Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
6: THE BEGINNING OF THE
ROMANS ROAD TO SANCTIFICATION
CONSIDER or RECKON the FACTS as TRUE
YIELD or OFFER YOUR BODY to THESE TRUTHS
(Romans 6:12, 13, 14)
The secret of victory over the flesh is found in our obeying those three
instructions: Know, reckon, and yield. This is to now be the
Spurgeon has these
The connection of this passage will
help us to understand its meaning. Near the close of the previous
chapter Paul had said,
The law entered that the offence
might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, that
as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through
righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
He speaks here of sin as being a
reigning principle or monarch, and of grace also as reigning. Then, in
chapter 6., he proceeds
What shall we say then? Shall we
continue in sin that grace may abound? Likewise reckon ye also
yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus
Christ our Lord.
You observe here that Paul speaks of
the man, the old sinner, as being crucified with Christ, so destroyed by
the moral power of the Cross that he who was once a sinner shall no
longer serve sin. When he speaks of our being planted or buried with
Christ, we must of course understand him as employing figures of speech
to teach the great truth that the Gospel redeems the soul from sin. As
Christ died for sin, so by a general analogy we die to sin; while, on
the other hand, as He rose to a new and infinitely glorious life, so the
convert rises to a new and blessed life of purity and holiness.
But recurring particularly to our text, let me say—The language used in
our translation would seem to denote that our death to sin is precisely
analogous to Christ's death for sin; but this is not the case. We are
dead to sin in the sense that it is no longer to be our master, implying
that it has been in power over us. But sin never was in power over Jesus
Christ—never was His master. Christ died to abolish its power over
us—not to abolish any power of sin over Himself, for it had none. The
analogy between Christ's death in relation to sin and our dying to sin,
goes to this extent and no farther: He died for the sake of making an
atonement for sin and of creating a moral power that should be effective
to kill the love of sin in all hearts; but the Christian dies unto sin
in the sense of being divorced from all sympathy with sin and
emancipated from its control. (Romans
6:11 Death To Sin Through Christ)
EVEN SO: houtos kai:
(houto) means in this manner, thus (because of this or
that), referring to what precedes and in context refers to everything
Paul had taught about the believer's position in Christ as the result of
their union and identification with Him in His death, burial and
resurrection. It could be translated...
"with reference to what precedes"
A basic principle in the Word of God is that people must first
know what is true before they can obey God. The
thrust of "even so" therefore is that
know and fully believe what I have just said, or else what I am about to
say will make no sense. The truth that you are spiritually dead to sin,
and the reality that you are spiritually alive to Christ are not
abstract concepts for your finite minds to attempt to verify. They are
divinely-revealed, foundational axioms behind Christian living, apart
from which you can never hope to live the holy lives your new Lord
Realizing the importance of the truths he presents in Ro 6:1-10 (see
Romans 6:8-10), Paul uses
forms of know and believe 4 times in this
great doctrinal section (v3, 6, 8, 9), and in other places he implies
that his readers know about certain other truths (see,
e.g., 6:2, 6:5, 6:7). These observations illustrate the believer's need
to understand his or her position in Christ so that they can then live
as they should.
The critical importance of
knowing before doing is seen in Hosea where God
people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected
knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have
forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." (Hos 4:6)
Israel's problem was that the people did not know (because
they had made the choice actively to push it away as the Lxx suggests)
and the consequence were that they could not function as God's priest to
his notes on Romans 6:11 writes...
How intimately the believer's duties
are interwoven with his privileges! Because he is alive unto God, he is
to renounce sin, since that corrupt thing belongs to his estate of
death. How intimately both his duties and his privileges are bound up
with Christ Jesus his Lord! How thoughtful ought we to be upon these
matters, reckoning what is right and fit and carrying out that reckoning
to its practical issues.
1. We are dead with Christ to sin by
having borne the punishment in him. In Christ we have endured the death
penalty and are regarded as dead by the law (see notes
2. We are risen with him into a
justified condition and have reached a new life (see note
3. We can no more come under sin
again than he can (see note
4. We are therefore forever dead to
its guilt and reigning power: "Sin shall not have dominion over you"
6:11-12 Dead But Alive - Notes)
This reckoning is based on truth, or we should not be exhorted to it.
To reckon yourself to be dead to sin so that you boast that you do not
sin at all would be a reckoning based on falsehood and would be
exceedingly mischievous. "There is no man that sinneth not" (1 Kings
8:46; 1 John 1:8). None are so provoking to God as sinners who boast
their own fancied perfection.
The reckoning that we do not sin must either go upon the Antinomian
theory that sin in the believer is no sin, which is a shocking notion.
Or else our conscience must tell us that we do sin in many ways: in
omission or commission, in transgression or shortcoming, in temper or in
spirit (James 3:2; Eccles. 7:20; see note
To reckon yourself dead to sin in the scriptural sense is full of
benefit both to heart and life. Be a ready reckoner in this fashion.
In short, the believer's practice is founded upon his position
Duty follows and is founded upon doctrine.
Scriptural exhortation (Romans 6:11ff) must always be based upon
sound doctrine (Romans 6:1-10).
Believer's Study Bible sums up Romans 6:1-13 noting that there
Three essential elements of the sanctification process are given:
(1) Know what salvation means (v 3);
(2) Reckon or consider yourself to be dead to sin (present imperative);
(3) Present yourself and the parts of your body to God as
instruments of righteousness (present imperative, v 13).
We are called
to live experientially what we are positionally... sanctification
requires our active involvement is clearly evident."
W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas
YOURSELVES: humeis logizesthe (2PPMM) heautous: (Ro
make a mental calculation
Similarly let us consider ourselves
as actually dead to sin (Berkley)
In the same way, you must see
yourselves a being dead to sin (NJB)
Hendriksen notes that
this point doctrine makes way for exhortation. What
has been established, namely, that believers are in principle dead
to sin and alive to Christ, must become the abiding conviction
of their hearts and minds, the take-off point for all their
thinking, planning, rejoicing, speaking, doing. They must
constantly bear in mind that they are no longer what they used to
be. Their lives from day to day must show that they have not
forgotten this. (Hendriksen,
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House) (Bolding added)
Paul gives us an excellent parallel
commentary on our being dead to sin writing to the saints at Colossae
that in light of the doctrinal truth that
you have been raised up
with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things
above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and
your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, is
revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore
consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality,
impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
John MacArthur comments that...
believer is to fully live out his new life in Christ, he must
begin by knowing he is not what he used to be. Once the believer
knows the foundational truths about his death, burial, and
resurrection with Christ, and his victory over the penalty and
power of sin, he is well on his way to victory in the Christian
life. Doubts and fears become less and less because he knows he is
dealing with a vanquished foe, a monarch who has been dethroned.
The believer has been resurrected to new life and therefore has
the confidence to strip away his grave clothes and live
to Live - Pt 3)
F B Meyer writes that
Reckon that you have died, and
whenever sin arises, to menace or allure you, point back to the grave,
and argue that since you died in Christ, you have passed altogether
beyond its jurisdiction, for you have yielded your members as weapons of
righteousness unto God. And having been crucified with Christ, you now
no longer live, but Christ liveth in you (see note
Let it become your daily habit to place the grave of Jesus between
yourself and all allurements of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
(Our Daily Homily)
Satterthwaite exhorts us to...
Trust God in the face of every sin.
Believe Him, that He died for your sin, to put your sin away, and to
give you victory over sin. As a result of this, He says in the latter
part of this chapter here (see notes
that we aught not to yield out members as instruments of unrighteousness
unto sin. (Satterthwaite, D. For Believers Only: Encouragement for
What is it to reckon ourselves
dead indeed unto Him? The word rendered reckon is sometimes
rendered account. Abraham's faith was accounted unto him for
righteousness. So, in this passage, reckon must mean believe,
esteem yourselves dead indeed unto sin. Account this to be the case.
Regard this as truly your relation to sin; you are entirely dead to it;
it shall have no more dominion over you. A careful examination of the
passages where this original word is used will show that this is its
usual and natural sense. And this gives us the true idea of Gospel
faith—embracing personally the salvation which is by faith in Jesus
Christ. But more of this hereafter.
What is meant by reckoning yourselves alive indeed unto God through
Jesus Christ? Plainly this: that you are to expect to be saved by
Jesus Christ and to calculate on this salvation as your own. You are to
esteem yourself as wholly dead to sin and as consequently brought into
life and peace in Christ Jesus.
What is implied in the exhortation of our text? That there is an
adequate provision for this expectation, and for realizing these
blessings in fact. For if there were no ground for realization this, the
injunction would be most absurd. A precept requiring us to account
ourselves dead indeed unto
alive unto God, would be utterably untenable if there were no
probability of the thing—if no provision were made for our coming into
such relations to
the one hand and to God through Christ on the other. For if these
blessings could not be reasonably expected, there could be no rational
ground for the expectation. If it were not reasonable to expect it, then
to enjoin us to expect it would be palpably unreasonable. Who does not
see that the very injunction implies that there is a foundation laid and
adequate provision made for the state required?
What is implied in complying with this injunction?
1. Believing such a thing to be
possible. Believing it possible that through Christ we may live in
the required manner, that we may avoid sin—desist from sinning—give it
up and abandon it altogether, and put it forever away. There can be no
such thing as an intelligent compliance with this precept, except as
there shall underlie it this belief in its practicability. A state
actually made practicable by adequate grace, adapted to the laws of mind
and to the actual moral condition of lost men.
2. That we cease from all expectation of attaining this state of
ourselves, and by our own independent, unaided efforts. There is no
beginning to receive by grace till we renounce all expectation of
attaining by natural works. It is only when empty of self that we begin
to be filled of Christ (Ed: cp John 3:30).
3. A present willingness to be saved from sin. We must actually
renounce all sin as such—that is, renounce sin because it is sin, and
for what it is. This position the mind must take: I can have nothing
more to do with sinning—for God hates sin, and I am to henceforth and
for ever to please and glorify Him. My soul is committed with its utmost
strength of purpose to this pleasing of God and doing His will.
4. It implies also an entire committal of your whole case to Jesus
Christ, not only for present, but for all future salvation from sin.
This is absolutely essential. It must always be the vital step—the
cardinal act in this great work of salvation from sin.
