In chapter 5 we learned about the tremendous salvation which is ours by faith! It is ours, not because of our work, but because of what God has accomplished for us in Christ! We have been justified by faith, and now we are to live by that faith. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more!
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (vv.1-2)
Here we come to the practical side of our salvation. Our carnal mind would like us to live our new life in Christ by our own effort, just as we lived the old life in the carnal nature of Adam by our own effort. It does not understand that Christ has given us a new nature, and that our new nature does not sin. So the questions that are in the carnal mind always detract from truth.
Paul voices these questions in order to give us the right answers. Paul had lots of experience with his own carnal mind, so he knew that it thinks in terms of good and evil, and that it confuses righteousness with doing good. Since we have been pronounced righteous through nothing we have done, the carnal mind asks why we can't go on sinning, so that the greatness of God's grace becomes more evident? Since God's salvation is great enough to deal with any amount of sin, does that imply that Christians have an insurance policy that insures life even though they keep on living as before - in the carnal nature that sins?
This sounds logical to the human mind, but it is foreign to the spiritual mind. The righteous man lives in this world by faith! How does this work out in experience? Grace tells us that God will keep on crediting righteousness to us. Since God keeps on extending grace, our carnal mind argues that our sinful life will show up the greatness of God's grace. Paul wants us to know that God's grace is magnified not only by the magnitude of its power to forgive, but by the magnitude of its power to overcome the lustful desires of the flesh!
The carnal thinking of Christians in America is revealed when some pastors tell their new converts that it doesn't matter what they do in life; it doesn't matter how much sin they commit; God has accepted them, and they are saved. In other words, once we have been pronounced righteous, we can continue in sin. However, Romans 6 teaches us otherwise! A new creation has a new life! How can a new creation man live in the old life - in the clutches of sin?
Paul answers this question with a very emphatic, "May it never be! God forbid!" What an absurd idea! How could we ever think of such a thing? That thinking certainly does not come from our new mind, nor does it come from Paul! How can the person who has died to sin continue to live in it? Becoming a Christian means identifying with Christ! By becoming one with Him we share in His death and in His resurrection! How can we continue in sin if we are in union with Christ and have died to sin?
Christ Jesus died to sin! His death to sin began at birth and culminated on the cross; it does not refer to His death on the cross. Jesus said that the ruler of this world had nothing in Him. (Jn. 14:30) Jesus had died to sin. Sin had no fascination for Him; His only desire was to do the will of the Father! The full demonstration of this was exhibited in the pain and agony of His horrible death on the cross, and in becoming a sin-offering for us! Had He not been dead to sin, He would have yielded to the many fleshly desires that this situation evoked! Death to sin has nothing to do with physical death.
Our physical birth brought us into Adam's death - the death because of sin. All self-effort is in the realm of that death. So it is ridiculous to try to die to self, because that too is self-effort. Everything in that realm is already dead! We need to accept this fact. Only in Christ can we be made alive! Notice that we are not dead from sin, but dead to sin! How can we live in sin when we are dead to sin?
"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" (v.3) Since we were baptized into His death, this cannot refer to the death we were already living in Adam. The death that Jesus died was different! Verse 10 plainly states that the death He died was to sin. Death to sin is a death to the delusion and lies in the carnal mind - to the wrong conception of God that the serpent planted in man in the garden. This is the death into which we have been baptized! This death brings us into truth and life!
Today a discussion about baptism often causes waves. But Paul did not hesitate to talk about baptism. In effect he said, "Don't you know what happened when you were baptized?" Did we know what we were testifying to when we were baptized? Baptism means burial - and burial is for the dead. It is illegal to bury people before they are dead because that would be murder. But a body that is dead needs to be buried.
