When studying the book of Romans even a casual reader can readily see that the apostle takes pleasing God to be of the utmost importance as we live out this mortal life. The intensity with which the Holy Spirit presses the apostle to reveal the things that are the desire of God’s heart for the believer becomes obvious with study of the book. After clearly establishing that salvation is by grace and not by works we launch into chapter 6 where the inner workings of the Spirit of God are being revealed.
In this same chapter the internal workings of the sin which is in us and is alive and well is in view also. As believers we have to come to an understanding of the war that is being waged for control of our bodies, whether it be to the glory of God or obedience to the sin which is in us. There are many nominal Christians who believe that somehow sin was done away with in our bodies and in our minds when we were saved, nothing could be further from the truth as is seen clearly in chapter 6 & 7 of Romans. With no further introduction to these chapters, we will look at the treasures that are found therein.
We hear “what shall we say then?” This is the part where we as believers need to think how we will answer this question. What will we say? How do we evaluate what sin is, have we assigned a different value to what capability sin has in limiting sin’s power to condemn us as God has instructed believers to do.? Have we considered what it really means to be dead and crucified with Christ, and yet we live and breathe in these bodies which we know are mortal? I will insert here that in the Garden of Eden after the eating of the forbidden tree there were no corpses in the garden the next day.
Temporal or Eternal?
Spirit, spirit, spirit – as humans we tend to think of the image we see in the mirror as being “us”, the truth revealed shows that we are spirit encased in a body that is temporary. One of the great deceptions of Satan is to have us focus on the temporary instead of the eternal, on the body instead of the spirit. We will be conscious 1000 years from today and fully aware of our surroundings. This fact escapes the thinking of most human beings. But that doesn’t change the facts because it is not weighed and considered as it should be.
How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism (Spiritual), no water involved here. And as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life. This is reference to a now experience, not one concerning time after we stopped breathing and our heart stops beating. But we nonetheless have died in God’s sight and then raised anew with eternal life. We are as believers new creations, new creatures, and it is God’s desire that we speak as such, knowing that all old things are passed away and all things are become new.
Take note in verse two who is dead. Look again, it is we, us, anyone who has put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus and submitted their life to Him in accepting their death with Him, receiving in exchange eternal life. Sin did not die, but by the work of the cross and moment-by-moment trust in the deliverance from sin provided by that cross, sins power over us, its ability to make us compulsory slaves to it is broken. This is the reason that he whom the Lord has set free is free indeed.
The flipside, if we give sin license to control our bodies and our minds we will find ourselves servants still to those impulses which come from within. With emphasis I state, according to Scripture, these impulses can be dealt with in no other way than our acceptance of God’s work in nailing us to the cross, wherein we thereby died and sin’s license to control us was revoked as long as we cling to our faith that we, that is the old man, that we were crucified. For it is the old man before our crucifixion with Christ that was a compulsory slave to the sin that is in us. The new man is set free from compulsory sin, it is only by choice that we make ourselves slaves to sin. This is why Paul in Romans 6:10 and 11 says that in the same way Christ died to sin once but He lives unto God, we should also reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Two things of the utmost importance are to be noted in Romans 6 concerning the above verses – first the baptism mentioned here has nothing to do with water, but is the baptism of the Spirit. The second is our responsibility as true believers to reckon and accept the fact that we are dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The two things that are inseparable and must be recognized as working in conjunction one with the other are as follows: my acceptance of the crucifixion of my first birth (Adamic life) and my acknowledgment of Christ’s Lordship over me. The person who recognizes these truths, recognizes that they are indeed well-favored by God.
Who is in Control?
This brings us to Galatians 5:16 “this I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” A look into our individual lives noting all the failed attempts to govern this sin nature both as an unsaved person and after salvation often resulted in failure. What went wrong? As unsaved persons we are without power to overcome our fleshly lust or the Lordship of Satan’s will, that condition that made us unacceptable for fellowship with God. The gospel of John 8:44 confirms the sin nature in us is the only nature that we have without Christ. It is easy then to understand why as unbelievers we were slaves to sin and the power it has over us.
But what about believers, why then at times does sin exhibit control over us? What creates those times wherein we find ourselves disobedient to God? These occurrences which bring this question to bear are responsible for some of the most sorrowful times we have as believers. If we ask ourselves the hard questions, the ones that incriminate us in our own eyes, and we acknowledge our disobedience to God, then God in his graciousness answers. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” per Romans 8:1.
Scripture states plainly in Galatians 5:25 that if we live in the Spirit let us walk in the Spirit. If the state of our walk is in disobedience, we encounter the pride of our sin nature desiring to fulfill self-interest. During these times we must by faith take our place as crucified so as to overcome the claim of our sin nature to rule our bodies. The work of pride at this juncture is to convince a crucified believer to climb off the cross and to demonstrate dominance of mind and body concerning the events of life. This action, of course, is incorrect thinking placing us in the hands of the sin which so easily besets us.
The mindset of a submissive attitude of being purchased by Christ and owned by God is the walk in the Spirit, and is the only way to please God. Submission to God or submission to one’s resident sin nature is what defines one’s walk. Remember “in my flesh dwells no good thing” as stated in Romans 7:28. This is why we as believers cave-in under the pressure of the desires of sin in our flesh. All believers experience this state in their walk. We can attest to this truth of submission to our sin nature and the pride of life.
In Colossians 2:6 we are considering Scripture where we are given instruction “as you have received Christ Jesus our Lord, so walk ye in him.” Sounds simple, right? Not so much. Each of us when lost was blind until Christ gave us sight. We at that point can see and are saved by acknowledging Him as Lord and ourselves as guilty. We act on the faith that He offers to us. Ephesians 2:8 states of His grace that faith is not of ourselves, it is Christ’s faith or more properly Christ”s faithfulness in which we enter to be saved.
None of us are born again knowing how to walk by faith. The walk in the Spirit is a learning work in progress beginning on the first day of our new birth. From that instant in time we become spiritually alive, quickened by the Holy Spirit and enrolled in spiritual kindergarten. This is where we first taste that leading of the Spirit which will become a matter of submitting to God’s will by choice while learning to reject the allurements of our flesh.
If properly maturing, we come to understand that the sin nature of our first birth seeks to wrestle control of our members from the Holy Spirit residing in us. This is where we make the choice who we will serve. This takes place moment-by-moment, day-by- day. This formula is found in Romans 6:11-13 where we hear these words “likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lust thereof. Neither yield your members (body parts) as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (acts of disobedience): but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Whereas we were dead in the same way that Adam and Eve died when they ate of the fruit, we are then made alive by the work of Jesus the Christ. If we are to please God the importance of reckoning the old man of our first birth to be dead becomes of paramount importance. We cannot serve two masters at the same time. The next portion will address the rule of sin.