5. It implies also the foreclosing of the mind against temptation, in
such a sense that the mind truly expects to live a life purely devoted
to God. This is the same sort of foreclosing of the mind as takes
place under a faithful marriage contract. The Bible everywhere keeps
this figure prominent. Christians are represented as the bride of
Christ. They stand in a relation to Him which is closely analogous to
that of a bride to her husband. Hence when they commit their whole
hearts to Him, reposing their affections in Him, and trusting Him for
all good, their hearts are strongly foreclosed against temptation. The
principle here involved, we see illustrated in the merely human
relation. When parties are solemnly betrothed in mutual honest fidelity,
there is no longer any thought of letting the eye rove or the heart go
abroad for a fresh object of interest and love. The heart is
fixed—willingly and by plighted faith fixed, and this fact shuts out the
power of temptation almost entirely. It renders it comparatively an easy
matter to keep the heart safely above the influence of temptation to
apostasy. Before the sacred vows are taken, individuals may be excused
for looking round and making any observations or inquiries: but never
after the solemn vow is made. After the parties have become one by vow
of marriage, never to be broken, there is to be no more question as to a
better choice—no further thought about changing the relation or
withdrawing the heart's affections. No wavering is admissible now; the
pledge is made for everlasting faithfulness, settled once and forever!
This is God's own illustration, and surely none need be more apt or more
forcible. It shows how the Christian should look upon sin and upon all
temptation to sin. He must say, Away from my heart for ever! I am
married to Jesus Christ; how then can I look after other lovers? My mind
is forever settled. It rests in the deep repose of one whose affections
are plighted and fixed—to rove no more! Sin? I can think of yielding to
its seductions no longer. I cannot entertain the question for a moment.
I can have nothing to do with sinning. My mind is settled—the question
forever foreclosed, and I can no more admit the temptation to small sins
than to great sins—no more consent to give my heart to worldly idols
than to commit murder! I did not enter upon religion as upon an
experiment, to see how I might like it—no more, than a wife or husband
take on themselves the marriage vow as an experiment. No; my whole soul
has committed itself to Jesus Christ with as much expectation of being
faithful forever as the most faithful husband and wife have of
fulfilling their vows in all fidelity till death shall part them.
Christians in this state of mind no more expect to commit small sins
than great sins. Hating all sin for its own sake and for its
hatefulness to Christ, any sin, however small, is to them as murder.
Hence if the heart is ever afterwards seduced and overcome by
temptation, it is altogether contrary to their expectation and purpose;
it was not embraced in their plan by any means, but was distinctly
excluded; it was not deliberately indulged aforetime, but broke on them
unexpectedly through the vantage ground of old habits or associations.
Again, the state of mind in question implies that the Christian knows
where his great strength lies. He knows it does not lie in works of
fasting, giving alms, making prayers, doing public duties or private
duties—nothing of this sort; not even in resolutions or any
self-originated efforts, but only in Christ received by faith. He no
more expects spiritual life of himself apart from Christ, than a man in
his senses would expect to fly by swinging his arms in the air. Deep in
his soul lies the conviction that his whole strength lies in Christ
When men are so enlightened as truly to apprehend this subject, then to
expect less than this from Jesus Christ as the result of committing the
whole soul to Him for full salvation, is virtually to reject Him as a
revealed Saviour. It does not honour Him for what He is; it does not
honour the revelations He has made of Himself in His word by accepting
Him as there presented. For consider, what is the first element of this
salvation? Not being saved from hell, but being saved from sin.
Salvation from punishment is quite a secondary thing, in every sense. It
is only a result of being saved from sin, and not the prime element in
the Gospel salvation. Why was the infant Messiah to be called Jesus?
Because He should save His people from their sins. And does the Bible
anywhere teach any other or different view from this? (See additional
Romans 6:11 Death To Sin Through
lógos = reason, word, account)
means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to
deliberate, and to weigh. Logizomai refers to a process of
careful study or reasoning which
results in the arriving at a conclusion.
the idea of calculating or estimating.
Logizomai was a term frequently used in the
business community of Paul's day and meant to impute (put to one's
account) or credit to one's
Logizomai is related
to our English term logic (which deals with the methods of valid thinking,
reveals how to draw proper conclusions from premises and is a
prerequisite of all thought).
Logizomai is used 40 times in the NT in the NASB (Mk;
[11x in Ro4!];
and is translated: consider, 6; considered, 2; counted, 1;
counting, 1; credit, 1; credited, 9; credits, 1; dwell, 1; maintain, 1;
numbered, 2; propose, 1; reason, 1; reckoned, 2; regard, 4; regarded, 3;
suppose, 1; take into account, 3; thinks, 1.
Logizomai is used some 120 times in the
(Ge 15:6; 31:15; Lev
7:18; 17:4; 25:31; 27:23; Num 18:27, 30; Deut 2:11, 20; 3:13; 1Sa 1:13;
18:25; 2 Sam 4:2; 14:13f; 19:43; 1Ki 10:21; 2 Chr 5:6; 9:20; Neh 6:2, 6;
13:13; Job 31:28; 34:37; 41:29, 32; Ps 32:2; 35:4; 41:7; 44:22; 52:2;
106:31; 119:119; 140:2, 4; 144:3; Pr 15:29; 16:30; 17:28; 24:8; Eccl
10:3; Isa 5:28; 10:7; 13:17; 29:16f; 32:15; 33:8; 40:15, 17; 44:19;
53:3f, 12; Jer 11:19; 18:8, 11, 18; 23:27; 26:3; 29:11; 36:3; 48:2;
49:20, 30; 50:45; Lam 4:2; Ezek 11:2; 38:10; Dan 4:35; 11:24f; Hos 7:15;
8:12; Amos 6:5; Mic 2:1, 3; Nah 1:9, 11; Zech 8:17; Luke 22:37; John
11:50; Acts 19:27; Rom 2:3, 26; 3:28; 4:3ff, 8ff, 22ff; 6:11; 8:18, 36;
9:8; 14:14; 1 Cor 4:1; 13:5, 11; 2 Cor 3:5; 5:19; 10:2, 7, 11; 11:5;
12:6; Gal 3:6; Phil 3:13; 4:8; 2 Tim 4:16; Heb 11:19; Jas 2:23; 1 Pet
Paul makes use of
translation of the following two theologically significant verses in his
arguments in Romans 4 that righteousness is obtained by faith not
In the first
use of logizomai in Genesis
15:6 Moses records...
Then he (Abram/Abraham) believed in
the LORD; and He reckoned (logizomai) it to him as righteousness.
In Psalm 32:2
How blessed is the man to whom the
LORD does not impute (LXX
= logizomai) iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit! (see note
Note the concentrated use of
logizomai in Romans. It follows that one
will have considerable difficulty understanding this great letter if he
does not understand the meaning and nuances of logizomai.
Paul is telling his readers and us
to reflect on our position in Christ and to place two things into our
spiritual bank account: (1) We are "dead to sin" and (2) we are "alive
to God in Christ Jesus."
We each must take time to consider these
facts and make this exercise habitual, not just giving it an occasional
casual thought! These are profound truths. As someone has well said such
meditative accounting will make for good "preventive theology".
Too often we tend to focus on "corrective theology" emphasizing
truths (which are valid and important) like
we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
Paul in Romans 6:11 is calling for us to make it our practice to reflect
upon our union and identification with our Lord Jesus Christ, because he
knows that a thorough digestion and assimilation of this truth
will serve to curb sins so we don't have to confess sins as frequently.
Note also that
in Romans 6:11 is
present imperative (this is
Paul's first major command after building his sound doctrinal case for 5
chapters!) so we need to consider these truths
carefully and continuously. This is a
strong charge calling for a firm conviction regarding the truths he had
Reckoning means to continually count on the fact
that God has actually done what he said he would do. Keep on counting
yourselves to be what God says you are! Continually
count on the fact that if God said it, he meant it, and
therefore he did it. It means to live on the basis of the fact that God
wasn't kidding when he said he would do this, therefore he did it, and
therefore you can continually count on it. Reckoning
is not claiming a promise but acting upon a fact. It's not make-believe.
It's not getting yourself into an emotional tizzy, or pretending
something is true that you know is not true. It's believing that what
God has said he would do, he really did do, therefore it really is true,
therefore you can depend upon it, therefore you can stake your life upon
it, therefore it's an actual fact. What is in view is not a fictitious
or “pretend” or “merely symbolical” event, but a settled determination
to live in the light of Christ’s death and in the strength of a power
which has already defeated sin’s reign in His death and your death with
Warren Wiersbe adds that...
Reckoning is simply that step of
faith that says,
“What God says about me in the Bible is now true in my
life. I am crucified with Christ.”
Reckoning is faith in action, resting
on the Word of God in spite of circumstances or feelings. God does not
tell us to crucify ourselves, but rather to believe that we have been
crucified and that “the
old man” has been put to death. Crucifixion is
one death you cannot inflict on yourself; you must be crucified by
Reckoning is that step of faith that believes God’s Word and
acts upon it." (Wiersbe,
W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.:
Victor Books) (Bolding
Paul uses logizomai
in Romans 2 addressing "religious" readers (Jew and otherwise) who
looked down upon the pagans in Romans 1, asking
suppose (logizomai - do you reason thus) this, O man, when you pass
judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?" (see note
Paul's point is that the moralist falsely calculates and comes to the wrong conclusion regarding his own
sinfulness and guilt.
Logizomai means to
think about something in a detailed and logical manner, reason about it,
pondering it and finally drawing conclusions through the use of reason.
For example, Paul writes that
"When I was a child, I used to speak as
a child, think as a child, reason (logizomai) as a child; when I
became a man, I did away with childish things." (1Cor 13:11)
Logizomai means to put together with one’s mind. It means
to regard as being, to count as true, or to occupy oneself with
reckonings or calculations.
Logizomai was used in early secular documents as follows --
“put to one’s account," "let my revenues be placed on deposit at the
storehouse", "I now give orders generally with regard to all payments
actually made or credited to the government.”
Logizomai was a
secular bookkeeping term which meant to make an entry in the account
book or to put to one's account. It carried the economic and legal
meaning of crediting something to another’s account. It means to
calculate or reckon, as when figuring an entry in a ledger. The purpose
of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted
whenever needed. It means to credit money to a particular account. It
means that when you deposit $1000, the bank credits your account with
$1000. Therefore when you write a check for $500, you don't worry about
it because you are reckoning on the fact that money is actually in your
As alluded to above, probably the most notable use of logizomai with this meaning is when
"Abraham believed God, and it
was reckoned (logizomai - credited to his account) to him as
righteousness." (see note
Abraham believed God, and his act of faith was placed
to his account in value as righteousness. He believed God and his
act of faith was credited to him for righteousness. He believed
God and his act of faith was computed as to its value, and there was placed to his account, righteousness. However,
Abraham’s act of faith was not looked upon as a meritorious action
deserving of reward. What his faith did do was provide a channel through
which God worked His redeeming grace. Faith is a convicted heart
reaching out to receive God’s free and unmerited gift of salvation.
translated as “imputed” only once in the NASB (see note
but nine times in the KJV (Click
for the 9 verses). In Ro 4:8 (see
note), the KJV reads "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord
will not impute sin." In other words the man is called blessed,
to whose account no sin is charged. At the Cross, his sin was
charged to the account of the Lord Jesus. In Ro 4:6 (see
note), the man to
whose account righteousness is put, is called blessed
David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes
righteousness apart from works"). (NKJV)
This is imputation, the
act of putting something to someone’s account. In the case of the
Lord Jesus, the sin of the human race was charged to Him. In the case of
the believing sinner, the righteousness of God, Christ Jesus Himself, is
put to his account.
