We Died with Christ: Our Baptism being Witness; and are to Reckon
Ourselves Dead unto Sin and Alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Verses 1-11.
Presenting Ourselves to God as Risen Ones, not under Law but under Grace, Sin loses Its Dominion over Us. Verses 12-14.
Not to be Abused, for Sin Always Enslaves, and would End in Death;
Obedience brings Freedom, with the End, Eternal Life,—God’s Free Gift
in Christ Jesus Our Lord. Verses 15-23.
1 What then shall we
say? Are we to keep on in sin in order that grace may be abounding? Far
be the thought! 2 Such ones as we,—who died to sin! how shall we any
longer be living in it?
3 Or [in the very matter of our
baptism] are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized unto Christ
Jesus unto His death were baptized? 4 We were buried therefore [in
figure] with Him through that baptism unto death; in order that, just
as Christ was raised from among the dead through the glory of the
Father, thus also we might be walking in newness of life.
For if we became united with [Him] in the likeness of His death, so
shall we be also [in the likeness] of His resurrection: 6 coming to
know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, in order that the
body of sin might be annulled, that we might no longer be in
slave-service to sin: 7 for the person who hath died [as have we] is
justified from sin.
8 But if we died with Christ, we believe
that we shall also be living with Him [in this world]: 9 knowing that
Christ having been raised from among the dead dieth no more: death over
Him no longer hath dominion. 10 For in that He died, unto sin He died
once for all; but in that He is living, He is living unto God. 11 Thus
do ye also reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God, in
WE COME NOW to the second part of Christ’s work for us—our identification with His death.126
is not until we come to Chapter Six that the question of a holy walk as
over against a sinful walk, comes up. For the blessed verses which
describe the results of the discovery of peace with God, and of
“justification of life” and “reigning in life” through Christ, as
revealed in Chapter Five, are things of experience, of rejoicing,—even
in the hope of the glory of God Himself! But the question of a holy
walk under this “abounding grace” is now brought up, in Chapter Six, in
the answers to two questions: First, Shall we keep sinning that grace
may keep abounding? and, Second, The fact having been revealed that we
are not under the principle of law but under that of grace, shall we
use our liberty to commit sin? That is, Shall we use our freedom from
the law-principle for selfish ends?
The answer to the first
question is, that for all who are in Christ, the old relationship to
sin is broken,—for they federally shared Christ’s death to sin, and are
to reckon it so, and walk in “newness of life” unto God. The answer to
the second question is, that anyone “yielding his members” becomes
servant that to which he yields,—whether of sin unto death, or of
righteousness unto sanctification.
Verse 1: Are we to127remain
in sin that grace may be abounding? This question arises constantly,
both in uninstructed believers, and in blind unbelievers. The message
of simple grace, apart from all works, to the poor natural heart of man
seems wholly inconsistent and’ impossible. “Why!” people say, “If where
sin abounds grace overflows, then the more sin, the more grace.” So the
unbeliever rejects the grace plan.
Moreover, the uninstructed
Christian also is afraid; for he says, “If we are in a reign of pure
grace, what will control our conscious evil tendencies? We fear such
utter freedom. Put us under ‘rules for holy living,’ and we can get
Another sad fact is that some professing Christians
welcome the “abounding grace” doctrine because of the liberty they feel
it gives to things in their daily lives which they know, or could know,
to be wrong.
Verse 2: Such ones as we, who died to sin! how shall we any longer be living in it?
we have, (1) such ones as we (hoitines). This is more than a relative
pronoun: it is a pronoun of characterization, “placing those referred
to in a class” (Lightfoot). Paul thus has before his mind all
Christians, and he places this pronoun at the very beginning: “such
ones as we!”
(2) He characterizes all Christians as those who
died. The translation, “are dead” is wrong, for the tense of the Greek
verb is the aorist, which denotes not a state but a past act or fact.
It never refers to an action as going on or prolonged. As Winer says,
“The aorist states a fact as something having taken place.” Note how
strikingly and repeatedly this tense is used in this chapter as
referring to the death of which the apostle speaks:128 Mark most
particularly that the apostle in verse 2 does not call upon Christians
to die to sin but asserts that they shared Christ’s death, they died to
(3) Paul here therefore affirms that it was in regard to
their relationship to sin that believers died. He is asserting
concerning Christians that they died—not for sin, but unto it.
Paul now asks the question: “How shall those whose relationship to sin
has been broken by their dying, be still, as once, living in sin?” The
answer to this can only be, It is an impossibility. In this second
verse, therefore, the apostle is not making a plea to Christians not to
live unto sin; but asking how they who died to sin could go on living
in it. It is as if one would say, Those who died in New York City,
shall they still be walking the streets of New York City?
does not mean that all Christians have discovered, or walk in, the path
of victory over sin; for in this second verse Paul is answering
directly the bald bold insinuation of verse 1—that grace abounding over
sin warrants and enables one believing that doctrine to go right on in
his old life! We know from other Scriptures the impossibility of this:
“Whosoever is born of God doth not practise sin, because His [God’s]
seed abideth in him, and he is not able to practise sin, because he is
begotten of God.”129
Note the repeated declarations in this Sixth Chapter of our actual identification with the death of Christ:
Verse 2: “We who died to sin.”
Verse 3: “We were baptized into His death.”
Verse 4: “We were buried with Him through baptism into death “
Verse 5: “We became united with Him in the likeness of His death.”
Verse 6: “Our old man was crucified with Him.”
Verse 7: “He that hath died is justified from sin.”
Verse 8: “We died with Christ.”
Verse 11: “Reckon yourselves dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.”
Verse 13: “Present yourselves unto God as alive from the dead.”
same great federal fact is brought out in Colossians 2:20: “If ye died
[aorist tense, past fact, again] from the religious principles of the
world”; and Colossians 3:3: “For ye died [aorist tense again] and your
life is hid with Christ in God.”
It is most evident that the
apostle is not here speaking of some state that we are in, but of a
federal fact that occurred in the past, at the cross.
upon this federal fact that Paul’s whole life hung, as he testified to
Peter: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that
live, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Such ones as we,
who died to sin! How shall we go on living in it? Paul expresses his
very soul in that opening word—“Such ones as we!” Believers were seen
by him as risen ones,—dead with Christ to sin. How shall we any longer
be living in sin—if indeed we died to it? This perplexes many, this
announcement that we died to sin,—inasmuch as the struggle with sin,
and that within, is one of the most constant conscious experiences of
the believer. But, as we see elsewhere, we must not confound our
relationship to sin with its presence! Distinguish this revealed fact
that we died, from our experience of deliverance. For we do not die to
sin by our experiences: we did die to sin in Christ’s death. For the
fact that we died to sin is a Divinely revealed word concerning us, and
we cannot deny it! The presence of sin “in our members” will make this
fact that we died to it hard to grasp and hold: but God says it. And He
will duly explain all to our faith.
Verse 3: Or [in the very
matter of our baptism] are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized
unto Christ Jesus unto His death were baptized?
apostle turns them back to their baptism, that initial step in public
confession of the Lord upon whom they had believed. Did they not
realize the significance of that baptism—that it set forth their
identification with a crucified and buried Lord? For in their baptism
they had confessed their choice of Him, as against sin and the old
life. But Christ having been “made sin on our ‘behalf,” had died unto
sin; had been buried, and had been raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father; and now lived unto God in a new, resurrection life.
they could see in their baptism the picture of that federal death and
burial with Christ which Paul sets forth so positively in the second
verse: “Such ones as we, who died.”
We must first of all
receive the statement of our death unto sin with Christ (verses 2 and
11) as a revealed federal fact; and then allow the Apostle to press the
symbolical setting forth of that federal death by the figure of
water-baptism. For these early Christians had not been befuddled
regarding the simple matter of baptism,—as later generations have been!
To them it was a vivid and happy memory,—the day they dared step out,
against the whole world, and often in the face of persecution and even
death, and confess the Lord Jesus, definitely and forever, as their own
Savior and Lord.
Now, says Paul, in that very matter of your
baptism, you set forth what I am teaching you, that you who are
Christ’s died with Him. Not only so, but your baptism set forth further
that you were buried with Him: for was it not a vivid portrayal of your
death and burial, when you went down into the waters which
signified—not cleansing, but death? “Water,” says Peter, “which after a
true likeness doth now save you—even baptism: not the putting away of
the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Eight souls. Peter here
says, were saved in Noah’s day in the Ark—type of Christ. For those
eight were, in the Ark, brought safely through the waters of judgment
which drowned the world; as we were bought, through Christ, safely
through the judgment of sin at the cross; and now have “a good
conscience toward God”—through God’s having raised up Christ: all of
which, baptism sets forth—“after a true likeness” (I Pet. 3:20, 21).
here connects baptism with death, not with cleansing; with burial, not
with exaltation; with the ending of a former connection that we may
enter a new one.
Or [in the very matter of our baptism] are ye
ignorant that all we who were baptized unto Christ Jesus unto His death
were baptized? We find therefore, here in Romans 6:3:
Paul, along with all believers of his day, had been baptized. He offers
no explanatory word, thus showing that the matter of having been
baptized was a common consciousness among Christians.
it was unto Christ Jesus that believers had been baptized. The
preposition “unto” (eis) seems best rendered here as in I Corinthians
10:2, where we read that the fathers of Israel were all “baptized unto
(eis) Moses.” Those Israelites were not baptized into Moses, but were
indeed judicially associated by God with the Mosaic economy,—“into a
spiritual union with Moses, and constituted his disciples.” So
believers are baptized unto Christ Jesus, which we believe, must be the
meaning here. They were indeed so “baptized unto the name of the Lord
Jesus” (Acts 19:5), that they thereafter bore His Name (James 2:7,
marg.). But we must not confuse this water-baptism of Romans Six, which
stands for the identification of believers with Christ in death,
burial, and resurrection; with that Holy Spirit baptism of I
Corinthians 12:13. For our identification with Christ-made-sin, and our
death in and with Him) must never be confounded with what follows our
Lord’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit,—baptism into the
one Body. These are two absolutely different things. One has to do with
taking us out of our old man, justifying us from sin, as well as from
sins. The other, the Spirit’s baptism into “one Body,” has to do with
the glorious heavenly position God gives us in a Risen Christ.
seek to have a man baptized by the Spirit into Christ before he has
been identified with Christ at the cross in death and burial, is really
to ignore man’s awful state in the old man which God had condemned to
crucifixion with Christ made sin. So with the Bullingerites and many
others: they do not distinctly see or solidly preach our identification
with Christ in death and burial. “Buried with Him in baptism”—how can
these words of Colossians 2:12 possibly apply to the work of the Holy
Spirit? We beg all to consider this. Death to sin, and burial with
Christ, water-baptism, and that alone, sets forth.
3. Unto His
death were baptized. Neither must we confuse baptism unto Christ Jesus
here with that actual identification in Christ’s death of which baptism
is a symbol. That our old man was crucified with Christ is one thing;
baptism, quite another. However much baptism portrays our death with
Christ, it in no wise brings about that death. If we had not died with
Christ, there would be no meaning to baptism.
baptism sets forth the fact of our death with Christ. Christian baptism
in water is the Scripture picture,—not of our being cleansed, nor of
our being introduced into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (which
is an entirely different matter); and not, of course, of our
regeneration. But it is a setting forth of the great fact that we
federally died and were buried with Christ, unto sin, unto the world,
and unto all of the old creation; and are now raised with Him and share
His risen life;—on new ground altogether.
