John Piper: What does it mean to be a Christian?

You have died. No exceptions. If you haven’t died, you are not a
Christian. To be converted to Christ is to be united by the Spirit of God
to Christ in such a way that we die with him (Rom. 6:5). In this sense, the
convictions and impulses and drives and values and affections and passions
that governed our lives as unbelievers and gave us identity are dealt
a mortal blow (a deathblow) by the Spirit of God as we turn to Christ.
Paul said the same thing in Galatians 6:14: “Far be it from me to
boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has
been crucified to me, and I to the world.” What the world meant to Paul,
before he met Christ, died on that day. And the old Paul that loved the
world more than Christ died on that day. A new Paul—believing Christ,
trusting Christ, loving Christ, treasuring Christ, honoring Christ—was
born (created) on that day. That is what it means to become a Christian.

What it means to be (not just become) a Christian is to go on affirming
by our behavior that a death has happened and a new life has been created.
The death and new creation are decisive and once for all. But the
living out of this reality is a daily work of faith.
Consider Colossians 3:5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly
in you.” Similarly in Romans 6:11, Paul says, “You also must consider
yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In other words,
your old unbelieving, sin-loving self really did die with Christ. Now live
in the reality that God has worked in you. Consider your old self dead.
Treat it as dead. You have died. Believe this, and live out the implications
of this death.

Piper, John. (2005). Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian.

Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

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