To reiterate, here in Romans 6:11,
logizomai is used with the meaning of adding up a column
(as in accounting) and coming up with the sum total, in the case of
Romans 6:1-10, that total (the truth in
those verses) being "in the black' so to speak, and providing
each believer an inexhaustible, divine 'checking account', based upon
the riches procured by the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord
As John Gregory Mantle has
is a great difference between realizing, ‘On that Cross He was crucified
for me,’ and ‘On that Cross I am crucified with Him.’ The one aspect
brings us deliverance from sin’s condemnation, the other from
And so to "Consider"
means to take all of the truths Paul has stated in (Ro 6:1-10 and the
preceding chapters) and put them in the "calculator" of your
mind. Think about them and come to a conclusion and let that conclusion
affect the way you live. The hymn
I Surrender All
says it well...
I Surrender All
by Judson W Van De Venter
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
"What facts are we to consider?
Verse 2: We are dead to the sin of
Verse 3: We were baptized into Christ
Jesus and into His life.
Verse 4: We are raised with Him into
newness of life.
Verse 5: We are intertwined into His
life and death; forever identified with Him.
Verse 6: Our old man, what we used to
be in Adam, is dead.
Verse 7: We have been justified from the sin of Adam, declared
righteous because of what Christ did.
Verse 8: We are believing daily that
His life is ours now.
Verse 9: We experientially know that
since the death does not reign over Christ, it does not reign over us.
Verse 10: He has died to the sin once
and for all. He ended its penalty and its power to those who have put
their faith into Him, and now as He lives unto God, so we do because His
life is in us."
Kenneth Wuest has an extended but well reasoned note explaining that what Paul is doing using logizomai is
"the saints that in their endeavor to live a life in
accordance with the Word of God, they should take into account
the fact that they are dead to sin, that they have been disengaged
from the evil nature, that it has no power over them anymore, that
they are scot free from it and can say a point blank "NO" to it,
also to take into account the fact that they are alive to
God, that is, that the divine nature has been imparted with the
result that that nature gives them both the desire and the power
to regulate their lives in accordance with the Word of God. Now,
reckoning one’s self dead to sin and alive to God does not
make one so. God constituted the saint so when He saved him. But
the act of reckoning brings into better operation with
beneficial results, the working of this inner spiritual machinery.
For instance, there is a game in which a blindfolded person is
brought into the room, and made to stand on a table board which
rests on some books on the floor. Two young men lift the board
about a foot, and warn the young man not to bump his head against
the ceiling. Thinking that he is near the ceiling, he loses his
balance and falls off. He lost his balance and fell because he
reckoned himself where he was not. Just so, a Christian who
fails to count upon the fact that the power of the sinful nature
is broken in his life, fails to get consistent victory over it,
with the result that he lives a mediocre Christian life. He
reckoned himself where he was not. Another young man is
blindfolded and stood on the board. He knows the game. When the
board is lifted and he is warned not to bump his head against the
ceiling, he remains perfectly straight and maintains his
equilibrium, because he reckoned himself where he was.
so it is with a Christian who counts upon the fact that the
power of the sinful nature is broken. He knows that he does not
have to obey it, and that he has the power to say "NO" to it, and he
turns his back on it and does what is right. The Christian who
does not count upon the fact that the divine nature is
implanted in his inner being, goes on living his Christian life as
best he can more or less in the energy of his own strength, with
the result that he exhibits a mediocre Christian experience. But
the believer who counts upon the fact that he is a possessor of the divine nature,
ceases from his own struggles at living a Christian life, and
avails himself of the life of God supplied in the divine nature.
So the first adjustment the Christian should make is that of
counting upon the fact that the power of the indwelling sinful
nature is broken and the divine nature imparted, and order his
life on that principle."
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
James uses logizomai (James 1:2)
exhorting his readers "to count it all joy", to look
at the trials they were going through and add in the truth that they had
learned concerning that God would do for them and in them through the
trials and finally come to a settled conclusion. Then proceed to
live based on this reasoned conclusion. What and how we think about our identification and union with Christ
in His death, burial and resurrection and our new relationship to the
power of SIN (previously we were powerless but now we are able to say
"no" to sin), will affect the way we live and how we respond to
temptations from the flesh, the world and the devil. Paul is saying that
since you now know something, you must "consider" it and
put it into practice in your life.
Ruth Paxson explains that
consider or reckon (logizomai) means...
believing what God says in
Romans 6:6 (note) (knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our
body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves
to sin) and knowing it as a fact in one’s own personal salvation. This
demands a definite act of faith, which results in a fixed attitude
toward “the old man.” We will see him where God sees him—on the Cross,
put to death with Christ. Faith will operate continuously to keep him
where grace placed him. This involves us very deeply, for it means that
our hearty consent has been given to God’s condemnation of and judgment
upon that old “I” as altogether unworthy to live and as wholly stripped
of any further claims upon us. The first step in a walk of practical
holiness is this reckoning upon the crucifixion of “the old man." (Paxson,
Ruth: The Wealth, Walk, and Warfare of the Christian)
As has been stated above, the believer needs to accept what God says
about him or her as true and then to live in the light of that truth,
independent of one's feelings
John Wesley said it this way...
Frames and feelings fluctuate:
These can ne'er thy saviour be!
Learn thyself in Christ to see:
Then, be feelings what they will,
Jesus is thy Saviour still!
An illustration - 37 Years in the
In 1982 an unusual thing
happened on the island of Guam (Click to read a very similar illustration of
another Japanese soldier who remained in the Philippine jungle for
A Japanese soldier came out of
the jungle. He had been living in the jungle for 37 years, since
the end of world war II. Why? Because when the news came at the
end of the war, he couldn't believe that Japan had surrendered and
the war was over. So for 37 years he lived in the jungle. During
those 37 years was he free? Sure. At any time from 1945 until
1982, he was completely free to come out of the jungle. It's not
like General MacArthur was coming in to get him. He was free. He
could come out in 1950 or 1955 or 1969. He was completely free on
a theoretical basis. But because he didn't believe it--because he
didn't reckon the fact of his freedom to be true--he lived
in self-imposed bondage in the jungle for 37 years. Was he free?
Yes. Was he free? No, because he chose to stay in bondage, in
hiding, in fear in the jungle.
Many Christians are still living in the jungle of sin. The war is
over, Christ has won, but they refuse to believe it. They live in
self-imposed bondage to sin. They are still in the jungle
spiritually because they refuse to believe that Christ has set
Michael Andrus agrees adding...
Are you aware that there are
countless Christians still doing hand-to-hand combat with their
sin nature, unable to enjoy the peace that is available in Jesus
Christ, because somehow they are appallingly ignorant of the fact
that their Commander-in-chief has won a great victory and has
called them out of the jungle of sin to a life of holiness. Oh, to
be sure there are inevitable struggles and some failures ahead so
long as we are in this world, but there is no need for us to live
as though the final outcome of the war is still hanging in the
TO BE DEAD TO SIN
: einai (PAN) nekrous men te hamartia:
(Ro 6:2 Ro 6:7 Ro 6:10, Gal 2:19 Gal 5:24 Gal 6:14 Col 2:20 Col 3:3 1Pe
2:24 Titus 2:14)
Read this passage in several different translations to help understand the
Look upon yourselves as dead to the
appeal and power of sin. (Phillips)
Be constantly counting upon the fact
that, on the one hand, you are those who have been separated from the
sinful nature (Wuest)
Consider yourselves also dead to sin
and your relation to it broken (Amplified)
You too must continually consider
yourselves dead as far as sin is concerned. (International Standard
You should see yourselves as being
dead to the power of sin (NCV)
To be (1510)
(eimi) means to be and the present tense indicates continuous
action (consider yourself to be continually dead to sin's power). To be
or not to be (dead to sin), that is the question and the answer is that
it is now possible for a believer because of Christ's death, burial and
in fact identifies this as what is to be continually true for the
from nékus = a corpse, root of our English words necropsy,
necrophobia, etc) means destitute of life, one who is now a corpse or
has breathed one's last. The opposite of living.
Being dead to sin must
obviously be the opposite of being dead in sin. The latter
must undeniably be a state of entire sinfulness—a state in which the
soul is dead to all good through the power of
over it. But right over against this, to be dead to sin, must be to be
indifferent to its attractions—beyond the reach of its influence—as
fully removed from its influences as the dead are from the objects of
sense in this world. As he who is dead in the natural sense has nothing
more to do with earthly things, so he who is dead to sin has nothing to
do any more with sin's attractions or with sinning itself.
(hamartia from the verb hamartano = miss the mark and so
not share in the prize, to err, offend, sin, to act contrary to the will
and law of God and so miss the mark in relation to God) in the present
context does not refer to the sins we commit (missing the mark) but is
personified by Paul as the evil nature still resident in the believer.
Sin in this verse refers to
Sin as a controlling power and as
an enslaving tyrant. Paul's point is that believers have died in
relation to the power of sin as their master and this truth leads to his
exhortation in the next section (Romans
6:12ff) not to let sin reign and not to yield to its power.
Sin is harsh taskmaster as
illustrated by this little poem...
take you farther than you ever thought you’d stray
Sin will leave you so lost, you think you’ll never find your way
Sin will keep you longer than you ever thought you’d stay
Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay
Puritan John Bunyan (of Pilgrim’s Progress fame) wrote that
“Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the
jeer of His patience, the slight of His power and the contempt of His
In light of Paul's
exhortation for us to consider ourselves "dead to sin",
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary has some interesting definitions
of "dead" describing it as
"lacking power to move, feel, or respond, incapable of being stirred
emotionally or intellectually, unresponsive, inanimate, no longer
functioning, lacking power or effect, no longer have interest, relevance
or significance, no longer active, completely out of touch with."
some of those definitions in Paul's phrase "_______ to sin" and
meditate upon this simple but great truth. Again we may not feel like
this is true in light of your ongoing struggle with sin, but it is true.