Verse 4: We were
buried therefore with Him through the baptism unto [His] death. Here
the apostle declares that all believers by the very matter of their
baptism, proclaimed themselves as having been so identified with
Christ’s death that they were buried: that their past was ended,—not,
of course, by the ordinance, though the ordinance confessed and
proclaimed it.130 And now the object of our identification with
Christ’s death is set forth: in order that, just as Christ was raised
from among the dead through the glory of the Father, thus also we might
be walking about in newness of life.
Christ on the cross not
only bare our sins in His own body, but He was also made to be sin,—to
be the thing itself. Then God the Father, through His glory, raised Him
from the dead,—“that working of the strength of His might which He
wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” This was the most
marvelous display of glorious. Divine power ever known. The words
“through the glory of the Father,” bring into action all that God is.
Christ had fully glorified God in all that He is, in His earthly life,
and on the cross (as we saw in Chapter 3:24 and 25). Then God raised
Christ from the dead in glorious triumph. And thereafter Christ walked
for forty days on earth “in newness of life.” He was “the First-born
from the dead.” He was the Last Adam, now become (though having His
flesh and bones body) “a spirit making [others] alive,” the Second Man,
“a new starting point of the human race.” The old man was crucified
with Christ, and all that belonged to “man in the flesh” was ended
before God there on Christ’s cross. Now the “glory of the Father” is
put forth in raising Christ and placing Him in that risen “newness of
life” never known before, and in receiving Him up in glory!
in newness of life. Note that walking presupposes the possession of
life. The literal translation of this word is seen in I Peter 5:8,
“walking about.”131 Now mark in this verse that it is Christ who is
raised from the dead, and the saints are to walk, consequently, in
“newness of life”—showing at once their union with Him; that as He was
raised, so also they, when they are placed in Him, walk about in
newness of life.
Note that it is life—not a mere manner of
living. Then it is newness, or a new kind of life, for that is the
meaning of the word. Resurrection life was never known until Christ was
raised from the dead. Lazarus, and the widow of Nain’s son and Jairus’
daughter, were brought back into this present earth-life. Indeed, it is
written concerning Jairus’ daughter, that when the Lord said, “Maiden,
arise!” her “spirit returned,” and she rose up instantly. The spirit
had left the body, the earth-life had ceased; it was now resumed.
in Christ’s resurrection this was not so. He was the First-born from
the dead, the First-fruits of them that slept. It was not back into the
old flesh and blood earthly existence that He came. He had, indeed, His
body: “Handle Me and see.” “Have ye here anything to eat?” Yet He had
poured out His blood. The life of the flesh was in the blood (Lev.
17:11). He had laid that life down. He is now a heavenly Man. He is in
the heavenlies. And He is there as to His human body: “God . . .
wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to
sit at His right hand in the heavenlies.” Poor human reason attempts to
follow here; but this revelation is addressed to faith only. The
disciples “were glad when they saw the Lord.” Into the upper room He
came, and stood in the midst; and “He showed unto them His hands and
His side.” And Thomas was told, “Reach hither thy finger, and see My
hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into My side: and be not
faithless, but believing”; and further, “Blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed.”
It is in this newness, this new
kind of life, which they now share,132 that believers are to walk about
in this world. They are one with this Risen Christ! Being “joined unto
the Lord,” they are “one spirit” with Him now; and shall have bodies,
shortly, conformed unto the body of His glory (I Cor. 6:17; Phil. 3:20,
Verse 5: For if we became united with [Him] in the
likeness of His death, so shall we be also [in the likeness] of His
resurrection: Here Paul looks back to verse 2, to the fact he declared
true concerning all believers, that they died to sin; and he now
insists that that death is a fact about true believers only—those who
have been vitally enlifed with Christ. The word means to grow
together133—as a graft in a tree, so that the graft shares the tree’s
life. The meaning of Verse 5 may be paraphrased: If we became actually
united with Him, which, in our baptism—the “likeness of His death,” we
profess; so we shall also be united in the likeness of His
resurrection: (so therefore to be walking in newness of life!).
Conybeare well remarks concerning verse 5: “The meaning appears to be,
If we have shared the reality of His death, whereof we have undergone
the likeness” (in baptism).
Now when the apostle says we are
to be united with “the likeness of His resurrection,” he refers to the
walking in “newness of life” just spoken of in the preceding verse.
(For this verse explains that.) To be joined in life with the Risen
Christ, and thus daily, hourly, to walk, is a wonder not conceived of
by many of us. But it is the blessed portion of all true Christians.
They shared Christ’s death, and now are “saved by [or in] His life”—as
we read in Chapter 5:10. But not only saved: we walk here on earth by
appropriating faith, in the blessedness of His heavenly “newness” of
resurrection life! This is what Paul meant when he said, “To me to live
is Christ”; “our inward man is being renewed day by day”; “I was
crucified with Christ; Christ liveth in me . . . the life I now live in
the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
this fifth verse may look on, also, to that day when our bodies will
share this resurrection-life,—as we have seen in the verse before; but
the context here shows Paul is speaking of our “walking about in
newness of life” in Christ today!
We reap the exact effect of
what Christ did. Did Christ bear our sins in His own body on the tree?
He did. Then we hear them no more. Was Christ made to be sin on our
behalf and did He die unto sin? Truly so. Then Christ’s relation to sin
Verse 6: Coming to know this, that our old man
was crucified with Him, in order that the body of sin might be
annulled, that we might no longer be in slave service to sin. The word
translated “coming to know,” means, in the Greek, coming into knowledge
,—a discriminating apprenhension of facts. See note below.134
old man—This is our old selves, as we were in and from Adam. It is
contrasted with the new man (Col. 3:9, 10)—which is what we are and
have in Christ. The word our indicates that what is said, is said of
and to all those who are in Christ. The expression “our old man,” of
course is a federal one, as also is “the new man.” The “old man,”
therefore, is not Adam personally, any more than the “new man” is
Christ personally. Also, we must not confuse the “old man” with “the
flesh.” Adam begat a son in his own likeness. This son of Adam, as all
since, was according to Adam,—for he was in Adam; possessed of a
“natural” mind, feelings, tastes, desires,—all apart from God. He was
his father repeated. Cain is a picture before us of the meaning of the
words, “the old man.” Moreover, since man’s activities were carried on
in and through the body, he is now morally “after the flesh.” Inasmuch
as his spirit was now dead to God, sin controlled him both spirit and
soul, through the body. And thus we read a little later, in the Sixth
of Genesis, upon the recounting of the horrible lust and violence that
filled the earth, God’s statement: “In their going astray, they are
flesh!” (R. V. margin.) What a fearful travesty of one created in the
image of God, and into whose Divinely formed body God had breathed the
spirit of life, so that he was “spirit and soul and body” (I Thess.
5:23); and with his innocent spirit able to speak with his Creator!
with his unfallen soul-faculties, and with body in blessed harmony.
we are told, for instance, in Colossians, that we have put off the old
man, we know that we are being addressed as new creatures in Christ,
and that the old man represents all we naturally were,—desires, lusts,
ambitions, hopes, judgments: looked at as a whole federally: we used to
be that—now we have put that off. We recognize it again in the words
“Put away as concerning your former manner of life the old man” (Eph.
1. First, then, our old man was crucified (Romans 6:6). That is a Divine announcement of fact.
2. Those in Christ have put off the old man.
3. He still exists, for “the old man waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit” (Eph. 4:22).
He is to be put away as belonging to our former manner of life: for we
are in Christ and are “new creatures; old things are passed away;
behold they are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
Now as regards the flesh:
While our old man has been crucified, by God, with Christ at the
cross,—the federal thing was done; yet of the flesh we read, “They that
are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the
lusts thereof” (Gal. 5:24).
2. The flesh has passions and lusts.
3. It has a mind directly at enmity with God.
As we shall see in Chapter Seven, the flesh is the manifestation of sin
in the as yet unredeemed body. “Our old man,” therefore, is the large
term, the all-inclusive one—of all that we were federally from Adam.
The flesh, however, we shall find to be that manifestation of sin in
our members with which we are in conscious inward conflict, against
which only the Holy Spirit indwelling us effectively wars. Our bodies
are not the root of sin, but do not yet share, as do our spirits, the
redemption that is in Christ. And as for our souls (our faculties of
perception, reason, imagination, and our sensibilities),—our souls are
being renewed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not so the body. “The
flesh,” which is sin entrenched in the body, is unchangeably evil, and
will war against us till Christ comes. Only the Holy Spirit has power
over “the flesh” (Chapter 8:1).
Our old man was crucified—The
matter of which we are told to take note here is the great federal fact
that our old man was crucified with Christ. Perhaps no more difficult
task, no task requiring such constant vigilant attention, is assigned
by God to the believer. It is a stupendous thing, this matter of taking
note of and keeping in mind what goes so completely against
consciousness,—that our old man was crucified. These words are
addressed to faith, to faith only. Emotions, feelings, deny them. To
reason, they are foolishness. But ah, what stormy seas has faith walked
over! What mountains has faith cast into the sea! How many impossible
things has faith done!
Let us never forget, that this
crucifixion was a thing definitely done by God at the cross, just as
really as our sins were there laid upon Christ. It is addressed’ to
faith as a revelation from God. Reason is blind. The “word of the
cross” is “foolishness” to it. All the work consummated at the cross
seems folly, if we attempt to subject it to man’s understanding. But,
just as the great wonder of creation is understood only by faith: (“By
faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of
God,”—Heb. 11:3) so the eternal results accomplished at the cross are
entered into by simple faith in the testimony of God about them.
it is no easy or light thing that is announced to you and me, that all
we were and are from Adam has been rejected of God. Scripture is not
now dealing with what we have done, but with what we are.
really to enter spiritually into the meaning of this awful word, Our
old man was crucified, involves, with all of us, deep exercise of soul.
For no one by nature will be ready to count himself so incorrigibly bad
as to have to be crucified! But when the Spirit of God turns the light
upon what we are, from Adam, these will be blessed words of relief:
“Our old man was crucified.”
Now here is the very opposite of
the teaching of false Christianity about a holy life. For these
legalists set you to crucifying yourself! You must “die out” to this,
and to that. But God says our old man, all that we were, has been
already dealt with,—and that by crucifixion with Christ. And the very
words “with Him” show that it was done back at the cross; and that our
task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about
this crucifixion ourselves.
The believer is constantly
reminded that his relation to sin was brought about by his
identification with Christ in His death: Christ died unto sin, and the
believer shared that death, died with Him, and is now, therefore, dead
unto sin. This is his relationship to sin—the same as Christ’s now is;
and believing this is to be his constant attitude.
there will be, no doubt, in taking and maintaining constantly this
attitude: but faith will remove the difficulty, and faith here will
grow out of assiduous, constant attention to God’s exact statements of
fact. We are not to go to God in begging petitions for
“victory,”—except in extreme circum stances. We are to set ourselves a
very different task: “This is the work of God, that ye believe” We may
often be compelled to cry, with the father of the demoniac, “Lord, I
believe; help Thou mine unbelief!” But it is still better to have our
faces toward the foe, knowing ourselves to be in Christ, and that we
have been commanded to reckon ourselves dead to sin, no matter how
great and strong sin may appear. Satan’s great device is to drive
earnest souls back to beseeching God for what God says has already been
“Our old man was crucified with Christ.” This is our
task: to walk in the faith of these words. Upon this water God commands
us to step out and walk. And we are infinitely better off than was
Peter that night, when he “walked on the water to come to Jesus”;
whereas we are in Christ. And our relationship to sin is His
relationship! He died unto it, and we, being in Christ Risen, are in
the relationship Christ’s death brought about in Him, and now to us who
are in Him: whether to sin, law death, or the world.