To truly grasp this, we have to recognize the importance of baptism. In the New Testament days, and for more than a 100 years afterwards, baptism followed immediately upon a profession of faith in Christ. The Philippian jailer was baptized in the middle of the night, right after he was saved! Because it was so important, Paul and Silas wouldn't go to bed before they had baptized him and his family! Their day had been filled with excitement and pain. They had been beaten till blood ran down their backs. Then they were put in stocks until every muscle in their bodies was cramped. After they had experienced an earthquake and a miraculous release, they led the jailer and his family to Christ. Their pain and fatigue did not stop Paul and Silas from baptizing them in the middle of the night!
Baptism was so important to them because it was the best way of expressing the truth we read about in this chapter. The jailer knew that he was a dead man - he had died to sin with Christ - and that dead man had to be buried right away! After we have put our faith in Christ and are baptized, we are to know that we have been freed from the lordship of sin and the law and all its condemnation.
Being baptized means to be placed into something. If you are baptized in water, you are placed into water; if you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, you are placed into the Spirit; if you are baptized into Christ, you are placed into Christ - into His nature; if you are baptized into His death to sin, you are placed into His death to sin!
Before anyone is baptized he should come to the spiritual knowledge that he has died with Christ, and has been made alive with Christ. In baptism, by faith, we are making a mighty affirmation that we are holding to the finished work of Christ. Everything Christ did, He did for us and as us; and in our union with Christ, everything He did becomes ours.
Before our new birth, we were in the old Adamic man - the man of sin. Our new birth takes us out of that man and puts us into Christ, the new man! In Him we have died to the powers of the old world. We have been united with Christ, and now His life has become our life! When we understand this, we can ask to be baptized, and get the old man buried. Since God pronounces us dead to everything we were in the old man, our response is a joyful "Thank you."
Our baptism is the burial of all our old ambitions, hopes and dreams that made up our world; it is the burial of our self-life! We stand in the water, knowing that we are in Christ and therefore dead to sin. As we rise out of the water we know that we are now living in vital union with Christ as our Lord and our life! We now walk in newness of life. Faith makes the symbolic meaning of baptism a reality, and we celebrate that reality!
God's way of dealing with sin is to destroy the vessel of sin which brings sin into the world. At Jesus Christ's crucifixion, He destroyed that vessel! Paul was still living on planet earth when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ." This proves that he was not talking about the death of his physical body, but about the body of sin - our wrong image, imaginations and concepts of God. Our crucifixion with Christ does not destroy our physical bodies. It's a crucifixion of the Adamic man, for he thinks wrong thoughts about God. This crucifixion takes place in the realm of our realization - our wrong understanding or conception of God is taken away.
Jesus was not crucified because of the works He did, but because He called God His Father! The Jews, in their wrong understanding of God, called that blasphemy. Their concepts had been conceived in their natural minds. But Christ's thoughts had not been conceived in His natural mind! The difference between Christ's understanding and the Jews' understanding was so great that this conflict climaxed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Little did the Jews realize that in His crucifixion, Jesus Christ was putting to death the old Adam man through whom sin came into the world!
"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (v.4)
God wants us to know the facts! The fact is that we were actually included in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ! Let's personalize this, and apply this to ourselves. God included our body of sin in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ! When He died, we died; when He arose, we arose; when He ascended, we ascended; when He was seated in the heavenlies, we were seated with Him!
This is all due to God's grace! No one asked for it, nor did anyone work for it, for it never entered into man's thoughts and imaginations. For us, it happened before we were born! It was the grace of God that sent Jesus Christ to bring us His salvation. The Word became flesh, and God brought forth a union with humanity and Himself. Because of this union, whatever happened to Jesus historically, happens to us spiritually! It becomes ours through faith.
Being baptized into Jesus Christ's death will effect a change in our lives. It brings death to our whole realm of natural realization - to our wrong thoughts and ideas about God. History proves that it is easier to lay down our physical life for ideals, for a nation or a friend, than to lay down the very essence of what we think about God and about ourselves. We used to walk in the death of Adam - and death has no life and can never receive life. After we die to the delusions which have been operating in us, we come into the life of Christ. This changes our consciousness of being.