God does not
command us to become dead to sin (Click
a for an in depth discussion of what it means to be "dead to sin"
Romans 6:2). God tells us that because of our union and
identification with Christ's death, believers are dead to sin and alive
to God. This reckoning is the "mental preparation" for his subsequent
command to act in accordance with this truth (see
Romans 6:12ff). Doctrine always
precedes duty. God's enablement always accompanies His commands.
However, even if we do not act upon this truth of our deadness to sin's
power, the fact is still true. Counting ourselves dead to sin is not a
feeling to feel, a promise to claim or a work to be done. It's a truth
to be received and believed. It's a transaction which has already been
carried out by Christ. We are not told to try to die to sin's power, but
rather to realize that, in Christ and because of our identification and
union with Him, we have died to sin. This truth is potentially
one of the greatest incentives to motivate godly living.
What does it
look like when one considers themselves dead to sin? In one sense,
we consider ourselves to be dead to sin when we respond to
temptation as a dead man would. This practice is illustrated by the story
of Augustine who was accosted by a woman who had been his mistress
before his conversion. When he turned and walked away quickly, she
called after him,
“Augustine, it’s me! it’s me!”
pace, he called back over his shoulder,
“Yes, I know, but it’s no longer me!”
What Augustine had
told her in other words was that because he was now in union with
Christ, he was dead to sin and alive to God. Death means separation and a dead man has nothing to do with immorality, lying, cheating,
Mounce has a pithy comment stating that...
"For the Christian to choose to sin
is the spiritual equivalent of digging up a corpse for fellowship. A
genuine death to sin means that the entire perspective of the believer
has been radically altered." (Bolding added) (Mounce,
R. H. Romans: The New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman Publishers
Ray Stedman provides a practical illustration of continually
counting one's self dead to sin...
"This means we must learn to
recognize the sign of the old life within us, and refuse to let live
what God has declared has no right to live. We must not presume to find
good in that which God says is totally evil. In other words... stop
protecting the self life! stop excusing it, and justifying it! This is
the key point. Stop pampering yourself in these matters and making
excuses for what God says is wrong, and, thus, letting live what God
says is dead. There are many excuses: "Oh, I've got a hot temper, but it
is just because I am Irish, you know. My whole family has this trouble,
so there is nothing I can do about it." Or, "I am troubled with lust,
but that is because I am a Latin." Or, "I am young." Or, "I am hot
blooded." Or, "I am cold blooded." Or, "I am red blooded." Or, "I am
strongly sexed." Or, we are loveless and we say it is our circumstances
that make us this way. Or, it is the other people with whom we work.
Thus, we are continually excusing ourselves, and giving the flesh reason
to live. Every time you, as a Christian, let enter your thought life any
of these things that God has said are the old Adam in you, you are
presuming to let live what God declares has no right to live. The only
life that God recognizes as having the right to live in you is the risen
life of Jesus Christ. But you cannot appropriate that life until you
give up trying to make the old life suitable. That is when the death of
Christ becomes fully effective to you.
"Well," you say, "does this happen in one great crisis?" Sometimes, yes.
But I rather think that it is a result of a series of smaller crises, if
I may put it that way. The Spirit of God knows that this thing within
us, the flesh, this self-centered life, is what is destroying us. He
takes the manifestations of it, one at a time, and makes us face up to
them. Any failure to face up to one of these things, as the Lord brings
it to our attention, means no further progress until we stop clinging to
the specific thing that he is talking about. Whenever we put into
action, even in little ways, what God declares to be a fact, nothing can
stop us from the third and greatest step, which is yielding to, or
appropriating, the life of Christ." (excerpt
The Day I Died)
Paul is not speaking of a psychological mind game, by which we keep
affirming something over and over until we are convinced against our
better judgment or even against reality that it is true. We know we
are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus because God’s Word
declares it is so. In other words, those are truths of faith and
they must be affirmed in faith.
><> ><> ><>
A devotional from
Our Daily Bread entitled Learning To See -
In his book An
Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks tells about a man named Virgil.
Blind from early childhood, Virgil underwent surgery decades later and
regained the ability to see. But at first, like the blind man healed by
Jesus outside Bethsaida (Mk.
8:22-26), Virgil had difficulty seeing. Although he could
discern movement and color, he couldn't put images together to make
sense of them. For a time, his behavior was still the same as when he
was sightless. Sacks comments, "One must die as a blind person to
be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo . . .
that is so terrible."
That comment echoes Paul's teaching about burying our old, dead
selves to walk in newness of life (Ro 6:4). It is a dramatic
spiritual change that may bring a time of difficult adjustment.
Ingrained habits and attitudes may hang on like withered leaves in
autumn. To overcome sin, we must remember that it is no longer our
master (Ro 6:11), and we are to refuse to let it reign in our lives
(Ro 6:12). Instead, we are to offer ourselves to God as "alive from
the dead" (Ro 6:13). As we take these steps, our spiritual
blindness will become a thing of the past, and we will learn to
see Jesus more clearly. --VCG (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted
by permission. All rights reserved)
Amazing grace! How sweet
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. --Newton
Sin blinds--but God's
grace restores sight.
><> ><> ><>
Until a believer
accepts the truth that Christ has broken the power of sin in their life,
they cannot live victoriously, because in their innermost being they do
not really believe it is possible.
Ray Pritchard writes that to
be "dead to sin" means that...
"You are separated forever from the
dominating ruling power of sin. It's like watching a lion roar at the
zoo. You may get a thrill from listening to the lion roar in his cage.
But as long as the lion is behind bars, you're safe. The lion can roar
all it wants but it can't do anything to you unless you do something
stupid like crawl into the cage. Then you have problems. Sin is like a
roaring lion. As long as you understand that the power of sin is broken,
sin cannot dominate your life unless you choose to let it dominate your
Steps to Victory: Ro 6:8-14)
Here are several practical aspects of
knowing one is dead to sin
We can have confidence in the midst of temptation, knowing that with
sin’s tyranny broken we can successfully resist it in God’s power. (1Co
We have confidence that we cannot sin our way out of God’s grace.
Just as we have been saved by God’s power alone, we are kept by
His power alone. (Jn
We have confidence in the face of death. (Jn
We know that, regardless of what happens to us in this life, no
matter how disastrous it may be, God will use it not only for His
glory but also for our good. (see note
John Gill writes that "to
be dead indeed unto sin" is a call for saints to
"believe their discharge from it, and
not fear condemnation and death on account of it; and that it shall not
be imputed to them, or have any damning power over them, since Christ
has died unto it, or for it; and therefore should have no fellowship
with it, nothing to do with it, as being dead unto it, and that to
John MacArthur adds that...
"The Christian's biography has been
written in two volumes. Volume one is our old nature before salvation.
Volume two is our new nature. Volume one ends with our death in Christ,
and volume two begins with our resurrection in Christ. It is both
impossible and inconceivable to relive volume one because we are dead to
it." (MacArthur, J:
Dying to Live--Pt 3)
The KJV Bible commentary has an excellent note writing that...
“This ‘reckoning’ is no vain
experience but one which is morally fruitful, because the Holy Spirit
has come to make effective in believers what Christ has done for them,
and to enable them to become in daily experience, as far as may be in
the present conditions of mortality, what they already are ‘in Christ’
and what they will fully be in the resurrection life” (F. F. Bruce, The
Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p139). When we daily count ourselves to
be dead to the penalty of sin and alive unto God, there will be no
temptation to continue in sin for we will refuse that temptation out of
thankfulness to God for counting us." (Dobson,
E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV
Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Matthew Henry writes that
"The strongest motives against sin,
and to enforce holiness, are here stated. Being made free from the reign
of sin, alive unto God, and having the prospect of eternal life, it
becomes believers to be greatly concerned to advance thereto. But, as
unholy lusts are not quite rooted out in this life, it must be the care
of the Christian to resist their motions, earnestly striving, that,
through Divine grace, they may not prevail in this mortal state. Let the
thought that this state will soon be at an end, encourage the true
Christian, as to the motions of lusts, which so often perplex and
distress him." (Matthew Henry's Commentary)
BUT ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST
JESUS: zontas (PAPMPA) de to theo en Christo Iesou : (Ro
6:13; 1Cor 6:20; Gal 2:19,20; Col 3:3-5) (23; 5:1; 16:27; Jn 20:31; Eph
2:7; Phil 1:11; 4:7; Col 3:17; 1Pet 2:5; 1Pet 4:11)
It should be noted that the Greek
text emphasizes the contrast between the two exhortative clauses more
than can be readily appreciated or easily expressed in English. The
death to sin is only one side of the equation. The old man is gone, but
the new man continually lives.
(zao) means to be alive physically and refers to existence
as opposed to death or nonexistence. It means to enjoy real life or to
have true life, as God meant it to be lived. Zao is
present tense speaking of continuous activity.
To be full of life for Him—to be
altogether active and on the alert to do His will; to make our whole
lives a perpetual offering to Him, constantly delivering up ourselves to
Him and His service that we may glorify His name and subserve His
Alive to God reflects
the believer's new relation to God in Christ, a spiritual reality which
is a complete reversal of the relationship we had with God when we were
in Adam. To be alive to God means to converse with Him, to have a regard
for Him, to delight in Him and to have a concern for His glory. The love
of God reigning in the heart is the life of the soul towards God. It is
to have the affections and desires alive toward God.
Wuest adds that that "alive
to God" means that
"the divine nature has been imparted
with the result that that nature gives them both the desire and the
power to regulate their lives in accordance with the Word of God."
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
In Christ Jesus (Click
for Paul's 26 uses of the specific phrase "in
Christ Jesus " - make a list of what you discover
from your observations) is one the great truths taught by Paul and here
is the key to a believer's now being alive with respect to God.
"In Christ Jesus" also expresses the believer’s intimate, eternally
secure position because of union and identification with
Christ. Just as a human being cannot live their physical life unless
they are in the air and the air is
in them, one cannot live the supernatural, spiritual life of God
unless he or she is in Christ, and Christ is in them.