If I did
not die with Christ, on the cross, I cannot be living in Him, risen
from the dead; but am still back in the old Adam in which I was born!
died once—once for all, unto sin. He is not dying continually. I am
told to reckon myself dead—in that death of Christ. I am therefore not
told to do my own dying, to sin and self and the world: but, on the
contrary, to reckon by simple faith, that in His death I died: and to
be “conformed unto His death.” But, to be conformed to a death already
a fact, is not doing my own dying,—which is Romanism. If you and I are
able to reckon ourselves dead—in Christ’s death: all will be simple.
the body of sin might be annulled—The word for “annulled” is katargeo.
See note on Chapter 4:14. The meaning is, to “put out of business.” The
“body of sin” refers to our bodies as yet unredeemed, and not delivered
from sin’s rule; as Paul says in the Eighth Chapter: “If Christ be in
you, the body is dead because of sin.” Now we shall find that we have
no power to deliver our body, our members, from “the law of sin” (See
Chapter 7:8-24). But since our old man has been crucified with Christ,
all the rights of sin are gone; and the indwelling Holy Spirit can
annul “the body of sin”; thus delivering us from sin’s bondage. We know
the Spirit is not mentioned here (as He will be constantly in Chapter
Eight); but inasmuch as it is His work to apply all Christ’s work to
us, we speak of His blessed annulling of the power of indwelling sin.
It is blessed to know that we do not have to crucify the old man: that
was done in Christ’s federal death at the cross. Nor do we have to
“annul” the “body of sin”: that is done by the blessed Spirit as we
yield to Him.
Verse 7: For he that hath died hath been declared righteous from sin!
We must seize fast hold of this blessed verse.
us distinguish at once between being justified from sins—from the guilt
thereof—by the blood of Christ, and being justified from sin—the thing
“Justified from sin” is the key to both Chapters Six
and Seven and also to Eight! It is the consciousness of being sinful
that keeps back saints from that glorious life Paul lived. Paul shows
absolutely no sense of bondage before God; but goes on in blessed
triumph! Why? He knew he had been justified from all guilt by the blood
of Christ; and he knew that he was also justified, cleared, from the
thing sin itself: and therefore (though walking in an, as yet,
unredeemed body), he was wholly heavenly in his standing, life and
relations with God! He knew he was as really justified from sin itself
as from sins. The conscious presence of sin in his flesh only reminded
him that he was in Christ;—that sin had been condemned judicially, as
connected with flesh, at the cross; and that he was justified as to
sin; because he had died with Christ, and his former relationship to
sin had wholly ceased! Its presence gave him no thought of
condemnation, but only eagered his longing for the redemption body.
“Justified from sin”—because, “he that hath died is justified from
sin.” Glorious fact! May we have faith to enter into it as did Paul!135
is the deep-seated notion of Christendom that gradually we become
saints,—gradually worthy of heaven: so that sometime,—perhaps, on a
dying bed, we will have the right to “drop this robe of flesh and rise.”
Scripture cuts this idea off at once, by the declaration that we died,
and that we are now, here, justified from sin! “Giving thanks unto the
Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light.” The saints in light are those in glory, and they are
there for one reason alone: the work of Christ on the cross.
How unspeakably sad is our little faith! And I am speaking of true believers, certainly.
Many have turned truly to God, but not knowing the finished work of
Christ, that is, that He actually bare their sins and put them away,
are never sure of their own salvation.
2. Many have
appropriated gladly Christ’s finished work, as respects the guilt of
their sins, and they no longer have apprehensions of judgment, knowing
that He met all God’s claims against them on the cross. But as to their
relation to sin itself, it is an “O-wretched-man” life that they live,
for they see honestly their own sinfulness and unworthiness, but have
never heard how they are now in a Christ who died to sin, and that they
share His relationship now, dead to sin and alive to God (6:10, 11).
Thank God, there are some who have seen and believed in their hearts
that their relationship to sin itself was completely changed when God
identified them with Christ in His death. Their relationship to sin was
broken forever; and they present themselves unto God as alive from the
dead, and, through an ever increasing faith, walk about on earth in
newness of life; knowing that the same God who declared them justified
from the guilt of their sins through Christ’s shed blood, has now
declared that, in being identified with Christ in His death to sin,
they are themselves declared righteous136 from sin itself!
we have elsewhere remarked, relief from guilt and danger, through the
shed blood of Christ, comes first. And the conscience concerning
judgment being relieved, the heart ever rests in the blood of Christ.
But to have God tell us further, that we, having died with Christ, are
declared righteous from sin itself, is a new, additional, and glorious
revelation, which sets us in the presence of God not only declared
righteous from what we have done, but declared righteous from what we
were—and as to our flesh, still are! We should have no more dejection
and self-condemnation when we see our old selves; for we have been
declared righteous from that old state of being, as well as from what
we had done! Very excellent and godly men, not recognizing this blessed
fact, have spent much time before God “bemoaning the sinfulness” of
their now revealed old nature. But this was really not to recognize the
Word of God that we have been justified, declared righteous, from the
old state of being, from sin itself!137
If Gabriel, the
presence angel, were to appear before you, your natural thought would
be. He is holy, sinless; and I am unholy, sinful. Therefore, I am not
worthy to stand in his presence. But this would be completely wrong. If
you are in Christ, you stand in Christ,—in Christ alone,—even as He!
The presence of sin in the flesh has no more power to trouble your
conscience, than have your sins: for both were dealt with at the cross!
Your old man was crucified, sin in the flesh was condemned (8:3) at the
cross. And Paul definitely declares that we have now come “to the
innumerable hosts of angels,” as well as that we have been made meet to
be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”!
of the most astonishing things (and yet, why astonishing?) that came to
us in the study of the book of the Revelation was, that once the
apostle John had “fallen as one dead” at the feet of the glorified
Christ, in Chapter One, and the Lord had “laid His right hand” upon
him, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living
One, and I became dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have
the keys of death and of Hades” (Rev. 1:17, 18)—after that, John, all
unconsciously, but really, fears nothing, and no one! Not even the
vision of the glorious throne in heaven before which the four living
ones and the four and twenty elders are falling down, crying, “Holy,
Holy, Holy,” stirs John with the least emotion of fear or shrinking. In
fact, he is found weeping because no one can take the sealed book. Not
once is he concerned about his own moral or spiritual condition. He
goes boldly up to the mighty angel in the Tenth Chapter, requesting
according to Divine direction, that he give him the little book in his
hand. Twice he falls at the feet of the angelic messenger that is
revealing these glorious things to him, but it is not on account of a
sense of moral or spiritual unfitness, but rather a being enraptured,
overwhelmed with the glory of the scene.
Now why is this? Or how could Paul be caught up to the third heaven, into Paradise, and hear unspeakable words?
because the work of the cross was complete! Not only were sins put away
by the blood of Christ, but our connection with Adam was ended, our old
man was crucified, we died to sin; our former history was completely
over, before God. Thus it is written, as we quoted, “Giving thanks unto
the Father who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light” (Col. 1:12).
Now as to the fact, all this is
as true of us here on earth, as it will be in the ages to come. Our
realization of the truth may be small; yea, sad to say, our faith may
be weak; but the fact is the same!
How utterly marvelous,
then, to know that we have been justified from sin itself. Not only has
it lost all right and power over us, but we are declared righteous from
the hideous thing itself; we are standing with God, in Christ, outside
the region of sin, “children of light,” yea, even called “light in the
Lord” (Eph. 5:8).
Verse 8: But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also be living with Him [in this world].
we take it for granted that we died; that our old man was crucified
with Christ. And we go on to the expectation of a blessed life in
Christ. For it is not only that we shall “live with Him” in
resurrection glory when He comes, but even now we walk in newness of
life in Him, as verses 10 and 13 set forth. This is no uncertain
confidence, because “Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no
more.” The brief lordship of death over Him is ended forever, and it is
His death and life we share.
Meyer well paraphrases:
“Whosoever has died with Christ is now also of the belief that his
life, i.e., the positive, active side of his moral being and nature,
shall be a fellowship of life with the exalted Christ; that is, shall
be able to be nothing else than this.” And Rotherham: “If we jointly
died with Christ,—we believe that we shall also jointly live with Him.”
And Conybeare: “If we have shared the death of Christ, we believe that
we shall also share His life.”
This word, shall also be living
with Him, must finally include, doubtless, the consummation of our
salvation at the coming of Christ, and the fashioning anew of our
mortal bodies. But the word refers directly to that expressed by Paul
in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no
longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.” Here in Romans Six
it is called a living with Him, as over against our death with Him.
Hodge well says: “The future tense is used here, referring not to what
is to happen hereafter, so much as to what is the certain consequence
of our union with Christ.” And Alford: “The future (‘we shall also live
with Him’) as in verse 5, is used, because the life with Him, though
here begun, is not here completed.”
And now the reason for this assurance that we shall keep on sharing the risen life of Christ, is given:
Verse 9: Knowing that Christ having been raised from among the dead dieth no more: death over Him no longer hath dominion.
participle justifies the ‘we believe’ of verse eight.” We know
(eidotes) both that our present spiritual participation in Christ’s
risen life will continue, and also that our mortal bodies will be
finally delivered, in view of the fact we are conscious of, that Christ
has been once and irrevocably raised; that God “loosed the pangs of
death”; that “He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to
corruption,”—for it was written, “Thou wilt not give Thy Holy One to
see corruption.” Sin never had dominion over Him; and death could have
had no dominion except that our sin was transferred to Him! Death,
therefore, the “wages,” had a brief dominion, but now that is ended
forever; and we are in Him,—also forever! Therefore death with its
dominion is for the believer forever passed away. Our identification
with Christ in death at the cross made possible of fulfillment His
wonderful promise in John 8:51, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a
man keep my word, he shall never see death.” If a believer falls asleep
(God’s word for a believer’s physical death) his spirit goes to be with
Christ: there is no “dark valley.” On the tomb of an early Christian
were these words: “I sinned, I repented, I trusted, I loved; I slept, I
shall rise, I shall reign!”
It is a terrible thing to
contemplate—that death once held the Prince of Life, the Lord of all.
Yet behold the Lord of Life, under the dominion of death! But He is not
making atonement during those three days and nights,—that was all
finished on the cross.138 And now, praise God, we read, Death no more
hath dominion over Him. He liveth unto God, in a glad resurrection life
which shall never end. This is the life that we share, for we shared
Verse 10: Therefore we must go on to verse 10 and
read God’s statement of Christ’s death unto sin: For in that He died,
unto sin He died once for all; but in that He is living, He is living
Now we beseech you, do not change God’s word “UNTO,”
here! Do not confuse with this passage those other Scriptures that
declare that Christ died FOR our sins. For this great revelation of Romans 6:10 is that Christ died UNTO
sin! There is here, of course, no thought of expiation of guilt. That
belongs to Chapters Three to Five. Here, the sole question is one of
relationship, not of expiation. Christ is seen dying to sin, not for
What is meant by that?
In II Corinthians
5:21, God declares: “Him who knew no sin God made to be sin on our
behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ
is made to be what we were, that we might become, in Him, what He is!
