Over the years I have heard three different ministers use the resurrection of Lazarus as an analogy for the entry of a soul into the Kingdom of Heaven. What I found curiously interesting was that each one of these ministers seemed to have nothing in common, yet they all preached the same basic message. It was remarkable!
You may recall the story of Lazarus, found in chapter 11 of The Gospel According to John: One day Jesus received a message that His dear friend, Lazarus, was very sick. However, He didn’t rush to bring healing to this young man, instead He took His time. You may have noticed that Jesus didn’t operate on man’s timetable, but only did what He saw His Father doing. As a result, Lazarus ended up dying.
When He finally arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, several days later, He approached the tomb. Seeing a large, round stone rolled over the entrance, He said to the men there, “Take away the stone.”
The men responded immediately and took away the stone from the place where Lazarus was lying. Then, after He had prayed to the Father, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
And Lazarus came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. I called this, “The Lazarus Shuffle,” but in reality no one knows how he was even able to move, let alone walk, when he was literally bound up with these grave cloths. Some have suggested he may have floated out of the tomb supernaturally.
Regardless of how Lazarus was able to exit from the tomb, this is a beautiful illustration of a person who passed from death to life, when he was saved. The most striking feature is that, even though he had been resurrected from the dead, he was still bound. The same is true regarding those who come to Christ – they may still be bound by many of the sins of their former life, when they were dead and living in darkness!
When we were saved, we passed from death into life. Our spirits were dead, but eternal life came in to reign. Our spirits lived in darkness, but then we came out into the light of God’s glory and revelation Yet, in spite of the many wonderful changes that took place in our spirits, we may have found ourselves still bound by many of the sins and habits of our old lifestyle. We may have also found ourselves still bound to old friendships and ungodly relationships. This is why God has set in place a body of believers, our fellow-saints in the Church, to help us get rid of those old grave-clothes that may still hold us in bondage, after we have been saved and set apart from the world.
Yes, even though our spirits may be alive in Christ, old habits of the flesh linger on, and the enemy will do everything in his power to draw us back into that old tomb of darkness and death. As you know, this doesn’t happen by the following mid-week service. It is a growing process for every saint who has come into the family of God. The level of holiness of a spiritual babe will not be the same as someone who is more mature in the Lord, and has leaned to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
If you are a new believer, you need to give yourself time to grow spiritually. If you are a more mature believer, then you need to take younger believers under your wing, and help them shake off their old grave-clothes, from the life they used to live, and help them walk in line with the Word.
It is God’s Word that brought the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ to these new believers. It is also the same Word that will help them grow spiritually in this new life they have in Christ. This is why the Apostle Peter wrote:
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 2:2 NKJV.
Finally, as we grow in the Lord, we need to shake off those old grave-clothes and begin to run the race that God has set before us. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV.
This means that we need to stop shuffling along with the weights and sins of our former lifestyle, like Lazarus shuffling out of the tomb, and actually begin to walk free from sin and the things of the world. The weights are the things of the world which distract us from the Lord, and the sins are those things we used to do before we met Christ. If we will shake these things off, and keep them off, we will be able to walk and then run in this great race. At the finish line is Jesus cheering us on. He is also helping us every step of the way, so that we won’t stumble and fall. If we do fall, He is there to pick us up and get us back on our feet again, so that we can finish the race and claim the Victor’s crown.
You are holy, dear saint!
[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.]