what? The law. Did my body cease to live when I got saved? No. Did my flesh cease to exist? No. So, if I died, what did I die to? I died to the law (Romans 7:1-6). I leagally died. I no longer have to answer the call to obey the Law. I no longer have to meet an impossible standard. Is it just a "clerical error?" No, the papers are genuine. I'm really, legally dead. I must only have the courage to present the papers when a demand is made on me. I no longer have to live under the law.Unless...I choose to. If I wish, I can still choose to go back under the law. If I want to "get something" that I think I need. The only way to "get it" is by working for it. But there I am back again under the law. This is "falling from grace" back to law. It doesn't work any better than it did the first time. In order to maintain freedom, I have to ever bear with me the mark of the living dead. I have to no longer desire those things that can be obtained by my effort. I am legally dead, as accomplished fact, but now I must die internally to those things that I can work for. I must die to the desire to earn and achieve. In that way is this death worked out.