In Christ we receive newness of life. Walking in newness of life is walking in a new consciousness of being; it is walking in the consciousness that Christ has. He is the truth, the way, the life, and in Him all the riches and wisdom of God are hidden! Walking in truth is walking in reality!
Those who live in Adam do not believe they are dead in sin. Many Christians still retain the old mindset - the old consciousness of being that is in Adam. Instead of walking in their new life, they try to improve the old life by remodelling or reconstructing it. When it doesn't work, they think that victory over sin is only for their future in heaven.
"For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection." (v.5 NASV) The KJV and Young's Literal translations have "planted together." Rotherham says, "For if we have come to be grown together." This demonstrates our union with Christ!
The death into which we have been planted is His death to sin. We have been baptized into the body of Christ, into His body of resurrection. Natural man cannot understand this union, nor can he understand that those who are in Christ are in resurrection, because these things take place in the unseen spiritual realm. This is where the body of Christ is.
Our union with Christ is hard for us to visualize. How can He be in us, and we be in Him at the same time? In response to this question, the Lord gave my husband a vision. He saw two separate clouds; then he saw them merging. They had become one! One was in the other, and the other was in the one. Christ is the life and the truth, so as we receive His life and truth, we are in Him and He is in us.
The New Testament brings us the message that God has placed us into Christ. Whatever happened to Him, happened to us. When He died, we died; when He was buried, we were buried. Wherever Christ (life and truth) goes, we (life and truth) go. We are to know these facts! When we are in Christ, our old man is completely dead. Baptism symbolizes the burial of the old man; he is buried and is now out of sight forever! It also symbolizes our resurrection into the new man. Christ is our new Lord, our new life! In the old man we were held in bondage to sin; in Christ, our new Lord, we are kept in life and given Christ's righteousness.
At the time we realized we were sinners, we could only receive what was already done. We didn't have to ask God to send Jesus to die for us, because He had already done that! By faith we became partakers in Christ's death to sin - we died to the old life of sin, and became partakers of the righteousness of God! By faith we became partakers in His resurrection and rose to a new life under His lordship! By faith we also became partakers in His ascension - we ascended together with Him, and are now seated in the heavenlies! The greatness of our salvation is beyond our imagination!
Our union with Christ is a present reality - an accomplished fact, so we need to receive it by faith, and live in that reality! Our union in His death, union in His burial, union in His resurrection and life gives us a new identification! Our faith in Christ is not mere wishful thinking for a great future. Christ is truth and therefore reality! This gives us substance and foundation! Lies have no foundation. Christ is the substance of our present and our future! He is the substance of our life, our belief, our death, our walk and newness of life.
A fertile seed has life in it. If it does not have life within itself, it cannot die and produce life. After it is planted it dies and produces life. So we have to be alive before we can die to sin. Christ could die to sin because He was alive. If we die to sin as we carry the seed of life, life will germinate out of that death! This is what it means to be planted together in the likeness of His death.
The natural man cannot die to sin because he is dead in his trespasses and sins - he is spiritually dead because of sin. He is only acquainted with physical death. Since he is not yet in Christ, he does not have a hope that has substance. He cannot give up his Adamic concept of life, for he has nothing else to cling to.
Jesus identified Himself as being the Son of Man. He said that the Son of Man would be delivered into the hands of men, the Son of Man would rise again, the Son of Man would come again, etc. The Son of Man is the spiritual, corporate man whom we cannot see. Once we understand that the Son of Man is a corporate man, we understand that we are included in this corporateness. Therefore we are included in His death and resurrection! Just as Jesus identified with our humanity, we now have to identify with His divinity. This can only take place by faith in what He has accomplished as the Son of Man. The spiritual man (the new man) must now be our identification.
