Romans 6:1-14- Dead to Sin, Alive to God
Explanation- Paul opens chapter six by answering a question that is sure to come up among the more liberally minded and skeptical groups. If through sin, Christ’s grace has abounded, then can we just go on sinning so that grace may abound even further? God forbid! How can we, who have been delivered from the deadly grip of sin’s wages, now willingly (and even presumptuously) walk in such ways? Have we not been translated from darkness into light? Have we not been brought under a covenant of grace in which we are now able to offer our members to God for righteousness sake and not for evil? When we came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we were baptized into His death. This is not speaking of water baptism, but of the baptism that comes from the Spirit and circumcises the heart. Just as Christ has died, so have we died with Him. Through partaking in His death, we are no longer subject to the bondage of death that the Law once provoked in us but are raised up, as it were, with Jesus and seated on high in heavenly places. Paul calls us in this chapter to walk in the newness of this life. ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ (2 Cor. 5:17 KJV).
If we have been united to Christ in His death, then surely we will reap the reward of His resurrection as well. Though death still comes to the believer, there is the hope of life after death, not only for the soul but for the body as well. Our old self (i.e., the man that we were in Adam) has been crucified with Christ, and with it, the sins that held us captive under the bondage of the Law. As a man who has died no longer sins, so we who have died with Christ are free from sin as well. This does not mean that we will never fall into specific again, but sin does not reign on the throne of our hearts any longer. We have a new Master and new affections to serve our Master with. Therefore we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. This is a reality that is played out in the mind. For our thoughts still, at times, seek to bring us under condemnation and guilt, yet God has canceled the debt of sin that we owed on account of the work of Christ.
Because of this great reality, we must not let sin reign in our mortal body. Mortal implies that which is temporal and physical regarding our frame, namely our bodies. Having been justified in the inner man, we are not to offer ourselves up in any way to be used by sin and practice unrighteousness. In turn, we are to offer our earthly members up to God for use in His righteous purposes. For the born again person, this is our greatest desire. Namely, to be used by God.
Application- As stated above, the idea that Paul presents here of ‘reckoning’ ourselves dead to sin and alive to God can be a mental hurdle. Although positionally, we are holy, righteous, and just in the sight of God and we can never be any more holy, righteous, or just than we are at this very moment, our practice does not always reflect this reality. Oftentimes it is much easier to ‘grade’ ourselves according to our practice rather than our position, and I believe that this is where many Christians get caught up. Certainly, we are to be regularly active in self-examination and the searching of our own hearts, but this is not meant to bring condemnation upon ourselves. This examination is meant to seek the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives so that we may be effectually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. We will never be entirely free from sin until we have left this earth, so in the meantime, it is our duty to wage war against the sin that still dwells in our members and present it humbly before the throne of God. In this, we must remember that if we truly belong to Christ, our position before God is a fixed reality; it is one that can never change. The enemy will seek to use our efforts of self-examination to provoke thoughts of condemnation, but as Martyn Lloyd-Jones so accurately stated, ‘We must spend less time listening to ourselves, and more time preaching to ourselves.’ Our position before God is secure, and our diligent efforts of self-examination are evidence of His divine workmanship in our lives!