Christ is our spiritual life. There is no living to God but through Him
-- through Christ as the Head from Whom we receive vital influence;
through Christ as the Root by which we derive sap and nourishment, and
John spoke of life in Christ
in his summary of the purpose of his gospel, stating that
"these (things) have been written
that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that
believing you may have
(zoe) in His name
(in Christ)." (Jn
Matthew Poole commenting on
Ro 6:11 writes that
"believers are alive unto God in
Jesus Christ, receiving from Him that virtue whereby their spiritual
life is begun, maintained, and perfected." (Matthew Poole's Commentary
on the New Testament)
Note how various translations express our new relationship to
"alive to God [living in unbroken
fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus." (Amplified)
"able to live for the glory of God
through Christ Jesus." (NLT)
"but living a godly life through
Christ" (People's NT Commentary)
"alive and sensitive to the call of
God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Phillips)
"alive to God, alert to Him, through
Jesus Christ our Lord" (TLB)
"alive in relation to God, because
you are in Christ Jesus" (Weymouth)
".you are living ones with respect to
God in Christ Jesus." (Wuest)
Ray Stedman (in
True Baptism Of The Spirit)
has a wonderful way of making these profound Pauline passages
"When you feel temptation in your
body or your mind, then there are two things you are to do: First,
remember that you don't have to obey sin. You just don't have to. You
are free to refuse it. You are free to say, "No, you don't have the
right to use that part of my body for a sinful purpose." And, second,
remember his power is in you to enable you to offer that same part of
your body to God, to be used for his purposes. Now, that may mean a
struggle, because the strength of sin is very strong. When we start to
turn away from evil in our bodies, the habits of our lives are so deeply
engrained that oftentimes it is very difficult, and we struggle. But we
have the power not to sin because we have God himself within us -- the
living God...There will be a struggle; it is not always easy, but we
have the strength to do it and we have the right to do it. We have the
freedom not to sin and the desire not to sin. That is what God has
brought to us in Christ....Paul is describing the two steps that we are
to repeat over and over again, in dealing with evil in our lives."
Eternal life was the life which Jesus
Christ exhibited on the human plane, and it is the same life, not a copy
of it, which is manifested in our mortal flesh when we are born of God.
Eternal life is not a gift from God, eternal life is the gift of God.
The energy and the power which were manifested in Jesus will be
manifested in us by the sheer sovereign grace of God when once we have
made the moral decision about sin.
“Ye shall receive the power of the
Holy Ghost”—not power as a gift from the Holy Ghost; the power is the
Holy Ghost, not something which He imparts. The life that was in Jesus
is made ours by means of his Cross when once we make the decision to be
identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is
because we will not decide definitely about sin. Immediately we do
decide, the full life of God comes in. Jesus came to give us endless
supplies of life: “that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
Eternal Life has nothing to do with Time, it is the life which Jesus
lived when He was down here. The only source of Life is the Lord Jesus
The weakest saint can experience the
power of the Deity of the Son of God if once he is willing to ‘let go.’
Any strand of our own energy in ourselves will blur the life of Jesus.
We have to keep letting go, and slowly and surely the great full life of
God will invade us in every part, and men will take knowledge of us that
we have been with Jesus.
A J Gordon
in his book The Ministry of the Spirit has the following thought
provoking discussion on Death to sin
"Even so reckon ye also yourselves to
be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 6:11, R.
This is the condition of making true
(Ed: experientially) in ourselves what is already true for us in Christ,
of rendering practical what is now judicial; in other
words, of being dead to the power of sin in ourselves, as we are already
dead to the penalty of sin through Jesus Christ.
As it is written in the Epistle to
"For ye died," judicially in Christ,
"mortify " -- make dead practically -- "therefore your members which are
upon the earth." (see notes
It is this condition which the Holy
Spirit is constantly effecting in us if we will have it so.
"If ye through the Spirit do mortify
the deeds of the body ye shall live." (see note
This is not self-deadening, as the
Revised Version seems to suggest by its decapitalizing of the word
"Spirit." Self is not powerful enough to conquer self, the
human spirit to get the victory over the human flesh. That were like a
drowning man with his right hand laying hold on his left hand, only that
both may sink beneath the waves.
"Old Adam is too strong for young
Melancthon," said the Reformer.
It is the Spirit of God overcoming
our fleshly nature by His indwelling life, on Whom is our sole
dependence. Our principal care therefore must be to "walk in the Spirit"
(see notes beginning
and "be filled with the Spirit," (see note
and all the rest will come spontaneously and inevitably. As the
ascending sap in the tree crowds off the dead leaves which in spite of
storm and frost cling to the branches all winter long, so does the Holy
Ghost within us, when allowed full sway, subdue and expel the remnants
of our sinful nature. (Ed: This describes a continual process,
one which will not attain absolute perfection in this life, but indeed
will attain such perfection in the eternal life to come when we are
glorified and finally, fully free from not only the presence of sin but
the pleasure of sin! Hallelujah!)
One cannot fail to see that asceticism (Ed: This can be very
subtle - listen to
Ray Stedman's Mp3
Legalism which gives an
excellent warning on how
to walk by the Spirit)
is an absolute inversion of the Divine order, since it seeks life
through death instead of finding death through life.
No degree of mortification can
ever bring us to sanctification. We are to "put off the old man with
his deeds." But how?
By "putting on the new man who is
renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." (see note
"For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death," (see note
It is a pointed statement of the case
which one makes in describing the transition from the old to the new in
his own experience, from the former life of perpetual defeat to the
present life of victory through Christ.
"Once it was a constant breaking off,
now it is a daily bringing in," he says.
That is, the former striving
was directed to being rid of the inveterate habits and evil tendencies
of the old nature -- its selfishness, its pride, its lust, and its
Now the effort is to bring in the
Spirit, to drink in His divine presence, to breathe, as a holy
atmosphere, His supernatural life. The indwelling of the Spirit can
alone effect the exclusion of sin. This will appear if we consider what
has been called "THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION."
"Love not the world, neither the
things that are in the world," says the Scripture.
But all experience proves that
LOVING-NOT IS ONLY POSSIBLE THROUGH LOVING, the worldly affection being
overcome by the heavenly.
And we find this method clearly exhibited in the word. "The love of the
Spirit," (see note
is given us for overcoming the world. The divine life is the source of
the divine love. Therefore, "the love of God is shed abroad in our
hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (see note
Because we are by nature so wholly without heavenly affection, God,
through the indwelling Spirit, gives us His own love with which to love
Himself. Herein is the highest credential of discipleship:
"By this shall all men know that ye
are my disciples, if ye have love one to another ." (John 13:35).
As Christ manifested to the world the
love of the Father, so are we to manifest the love of Christ -- a
manifestation, however, which is only possible because of our possession
of a common life. As one has truly said concerning our Savior's command
to his disciples to love one another: "It is a command which would be
utterly idle and futile were it not that he, the ever-loving One, is
willing to put His own love within me. The command is really no more
than to be a branch of the true vine.
I AM TO CEASE FROM MY OWN LIVING AND
AND YIELD MYSELF TO THE EXPRESSION OF CHRIST'S LOVE.
And what is true of the love of
Christ is true of the likeness of Christ. How is the likeness acquired?
Through contemplation and imitation? So some have taught. And it is
true, if only the indwelling Spirit is behind all, beneath all, and
effectually operative in all. As it is written:
"But we all with unveiled face,
reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the
same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit ." (2
Cor. 3:18, R. V.).
It is only the Spirit of the Lord
dwelling within us that can fashion us to the image of the Lord set
before us. Who is sufficient by external imitation of Christ to become
conformed to the likeness of Christ? Imagine one without genius and
devoid of the artist's training sitting down before Raphael's famous
picture of the Transfiguration and attempting to reproduce it. How crude
and mechanical and lifeless his work would be! But if such a thing were
possible that the spirit of Raphael should enter into the man and obtain
the mastery of his mind and eye and hand, it would be entirely possible
that he should paint this masterpiece; for it would simply be Raphael
And this in a mystery is what is true
of the disciple filled with the Holy Ghost. Christ, who is "the image of
the invisible God," is set before him as his divine pattern, and Christ,
by the Spirit, dwells within him as a divine life, and CHRIST IS ABLE TO
IMAGE FORTH CHRIST FROM THE INTERIOR LIFE TO THE OUTWARD EXAMPLE.
Of course LIKENESS TO CHRIST IS BUT ANOTHER NAME FOR HOLINESS, and when,
at the resurrection, we awake satisfied with his likeness (Ps. 17:15),
we shall be perfected in holiness.
This is simply saying that
sanctification is progressive and not, like conversion, instantaneous.
And yet we must admit the force of what a devout and thoughtful writer
says as to the danger of regarding it as only a gradual growth. If a
Christian looks upon himself as "a tree planted by the rivers of water
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season," he judges rightly. But to
conclude therefore that his growth will be as irresistible as that of
the tree, coming as a matter of course simply because he has by
regeneration been planted in Christ, is a grave mistake.
The disciple is required to be
consciously and intelligently active in his own growth (Ed: see note
as a tree is not, "to give all diligence to make his calling and
election sure." (see note
2 Peter 1:10)
And when we say "active" we do not
mean self-active merely, for "which of you by being anxious can add one
cubit unto his stature?" asks Jesus. (Matthew
6:27, R. V.). But we must
surrender ourselves to the divine action (Ed: compare note
by living in the Spirit and praying in the Spirit and walking in the
Spirit (see notes
cp led by the Spirit - note
all of which conditions are as essential to our development in holiness,
as the rain and the sunshine are to the growth of the oak. It is
possible that through a neglect (Ed: cp note
and grieving of the Spirit (see note
a Christian may be of smaller stature in his age than he was in his
spiritual infancy, his progress being a retrogression rather than an
advance (Ed: An interesting thought but be a Berean! - see note
Therefore in saying that sanctification is progressive let us beware of
concluding that it is inevitable. (Ed: Although as a good Berean
you should compare notes
What Gordon is doing, I believe, is giving a caution or admonition that
to grow in spiritual maturity is not as some have said to simply "Let go
and let God". The balance is nicely seen
Moreover, as candid inquirers, we must ask what of truth and of error
there may be in the doctrine of "instantaneous sanctification," which
many devout persons teach and profess to have proved. If the conception
is that of a state of sinless perfection into which the believer has
been suddenly lifted and of deliverance from a sinful nature which has
been suddenly eradicated, we must consider this doctrine as dangerously
untrue (Ed: Amen!).
But we do consider it possible that
one may experience a great crisis in his spiritual life, in which there
is such a total self-surrender to God and such an in-filling of the Holy
Spirit, that he is freed from the bondage of sinful appetites and
habits, and enabled to have constant victory over self, instead of
suffering constant defeat. In saying this, what more do we affirm than
is taught in that scripture:
"Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not
fulfill the lust of the flesh." (see note
Divine truth as revealed in Scripture
seems often to lie between two extremes. It is emphatically so in regard
to this question. What a paradox it is that side by side in the Epistle
of John we should have the strongest affirmation of the Christian's
"If we say that we have no sin we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us";
and the strongest affirmation of his
"Whosoever is born of God doth not
commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he
is born of God." (1 John 1:8; 3:9).
