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Daily Devotional | God of Second Changes | A monarch butterfly hatching on a branch with a budding leaf. Daily Devotional | God of Second Changes | A monarch butterfly hatching on a branch with a budding leaf.

A Theology of Starting Over

  • June 2022 Issue
Practical Theology

“A theology of starting over is grounded in the power of God made available to us through Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died and rose again for us, we can begin again.“

Jesus Christ offers those who trust Him the hope of a new life. But why should we expect this second chance to be any different than the life we were living before? The apostle Paul explains the spiritual dynamics of new life in Romans 6. There is more to it than the opportunity for a fresh start. If we are not changed, any new opportunity will merely end in the same old result.

The difference, according to Romans 6:22, is that all who have been united to Christ by faith are “set free from sin and have become slaves of God.” The freedom Paul speaks of in this verse comes through our union with Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:5). Christ’s death on the cross has had a twofold effect. First, it paid the penalty for sin and removed the guilt. We do not need to hang on to our past sins. The debt has been paid in full by Jesus Christ. Second, Christ’s death and resurrection dealt a death blow to the power of sin in our lives. Our union with Christ in His saving work is such that our “old self was crucified with him” (v. 6). As a well-loved hymn puts it, Jesus “breaks the power of canceled sin” and “sets the prisoner free.”

This does not mean that those who have trusted in Jesus Christ lose their ability to sin. Nor does it necessarily mean that sin loses its appeal for us. Those who want to break from sin must do so by an act of faith. This spiritual calculation has three parts. The first is a recognition that we are “dead to sin” and “alive to God” through Christ (vv. 11–14). The second is to offer ourselves in service to God by obeying “the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance” (v. 17). Third, the tug of sin will seem less appealing when we realistically assess rate of return it offers to those who invest themselves in it. Sin offers a false freedom. Instead of being controlled by righteousness, we are brought into bondage by sin. Sin’s only benefits are shame and death (vv. 20 21). A theology of starting over is grounded in the power of God available to us through Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died and rose again for us, we can begin again.

For Further Study

To learn more, read Romans: Exposition of Chapter 6: The New Man by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Banner of Truth).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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