Might not Christ, the Sinless One, bear the guilt of our sins and that
be all? Nay, but we were connected federally with Adam the first—with a
race proved wholly unrighteous and bad. And that we might be released
from that Adam-state, there must be not only our sins borne, but we
ourselves released from the old-Adam headship,—all we had from Adam:
which involved the responsibilities we had in him—responsibility to
furnish God, as morally responsible beings, a perfect righteousness and
holiness of our own.
Now God’s way was, not to “change” the
old man, but to send it to the cross unto death, and release us from
it. No one who remains in Adam’s race will be saved! “Ye must be born
again!” should sound the tocsin of alarm, yea, terror, to every one not
yet in Christ. For God’s method was to set forth a Second Man, a Last
Adam,—Christ; (with whom indeed all God’s eternal plans were
connected), whom God would not only set forth to make expiation of
guilt, but would make to become sin itself: thus to get at what we
were, as well as what we had done. Our old man would thus be crucified
with Christ, so that all the evil of the old man, and all his
responsibilities also, would be completely annulled before God for all
believers. For they must righteously be released from Adam, before they
are created in Christ, another Adam! And this must be by death.
God would say to believers, to those in Christ, “Your history now
begins anew!” just as He said to Israel at the Passover: “This month
shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month
of the year to you.” So Paul triumphantly writes, “If any man is in
Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold,
they are become new.” What a day was that when Christ, made to be sin
itself, died to it, and was forever done with it! So that now He lives
unto God in light and joy eternal without measure!
Therefore the eleventh verse becomes a necessity: God must say to us:
Thus [because of the facts of the preceding verse] do ye also reckon,
yourselves dead, indeed, to sin, but living to God, in. Christ
Jesus!139 Your relationship to sin is exactly the same as Christ’s!
Why? Because Christ is now your only Adam: you are in Him! His act of
death unto sin involved all who are connected with Him.
in His death, all Christ’s connection with sin was broken, ended,
forever. Not only did He no longer bear sin; but He had died unto sin.
When He was raised, it was as One who lived unto God, in an endless
life with which sin had nothing to do,—resurrection-life, newness of
And, because believers were united with Him in His
death, they too died to sin in and with Him. And their relationship to
sin is now exactly His relationship: they are dead to it. They are also
“alive unto God” in Christ Jesus.
This is not a matter of
“experience,” but of fact. The truth about believers is, that they are
dead to sin and alive to God, being in Christ! And they hear it said by
God, and are asked to reckon it so! Their path of faith is plain:
“Reckon140 ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God,
in Christ Jesus.”
John Wesley truly counselled:
“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!”
to heart the very words of the eleventh verse: Reckon yourselves dead
indeed to sin, but living to God, in Christ Jesus. There are two words
signifying death in this passage. The word for dead (nekros) here in
verse 11, does not refer to the act or process of dying, but to the
state or effect produced by death. The other word (thnēsko) signifies
the act, and occurs in verses 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10; and is used when
Christ’s dying, or our dying with or in Him, is set forth. It is,
therefore, with the already accomplished death unto sin of our great
Substitute and Representative, Christ, that believers—those now in
Christ—find themselves connected; and as we said above, the believer is
to reckon himself dead (nekros) unto sin, but alive unto God,—because
he is in Christ Jesus, who died unto sin once for all; but now, in
resurrection life, is living unto God. You will realize anew the
meanings of these two words for death, when you notice, in verses 4 and
9, that Christ, having died (thnēsko) was raised “from among dead ones”
(nekroi). Christ’s body lay in Joseph’s tomb. He was not now dying:
that was over. He was dead. And so we are not told to die to sin:
because we are in Christ who did die to it; and therefore we also are
dead to it, in His death; and reckon it so.
This should make
the believer’s task simplicity itself. The only difficulty lies in
believing these astounding revelations! That we should be dead to sin,
and now alive unto God as risen ones, sharing that newness of life
(verse 4) which our Lord began as “the First-born from among the dead,”
is at first too wonderful for us. We see in ourselves the old
self-life, the flesh—and straightway we forget God’s way of faith, and
turn back to our “feelings.” We say, Alas, if I could escape from this
body, I would be free. But that is not at present God’s plan for you
and me. We wait for the redemption of our body. This body is yet
unredeemed. Nevertheless, we are to reckon ourselves dead unto sin and
alive unto God. Not dead to sin, notice, through prayers and
strugglings, nor dead to sin in our feelings or consciousness; but in
that death unto sin which Christ went through on the cross, and which
we shared, and in that life which He now lives in glory!
when we come down to verses 12 and 13, we shall find Paul’s definite
directions to us to present ourselves unto God “as those that are alive
from among dead ones.” (All out of Christ are of course “dead ones,” in
This is really the heart of the struggle in the
matter of our walk,—of our having our “fruit unto sanctification.” It
is hard to reckon and keep reckoning that we shared Christ’s death to
sin, and that we are alive unto God in Him. Yet, there is no
establishing of our souls along any other line! To turn back from this
sheer faith that we died with Christ and now are alive to God in Him,
is to turn back—to what? to the weary, hopeless struggle Paul tells us
in Chapter Seven he “once” went through to make the flesh obey God; or
else back to groanings before God, begging Him to give us personal
deliverance. And all the time God is saying, The word of the cross is
the power of God. It is God’s word as to what was there done that will
establish your heart. God says you died with Christ. Reckon it so. “If
ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isa. 7:9).141
if the declaration in verse 2 that we died to sin meant that sin is now
absent from our flesh, there could be no exhortation in verse 11 to
“reckon” ourselves dead to sin. If the fact that we died to sin with
Christ means that sin is gone from these bodies of ours, there would be
no thought of “reckoning.” The statement would simply have been, “Sin
is absent,—no longer a present thing with you!” The word reckon is a
word for faith—in the face of appearances.
The same place for
faith is left in the matter of our justification. Christ is “the
propitiation for the whole world” (I John 2:2). But in Romans 3:25 it
is said, “God set Him forth as a propitiation through faith in His
So in Romans 6:2 it is said that we died to sin, while
here in the eleventh verse we are told to “reckon ourselves dead to
sin.” The reckoning does not make the fact, but is commanded in view of
It has pleased God to call for our faith, both in
connection with salvation and with deliverance. Therefore, if we would
obey and please God, let us follow His method! Let us learn to reckon
ourselves dead,—that Christ’s death to sin was our death; and is the
present relation of us who are in Christ, unto sin.
of faith is always against appearances,—or, if you will, against human
consciousness. God says certain things; and we, obeying the “law of
faith,” say the same things; like Abraham, not regarding our own body,
which says the contrary thing. Facts are facts: and these are what God
reveals to us. Appearances, or “feelings,” are a wholly different thing
from facts! God says, “You died to sin: reckon yourself dead!”
souls do so, and enter the path of deliverance in experience. Doubting
souls fall back on their “feelings,” and turn back to prayers and
struggles, avoiding faith.
Now note carefully again: the
apostle does not tell us to reckon sin dead, but ourselves dead to it.
We are now in Christ, and His history becomes ours. He died unto sin
(verse 10), and left the whole sphere of sin forever. It is not said
even concerning Christ that He reckoned sin dead, but that being made
sin, the thing itself. He died unto it, and now liveth unto God. It
seems to us most unfortunate that some very excellent teachers fall
into the manner of saying that “sin is to be reckoned dead” and that
“our old man is counted dead and gone,” and so forth. One of the
clearest teachers of Pauline gospel that I know, though generally
speaking accurately, in Paul’s language, that we ourselves died to sin,
and that the old man is to be regarded as having been crucified with
Christ, yet sometimes lapses into such expressions as “we are to hold
the old man as dead and gone.”
Yet the old man, though having
been “crucified with Christ,” and having been “put off” by the
believer, still exists; and believers are commanded to “put away, as
concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt
after the lusts of deceit.” We have spoken of this elsewhere. It is of
course the intense desire of a saint truly exercised by the Spirit to
be quit of the consciousness of the old man. This has been so in all
ages. But the temptation is very strong in Christians, in times of
great spiritual uplifting, to regard the old man as having disappeared.
it is the very essence of a holy walk according to Scripture, to
receive God’s testimony concerning the old man’s having been crucified.
To reckon ourselves dead to sin while conscious of sin in our members,
is faith indeed; and is walking according to God’s Word, instead of
according to our feelings. “Those that are of Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh and its lusts”: because they know that the federal
thing, the “old man,” has been crucified (Gal. 5:24). It is in the
power of the faith that God has dealt with all that we were, that we
are able to deal with the manifestations of the self-life.
this life in this present world, is not the Christian’s place of
resting. Christ will bring him rest at His second coming (II Thess.
It is to those who are described in the opening chapters
of Romans,—guilty, under Divine judgment; and also in the flesh, under
the old man; far from God, without hope,—to such the gospel message has
come! These statements that we belong up there, in Christ, are issued
by the High Court of Heaven, itself. God says that no matter how things
may seem, we died with Christ, and share His newness of life; and we
are to present ourselves unto God as those alive from the dead.142 The
glorious promise follows: “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye
are not under law, but under grace.” We have not been brought to a
Sinai, to a hard, demanding master, but are under the sweet favor in
which Christ Himself is, being ourselves in Him, yea, the very
righteousness of God in Him!
12 Let not sin, therefore, be
reigning-as-king in your mortal body, that ye should obey the desires
of it [the body]. 13 Neither be presenting your members unto sin as
instruments of unrighteousness. But on the contrary present yourselves
to God as being alive from among the dead; and your members to God, as
instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not have lordship over
you. For you are not under law, but, on the contrary, under grace.
12: Do not, therefore, be allowing sin to reign-as-king in your mortal
body, that ye should obey the desires of it (the body):—and the Greek
is emphatic: “Be not at all allowing sin to reign!”
first, our present body is mortal, that is, subject to physical death.
We are waiting for the redemption of the body, at Christ’s coming.
Sin is present in our members, and ready to reign-as-king, if
permitted. That is, our bodies have not yet been redeemed from the
possibility of sin’s being king, if we permit such kingship.
It is through the lusts or desires of the body that sin is ready to
assume control. The body has many desires not in themselves evil. Paul,
speaking of foods, says, “All things are lawful for me; but I will not
be brought under the power of any” (I Cor. 6:12). It is when natural
desires are yielded to in self-will or self-indulgence, that sin uses
the desires of the body to assert sin’s power and establish its reign.
4. The believer is directed to reject this reigning of sin, which would involve our obeying the desires of the body.
Note the important word, “therefore.” This looks back at the first part
of Chapter Six, in which our death with Christ unto sin has been
asserted, our relationship to sin being now the same as Christ’s—we
have done with it in death and burial. Notice that these present verses
of exhortation are built wholly upon the fact that we died with Christ:
we reckon ourselves dead because we participated in Christ’s death.
Therefore we dare refuse sin’s dominion. We owe sin nothing. We are
dead to it; justified from it, and living in another sphere!
13: Neither be presenting your members unto sin as instruments of
unrighteousness. But on the contrary present yourselves to God as being
alive from among the dead; and your members to God, as instruments of
The moment we come to exhortation, we have to
do with the will; whereas believing is a matter of the heart: “With the
heart man believeth.” In learning that I am dead to sin, all I need to
do is to listen to God’s marvelous unfolding of the fact that I was
identified with Christ in His death, and in my heart believe it. My
will has nothing to do with that. When God says, “Your old man was
crucified with Christ,” that is Divine testimony. It is a revealed
fact. I hear it and from my heart believe it, because God is true. I
reckon myself to be “dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus,”
because God has said that I was.