Now 'heresy’ means a dividing or
choosing, and almost all of the gravest errors have arisen from adopting
some extreme statement of Scripture to the rejection of the other
extreme. If we regard the doctrine of sinless perfection as a heresy, we
regard contentment with sinful imperfection as a greater heresy. And we
gravely fear that many Christians make the apostle's words, "If we say
we have no sin we deceive ourselves," the unconscious justification for
a low standard of Christian living. It were almost better for one to
overstate the possibilities of sanctification in his eager grasp after
holiness, than to understate them in his complacent satisfaction with a
traditional unholiness. Certainly it is not an edifying spectacle to see
a Christian worldling throwing stones at a Christian perfectionist.
What then would be a true statement of the doctrine which we are
considering, one which would embrace both extremes of statement as they
appear in the Epistle of John? Sinful in self, sinless in Christ -- is
"In Him is no sin; whosoever abideth
in Him sinneth not." (1 John 3:5, 6).
If, through the communication of the
Holy Spirit, the life of Christ is constantly imparted to us, THAT LIFE
WILL PREVAIL WITHIN US. That life is absolutely sinless, as incapable of
defilement as the sunbeam which has its fount and origin in the sun.
IN PROPORTION TO THE CLOSENESS OF OUR
ABIDING IN HIM
WILL BE THE COMPLETENESS
OF OUR DELIVERANCE FROM SINNING.
And we doubt not that there are
Christians who have yielded themselves to God in such absolute
surrender, and who through the upholding power of the Spirit have been
so kept in that condition of surrender, that sin has not had dominion
over them. If in them the war between the flesh and the spirit has not
been forever ended, there has been present victory in which troublesome
sins have ceased from their assaults, and "the peace of God" has ruled
in the heart.
But sinning is one thing and a sinful nature is another; and we see no
evidence in Scripture that the latter (see study of
is ever eradicated completely while we are in the body (See also
Chart contrasting in the flesh vs in
If we could see ourselves with God's
eye, we should doubtless discover sinfulness lying beneath our most
joyful moments of unsinning conduct, and the stain of our old and fallen
nature so discoloring our whitest actions as to convince us that we are
not yet faultless in his presence (Ed: As Paul progressed in
sanctification, so too did His assessment of his sinfulness - near the
end of his life he called himself the "chief" or "foremost" of
Only let us gladly emphasize this
fact, that as we inherit from Adam a nature incapable of sinlessness, we
inherit from Christ a nature incapable of sinfulness.
Therefore, it is written:
"Whosoever is born of God cannot sin,
for his seed remaineth in him." (1 John 3:9)
It is not the nature of the new
nature to sin; it is not the "the law of the Spirit of life" (see note
For the newborn man to do evil is to
transgress the law of his nature as before it was to obey it. In a word,
BEFORE OUR REGENERATION
WE LIVED IN SIN AND LOVED IT;
SINCE OUR REGENERATION
WE MAY LAPSE INTO SIN BUT WE LOATHE IT.
(A. J. Gordon. The Ministry of the
Andrew Murray in his
devotional The Secret of the Cross...
DEAD WITH CHRIST
"If we died with
we believe that we shall also live with Him." --Romans
The reason that
God's children live so little in the power of the resurrection life of
Christ is because they have so little understanding of or faith in their
death with Christ. How clearly this appears from what Paul says: "If we
died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him"; it is
the knowledge and experience that gives us the assurance of the power of
His resurrection in us. "Christ died unto sin once; but the life that He
liveth, He liveth unto God" (see note
It is only because and as we know that we are dead with Him, that we can
live with Him.
On the strength of
this, Paul now appeals to his readers. "Even so reckon ye also
yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (see
The words "even so reckon yourselves" are a call to an act of bold and
confident faith. Reckon yourselves to be indeed dead unto sin, as much
as Christ is, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. The word gives us a
divine assurance of what we actually are and have in Christ. And this
not as a truth that our minds can master and appropriate, but a reality
which the Holy Spirit will reveal within us. In His power we accept our
death with Christ on the cross as the power of our daily life.
Then we are able
to accept and obey the command: "Let not sin reign in your mortal body;
but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead; for sin shall
not have dominion over you" (see note
"Being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness; present
your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. Being now
made free from sin, ye have your fruit unto sanctification" (see note
The whole chapter
is a wonderful revelation of the deep meaning of its opening words:
"How shall we, WHO
DIED TO SIN, live any more therein?"
upon our acceptance of the divine assurance: If we died with Christ, as
He died, and now lives to God, we too have the assurance that in Him we
have the power to live unto God.
F. B. Meyer in chapter 4 of
his book Christian Living addresses the truths of Romans 6:11...
"SIN" AND "SINS"
Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God
through Jesus Christ our Lord. --Romans 6:11.
THE nearer we live to God, the more
sensitive we become to the presence of sin. Increasing light means
increasing self-judgment; and things which were allowed in the twilight
of the dawn, become abhorrent as the noontide light reveals their true
character. You may gauge your growth in grace, and your increasing
reception of the Holy Spirit, by the tenderness of your conscience with
respect to sins which you once permitted without remorse, and almost
without remark. In proportion as you comprehend the full beauty of
Christ your Lord, you will find imperfections in your best moments, and
discern blemishes in your holiest deeds. When we hear of God, we are
self-satisfied; but when we see Him, we abhor ourselves, and repent in
dust and ashes.
In view of these facts it is impossible for any true child of God to be
contented with himself. He cannot speak of himself as having attained,
or as being already perfect. He is ever following after to apprehend or
attain; and as he does so, he, who once described himself as the least
of all saints, comes to call himself the chief of sinners. He is
conscious of forgiveness; he knows that he is accepted in the Beloved;
but, in proportion as he walks in the growing light, he feels his
growing need of the precious blood, which cleanseth from all sin.
It is true that many claim to have attained to a condition of sinless
perfectness; but they surely fail to discriminate between things which
differ widely as the poles. They do not distinguish between the
believer's standing in Christ Jesus, in the sight of God, and the
practical realization and appropriation of that standing, which can only
be in proportion to his faith. According to our faith, so it is to us;
and, as faith is ever growing towards perfect vision, is it not clear
that there must also be a growth towards the perfect appreciation and
enjoyment of our standing in Christ Jesus?
And is there not this also, that there is a whole world of difference
between freedom from conscious sin and the attainment of the perfect
glory of the stature of Christ? The one is negative; the other is
positive. The one is according to the dim light of human consciousness;
the other is according to the Divine standard of infinite excellence.
The one is within the reach of the young disciple, and ranks among the
elements of Christ; the other is still in advance of the holiest saint
among the ranks of the redeemed, and always will be. When we come short,
As soon as we put ourselves in the true relation to the Spirit of God,
we may expect to be kept from conscious sin; but surely this is a very
different thing from the perfection of the New Testament, which is the
maturity of the fully developed man. Even if we have passed from the
adolescence to the manhood of Christian development, there is still an
infinite chasm between our uttermost attainment, and the surpassing
loveliness of the One Perfect Man.
Who of us has not also had some such experience as this--that we condemn
things which passed muster years ago? Is not this the law of growing
excellence in all art, in all knowledge? Does not the singer, the
painter, the writer, the poet, detect blemishes and flaws where once the
judgment rested with entire acquiescence and content?
And then, too, must not this be always so, as long as there is progress
in any direction along which the energies of the soul may work? And if
this be so, is it not almost certain that we permit and harbor things
to-day which we shall be the first to condemn when years have passed;
just as we condemn things to-day which, for want of fuller light, seemed
harmless enough in the days of our ignorance? But, under such
circumstances, how can we say that we are perfect? How can we speak of
ourselves as sinless? How can we ever get beyond the need of humbly
confessing that we are sinners? How can we do without the constant
washing in the laver of priests?
There are three matters which must be considered in connection with the
believer's inner experience of evil :--
I. The Tempter.
"Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking
whom he may devour : whom resist." (see notes
1 Peter 5:8;
It is not necessary to suppose that the prince of the power of the air
is the author of temptation to every believer, the world over; for that
would go near to investing him with the attributes of omniscience and
omnipresence. But he is surrounded by legions of inferior spirits, the
wicked spirits in heavenly places, as malignant in their hate as he is;
and who are ever waiting to carry out his plans : and any one of these
is sufficient to master the soul that has not learnt the secret of
victory through faith in the Stronger than the strong man armed.
It is a commonplace in Christian ethics and yet it may not be realized
by every reader of these lines--that temptation does not become sin to
us, until the will assents to the suggestion of the Tempter. So long as
the will is resolute, exclaiming with Joseph, "How can I do this great
wickedness, and sin against God?" there is no sin. Sin is the act of the
perverted will. That temptation is not sin is proved by the fact that
the Lord Jesus was tempted in all points, though without sin. Of course,
there is a vast difference between Him and us : because there was
nothing in Him, as there is in us, responsive to the tempter's
suggestions. It is difficult for us to listen to the suggestion of sin
without contracting any stain; but still it may be accepted as broadly
true that the fact of our being tempted does not necessarily involve us
There is only one way by which the Tempter can be met. He laughs at our
good resolutions and ridicules the pledges with which we fortify
ourselves. He has been dealing with these for sixty centuries, and well
knows how to find their weakest point, and to sweep them away, as the
tide does the child's barricade of sand. There is only One whom he
fears; One who in the hour of greatest weakness conquered him; and who
has been raised far above all principality and power, that He may succor
and deliver all frail and tempted souls. He conquered the prince of this
world in the days of His flesh; and He is prepared to do as much again,
and yet again, in each one of us, if only we will truly surrender
ourselves to His gracious and mighty indwelling.
In the days of knightly chivalry it was supposed to be enough for the
true soldier of the cross to make the sacred sign upon his person; and
instantly the foul spirits that had gathered in the murky gloom to do
him harm, fell back, and let him through. It was not all legend and
myth. But there is a truth beneath the mediaeval setting. And that truth
is ours to-day--that the best resource for the hardly-beset soldier of
Jesus is to appeal, not to the cross, but to Him who on that cross
bruised the serpent's head, not for Himself only, but for us.
There are many forms in which that appeal may be made. Some utter the
name of the tempted-- the succoring--High Priest : "Jesus! Jesus!" Some
cry in the triumphant assurance of victory, "Jesus saves me." Some do
better still, and claim that grace in Him, the lack of which is hurrying
them into sin; so that temptation becomes a positive means of grace to
them, by showing their deficiency, and leading them to strengthen the
things which remain, but which may be languishing to death.
