Real Live Zombies!


Zombies are big business these days. I will admit that I don’t get why people like zombies so much. The idea of “the living dead” going around eating the living is a little hard to swallow. I prefer my monsters a little more believable. Give me a good vampire or werewolf and I’m happy. And yet, in a sense, zombies are Biblical. Read this:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins… (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV)

In other words, before we were saved, we were dead. Non-Christians are “the living dead.” They may not look like the zombies in the movies – yet – but they’re dead all the same. Non-Christians, no matter how alive and vital they may appear, are no better than zombies prowling the land, biding their time until their deteriorating bodies catch up to their already dead souls. But Jesus changes all that. When He enters your life, He restores your soul; He breathes the breath of His eternal life into you.

Let’s explore this idea by looking at what the Bible has to say.

Dead to sin, Romans 6:5 – 11

For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him, so to speak, when he died; and now you share his new life and shall rise as he did. Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin’s control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you. (Romans 6:5 – 7 TLB)

In this paragraph, Paul is reinforcing some things he wrote about earlier:

We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it? For surely you know that when we were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into union with his death. (Romans 6:2, 3 GNB)

Paul’s thesis is this: when we were “the living dead,” we went around sinning all the time because sin was “alive to us,” it had power over us. But when we found Jesus, He gave us new life. By making us alive to Him, we became dead to sin; sin lost the power it once had over us. At verse 5, the apostle explains how this is possible: when our Lord Jesus Christ died, we did too. Looking at this verse in the NASB, it looks like this –

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…

In the Greek, “united with Him” comes from symphutoi, which means “grown together.” That idea, coupled with “in the likeness of His resurrection” becomes easier to grasp when we understand that “grown together” may also be used to describe a graft, like a tree graft. Paul is giving us a vital piece of theology here. When Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross, thereby breaking the world’s hold over Him, we who are saved were joined or fused to Him. It’s not that we died physically with Jesus. We didn’t. We weren’t even born then! Paul is speaking about a spiritual death accomplished through a spiritual joining or fusion which occurred at the moment of our conversion. At that moment, when Jesus died to the world, we did too. A “spiritual change” took place when we became united to Jesus – or, if you will, identified with Him.

And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. (Romans 6:6 GNB)

The “old being” refers to the person we used to be; the zombie husk trolling around looking for sin to get into. At our conversion, what happened to Jesus physically on the cross happened spiritually to us – the world of sin lost its sway over us. That certainly doesn’t mean Christians won’t or can’t ever sin again. Experience proves Christians are pretty deft at sinning. What Paul is teaching is that while Christians may sin, they no longer must sin.

How is this possible? For starters, our new ability to avoid sin has little to do with our resolve or determination to stop sinning.

So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin, and instead be alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11 TLB)

The secret to being “dead to sin” is simply being alive to God! Being “alive to God” is only possible when God, through Jesus, makes it possible. A non-Christian can’t be alive to God.  He is, in fact, dead to God. That’s why the non-Christian has to rely on good fortune instead of God’s blessings. Being alive to God means you know God and, most importantly, God knows you. And when you know God, you shouldn’t want to sin.

Of course, while we may be dead to sin and alive to God, sin is still very much alive to us; sin still wants to reclaim us. Our new relationship to God through His Son means that we will exercise significant, substantial, and measurable obedience to God’s will.  Though we may fail from time to time in holy living, we will keep on seeking God and keep on living lives that please Him.

