In the apostle John’s account of the Lord miraculously raising Lazarus from the dead, there’s a short statement that never fails to make church kids smirk.
Always with an eye for practicality and propriety, Lazarus’s sister Martha urgently warned Christ, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39 KJV).
Lazarus’s resurrection is a vivid depiction of God’s work of salvation in the believer’s life. And even in his revived state, Lazarus—still draped in his foul grave clothes—bears a distinct similarity to the believer’s new life in Christ. As John MacArthur explains,
The story of Lazarus offers a particularly graphic illustration of our predicament as believers. We have been raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). We “joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” (Romans 7:22). Yet we cannot do what we desire (Galatians 5:17). “The wishing is present in [us], but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18). We are held prisoner by the remnants of the very fallenness from which we have been redeemed (Romans 7:22). It is as if we were still bound in our grave clothes. . . .
There is, however, an important difference between our situation and the raising of Lazarus. His mummy suit came off immediately. It was merely a linen shroud. Fortunately, the corruption of death—such as the awful stench Martha feared—did not follow Lazarus forth from the grave.
Our predicament, however, cannot be resolved so quickly. It is not just a linen shroud that fastens itself to us, but a full-fledged carcass—Paul calls it “the body of this death” (Romans 7:24). It is the fleshly sin-principle that casts its pall over our glorious new lives throughout our earthly pilgrimage. It befouls our spiritual atmosphere, surrounding us with the fetid stink of sin. It no longer can dominate us like a ruthless tyrant, but it will plague us with temptation, torment, and grief until we are finally glorified.
Even though we’ve been transformed through Christ’s redeeming work, we still bear the stains of our sinful past. Last time we considered how the Lord, through the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification, diminishes the effect and influence of our sinful past.
But not all professing believers willingly submit to the refining work of sanctification. In fact, many reject the predicament altogether, instead adopting a cavalier attitude toward their sin and eschewing any rebuke or condemnation for it.
Source: The Stain of Sin