But whichever method you adopt, reader, be sure you do it in one way or
another. Swift as the chick to the shelter of the mother's wing, so do
you betake yourself to the ever-offered protection of Jesus Christ
whenever menaced by the Tempter. The Lord God is not only a sun, but a
shield. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth
into it and is safe." He will "cover thy head in the day of battle." (Psalm
It may be that you have tried to do this, and have failed. You have
entered upon the day's life, fully intending to make Jesus your shield
of faith, and to hide in Him when threatened by the Tempter. Yet you
have found to your dismay, that you have been overcome before you have
bethought yourself of your refuge and deliverer. But there is an easy
remedy for this, in the aid of the Holy Spirit. He is the Divine
remembrancer. It is his office to maintain the spirit in a state of holy
recollectedness; and, if the attack be as a thunderclap, He will be as
the premonitory lightning flash, crying, "Beware! Beware! ' turn you to
your stronghold, O prisoner of hope.'" (Zech. 10:12.)
Be sure of this, that Satan cannot tempt you beyond what you have power
to sustain or resist. Powerless in yourself, you can do all things in
Christ that strengtheneth you. The Lord Jesus hath bought you; and you
must trust him to keep you. "The Lord is thy keeper." " He will not
suffer thy foot to be moved.'" "Surely He shall deliver thee from the
snare of the fowler." (see notes
II. The Sinful Tendency Within.
Regeneration is not the eradication of the principle of the old life,
but the insertion beside it of the principle of a new life, the Christ
life. And these two exist side by side; as the house of Saul and the
house of David in the rent and distracted kingdom of Israel : but the
one is destined to get weaker and weaker, whilst the other waxes
stronger and stronger.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and can never be anything
else than flesh. It can never be improved into spirit. It can never be
anything but abhorrent in the eye of the Holy God. So that "they that
are in the flesh cannot please God;" and the flesh which is in us can
never please God. The only thing to be done is to deny it; and to reckon
it as a dead thing, which has no place in the Home of Life. "Bury thy
dead out of thy sight."
SELF is the anagram of FLESH (see note
flesh). The flesh-principle is the self-principle,
which so insidiously creeps into everything from which it is not
rigorously excluded by the race of God. Before we are converted self is
the sole motive-power of our lives : our kindest and best actions
originate in this root. And after we are converted, it strives to
insinuate itself into our religious life. Satan will not prohibit us
from being religious--if only "self" is the mainspring of our devotion.
Hence it is that Jesus Christ is so unrelenting in His demand for
self-denial. And it has been the axiom of saintship in all ages--" Wheresoever thou findest thyself, deny thyself." Sword in hand, we must
pursue this evil thing--this self-hood--through all the disguises
beneath which it hides itself. We must allow it no quarter. We must
believe that it is never more near or more dangerous than when it causes
a rumor to be set on foot that it is no more. In the self-congratulation
which arises on the receipt of this happy intelligence, there is a new
and striking evidence of its continued and vigorous existence.
It is to this evil principle, which is very susceptible to the least
suggestion from without, that the Tempter appeals. His attacks would be
less formidable if it were not for this traitor within the citadel of
the soul. But, we may well fear the bombshells thrown in from without,
when we remember the magazines of gunpowder within, awaiting the spark
that shall hurry them into explosion, and shatter the rest of the soul.
There is no evidence, then, that the flesh shall ever be eradicated,
because it is OURSELVES; and the Apostle clearly tells us that "the
flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." And
in those who most earnestly asseverate its eradication in their own
experience, there are frequent indications of its presence still. (see
But THIS is possible. The Holy Spirit is the deadly antagonist of, and
all-sufficient antidote to, the self-life. When He dwells in blessed
fulness within the surrendered heart, He sets it free from the law of
sin and death : He annihilates the power of the self-life; as an
antiseptic cancels the death-dealing germs which proceed from the body
of a patient who is stricken by an infectious disease.
When the Holy Spirit resides in power in the heart, He keeps the
self-life so utterly in the place of death that temptation has no
fascination, no power. The appeals of hell are flung against the ear of
death : there is no response, no motion of obedience. Try it, reader :
be not content to have the Holy Spirit within thee; see that He fills
thee; and thou wilt experience that blessed condition in which the
sparks of temptation shall seem to be quenched in an ocean of water, as
they touch thy heart.
But remember the evil thing is there still; not eradicated, not
destroyed, only kept in the place of death by the Spirit of life. And if
ever thou shalt quench or limit His gracious operation, so that He
relaxes His restraining power, that accursed principle will arise with
all its pristine force, join hands with the tempter, and hurry thee into
sin. Watch and pray, therefore; keep in with the Holy Ghost; walk
warily; that thou mayest never have to retrace thy steps, shedding tears
Through neglect of watching and prayer --or by reason of carelessness in
the walk and conversation--it is quite possible to break that holy
connection between ourselves and heaven which is the secret of
deliverance, and the talisman of victory. There is always a Delilah
ready to sheer off the locks of our strength, if we allow ourselves to
sleep in her lap. And out strength may be gone ere we know it.
"He wist not that the Lord had
departed from him." (see note
And when we put ourselves outside those sacred influences which are
intended to deliver us from the power of evil, there is no alternative
but that we should break out again into acts of sin. But there is a
difference. They are not now the normal state of the soul. They are
committed in opposition to the judgment and the conscience. They are the
sins of a child for which it will be chastened, until it gets back into
the old blessedness again. An old divine says :
"A sheep and a sow may each fall into
the same quagmire; but the sow will wallow in it, whilst the sheep will
bleat piteously, until she is extricated and cleansed."
Such is the difference between the
ungodly and the children of God.
"Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth
not"; that is, sin can never become his normal and habitual state. (1
If ever this should be your unhappy
lot, do not despair. The true test of Christian character does not
consist in the inability to fall, but in the quick agony of repentance,
and in the immediate restoration to the ways which had been left.
Directly you are conscious of sin,
turn at once to your compassionate Lord. Do not wait for the fever of
passion to subside, or for the agony of your shame to die down; but,
there and then, in the crowd or the street, lift up your heart, and ask
Him to touch you with that finger before which uncleanness cannot abide:
ask Him to wash you as he did the feet of His disciples, soiled by
jealousy and strife for mastery: ask Him to restore your soul to the
place it occupied before you fell.
You may not be able to forgive yourself: but He will forgive you
instantly; the stain will be at once extracted from the spirit's robes;
the foulness will immediately flee from the blemished dress; and the
forgiven one shall occupy again the place which for a moment had been
vacated, the place in the heavenlies, side by side with its Redeemer.
Oh, do not doubt the Saviour's willingness, or the Saviour's power, to
forgive; or the efficacy of His blood to wash out each stain, as it may
become manifest to the quickened conscience. Remember that His blood
ever cleanseth from all sin, as the stream is ever flowing over the
pebble, and as the tear-water is ever removing from the eye the motes
that alight for a moment upon its surface.
It is not an easy world for any of us to traverse; it is no friend to
grace: but it is possible to walk through it with clean and stainless
robes. Sin may assail; but it will be as the waves that beat outside the
goodly ship without finding admittance within its walls. And out of the
pure and guileless heart shall spring all the loveliness of unselfish
and helpful deeds, such as shall make this sad world happier, and dark
hearts bright with the light of heaven.
O souls, weary and sin-sick, hand yourselves over to the tender mercies
of the Good Physician, sure that He will undertake the most desperate
" give beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
F. B. Meyer. Christian Living
F. B. Meyer. Light on Life's
OF VICTORY OVER SIN
The longer I live, and learn the experience of most Christian people,
the more I long to help them and unfold glimpses of that Life of Peace,
and Power, and Victory over sin, which our heavenly Father has made
possible for us. There are blessed secrets in the Bible, hidden from the
wise and prudent, but revealed to babes; things which eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, but which God reveals by
His Spirit to them that love Him; and if these were once understood and
accepted, they would wipe away many a tear, and shed sunshine on many a
The bitterest experience with most believers is the presence and power
of Sin. They long to walk through this grimy world with pure hearts and
stainless garments, but when they would do good, evil is present with
them. They consent to God's law that it is good; they approve it; they
even delight in it after the inward man; they endeavor to keep it; but,
notwithstanding all, they seem as helpless to perform it as a man whose
brain has been smitten with paralysis, to walk straight. What rivers of
briny tears have fallen upon the open pages of the Penitents Psalm 51,
shed by those who could repeat it every word from heart! And what
regiments of weary feet have trodden the Bridge of Sighs, if we may so
call Romans 8, which sets forth, in vivid force, the experience of a man
who has not learnt God's secret!
Surely our God must have provided for all this. It would not have been
like Him to fill us with hatred to sin, and longings for holiness, if
there were no escape from the tyranny of the one, and no possibility of
attaining the other. It would be a small matter to save us from sinning
on the other side of the pearly gate; we want to be saved from sinning
now, and in this dark world. We want it for the sake of the world, that
it may be attracted and convinced. We want it for our own peace, which
can not be perfected whilst we groan under a worse than Egyptian
bondage. We want it for the Glory of God, which would be then reflected
from us, with un-dimming brightness, as sunshine from burnished metal.
WHAT, THEN, DOES THE WORD OF GOD LEAD US TO EXPECT?
Before Abraham arose to walk through the land of Promise in its length
and breadth, God bade Him " lift up his eyes and look." And before we
can enter into the enjoyment of our privileges in Jesus Christ, we must
know what they are, in something of their length and breadth, and depth
I. WE MUST NOT EXPECT TO BE FREE FROM TEMPTATION.
Our adversary, the devil, is always going about as a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour. He tempted our Lord, he will tempt us. He
will entice us to do wrong by every avenue of sense, and will pour his
evil suggestions through eye, and ear, and touch, and mouth, and mind.
If he does not attack us himself, he can set on us any one of his myriad
agents who will get behind us and step softly up to us and whisperingly
suggest many grievous blasphemies which we shall think have proceeded
from our own mind.
But temptation is not sin. A man may ask me to share the spoils of a
burglary, but no one can accuse me of receiving stolen property if I
indignantly refuse, and keep my doors close shut against him. Our Lord
was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. You might go
through hell itself, teeming with all manner of awful suggestions, and
yet not sin. God would not allow Satan to tempt us if temptation
necessarily led to sin; but temptation does not do so. There is no sin,
so long as the will refuses to consent to the solicitation, or catch at
Temptation may even be a blessing to a man when it reveals to him his
weakness and drives him to the Almighty Saviour. Do not be surprised,
then, dear child of God, if you are tempted at every step of your
earthly journey, and almost beyond endurance. You will not be tempted
beyond what you are able to bear, and with every temptation there will
be a way of escape.
