What do men need for there to be real and lasting change in their lives? What is the secret to real manhood? What does it take for a young man to stop living foolishly, to start thinking maturely and to seek the Lord? What does it take for a husband to start loving his wife, to start speaking tenderly to her and to lead her in the Scriptures and prayer? What does it take for a father to start loving his children, to sacrifice his time for them and to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord? After all, true manhood is that which is shaped by the biblical idea of wise, loving, and sacrificial spiritual leaders. That means that our deepest need is not merely behavioral—our deepest need is spiritual, something that God must do for us and in us.
When I was a new believer, a friend of mine who knew me from my rebellious days before my conversion was remarking on the change that had occurred in my life. She said to me, “We all grow up some time, don’t we?” It was one of those moments when I deeply regret not having responded. I desperately wanted to say to her, “. . . and some of us have been raised from the dead.” It takes nothing short of a spiritual resurrection for a man to become what the Lord wants him to be. Lasting change doesn’t come from determination or will power. It doesn’t come from seeking to set new habits for yourself. Lasting change only comes from the resurrection power of Jesus. As Scotty Smith has so helpfully explained, “Christianity isn’t a crutch. That wouldn’t be enough. It’s a resurrection.” So how does resurrection effect manhood? Here are three ways in which manhood is dependent on the resurrection of Jesus:
1. Biblical manhood is restored by the resurrection of Jesus.
The storyline of Scripture is the storyline of God resurrecting men and women fallen in Adam and spiritually dead through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the second Adam. It is the story of new creation. From Genesis to Revelation, God teaches us that to be redeemed is to be re-created and resurrected. The Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear throughout his epistles—most notably, in Ephesians 2:1-10. There were are told that, by nature, men are “dead in sins and trespasses.” We discover that, in Adam, we are all “children of wrath” who “walk according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” But then there is that unexpected and glorious gospel conjunction. “But,” wrote the Apostle, “God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him” (Eph. 2:1-6).
While many are tempted to reduce the resurrection down to the physical resurrection that will occur when Christ returns, the Scriptures speak of a spiritually resurrection that has already occurred in the life of believers. Because of our union with Christ (i.e., believers were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, and were united to Him as our representative in the work of redemption, and united to Him in time when we repented and believed into union with Him), we have died and risen with Him. When Jesus died, we died. When Jesus stepped out of the tomb, we stepped out of the tomb with Him into a world of grace and newness of life. The result of our spiritual resurrection in Christ is summed up in what Paul told the Corinthians, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). True renewed manhood only occurs because of the spiritual resurrection of a believer in union with Christ.