Our Lord dwells in unapproachable light, and no man has seen Him or can see Him. (1 Tim.6:16) It is the natural man, the Adam man who is unable to see the Lord. His eyes are blinded to truth. Christ is an invisible anointing and He brings us truth. The unveiling of truth brings us a new level of understanding. We now know that we are joined to the Lord - we have been baptized into His death to sin and have been raised with Him! Now Christ is our life and we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. We are one spirit with Him! This edifies us.
On the cross Jesus said, "It is finished." What was finished? His work on earth for salvation was finished! He had accomplished everything that was needed to do away with sin! He brought us a new righteousness - even His righteousness! He "became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30) This shows us that we cannot make ourselves righteous by keeping the law. Christ's work for salvation is finished; He is not appearing again for salvation! Everything is fulfilled in Him and is being fulfilled in Him! He is the ever-present One!
Therefore let us not relegate it to the future. Our salvation is complete, but we need to grow in revelation knowledge of who Christ is! We cannot grow in Christ unless we are living out of His life, thus receiving truth. If we are still living in the lies which are resident in the old Adam man, we cannot grow in Christ. As long as we are receiving the lies and deception of the natural man, we will fight the new life in Christ, because the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit. In fact, those who do not have a spiritual realization will even fight those who do.
"Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (vv.6-7) Young's translation says that the body of sin is made useless, for we are no longer serving sin.
This death does not refer to our physical death, but to our death with Christ. The complete body of sin was laid upon Jesus, and in His death and burial He put it away forever. We can be raised out of death, but death can never be resurrected. Life does away with death, and our life in Christ makes us a new creation! Sin will no longer be our lifestyle. How can such a person continue in sin? The very idea is preposterous! We need to believe that our old self was crucified with Him! Trying to die to self is self-effort.
If we can believe that we have been baptized into the baptism of Christ's death, we are freed from sin. Only through this death can we get rid of our body of sin - the natural man in whom there is no righteousness. Only by being sharers in the death of Christ can this take place!
In Christ we have been declared righteous because we are united with Him, and He has become our righteousness! We need to keep our eyes on Christ instead of concentrating on sin. Our identification is with Christ, not with the sin man - the old Adam. Our new self is the new man in Christ Jesus! In order to grow spiritually we have to believe this!
The old, as in the old man or the old Adamic man, does not mean old as being out of date, but old because a new self has come. If we buy a new table, our former table is called the old table. The old covenant was not called the old covenant before the new covenant was established.
The old self, the Adamic man, has a wrong image of God and of itself. It operates in the carnal mind, and has nothing to do with our physical body and its destruction. The death and crucifixion of the old man takes place in the unseen realm. It can only be done away with when we are placed into Christ. He alone can free us from our body of sin!
Have you ever noticed that those who are in the old man, are controlled by the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience? (Eph. 2:2) This world is under the control of a spirit that works in the disobedient. People are captive to this spirit. This does not mean that they are demon-possessed - that is something else altogether. It simply means that sin is lord over them; the spirit of disobedience has them in its power.
We are "no longer slaves to sin"! Here sin is personified as a slave owner. It is very important for us to recognize this, because sin is being shown as a power beyond man, and the sins we commit are due to its rulership. This reign stems from the carnal mind, for it is in deception, full of lies and against God. The only way we can be freed from its control is to be put into the new man and receive a new heart and mind. This does away with our body of sin! We are freed from the old man and from his rulership!
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." (vv.8-10)
Knowing that we have died with Christ and have been resurrected with Him, comes by revelation. Intellectual knowledge alone will not keep us from self-effort, nor will it keep us in time of temptation. It just gives us knowledge about these things. We need to know it from within.
Peter is a good example of this. In response to Peter's reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus said, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." In other words, this did not come from his own mind or from his own logic. This knowledge came by revelation! Yet, later on Peter vehemently denied knowing Him. Why? This knowledge had not penetrated his spirit because the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out, so it did not have keeping power! After the Spirit had been poured out, Peter boldly proclaimed Christ!