II. WE MUST NOT EXPECT TO LOSE OUR SINFUL NATURE.
When we are born again, a new life, the life of God, is put into us by
the Holy Spirit. But the old self-life, which is called in Scripture THE
FLESH, is not taken away. The two may coexist in the same heart. " The
flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." The
presence of this old self-life within our heart may be detected by its
risings, rufflings, chaffing, and movings toward sin, when temptation
calls to it from without. It may be as still as death before the
increasing power of the new life, but it will still be present in the
depths of our nature, as a Samson in the dark dungeons of Philistia; and
there will be always a possibility and a fear of its strength growing
again to our shame and hurt.
Do not ignore the presence of a sinful nature within you, with its
tendencies and possibilities for sin. Many souls have been betrayed into
negligence and unwatchfulness by the idea that the root of sin had been
plucked from their hearts, and that therefore they could not sin again;
and in the face of some sudden uprising of their old nature they have
been filled with agony and shame, even if they have not dropped for a
moment back into a sea of ink. " If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
There is a difference between Sin, and sins. Sin is the root-principle
of evil, the flesh, the old self-life, the bias and tendency to sin,
which may be kept down by the grace of God, but which will remain in us,
though in diminishing power, till we leave this world. Sins are the
outcome of this; the manifestations in act of the sinful nature within.
From these we may be daily saved, through the grace of Jesus (Mt 1:21).
To put the matter clearly, Sin is not dead in us, but we may be dead to
Sin, so that it shall not bear the deadly fruits of sins.
III. WE MUST NOT EXPECT TO BE FREE FROM LIABILITY TO SIN.
What is sin? It is the "Yes" of the will to temptation. It is very
difficult to express the delicate workings of our hearts, but does not
something like this happen to us when we are tempted? A temptation is
suddenly presented to us and makes a strong appeal. Immediately there
may be a tremulous movement of the old nature, as the strings of a
violin or piano vibrate in answer to any sounds that may be thrilling
the air around. Some do not feel this tremulous response; others do,
though I believe that it will get fainter and fainter as they treat it
with continued neglect, so that at last, in the matured saint, it will
become almost inaudible. This response indicates the presence of the.
evil nature within, which is in itself hateful in the sight of our Holy
God, and should be bemoaned and confessed, and ever needs the presence
of the Blood of Jesus to counteract and atone; but that tremulous
movement has not as yet developed into an actual overt sin, for which we
are responsible, and of which we need to repent.
Sin is the act of the will, and is only possible when the will assents
to some unholy influence. The tempter presenting his temptation through
the senses and emotions, makes an appeal to the will, which is our real
self. If that will instantly shudders, as chickens when the hawk is
hovering in the sky above them, and cries, " How can I do this great
wickedness, and sin against God!" and looks at once to Jesus, there are
so far as I can understand, no sins. If on the other hand the will
begins to palter with temptation, to dally with it, and yield to it,
then we have stepped out of the light into the dark, we have broken
God's Law, splashed our white robes, and brought ourselves into
condemnation. To this we are liable as long as we are in this world. We
may live a godly, righteous, sober life for years, but if we look away
from God for only a moment, our will may be suddenly mastered, as was
Louis XVIII, by the mob that invaded his palace; and we may, like David,
be hurried into a sin which will blast our peace and blacken our
character for all coming time.
NOW WHAT ARE THE SECRETS
OF VICTORY OVER SIN?
I. REMEMBER THAT THE BLOOD OF JESUS IS EVER AT WORK CLEANSING YOU.
It is sweet to notice the present tenses of Scripture. He forgiveth,
healeth, redeemeth, crowneth, satisfieth, executeth judgment; but the
sweetest of all is " the Blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin." It
cleansed us when first we knelt at His cross. It will cleanse away the
last remnant of sin as we cross the golden threshold. But it does
cleanse us every hour; as the brook flows over the stones in its bed,
till they glisten with lustrous beauty; and as the tear water, pouring
constantly over the eye, keeps it bright and clean, in spite of all the
smuts that darken the air. The possession of a sinful nature is an evil
that ever needs an antidote. The risings and stirrings of that nature
beneath the appeals of temptation ever need cleansing. The permission of
things in our life, which we now count harmless, but which we shall some
day, amid increasing light, condemn and put away, all these need
forgiveness. But for all these needs there is ample provision for us in
the Blood of Jesus, which is always crying to God for us. Even when we
do not plead it, or remember it, or realize our need of it, it fulfils
for us and in us its unceasing ministry of blessing.
2. RECKON YOURSELF DEAD TO THE APPEALS OF SIN.
Sin has no power over a dead man. Dress it in its most bewitching
guise, yet it stirs him not. Tears and smiles and words and blows alike
fail to awaken a response from that cold corpse. No appeal will stir it
until it hears the voice of the Son of God.
This is our position in respect to the appeals of sin. God looks on us
as having been crucified with Christ, and being dead with Him. In Him we
have passed out of the world of sin and death into the world of
resurrection glory. This is our position in the mind of God; it is for
us to take it up and make it real by faith. We may not feel any great
difference, but we must believe that there is; we must act as if there
were. Our children sometimes play at make-believe; we, too, are to make
believe, and we shall soon come to feel as we believe. When, then, a
temptation solicits you, say, "I am dead to thee. Spend not thine
energies on one that is oblivious to thy spells and callous to thy
charms. Thou hast no more power over me than over my Lord and Head."
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto
God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:11.)
3. WALK IN THE SPIRIT; KEEP IN WITH THE HOLY GHOST.
The Holy Spirit is in the heart of every believer (Rom. 8:9); but alas!
too often He is shut up in some mere attic in the back of the house,
whilst the world fills the rest. As long as it is so, there is one long
weary story of defeat and unrest. But He is not content. Know ye not
that the Spirit, which lie hath made to dwell in us, yearneth even unto
jealous envy? (Jas. 4:5, R. V.) Happy are they who yield to Him. Then He
will fill them, as the tide fills the harbor and lifts the barges off
the banks of mud; He will dwell in them, shedding abroad the perfume of
the love of Jesus; and will reveal the deep things of God.
We can always tell when we are wrong with the Spirit of God; our
conscience darkens in a moment when we have grieved Him. If we are aware
of such a darkness, we do well never to rest until, beneath His electric
light, we have discovered the cause, and confessed it, and put it away.
Besides this, if we live and walk in the Spirit, we shall find that He
will work against the risings of our old nature, counteracting them as
disinfecting power counteracts the germs of disease floating in an
infected house, so that we may do the things that we would. (Gal. 5:17,
R. V.) This is one of the most precious words in the New Testament. If
you have never tried it, I entreat you to begin to test it in daily
experience. " Walk in the Spirit," hour by hour, by watchful obedience
to His slightest promptings, and you will find that "you will not fulfil
the lust of the flesh."
4. AS SOON AS YOU ARE AWARE OF TEMPTATION, LOOK INSTANTLY TO JESUS.
Flee to Him quicker than a chicken runs beneath the shelter of its
mother's wing when the kestrel is in the air. In the morning, ere you
leave your room, put yourself definitely into His hands, persuaded He is
able to keep that which yon commit unto Him. Go from your room with the
assurance that He will cover yon with His feathers, and under His wings
shall you trust. And when the tempter comes, look instantly up and say,
"Jesus, I am trusting Thee to keep me."
This is what the Apostle Paul calls using the shield of Faith. The
upward glance of faith puts Jesus as a Shield between the tempter and
yourself. You may go through life, saying a hundred times a day, Jesus
saves me, and He will never let those that trust in Him be ashamed. " He
is able to guard you even from stumbling." (Jude 24, R. V.) You may be
pressed with temptations from without, and may feel the workings of evil
within, and yet your will looking earnestly to Jesus, shall remain
steadfast, immovable, and unyielding. No weapon that is forged against
you in the armory of hell shall prosper.
5. THERE IS SOMETHING BETTER EVEN THAN THIS.
It was first taught me by a grey-haired clergyman, in the study of the
Deanery, at Southampton. Once, when tempted to feel great irritation, he
told us that he looked up and claimed the patience and gentleness of
Christ; and since then it had become the practice of his life to claim
from Him the virtue of which he felt the deficiency in himself. In hours
of unrest, "Thy Peace, Lord." In hours of irritation, "Thy Patience,
Lord." In hours of temptation, "Thy Purity, Lord." In hours of weakness,
"Thy Strength, Lord." It was to me a message straight from the throne.
Till then I had been content with ridding myself with burdens; now I
began to reach forth to positive blessing, making each temptation the
occasion for the new acquisition of gold-leaf. Try it, dear reader.
When I have spoken thus in public, I have sometimes been met by the
objection, " Ah, sir. it is quite true that the Lord will keep me if I
look to Him, but I often forget to look in time." This arises from one
of three causes. Perhaps the heart and life have never been entirely
surrendered to Jesus. Constant defeat always indicates that there has
been failure in consecration. You must not expect Christ to keep you
unless you have given your heart and life entirely over to Him, so that
He is king. Christ can not be keeper if He is not king. And He will not
be king at all, unless He is king in all. Or perhaps there is a want of
watchfulness. Christ will not keep us if we carelessly and wantonly put
ourselves into the way of temptation. He will give His angels charge
over us in every path of duty, but not to catch us every time we like to
throw ourselves from the beetling height. Watch and pray that ye enter
not into temptation. Or perhaps there is a lack of feeding on the Word
of God. No one can live a life of Faith without seasons of prolonged
waiting on God in the loving study of the Bible and in prayer. The man
who does not make time for private devotion in the early morning can not
walk with God all day. And of the two things, the devout meditation on
the Word is more important to soul-health than even prayer. It is more
needful for you to hear God's words than that God should hear yours,
though the one will always lead to the other. Attend to these
conditions, and it will become both easy and natural to trust Christ in
the hour of trial.
If, notwithstanding all these helps, you should be still betrayed into a
sin, and overtaken by a fault, do not lose heart. If a sheep and a sow
fall into a ditch, the sow wallows in it, the sheep bleats piteously
until she is cleansed. Go at once to your compassionate Saviour; tell
Him in the simplest words the story of your fall and sorrow; ask Him to
wash you at once and restore your soul, and, whilst you are asking,
believe that it is done. Then go to any one against or with whom you
have sinned, and confess your faults one to an other. Thus the peace of
God that passeth all understanding shall return to roost in your heart,
and to guard it like a sentry-angel in shining armor.
And if you thus live, free from the power of sin, you will find that the
Master will begin to use you as never before and to tell you His
heart-secrets, and to open to you the royal magnificence of a life
hidden with Himself in God.
May this be your happy lot, dear reader.
F. B. Meyer. Light on Life's Duties