109. Crucify the "Old Man of Sin"
A recent Sunday School lesson focused upon Matthew 6 and 7, and the Savior's supernal presentation of His new law encapsulated in The Beatitudes. To prepare to participate, not teach, that lesson, I read Elder McConkie's trenchant discussion of the same, found in The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, and was impressed with the following excerpt from pp. 124-125:
"Jesus is speaking to the members of his earthly kingdom. In our day that Kingdom is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is composed of those who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ--covenanting in the waters of baptism to honor that name and do nothing that will hold it up to contempt or ridicule. It is composed of those who have forsaken the world; who have crucified the old man of sin; who have become meek, submissive, willing to conform to all that the Lord requires of them."
That single phrase echoed in my head all day long. However, the motivation to record a new poem did not come until later, as explained below. (Note: the "old" man refers to "former" or "previous", in the same sense as Paul wrote to the Romans, below. It does not mean "elderly" or "of old age". Saints, of any age seek rebirth; to become "new in Christ".)
Crucify the "Old Man of Sin"
There was within, a man of sin
A greedy man, and vain.
He ruled my heart with hate within
And sought but wealth and fame.
He gloried in his own might,
And knew no self control.
He did not seek the Lord’s light,
This miser of my soul.
Yet Jesus, God’s beloved,
Reached out to rescue me.
My misery, uncovered,
Christ died to make me free.
Just as He rose from mortal death,
He bid me live anew
By giving God my every breath,
Christ changed my heart and view.
I crucify that “man of sin”
I kill his selfish ways.
In Jesus Christ, I start again,
And find such happier days!
This baptism, as by fire,
Transforms my troubled soul.
Now purged of base desire,
I grow both strong and whole.
I humbly seek to live in God
And pray that every day
I’ll walk the path that Jesus trod,
And find His “better way”.
For just as Christ rose from the dead
I rise, from sin released.
Partaking bread and water
Improper passions cease.
All non-commercial usage allowed.
The Key is Applied by Motivation
Our inspired teacher led a particularly fervent discussion, after lamenting upon her profound concern to find better ways to support our young people--a choice generation confronted with both great opportunity and terrible peril.
Later, I felt, strongly, a desire to attempt to lend aid to her and other Ward leaders challenged to apply the Restored Gospel to our youth. Yet I also felt totally inadequate, and questioned how and why I, who have no known qualifications, should even attempt to render counsel--however well intentioned.
I fell asleep, pondering and pleading for guidance. In the early morning hours, I arose, and quickly recorded the modest lines above. I had my answer. God, indeed, calls upon the "weak things of the world" to serve Him.
In connection with the poem, two passages of scripture were brought to my attention. First, Mosiah 27:24-29, where Alma the Younger recounts his deliverance from sin:
24. "For, said he [Alma], I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25. "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26. "And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
27. "I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
28. "Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
29. "My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more."
[Alma's conversion is illustrative: He and his four apostate companions were deemed "the vilest of sinners", yet they were saved from spiritual death and both mortal and immortal Hell by the Savior. For an incredibly powerful, updated musical treatment of that subject, I overwhelmingly recommend Michael Webb's CD, "Marvelous Light"--how is it that this inspired piece only has one review (albeit five stars) on Amazon? I'll add my own review soon.]
Next, I read Romans 6:3-13:
3. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7. "For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8. "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9. "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13. "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”