But when it comes to the
application of this stupendous fact, my will is addressed: “Let not sin
therefore reign.” Well, some one asks, if I am dead to it, how can it
still reign? We answer, By your presenting your bodily members unto sin
for sin to use, as “instruments of unrighteousness.” Your tongue, for
instance, which James calls “an unruly member,”—you have only to hand
it over to sin, and it will talk angrily, lyingly, filthily.
what is God’s way? Present yourselves unto God, as those in a Risen
Christ, those “alive from among the dead.” Of course, this will test
your faith: you will not feel dead to sin. Your old man will seem
anything but crucified. But the path of true faith is always one of
obedience; and God has commanded you to reckon yourself dead unto sin
and alive unto Him (as a risen one) in Christ Jesus. It is in this
character, of being alive from the dead, that you are commanded to
“present yourselves unto God.”
Now two things about this word “present”:
as to its meaning here: it does not in Chapter Six signify
consecration: but the taking of an attitude in accordance with the
facts. In Chapter Twelve, it is true, the same word is used to signify
consecration to God (12:1). But here, “present” (A.V., “yield”),
signifies an attitude to be taken in recognition of the facts: “Present
yourselves as those alive from among the dead.” We are not here looked
at as giving ourselves to God, but as believingly assuming the aspect
toward God of those in Christ—those who died to sin in Christ’s death,
and are now alive in Christ unto God.
If the colonel of a
certain regiment of soldiers,—say the One Hundredth, should give notice
to all his regiment to repair to his headquarters at a stated hour for
review, they would “present” themselves there as members of the One
Hundredth Regiment. It would be as such and in that consciousness that
they would come. So believers are to take the attitude toward God of
risen ones because they are risen ones. They are in Christ, they are
alive from among the dead This is the fundamental consciousness of a
believer, as described in the Pauline Epistles: “If then ye were raised
together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is .
. . For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1,
3). If you do not have risen life, you are not in Christ; for those in
Christ are all alive from among the dead.
Second, the command
to present ourselves thus unto God is in the aorist tense, which
indicates a definite entering upon this attitude of presenting
ourselves as risen ones to God. As to sin it is, “Do not be presenting
(present tense of habitual and continued action) your members unto
sin.” The exhortation is believingly to take the attitude of a risen
one in Christ, and thus present yourself once for all to God. Whether
in prayer or thanksgiving, or praise or service, you are alive from the
dead. It is not that you make yourself alive by presenting yourself
unto God; but that since you are in Christ, you are alive to God in
risen life, and you thus present yourself. And it becomes an habitual
attitude,—you keep on presenting your members unto God as a habit of
life. He will now use them as “instruments of righteousness”; as,
before,—you well remember! your members were instruments of sin.
Then comes a glorious promise, and also a royal pronouncement:
Verse 14: For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace.
the two “fors.” The first “for” announces the Divine decree that sin’s
lordship over us shall be ended. The second reveals the happy condition
of things in which such a release is possible: we are not under the
legal principle,—which first demanded duty, and then offered blessing;
but we are under the grace principle,—which confers blessing first,
and, behold, fruits follow!
It is deeply significant here that
even to us, new creatures in Christ, and recipients of the Holy Spirit,
it is definitely announced to us that we are not under law,—else
bondage and helplessness would still be our lot. Note, God does not say
we are not under the Law,—the Mosaic Law: (Gentiles never were!) But,
God says we are not under law,—under the legal principle. In the
opening part of Chapter Seven, Paul will show the Jewish believers,
(who had been under law), that only death could release them from their
legal obligation; and that they had been made dead to the Law, through
being identified with Christ in His death.
Only when we
believe that our history in Adam, with all its responsibilities and
demands to produce righteousness, ended at the cross, shall we find
ourselves completely free to enjoy these words of heavenly
carefully the contrast between Romans 6:14 and I Corinthians 9:21. Paul
declares in the former passage, “We are not under law.” The Greek here
is, hupo nomon. This expression evidently indicates placing one under
external enactments—under that principle. Now in I Corinthians 9:21,
Paul, in describing his ministry to souls, says, “To those without law
(anomois), I became as without law (anomos), not at all being without
law Godward, but, on the contrary, en-lawed (ennomos) to Christ,”—as
the members of a body to the head, controlled naturally by the one
spirit and will.
There is every possible difference between
the two,—between being “under law,” and “en-lawed.” Israel under law,
placed under the Law at Sinai, with a veil between them and God, had to
think of their behavior, in all its details, as affecting their
relationship to God. The Law was “written on tables,” by the hand of
Divine authority. It was external to them: there was no union between
them and Jehovah; nor was the Holy Spirit within them (although He was
upon certain of them, for certain service, at certain times).
with us, all is different. We are in Christ, members of Christ. The
Spirit of God’s Son, also, has been sent forth into our hearts, crying,
“Abba, Father!” We are “no longer bondservants, but
adult sons” (Gal. 4:4-7). Our relationship is settled.144
by the Spirit,” who indwells us, takes for us today the place that
observing the things written in the Law had with Israel. “Being dead to
the Law, and discharged therefrom,” says Paul, “we bring forth fruit
unto God”; “We serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter”
When Paul says (as above) in I Corinthians that he
was “en-lawed to Christ,” the Greek word ennomos signifies that blessed
control by the Holy Spirit proceeding from Christ as the Head, which
corresponds to the control of our natural bodies by our physical heads.
This, of course, is the very opposite of being “under law” in the sense
of verse 14. To speak of a believer’s being “under the Law to Christ,”
would be no more true, than to say that your hand has a set of external
rules by which it obeys your head and seeks to render itself pleasing
to you! No, your hand is en-lawed to your head, in that it is one with
your head; your spirit dwells in every member of your body, and the
head intelligently directs every member.
I am more and more
inclined to the belief that in order to a consistent interpretation of
the New Testament, we must scrupulously regard Israel only as having
been placed under The Law, though doubtless all men have moral
responsibility. See Paul regarding this below.145
it be the Jew under law, or the race of Adam under conscience, the
freedom that is in Christ means deliverance from trying to “be good” to
be accepted of God. Sinners are accepted freely on account of Christ’s
sacrifice, and placed in Him Risen. For such, therefore, as are in
Christ, the walk is one of rejoicing faith,—appropriating Christ,—and
nothing else. The Law of Moses has nothing to say to a believer! We
know the legalists and the pretenders to human righteousness will cry
out at this. But God says about the Law two things that cannot be
First, that the Gentiles were not under Moses’ Law, that Law having never been given to them, but to Israel only.
second, that God, who gave to Israel the “foregoing commandment”—the
Law—has “disannulled” the same, and brought in by another way, even
simple faith in Christ, “a better hope,” through which alone all
believers, Jew or Gentile, “draw nigh to God” (Heb. 7:18, 19).
Not behaving, but believing, is God’s way: behaving follows believing!
know that true faith is a living thing, and has two feet, and will
walk; but it will be “walking in works”—not working in works!—“Good
works that God afore prepared.” Walking by faith in “prepared” works;
discovering in this walk of faith, the beautiful will of God day by
day; treading this fresh and living path, is the believer’s great
secret! The children of Abraham all follow their father in walking by
The believer is not under law, not under external
enactments, not under conditions; but he has already an eternal
standing in grace,—that is, in already secured Divine favor, by a
sovereign act of God; which has not only reckoned to him Christ’s
atoning work, but has placed him fully in the place of Christ’s present
acceptance with God!
The believer today is neither in the Old
Testament with the Patriarchs, nor with Israel at Sinai; nor walking
with the disciples during our Lord’s earthly life and kingdom ministry!
The believer lives now after the cross, and in the full right and power
of all that Christ did there. God gave Israel at Sinai a Law,—a holy,
just and good Law, but they kept it not. The Lord Jesus when on earth
said to His disciples, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”; but they all failed and
fled. Why? Man was still under testing. The cross ended that;
revealing, as it did, utter wickedness in man; and, also, complete
weakness in the disciples,—in God’s saints!
Then what? Christ
is raised from the dead through the glory of the Father: that we may
walk in newness of life. Not only are our sins forever put away by His
blood, but we ourselves find our history in Adam over, we being dead
with Christ, crucified with Him.
Then the Holy Spirit is given
at Pentecost as the power of this new, heavenly walk. Men were then,
for the first time, transferred into the Risen Christ. They shared His
risen life; for they had been identified with Him as an Adam, a federal
man, in His death, at the cross; and were now placed by God in Christ
Risen: yea, they were “created,” now, in Him; and even made members of
His Body,—which, of course, is an additional favor, based on their
identification with Him, as an Adam, at the cross.
could say, in triumph, “I through law died to law!” “I have not [desire
not] the righteousness of law; yet I know nothing against myself.”
“Thanks be to God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ”; “For me
to live is Christ”; “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ.” And he could say this right in the teeth of
sin, and of the Law which gave sin its power! (I Cor. 15:56, 57). Both
sin and the Law had passed away for Paul, at the cross, as victors over
Yet, alas, most believers are not walking on the
resurrection side of the cross, and by the “new creation rule” of
Galatians 6:14, 15: “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto
me, and I unto the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as shall walk by this
rule, peace be upon them, and mercy!”
If you had been in
heaven fifty years, and were then sent down by God to earth to live and
witness for fifty years, then to be taken back to Heaven:—how would you
live? Would you fall under daily doubt as to whether you should count
yourself as belonging to Heaven? Would you not, rather, be a constant
witness, both in walk and word, that you really belonged in and to
Now God says He has “made us alive together with
Christ and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the
heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5, 6). Are you going to try to add
to that glorious heavenly calling the Law,—that was given to Israel
down here on earth to make them know their sin? A Law under which God
says you are NOT? May God forbid such folly in any of us! For we all tend toward it.
Colossians 1:5, 6 be fulfilled in us all: “The word of the truth of the
good news which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world
bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also,—since the day ye
heard and knew THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRUTH”!
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?
Be it not thought of! 16 Do ye not Know that to whom ye present
yourselves as bondservants unto obedience, his bond-servants ye are
whom ye obey,—whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
17 But thanks be to God, that whereas ye were
bondservants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that pattern
of doctrine [salvation by the cross] unto which you were handed over
[by God in the gospel]. 18 And being set free from sin, ye were made
bondservants to righteousness.
19 I am speaking in human terms
on account of the [moral] strengthlessness of your flesh: for just as
ye did present your members as bondservants to uncleanness, and to
lawlessness unto [further] lawlessness, so now present your members
bondservants to righteousness unto sanctification.
20 For when
ye were bondservants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness.
21 What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now
ashamed? For the end of those things is death! 22 But now, being made
free from sin, and being put into bondservice to God, ye have your
fruit unto sanctification, and the end, eternal life!
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Verse 15: What then? Are we to sin, because we are not under law but under grace? Far be the thought!
Paul warns against the abuse of that liberty which the believer has: He
shows that those who commit sin come under the bondage of sin as
master; even as the Lord said in John 8:34: “Every one that committeth
sin is the bondservant of sin.”