Yielded to God, Romans 6:12 – 14; 12:1, 2

Do not let sin control your puny body any longer; do not give in to its sinful desires. Do not let any part of your bodies become tools of wickedness, to be used for sinning; but give yourselves completely to God—every part of you—for you are back from death and you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes. Sin need never again be your master, for now you are no longer tied to the law where sin enslaves you, but you are free under God’s favor and mercy. (Romans 6:12 – 14 TLB)

Here’s why it’s hard to be a Christian sometimes. Paul advises his readers NOT to let sin control their bodies anymore. It may seem odd that he would write verse 12 after what he wrote in verse 6, but he did and we need to see why. Our old zombie-selves are dead and gone, but sin is continually trying to drag us back into the dark world where zombies dwell. Not letting that happen is up to us; we have the power to stop sin from gaining that foothold. Here’s the thing, though:  When we are suddenly free to stop sinning, what will we do to occupy the time sinning used to occupy? At our conversion, a vacuum is created; the need to sin is gone. Like the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.” Sin wants desperately to flow back into our lives to be our number one pursuit once again. The solution is simple: live your life in God’s hands; let Him use you for His purposes. This is obviously something only we can do for ourselves and it’s something we must do all the time. John Wesley’s thoughts on the matter are worth considering:

Lord, I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will. Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low by You. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.

The transformation from zombie to child of God happens immediately at our conversion in the spiritual sense but what about in the physical sense? In the physical sense, it takes a little longer and requires a lot more effort:

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you. (Romans 12:1, 2 TLB)

Maybe the best commentary on these two powerful verses comes from Chrysostom:

How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look upon nothing evil, and it becomes a sacrifice. Let the tongue speak nothing shameful, and it has become an offering. Let the hand do nothing unlawful, and it has become burnt offering. Nay, this is not sufficient, but we need the active practice of good – the hand must do alms, the mouth must bless them that curse, the ear must give attention to divine lessons. For a sacrifice has nothing impure, a sacrifice is the first-fruit of other things. And let us therefore with our hands, and our feet, and our mouth, and all our other members, render first-fruits unto God.

In essence, the life a true believer in Jesus Christ lives must be markedly different from the life described in 1:24 –

So God let them go ahead into every sort of sex sin, and do whatever they wanted to—yes, vile and sinful things with each other’s bodies. (Romans 1:24 TLB)

Paul uses the word “plead.” Why was he so adamant? It’s because the draw of the zombie-world is powerful and our old zombie-nature, redeemed as it may be, naturally wants to be go back to the way things were before. That’s why Paul pleaded and begged with his Roman friends. That’s why changing your habitual ways of thinking is absolutely essential if you want to remain living in the new life Christ gave you.

Set free by grace, Romans 6:15 – 23

Having been set free from living the life of a spiritual zombie, what are we supposed to be doing? To begin with, we have not been set free from sin to sin. Our much-vaunted freedom in Christ has nothing to do with doing as we please. Only the most carnally-minded Christian would think that. Paul tells us precisely what we former zombies have been set free to do:

And now you are free from your old master, sin; and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. (Romans 6:18 TLB)

Or to put it another way, we have been set free to obey God. I know that sounds paradoxical; we have been set free from one form of servitude (to sin) only to become embroiled in another kind of servitude (to righteousness). But, there is a difference.

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a TLB)

Being a zombie with no choice but to sin will always end badly. It will always end in death. But then there’s this:

...the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23b TLB)

Who wouldn’t want to “serve” righteousness knowing the reward of eternal life is awaiting them?  “Serving” righteousness is simply putting forth the effort to live righteous lives.  Let’s face it.  If, as a believer, you spend your time looking for ways to serve God and performing acts of righteousness, you’ll have less time to get in trouble!

Paul understood how difficult this concept of “being free to serve God” was, so he added this:

I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand… (Romans 6:19a TLB)

Indeed.  We can be pretty thick, sometimes.

We have also been set free to bear fruit:

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Romans 6:22 TLB)

In their previous lives, these Roman Christians had been pagans and they lived their pagan lifestyle for all to see. But now, as Christians, they were to live their new lifestyle of holiness for all to see. That’s the idea behind “bearing fruit.”

Once we were zombies, wandering around the countryside, engaged in all manner of vile sinfulness. But now, as Christians, we have been set free from that horrible living death.  We are zombies no more.


1 Response to “Real Live Zombies!”

  1. 1 JoAnne Tandall January 6, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Excellent artice Mike. Great title!!

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