We need the eyes of our understanding to be opened! (Eph. 1:17) When God's light floods our inner being, we see Christ in His awesome greatness - not physically, but spiritually! Paul prayed, "That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." (v.18) It's exciting to read the rest of the chapter. The power that is working in us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! We are to know that we are indeed one with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are now living with Christ, and Christ is our life.
We tend to think of resurrection as a future historical event because we think that resurrection refers to our bodies. But how can resurrection be a historical event, when Christ Himself is the resurrection? To Mary and Martha, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." Christ has always been the resurrection, for He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus is the resurrection, for in Him is life! Without Him we do not have life. If we had life without Him, He would not have said that He had come to give us life! The natural man does not know what true life is; he only has a consciousness of natural life. He does not understand life because he only knows the life that is in the flesh - and that life is death. Jesus came to give us life, even abundant life!
Christ's death to sin is sufficient for everyone for all time! He will not come back physically to deal with sin, for He has already dealt with it. Jesus said that His going away was to our advantage! In what way? Because of the limitations of the physical body, Jesus could only be with a limited number of people at any given time, but by returning to His former state of being spirit, He could indwell each believer all the time! In the Holy Spirit He brings us His realization, understanding and faith! It is Christ who tells us that we are new creatures in Him, and that we are no longer in the bonds of sin. What a marvellous truth!
Paul did not write to the Romans and tell them that they should try to die with Christ. He said, "Don't you know you died?" He wanted them to know what they had! For example, when we buy a new computer, we want to know what we have. If we don't know what it is capable of doing, we won't make full use of it. Neither will we live in the freedom Christ gives us, if we don't know what He has done for us.
God does a complete and perfect work every time! Putting us into Christ was a complete and perfect work! Now that we know we have died with Him, we do not have to wonder whether we are dead enough. In our union with Christ, we know that we have died with Him and have been resurrected into life with Him! Therefore we are no longer slaves to sin!
These facts do not depend upon feelings! Since we have so often been told that we have to try harder, it is hard for us to get rid of that thinking. We need to realize that all self-effort is aimed at improving the old man - and dying to self is no exception. The old man will always remain the man of sin, so our efforts are not only useless, but also very frustrating. Attending endless conventions and shedding endless tears, will never change the old man. But feeding on Christ (the truth) will cause us to grow spiritually.
We see Christians continually searching for the ultimate experience by trying to crucify self, trying to be freed from sin, going from banquet to banquet, luncheon to luncheon, seminar to seminar, crusade to crusade, ministry to ministry. They want someone to pray for them so they will be changed and freed from all problems. They have not grasped this truth - the truth that it is done! They have not come into the rest of God - resting from their own works! They have not experienced what they actually have in Christ Jesus! This may be a symptom of babyhood, and if it is, it will soon disappear. But it is so sad when babies remain babies, and never grow up.
God's love is so great and wonderful that it encompasses everyone! While we were in this helpless condition, Christ died for us "so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin...For the death He died, He died to sin once for all..." (vv.6b,7,10a) Jesus Christ has become our righteousness! Christ's kingdom does not consist of doing good; it consists of righteousness, even the righteousness of God!
Paul wants us to know what is ours in Christ! Notice how he emphasizes the facts that we are to know. "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?...Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him...Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again..." (vv.3,6,9) Living this Christian life begins in knowing the facts!
Jesus is the truth, and His understanding of God was, and is, perfect. He was always subject to God. As soon as man acted on the lie, truth was put to death in his mind, and he became conscious of sin! That is why Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation or disruption of the world. And truth is still being put to death! This has to be understood spiritually. Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, is not a four-footed lamb; He is life and righteousness - the opposite of death and unrighteousness. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was the culmination of the crucifixion of truth that had been going on in the hearts of people.