The two questions in Chapter
Six: “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (verse 1); and,
Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? (verse 15);
are distinct, but not really diverse, questions. For each considers
that same lawlessness, that same independence of the Creator, which is
ever the creature’s great temptation. The fact that these two questions
are written down here is the proof of this. Now Paul, with holy
abhorrence, repudiates at once both these thoughts:
to the first question is: We are in the Risen Christ, and we shared His
death; our relation to sin is broken forever; we walk “in newness of
Verse 16: Do ye not know that to whom ye present
yourselves as bondservants unto obedience, his bondservants ye are whom
ye obey,—whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
the answer to the second question is: God has set believers free, to
serve Himself. The only other master is sin. And bondage to sin results
from serving sin. But the Word of God says to the believer. Ye are not
under law, but under grace.
Many people who have been
convicted of the guilt of sin and have relied on the shed blood of
Christ as putting away that guilt, have not yet, however, seen a state
of sin as abject slavery. The strength of sin is just as real as its
guilt. No creature can free himself from the bondage of sin. Sin
brought to fallen man the inability to do anything else but sin (Gen.
6:5). Although contrary to conscience, to reason, to desire for
liberty; in spite of the terror inspired by the tragic examples about
them,—yea, despite awful warnings and expectations of personal
impending ruin, men continue in sin and its bondage.
is another “obedience,”—that unto righteousness. And the case turns on
the words, to whom ye present yourselves as servants. Although we
cannot free ourselves, or change our own spiritual condition, the great
fact of human responsibility is plainly written here. God, who would
have all men to be saved, is always ready to have them present
themselves to Him. And it is by means of the gospel that we do
so,—whether to take our place as sinners, in the first instance; or,
after we have believed, when we present ourselves to Him and our
members as instruments of righteousness.
We all know this, be
our theological training what it may. We all know we are doing wrong if
we do not obey the gospel of God concerning His Son. “When He, the
Spirit of truth, is come, He will convict the world in respect of sin .
. . because they believe not on Me” (John 16:8, 9).
Let us remember then, that the obedience unto righteousness of verse 16, is “the obedience of faith,” always.
17, 18: But thanks be to God, that whereas ye were bondservants of sin,
ye became obedient from the heart to that pattern of teaching
[salvation by the cross] unto which ye were handed over [by God in the
gospel]. And, being set free from sin, ye were made bondservants to
Now, our becoming obedient from the heart to
the Word of the cross involves a work of Divine wisdom and power far
beyond that involved in the creation of the world! For how shall a
creature remain, and behold his utter judgment on the cross? How shall
he despair eternally of himself, and yet find hope? How shall he
continue a free being and yet consent to be bound forever,—“with cords
of a Man, with bands of love”? How shall he walk with confidence into
the Court where very thoughts come into judgment? Moral and spiritual
impossibilities are greater than physical impossibilities. It was
impossible that where nothing at all existed the physical universe
should leap into being—out of nothing but God’s word! Man, having
sinned, ran from God. Men yet sin and flee from God. Now God’s holy
nature. His infinite righteousness, bar the way back. But Christ comes,
sent of the Father. And there is the blood of the cross. And from the
North and South, and East and West, men, women,—and children, too,
come, obeying from the heart this impossible news: of peace by the
blood of His cross,—peace for those ‘whose sins slew Christ! They come
to be gladly bound with the unbreakable “bands of love, the cords of a
Man”—Christ Jesus! (See Hos. 11:4.)
And we see that mighty
work of response to grace in such hearts abide and endure. We see God’s
willing “bondservants” pouring out their lives in glad service, in all
lands, to all limits!
Now, this becoming obedient from the
heart to that pattern of doctrine of salvation by the blood of the
cross, and the freedom from sin that goes with it, may be enjoyed even
in this life, “without stint or limit.” For “all things are possible to
him that believeth.”
Note that the Old Version misses the
entire sense of this seventeenth verse in translating: “that form of
doctrine which was delivered unto you,” whereas the true rendering is,
that form of doctrine unto which ye were handed over (or, delivered).
For the verb is in the plural—ye were delivered over! This statement
instructs us deeply in the Divine arrangements. The Israelites, for
example, were delivered over to Moses and the Law. It was not only that
the Law was delivered by Moses to them; they were themselves delivered
over to a legal dispensation—to a “mold of doctrine,” which had the Ten
Commandments as the foundation, and the “ten thousand things of the
Law” spoken in accordance therewith. The Jews knew they were under the
Law. They had been handed over to it, to its demands, and to its whole
economy. Likewise, believers now are delivered over to a form or
pattern of teaching. Summarily, this is the Gospel,—particularly, the
work of Christ on the cross. Believers have been handed over by God to
the mighty facts, not only that their guilt was put away on the cross,
but that they, as connected with Adam, died with Christ; that their
history in Adam is thus entirely ended before God; and that they now
share the risen life of Christ, and are before God as risen ones
(Romans 6:10, 11). And all believers are comprehended in these great
truths, whether they apprehend them or not! It is the first duty of
every teacher of God’s saints to open to them the glorious facts
already true about them, and unto which great mold or form of doctrine,
they have been “delivered over” by God.146
Now in verse 17 we
see that these Roman believers had become obedient from the heart unto
this mold of doctrine,—that of salvation by Christ on the cross. They
had yet much to learn concerning their salvation, (and Paul was coming
to “establish” them). But they had seen and accepted redemption by the
blood of the despised Lamb of God: which involved everything,—of
separation from a sinful world, as well as of safety from Divine
Verse 18: Being set free from sin, ye were made
bondservants to righteousness. It will help us to note carefully that
in this verse is the first description of “experience” in this Sixth of
Romans. Bit it is the result of that “obedience of faith” in which
these believers had received the good news of their salvation by Christ
crucified; for lo! they found themselves thereby “set free from
sin,”—sin was no longer their master.147
Verse 19: I am
speaking in human terms on account of the [moral] strengthlessness of
your flesh—Paul here explains why he is using this word “bondservants”
throughout this passage. He declares the “infirmity of our flesh” to be
such, that we must necessarily be in bondservice—either to sin or to
God. Rome was full of slaves,—indeed, many of the Christians to whom he
was writing were slaves, as seems to be indicated in Chapter Sixteen
(which see). In the Roman Empire, freedom was a most difficult thing to
secure (Acts 22:28). So Paul speaks in human terms, “after the manner
of men,” and he says that we are strengthless naturally, that we must
be servants, either of God or of sin.
Man hates this fact. He
boasts his independence, whether it be in the realm of intellect—“free
thought!” in the matter of private wealth—“independent!” or in the
manner of government—“free!” But it is all really a delusion. We indeed
rejoice at the intellectual shackles thrown off at the Renaissance, and
at liberty of thought and expression, wherever found among men. We also
honor those who, like Boaz, are “mighty men of wealth,”—for God has
permitted it to be so; and we rejoice at that relief from governmental
tyranny which is yet found in some parts of this earth.
what we most earnestly assert is that not only Paul here, but our Lord
Himself, and Scripture generally, sets forth that only those that know
the truth and walk therein, are free. The Jews (in John 8:33 ff)
horribly rebel against our Lord’s saying: “If ye abide in My word, then
are ye truly My disciples: and ye shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free! . . . Every one that committeth sin is the
bondservant of sin . . . If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be
free indeed.” There is no freedom out of Christ. “Whose service is
perfect freedom” is the beautiful expression of obedience to God.
must see this necessity of service to God or service to sin for our own
lives. When John wrote to believers, “We know that we are of God, and
the whole earth lieth in the evil one” (I John 5:19),—what a revelation
These Roman Christians had formerly, like the pagans
among whom they lived, presented their members bondservants to
uncleanness [in every inward thought], and to lawlessness unto
[further] lawlessness [in outward practice]. A blacker page of
iniquitous abominations history does not write than that of the Roman
Empire of Paul’s day. And out of these fearful states of sin, God had
de livered these believers! Compare I Corinthians 6:9-11.
20 and 21: For when ye were bondservants of sin, ye were free in regard
of righteousness. What fruit had ye at that time in the things whereof
ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death!
in those former evil days, they had been, as Paul says, free in regard
of righteousness. They were altogether given to iniquity, without any
check whatever.148 And those were fruitless days of which they were now
ashamed. Free and fruitless! what a pair of words to describe the life
of one who is going on daily toward eternity! Let each believer look
back to those days when God was “not in all his thoughts.” The
pleasures and treasures of sin we sought—free in regard of
righteousness, like the beasts which perish. What saved one can say of
his unsaved life, I can treasure this or that as fruit? of any
particular iniquity, I cherish good results from it? What fruit had
you? Shame, only: things of which ye are now ashamed. Furthermore, we
were going on steadily in that path unto the end, which was death, and
that eternal. Remember the relentless but true description of sin’s
horrid birth and end, in James 1:14,15.
Now from all this, God
has in sovereign grace rescued us, and should we not, do we not, gladly
enter upon the path of loving service, yea, bondservice, to Him?
22: But now, having been freed from the fearful Master, Sin, and
brought into a sweet, willing bondservice to God, there was not only
the daily delightful fruit, which those given over to sanctification
were ever bearing; but there was the consciousness that every day
brought nearer, the full realization of that blessed eternal
life,—which they already possessed, but the full enjoyment of which was
the end of the path of God’s saints!
They were now and would
be forever under the domination of that motive which is the strongest
of all,—LOVE. Their service to God would be no longer one of seeking to
fulfil certain enactments by Him (as under law) but a glad willingness,
such as Christ expressed toward His Father in the prophetic words of
Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God!” There is no relief
comparable to this surrender to the all-wise and all-loving will of
God! Our Lord prescribes for those “laboring and heavy-laden,” first,
to come to Him, and He will give them rest (that is, salvation); and
then, having come, to take His yoke upon them (the yoke of Him who is
meek and lowly in heart) and they shall find rest to their souls (that
Verse 23: For sin, which they had once served,
was a terrible Paymaster’ Sin’s wages was death,—appointed so by God
Himself. What a hideous employer—Sin! What a horrid service! What
hellish wages! Yet sin is the chosen master of all but Christ’s “little
flock”! Of sin’s flock, it is written: “Death shall be their shepherd.”
as we read in verse 23, is the “wages of sin.” Men. speak of it
lightly. But it is indeed “the king of terrors” for the natural man
(Job 18:14). A well-known writer says: “Man finds in Death an end to
every hope, to every project, to all his thoughts and plans. The busy
scene in which his whole life has been, knows him no more. His nature
has given way, powerless to resist this master (death) to which it
belongs, and who now asserts his dreadful rights. But this is far from
being all. Man indeed, as man alive in this world, sinks down into
nothing. But why? Sin has come in; with sin, conscience; with sin,
Satan’s power; still more with sin, God’s judgment. Death is the
expression and witness of all this. It is the wages of sin, terror to
the conscience, Satan’s power over us, for he has the power of death.
Can God help here? Alas, it is His own judgment on sin. Death seems but
as the proof that sin does not pass unnoticed, and is the terror and
plague of the conscience, as witness of God’s judgment, the officer of
justice to the criminal, and the proof of his guilt in the presence of
coming judgment. How can it but be terrible? It is the seal upon the
fall and ruin and condemnation of the first Adam. And he has nothing
but this old nature.
