$0.50 Christian Words
When we die, our five senses will cease to operate. We will no longer be able to touch, taste, see, smell or hear. We will lose all ability to feel or to respond to external stimuli. Just so, it is argued, to die to sin means to become insensitive to it.
Becoming a Christian is a decisive step; it is the beginning of faith and it means the end of sin.
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not only historical facts and significant doctrines, but also personal experiences, since through faith-baptism we have come to share in them ourselves.
When we embrace Christ in justifying faith, we put to death the old man, the old life, the old corrupt human nature. It is dead and buried. Just as Christ came out of the tomb with a new power of life, a resurrected life, so the Christian, once he is reborn and justified by faith, is to show evidence of new life, because a new power for life has been imparted to him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Verse 6 contains three closely related clauses. We are told that something happened, in order that something else might happen, in order that a third thing might happen.
A somewhat barbaric form of this punishment was for the convicted murderer to be sentenced to have the rotting corpse of his victim tied to his own back, so wherever he went he was reminded of the loathsome act that he had committed. He walked around with a dead human body attached to his own back reminding him of his criminal transgression. Some have said that this is what Paul had in mind by the phrase ‘body of sin’. We carry the foul-smelling, corrupt old man that is still clinging to us, but in our sanctification we are to be set free from the power of that corpse.
Imagine an elderly believer called John Jones, who is looking back over his long life. It is divided by his conversion into two halves, the old self (John Jones before his conversion) and the new self (John Jones after his conversion). These are not his two natures, but his two consecutive lives. By faith and baptism John Jones was united to Christ. His old self died with Christ to sin, its penalty borne and finished. At the same time John Jones rose again with Christ, a new man, to live a new life unto God. John Jones is every believer. We are John Jones if we are one with Christ. We died with Christ (6–7); we have risen with Christ (8–9). Our old life terminated with the judicial death it deserved; our new life began with a resurrection.
Paul is making here a very simple deduction. If God reckons you dead in Jesus Christ, if God accounts your sins to be dead on the cross, then you also ought to reckon yourself to be dead. Paul is not asking us to do anything toward ourselves that God has not first done for us. We are to consider that our old life is dead. Put it away, it’s over, it’s done. It died once and for all. You can’t go back.
If Christ’s death was a death to sin (which it was), and if his resurrection was a resurrection to God (which it was), and if by faith-baptism we have been united to Christ in his death and resurrection (which we have been), then we ourselves have died to sin and risen to God. We must therefore ‘reckon’ (AV), ‘consider’ (RSV), ‘regard’ (NEB), ‘look upon’ (JBP) or count (NIV) ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in, or by reason of our union with, Christ Jesus (11).
This ‘reckoning’ is not make-believe. It is not screwing up our faith to believe what we do not believe. We are not to pretend that our old nature has died, when we know perfectly well it has not. Instead we are to realize and remember that our former self did die with Christ, thus putting an end to its career. We are to consider what in fact we are, namely dead to sin and alive to God (11), like Christ (10). Once we grasp this, that our old life has ended, with the score settled, the debt paid and the law satisfied, we shall want to have nothing more to do with it.
Can a married woman live as though she were still single? Well, yes, I suppose she could. It is not impossible. But let her remember who she is. Let her feel her wedding ring, the symbol of her new life of union with her husband, and she will want to live accordingly. Can born-again Christians live as though they were still in their sins? Well, yes, I suppose they could, at least for a while. It is not impossible. But let them remember who they are. Let them recall their baptism, the symbol of their new life of union-with Christ, and they will want to live accordingly.
Imagine God coming to a cemetery and raising people from their graves, and then the people walking out of the graves refusing to acknowledge him as God. That’s what it would be like if a person who is justified, buried with Christ and then made alive, disregards the one who has raised him from the dead.
He is not just talking about the body, but includes the mind, the heart, and everything else. Nothing of what makes up a human being is to be yielded as a tool or an instrument of sin.
Antinomianism says, ‘I am saved by faith, therefore I never have to be concerned in the slightest about obeying the law.’ Antinomianism says that the commandments of God have no binding influence on my conscience. That is not just a distortion of Christianity, it is a fundamental denial of Christianity. Yet this notion is commonplace in Christian circles.
Good works that follow from your conversion will not count for your justification, but if they are not there, it proves that faith is not there either. Your works don’t give you salvation; the work of Jesus gives you salvation. But if you do not have works in your Christian life, you are not a Christian; you have never been redeemed; you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Antinomianism is the very thing Paul says is utterly unthinkable for a true believer