The Holy Spirit comes to teach us all things, so we need to listen and submit ourselves to His teaching! He teaches us truth; obedience to truth is the evidence of faith and the anointing of the Spirit; soulish emotions have nothing to do with it. He brings us a glorious unveiling, a revelation of Jesus Christ! This realization or awareness of spiritual realities brings us life. It has substance! This brings us into the consciousness of true life - one that is far above the consciousness of life we thought we had in the flesh!
The Jews thought they could get rid of Jesus and His realization and understanding of God by crucifying Him - by doing away with His body! How wrong they were! They could not get rid of who He was in His essence, in His Spirit - not even by crucifying Him! The rulers of this age did not understand God's wisdom; had they understood, they would not have crucified Jesus. (1 Cor. 2:8) His crucifixion demonstrated their delusion.
Since Jesus Christ's physical death released Him from the limitations of His physical body, His spiritual realization can now come to us in the Holy Spirit! When Christ's realization comes to us, it destroys the old image of God and the body of sin that we had in our old humanity. The body of sin cannot be redeemed or saved; it can only be destroyed in us through the lordship of Christ!
Our mission is to live in the righteousness that we have in Christ. Then people will want to come into the light. We shine as lights in the world when we have spiritual understanding of who Christ is. This will draw those who don't love the darkness, and they will come to the light. Since Christ's kingdom is not of this world, this world can only cease to exist when its inhabitants enter Christ's kingdom by being born of the Spirit.
"Even so consider (or reckon) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (v.11) The word translated consider or reckon, means to confess and to act accordingly. It is a term used in bookkeeping, and bookkeeping is a very exact science. The Low German for arithmetic (reiknin) expresses this beautifully. Bookkeeping is an exact record of the facts - not of hope and imagination. If I have $200.00 in my checking account, and write a check for $250.00, no amount of confession will make it $250.00! I can only confess the facts! The fact is that we not only died with Christ, but we are now alive in Christ! Since this is true, let's live accordingly!
We tend to think of sin as sins - actions and thoughts that are contrary to the will of God, instead of a body of sin that rules us. In Romans 5:21 sin is personified as a king who reigns over us, and we are born into sin's kingdom. In the old kingdom, sin reigns in our mortal body. That is why we obeyed its lusts.
Our confession of who we are in Christ has to be in a biblical context. Confession does not consist of parroting some words, nor is it a confession in order to get it - that is foolishness. We confess it because we know we have it! The knowing comes from within - it comes from believing! Confession is spontaneous.
Although we know that we have died with Christ, and our life is confessing it, our feelings don't always agree with the fact. Our old mind is filled with deception and lies, and it dictates our feelings until we learn to live out of our new mind - the mind of Christ, the mind of truth! Living out of Christ's mind brings us into joy and peace.
On the debit side of our heavenly account book we write, "dead with Christ," and on the credit side "alive with Christ"! These facts are in our heavenly checking account, so we can now write checks on that - that is, we can now use that knowledge! Heb. 11:1 says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Lies do not have substance. Our faith has foundation; it brings God's promises into reality.
For example, only eyesight can make color into something of substance. Color is present, but a blind person cannot see it or visualize it. Our eyesight enables us to see it. Faith brings into our reality what God has said. The reality of what He has said is always present, and through faith we enter into what is already there - into the finished work of Christ! Faith is the eyesight that sees what IS in the unseen realm!
With our spiritual eyes we have seen that we have been made one with Christ! We can now act on it! Let's look at an example. When Jesus walked on water, Peter also wanted to walk on water. So he asked Jesus to grant him this desire. And Jesus said, "Come". Now how did Peter get out of the boat? Being in the middle of the lake, did he jump over, plunge over, or put one leg over the side of the boat like you would on solid land? If he was going to walk on the water, he had to get out of the boat as if that water was solid ground. This was not his usual way of getting out of the boat. Christ is now inviting us to come! He has included us in His death and resurrection, and He wants us to know it and to act on it!