“But Christ has come in. He has come into
death—O wondrous truth, the Prince of life! What is death now for the
believer? ‘Death is ours,’ says the apostle, as all things are. By the
blessed Lord’s entering into it for me, death,—and judgment too, is
become my salvation. The sin, of which it was the wages, has been put
away by death itself. The judgment has been borne for me there.”
the grace-bestowal (charisma) of God—here is the same dear word as in
Rom. 5:15,16. It is the expression which describes what is behind God’s
gift,—his grace (Greek, charis). And what is, here, God’s
grace-bestowal? Eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! What a
bestowment of grace is this! Sins borne, pardoned, gone,—and more! A
welcome in Heaven,—and more! Life granted to a lost soul dead in
sins,—and more! Eternal life,—to last as long as God its Giver. But
more,—life in Christ Jesus our Lord Himself! Sharing His life, who is
the Well-Beloved of the Father, sharing “the love wherewith God hath
loved Christ.” Life, eternal life, in Christ Jesus,—God’s grace-gift!
The wages of sin as over against the free gift of God!
this, that God will keep the contrast constantly before us, even at the
end of this chapter, between what is earned and what is given. In
verses 21 and 22, “the end” of two paths is seen: one, death; the
other, eternal life. But it must finally be said here, at the chapter’s
close, that while death is earned wages, eternal life is a FREE GIFT!
also note the blessed Sphere of this Eternal life: In Christ Jesus our
Lord. Every advance in the glorious truth of salvation is marked by
Christ’s own Name!—from His being “set forth” by God as “Christ
Jesus,—a propitiation through faith in His blood (3:24, 25); raised as
Jesus our Lord from the dead (4:24); our exulting in God through our
Lord Jesus Christ (5:11); and grace reigning through righteousness and
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (5:21); reckoning ourselves
dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus (6:11); and now the
gift of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (6:23). And victory
will come, in Chapter 7:25: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our
Lord.” And, at last, no separation “from the love of God which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord”! (8:39).
A FEW WORDS ABOUT GRACE
The Nature of Grace
Grace is God acting freely, according to His own nature as Love; with
no promises or obligations to fulfil; and acting of course,
righteously—in view of the cross.
2. Grace, therefore, is uncaused in the recipient: its cause lies wholly in the GIVER, in GOD.
Grace, also is sovereign. Not having debts to pay, or fulfilled
conditions on man’s part to wait for, it can act toward whom, and how,
it pleases. It can, and does, often, place the worst deservers in the
4. Grace cannot act where there is either desert or ability: Grace does not help—it is absolute, it does all.
There being no cause in the creature why Grace should be shown, the
creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for His
6. The discovery by the creature that he is truly the
object of Divine grace, works the utmost humility: for the receiver of
grace is brought to know his own absolute unworthiness, and his
complete inability to attain worthiness: yet he finds himself
blessed,—on another principle, outside of himself!
Therefore, flesh has no place in the plan of Grace. This is the great
reason why Grace is hated by the proud natural mind of man. But for
this very reason, the true believer rejoices! For he knows that “in
him, that is, in his flesh, is no good thing”; and yet he finds God
glad to bless him, just as he is!
The Place of Man under Grace
1. He has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!
2. He is not “on probation.”
3. As to his life past, it does not exist before God: he died at the Cross, and Christ is his life.
Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human
exigencies beforehand: His action was independent of them, not
dependent upon them.
5. The failure of devotion does not cause
the withdrawal of bestowed grace (as it would under law). For example:
the man in I Cor. 5:1-5; and also those in 11:30-32, who did not
“judge” themselves, and so were “judged by the Lord,—that they might
not be condemned with the world”!
The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace
1. To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
2. To refuse to make “resolutions” and “vows”; for that is to trust in the flesh.
3. To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
4. To testify of God’s goodness, at all times.
5. To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him.
6. To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.
7. A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but many about others.
Things Which Gracious Souls Discover
1. To “hope to be better” is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
2. To be disappointed with yourself, is to have believed in yourself.
3. To be discouraged is unbelief,—as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.
4. To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.
5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.
Real devotion to God arises, not from man’s will to show it; but from
the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were
yet unworthy and undevoted.
7. To preach devotion first, and
blessing second, is to reverse God’s order, and preach law, not grace.
The Law made man’s blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers
undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does
not always do so,—in proper measure.
Baptism in Romans not Baptism by the Spirit
to the Holy Spirit’s “baptizing us all into one Body” (I Cor. 12:13):
we are said indeed to be baptized by Him into the Body,—but only after
we died with Christ made sin:—a theological distinction, no doubt, but
a most necessary one.
Christ as Head of the Body, the Church,
comes after Christ as the Second Man, the Last Adam, It would not be
accurate, or indeed, possible, to speak of Christ as the Head of the
Body bringing about our death with Him, any more than to say that
Christ as the Head of the Body had borne our sins. The Body, the
Church, came after Christ, as the Last Adam, had put away our sin, and
by His “one act” constituted us righteous; and after we had died with
Christ made sin.
In a man’s history before God, he is not made
a member of Christ’s Body before he has died with Christ made sin! Let
us trace this:
1. An ungodly man, as such, believes on God about Christ, and is justified,—declared righteous.
justification, however, involved the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
Christ, who was “delivered up for his trespasses, but was raised for
his justifying” (Romans 4:25).
3. His justification, therefore, becomes what is called in Chapter 5:18 “justification of life.”
Now, it is not as a member of Christ’s mystical Body that we can assert
justification of him. Doubtless he is made member of Christ Risen, but,
When he is told to reckon himself dead unto sin and alive unto God in
Christ Jesus, it is not as a member of Christ’s Body that he is thus to
reckon, but as one who was in Adam, on whose behalf Christ was made to
be sin and died unto sin.
6. Doubtless by one Spirit we are
all baptized into one Body, and are made to drink of the one Spirit;
but this truth of I Corinthians 12 is not fundamental truth, but
positional truth, A man cannot say, Because I am a member of Christ’s
Body, therefore I am made dead to sin, But he can say, I was in Adam
the First, guilty, a man “in the flesh,” in “the old man.” But by God’s
grace I am now in Christ, the Last Adam. This is fundamental truth, And
it is fundamental truth that Romans contemplates. As we state
elsewhere, there will be saved Israelites, and others, besides Church
saints, who will partake of the benefits of Christ’s death and
resurrection; but who will not be of the Body of Christ.
Therefore, in carrying out the believer’s walk as directed in Roman’s
Six to Eight, we must go back of and beyond our consciousness of the
Body of Christ, to Christ as an Adam, a federal, representative Man.
Our standing is in Christ as the Last Adam; our membership: in that
blessed corporate company called the Body of Christ, Christ being the
In other words, we had no right to be put into Christ
the Head of the Body until we had died with Christ made sin, died to
our position in the other Adam. You will notice when Paul describes his
personal manner of life, he says “I have been crucified with Christ,
and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me.” This is not
Body truth, but federal truth, which is fundamental, Body truth comes
after federal truth, Federal truth has to do with our relationship to
God. We are either in Adam or in Christ, before God.
Romans 12:4, 5 is the Body of Christ referred to; for Romans is
fundamental, and deals with our relation to God,—as in Adam or in
Christ; and therefore does not deal with the corporate character of the
Church as such.
There are five parts to our salvation:
1. Christ’s propitiatory work toward God through His blood: bearing the guilt and condemnation of our sins.
Christ’s identification with us as connected with Adam, “becoming sin
for us,” releasing us from Adam, our federal head: “our old man” being
crucified with Christ.
3. The Holy Spirit’s whole work in us,
as “the Spirit of grace,” involving conviction, regeneration, baptism
into Christ’s Body; being in us as a “law of life” against indwelling
sin, the Witness of our sonship; our Helper, Intercessor, and, finally,
the mighty Agent in the Rapture.
4. Christ’s present work in
Heaven; leading our worship and praise as our Great High Priest; and
protecting us should we sin, as our Advocate with the Father (as
against our accuser).
5. Christ’s second coming to redeem our bodies, and receive us to Himself in glory: The Rapture.
It is what is called the deliberative subjunctive here; “May we?” or
“Should we? But best rendered in English by the form we have chosen:
“Are we to”— “is such the path?” And so in verse 15.
Verse 2, “We died to sin” (an aorist tense,—definite past fact).
6: “Our old man was crucified with Him” (another aorist tense); not “is
crucified,” as in the Old Version, which expression is a relic of
Romanism, and the meaning of which no one knows.
Verse 7: “The one having died” (aorist again; and meaning anyone in Christ) “is declared righteous from sin.”
Verse 8: “If we died [aorist] with Christ.”
10 and 11: “The death that He died. He died unto sin, once for all.
(Aorist tenses, the second specially emphasized by “once for all.”)
Of course, John deals with the new life; Paul, with the new relationship, the new creation. See II Corinthians
5:17: “If anyone is in Christ,—a new creation! the old things are
passed away; behold, they are become new.” The seed of God the new
creature, being of God does not consent to sin: however weak and
ignorant of the truth of the deliverance of the cross they may be,
there is always the absolute difference between those in Christ and
those not in Christ.
1.Godet remarks: “Burial is
the act which consummates the breaking of the last tie between man and
his earthly life. This was likewise the meaning of our Lord’s
entombment. Similarly, by baptism there is publicly consummated the
believer’s breaking with the life of the present world, and with his
own natural life.”
And he relates this striking incident,
which proves how these sayings of the apostle, apparently so
mysterious, find an easy explanation under the light of the lively
experiences of faith:
A missionary was questioning a converted
Bechuana as to the meaning of a passage analogous to Romans
6:5,—namely, Colossians 3:3. The Bechuana said to him: “Soon I shall be
dead, and they will bury me in my field. My flocks will come to pasture
above me. But I shall no longer hear them, and I shall not come forth
from my tomb to take them and carry them with me to the sepulchre. They
will be strange to me, as I to them. Such is the image of my life in
the midst of the world since I believed in Christ.”
Unfortunately, we do not have this word “walk” in this Pauline sense in
ordinary English use. Men have substituted the word “live,” and that in
a legal sense: “Live the Christian life,” “Live as you ought to live,”
quote Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:31: “I die daily,” to prove the
Romish idea of our “dying daily to sin.” But we need only remember that
the great message of I Corinthians 15 has to do with the body, to
refute this. Indeed the preceding verse and the following verses (30
and 32) show what Paul meant by “dying daily.” “We stand in jeopardy
every hour,”—meaning the physical dangers that beset his ministry. And,
“If after the manner of men we fought with beasts at
Ephesus,”—referring to the terrible outward trials he had faced and yet
To make the words “I die daily” mean an inward
spiritual struggle with sin, is to falsify Paul’s plain testimony: “I
have been crucified with Christ”; “Our old man was crucified with Him”;
“He that hath died is righteously released from sin”; “Reckon ye
yourselves dead unto sin.”
Paul indeed says he desired to be
“conformed unto” Christ’s death (Phil. 3:10); but as one who had
federally shared it: and not as one who sought to approximate, ,or
imitate, Christ’s death! This last is Romanism. But Paul was a
believer,—in the work of the Cross!
The Greek word is sumphutoi—used only here. It was confounded by the
King James translators with sumphuteuo, translated in Rom. 6:5,
“planted together,” whereas the proper word means to be actually
enlifed together with.
The Greek word for “know” (gignōskō) here, means to get to know, come
in the knowledge of, become acquainted with the fact. It is an entirely
different word from the one translated “knowing” in verse 9 (eidō),
meaning “a clear and purely mental conception, in contrast both to
conjecture and to knowledge derived from others” (Thayer). In this
latter verse the fact spoken of is a matter of common knowledge. We, by
God’s word here, come to know (verse 6) that our old man was crucified
with Christ; whereas we know as a necessary thing that Christ, being
raised, dieth no more (verse 9). This is not a fact we “come to know,”
as in the matter of our vital connection with His death, verse 6. The
manner in which we “come to know” our old man was crucified is by faith
in God’s testimony to fact!