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." (v.12) "Therefore" - because we are alive to God in Christ Jesus, we have been freed from our bondage to sin! Since we have been freed from the lordship of sin, why should we keep on obeying its lusts? Let's forget about making excuses, because we don't have any! We now have Jesus as our Lord, so why obey our old lord, Mr. Sin? Sin wants an in, but Christ is our protection and armor. Living in Him closes the door to sin's demands!
The reign of sin in our mortal bodies is now an illegal reign. Christ has become our Lord, and there is no sin in Him! The reign of sin is unlawful in the kingdom of God. Don't travel back and forth from the kingdom of light to the kingdom of darkness. When we walk in the light, we will not perform the deeds of darkness!
Paul has been dwelling on the man of sin, and what God has done to do away with him. Now he moves on to another point. We are to present ourselves to God! "And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (v.13)
This implies that we already believe that we are alive from the dead! Since death is caused by sin, we cannot have freedom from death without freedom from sin. Freedom from death is impossible as long as we are living in the vehicle that is the source of sin. That is why we have to be taken out of the earthy man, the earthy image of God, the earthy consciousness that is subject and bound to sin, and be placed into the new man - into Christ!
We are to present the members of our body to God as those who are alive from the dead! Since we are alive, we no longer need to try to die to the old self! We no longer need to try to crucify ourselves - which actually is an impossibility anyway. Our death has already occurred, for we have already been crucified with Christ and have been made alive together with Him! Those who are alive are not in the darkness of sin and death.
We do not present ourselves to God as sinners, for we are alive from the dead! We do not wait to be made alive some day, for we are alive. Any other thinking does an injustice to everything that Jesus Christ accomplished, as well as to the apostolic ministry. We are no longer slaves to sin! This truth is repeated in v.19.
Blindness, darkness and disobedience are all part and parcel of unbelief. "In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4) The god of this world - a power outside of themselves - has blinded their minds. It is now within them - in their minds, because it has caused them to believe that their lie is truth.
This exchange of the truth for a lie took place when Adam and Eve obeyed the serpent instead of God! By doing that, they received the serpent's depraved mind - the mind that has no truth in it; the mind that is blinded and in darkness! Since it is in deception, it cannot know who God is, for God is truth. So it has a false image of who God is, and a false image of who man is. This is the mind that we have inherited by birth. Our natural birth has placed us into the old Adam!
John wrote, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." Christ Jesus is in us, and He is greater than he who is in the world. In 1 Jn. 2:16 it says, "All that is in the world," namely, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father." The world is not defined as being creation, but as the carnality of man, the natural mind! The natural mind is the mind of Satan - the mind we have inherited from Adam! So the he who is in the world, is the he who is in the natural mind. It is he who controls the thinking of the natural mind. However we have received a new mind, the mind of Christ! This is a mind of truth and light! Since the greater One, Christ, now indwells us, His mind is now our mind!
The wrong things we do are the result of the lusting that is in the carnal mind or in the heart of man. This lusting to be number one, to be the center of all things, to be as God, entered Adam, and it continues to rule humanity! Man's lusting causes him to sin. His lusting is due to his deception. Even the "good people" who are not in Christ, are under the control of their natural mind, and therefore under the control of the devil. If they are not in Christ, they are in Adam, the man of sin, and under the control of sin. The good they do is from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If doing good enhances their sense of being, they will do good; if doing evil enhances their sense of being, they will do evil. Our death to sin is death to the man of sin or the body of sin, the source of our wrong-doing!
The natural man - whether he is classified as good or evil - is living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Both the good and the evil are controlled by the same power - the good people being in the greater deception. We know this because Jesus had the hardest words for the Pharisees, the people who claimed to be the most good! The greater the deception, the greater the control the devil has over people. It is much more difficult for a good person to be convicted of sin, than it is for the one who sins openly! When sin reigns over us, it means we are completely under its control. Sin has affected us in every way! It makes us think we are in control. Sin affects the mind, emotions, memory and this mortal body. Everything is distorted and twisted by sin.
Man thinks he is a free moral agent, but he isn't. He thinks he can do his own will, but he can't. Influencing his will and decisions, is an evil heart! He doesn't know it, but he is a slave to sin. He is not a sinner by choice but by nature! He did not will it, consent to it, nor did he choose it. He was born into it! He is in total depravity and therefore unable to make a decision for Christ! The reason being, in the words of Preston Eby, "Because the will of the unregenerate man is bound by the bands of sin and death to the god of the spiritually dead." He is in a concentration camp of sin and unable to get out.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) Our new birth makes us a new creation that has a new heart and a new mind. It brings us into life. Jesus said, "The truth shall make you free." It frees us from the lies and deception that are resident in the evil heart. This freedom enables us to present ourselves to God.
"Whom the Son sets free, he is free indeed." We are now free to do His will. Before we were made free, we were unable to do His will. Our natural mind cannot receive spiritual truth because it has received the lies and deception of the serpent! The Spirit of truth leads us into all truth! Only when we are led by the Holy Spirit can we function in truth. That is why the Christian walk is one of faith, believing God instead of the natural mind!
Jesus said that He did not do His own will - He only did what the Father showed Him to do! He did not operate in right choices, but in the faith that the Father's will for Him was the best will! Neither can we operate in righteousness by making choices, for we don't know how to make right choices. Choice comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and God has forbidden us to eat of that fruit. Both the good and the evil of that tree are disobedience. If we are living by our choices we are living in disobedience. We are only to eat of the tree of life - the tree of truth and light! There is no choice in that tree! All is life, all is truth, all is good!
Jesus is the truth, and He lived in truth! Eating His flesh means receiving truth. In order to receive truth we have to let go of the wrong thinking that is in the carnal mind! It cannot make right choices because it is in deception. Even Jesus was not free to do His own will, but He was free to do the will of the Father; in fact He delighted to do the will of the Father! This is the freedom we have in Christ! He makes us free to be His slaves of righteousness.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (vv.17-18)
Man is always in slavery. He is either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness! Slavery to sin brings destruction and death, and slavery to righteousness brings blessing and life! Paul called himself a bondslave of Christ Jesus. The natural man is not free to become a bondslave of Christ because he is a slave to sin. Slavery to Christ doesn't look like freedom to the natural man. Slavery to sin and self may feel as though he is free to make right choices, because the carnal mind does not know that it is in deception. No man is free just to be free. In Christ we are freed from our slavery to sin!
So when we talk about freedom, it means freedom from the natural man and the death and destruction that is the nature of that man. We have received the freedom to be slaves to righteousness! This is the most wonderful freedom that is in all the universe! The members of our body that were formerly used to sin, can now be used for righteousness! Our new master is love, and He says, "Present yourselves." Our new employer, Christ Jesus, is our new life. He awaits the presentation of the members of our bodies so He can live His life through us! We are to be an expression of Christ!
Believers are to know that Christ is their life! This is reality - we don't have to put on an act! Every pressure, every challenge, every aspiration is an opportunity to live it out of the life of Christ in us! So I live, but not I - Christ lives in me! My eyes, my mouth, my hands, my feet, and indeed my whole being is under new management - under the direction of love!
"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (vv.20-23)
Paul contrasts the tragedy of slavery to sin with the benefit of slavery to God. Slavery to sin results in a life of sin and shame and death; slavery to God results in sanctification, in being set apart for God, and in the free gift of eternal life!
Life is in Christ; life is in the Spirit! Life is living out of the life of the Christ who is within us! As we live out of His life we will be freed from the desire of glory from people and from the pressures people put on us. Free from the lordship of money and free from the lordship of sin! This is the power of the gospel in Christ Jesus!