”Justified from sin” does not mean “sinless perfection,”—but something
utterly different, and infinitely beyond that! It is different, in that
it does not refer to an “experience” of deliverance from sin, but a
passing beyond, in death with Christ at the cross, the sphere where the
former relationship to sin existed! We are justified, accounted wholly
righteous, with respect to the thing sin itself! This, therefore, is
infinitely beyond any state whatever of experience. It is a
newly-established relationship to sin, which the saints have because
they died with Christ: in which they stand in Christ as He is toward
sin. They are “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in
light.” They are heavenly. Their old relation to sin is over forever.
They are justified from it. They rejoice, indeed, and have a most
blessed “experience.” But they do not say sin is gone from their flesh:
but that they, having died, are declared righteous from it; that they
are cleared, before God, of all condemnation because of sin’s presence
in this unredeemed body; and delivered from all sin’s former rights and
bondage over them.
The Greek word is the perfect tense of the verb dikaioō, to declare righteous.
author many years ago edited a little book called Extracts from the
Journal of David Brainerd—the wonderful missionary to the Indians in
New Jersey in the eighteenth century, whose prayer-life has inspired
hundreds; whose devotion to Christ was sublime. But many, many pages of
his diary were found to be occupied with bemoaning (often alone on the
room-floor, or in the forest, before God) his sinful state.
example, “May 13, 1742. Saw so much of the wickedness of my heart, that
I longed to get away from myself. I never before thought there was so
much spiritual pride in my soul. I felt almost pressed to death with my
own vilencss. Oh what a body of death is there in me! Lord, deliver my
“May 15. Indeed I never saw such a week as this before;
for I have been almost ready to die with the view of the wickedness of
my heart. I could not have thought I had such a body of death in me.
30. Spent this day alone in the woods, in fasting and prayer; underwent
the most dreadful conflicts in my soul that ever I felt, in some
respects. I saw myself so vile, that I was ready to say, ‘I shall now
perish by the hand of Saul.’ I thought, and almost concluded, I had no
power to stand for the cause of God, but was almost afraid of the
shaking of a leaf. Spent almost the whole day in prayer, incessantly. I
could not bear to think of Christians showing me any respect.”
forbid that we should disparage in the least such a very saint as
Brainerd, whose Memoirs draw out our hearts with their sincere
godliness as do almost no other uninspired writings. Yet Paul’s
attitude is the Divine example. He believed what he wrote—that he had
been justified from sin itself. So that all struggles from
self-condemnation were over. He knew that in him was “no good thing”;
but that he had been justified from even indwelling sin.
Whitefield used to say, “When I see myself I seem to be half devil and
half beast,” and again, as he passed through great crowds on his way to
preach: “I wondered why the people did not stone so vile a wretch as
You may say, This is just the Seventh of Romans, and
Paul had that experience. Yes, Paul had it; and found that in him, in
his flesh, there was no good thing. But, having come to this vision of
himself, and agreeing with God as to the evil of the flesh, he found
deliverance in Christ and afterwards rejoiced in Him alway. There is no
hint in his epistles of a continued struggle, nor of the slightest
consciousness of Divine condemnation because of the presence of the
flesh within. He walked in the consciousness of justification not only
from guilt, but from sin itself! therefore, the Risen Christ, rather
than ill thoughts of his old self, filled his vision! The trouble with
most of us is, we do not believe we are utterly bad. Or if, like
Brainerd or Whitefield, we see and own it, we do not see ourselves
where God sees us, only in Christ.
Our Lord’s last words were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my
spirit.” As Peter writes: “Being put to death in the flesh, but made
alive in the spirit, in which [quickened spirit] He went and preached
unto the spirits in prison,” etc. (I Pet. 3:18, 19). Christ’s human
spirit, we know, from His own word, was to be “three days and three
nights (Matthew 12:40) in the heart of the earth.” This of course does
not refer to His body, which lay in Joseph’s tomb on the surface of the
The A.V. translation, “through Christ Jesus,” is unfortunate, as it
does not, as does God’s Word, emphasize the place of blessing in which
we now are—in (Gr. en) Christ Jesus. It is not, in this verse, what
shall be done through Christ for us; nor only what has been done
through Him; but the place of federal blessing in which we now are,
that is in view: we are lit Him who died to sin, and His death was ours.
This word “reckon” is a favorite word of Paul’s in Romans, where he
uses it 19 times, and only 16 times in all his other epistles. The
Greek word (logidzomai) might be called both a court word and a
counting-room word. Paul uses it as a court word as to God’s action in
accounting the believer righteous. In this sense it is used 11 times in
Romans Four alone—where it should be studied: see verses 3, 4, 5, 6, 8,
9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24.
Again, this word logidzomai is used to
express man’s belief and consequent attitude as illustrated in Romans
14:14: “To him that reckoneth anything to be unclean, to him it is
unclean.” Here, we repeat, an expression of belief, and of an attitude
in view of that belief, is included in this word. This is its meaning
in Chapter 6:11: “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin.” The
belief of the fact and the attitude in view of the belief, are both
involved in the word “reckon” in this verse. (Consult note on Chapter
On our way to the Far East, out in the
Indian Ocean, our ship entered on what has always seemed to me the
blackest night I have ever known. It was the dark of the moon, and the
clouds had hung heavy all day, and now the very pall of darkness! One
of the ship’s officers invited me to the bridge. Answering the
captain’s greeting, I said to him, “Do you know where you are?”
he said. “We have sailed by ‘dead reckoning’ all day, and now I will
show you where we are.” And he took me into the chart room. Bending
over the chart, he said, “We are within several miles of where my
finger points. We have a watch aloft, of course; but the sea is very
deep here; there are no obstacles. We shall sail on through by ‘dead
I laid the lesson to heart. It is difficult to
accustom ourselves to “dead-reckoning,”—right through the darkness, in
what seems so untrue to the facts of our consciousness. But, obeying
God, we reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive unto Him in Christ
Jesus. And God will bring us through!
A solemn question:
those who refuse or neglect to reckon themselves dead to sin as God
commands, we press the question. How are you able to believe that
Christ really bare the guilt of your sins and that you will not meet
them at the judgment day? It is only God’s Word that tells you Christ
bare your sins in His own body on the tree. And it is that same Word
that tells you that you, as connected with Adam, died with Christ, that
your old man was crucified, that since you are in Christ you shared His
death unto sin, and are thus to reckon your present relation to sin in
Christ—as one who is dead to it, and alive unto God.
claim that this is too difficult, because we feel the consciousness of
sin dwelling in us, then reflect that it is only by faith that we know
that our sin’s guilt was borne by Christ. And it is by faith alone that
we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin.
Let us beware, then,
lest we be found making a secret truce with indwelling sin, while yet
hoping to be saved from the guilt of the sins we have committed by
Christ’s shed blood.
Again, we repeat, if we are in Christ, we
are in a Christ who was made to be sin on the cross and died unto it.
This, therefore, is our relationship to sin; and God expects all of us
to assert by simple obedient faith this revealed fact,—to reckon
ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God, in Christ Jesus.
A danger to be avoided:
is not as having died with Christ that we are justified from the guilt
of sin; but it is after we have been justified by His blood, as
ungodly, that we are told this second great truth,—that our old man was
crucified with Christ—that we died with Him. I have seen professing
Christians begin to be exercised in conscience regarding the guilt of
sin, who, when they heard that those in Christ were dead to sin,
immediately seized hold of this latter truth, and that with great
relief. This false peace lasted, in some cases, a good while, and gave
its possessors much complacence and sweetness of spirit, for they went
on in secure Christian profession. But, not having been previously
really convinced of their personal guilt before God, and consequently
not having fled for refuge to the shed blood of Christ, they became
finally the very chiefest targets of the devil, and were sometimes
driven back into black despair itself.
God had announced, long
before, their common guilt with the worst wretches: “None
righteous,—no, not one”; “All under sin.” But these had somehow slipped
in past that message; and had taken hold of this, that they were “dead
unto sin.” For a true believer, this is a blessed word of deliverance.
But for one who is Christianly religious, who has not really rested, as
a guilty ungodly one, in Christ’s shed blood, this is a truth dangerous
above all. And when Satan attacks such souls, what shall they do? They
cannot plead “I am dead to sin,” against the devil! Saints overcome him
only by the blood of the Lamb. Only the blood of Christ will avail
against Satan, or as a real ground of peace, in your own conscience
(Heb. 9:14). Christ made peace by the blood of His cross. If you have
not yet learned to rest in that only, for eternal peace with God, and
as the answer to all Satan’s power, let all else alone until you have
learned this: if it be at the cost, even, of confessing openly that you
have never known true peace before!
souls cannot believe that obedience to God can be secured in any other
way than by law. They say, “Set a man completely at liberty, and you
cannot control him.” But consider:
1. No human being has ever
been really controlled by the principle of law. Israel, whom God placed
under law, and that “with marvelous and glorious manifestations of His
own presence and authority,” immediately renounced the obedience which
they had promised.
2. Consider the relationship of a bride and
a bridegroom: it is one of love, and delighted seeking of mutual
benefit. It is not a relationship of enactments of law at all. The
husband does not go about the house tacking up rules for the wife to
“observe”: and upon the observance of which the relationship shall
continue! Such rules are for servants! Yet, you find the wife eagerly
asking the husband what he would like for dinner, and how, in any other
way, she can make him comfortable and pleased. And all this arises from
the principle of love, not law!
3. Now God declares, and that
repeatedly, that we have been removed from under the principle of law
“in Christ’s death.” And now, being under grace, we bring forth “fruit
to God,” We serve in “newness of the spirit”: which can only mean that,
(like the wife thrilled with delight at the prospect of pleasing her
husband), the very spirit of service, which is personal devotion,
animates the believer.
4. But we really have no hope of any
person’s willingness or ability to see the power of this
newness-of-spirit plan, this love-plan of God’s, until such a one has
seen and believed that he died with Christ,—that he was so bad that his
entire “old man” was sent to the cross to be crucified; so that now he
is married to Another, to Him that was raised from the dead, that he
may bring forth fruit unto God.
That God can be a Savior-God
and not be a Law-giver, is beyond the reach of the human mind to
conceive, and is to be received by faith alone. That in those not under
law is brought about all—and much morel than the Law demands, is
foolishness to all but faith!
believers enter into since the cross, and the coming of the Holy Spirit
that were not true of believers before, may be stated here:
1. Sin has been put away on the cross. (It had been only “covered” year by year before that.)
Our old man has been crucified with Christ,—opening the way for
complete deliverance from the power of sin, by the indwelling Spirit.
3. Christ has been glorified (Acts 1:3; John 7:39).
The Holy Spirit has been given, at Pentecost, dispensationally; and
upon hearing and believing the gospel, individual believers are
hereafter sealed by this “Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13); who
witnesses in them, as “the Spirit of God’s Son,” their adult sonship.
God began at Pentecost to create “new creatures in Christ Jesus” (II
Cor. 5:17): “a kind of first-fruits of His creatures” (Jas. 1:18).
Christ, the First-born from among the dead, is the Head of this new
6. Believers were, at Pentecost and thereafter,
“baptized into one Body,” the Body of Christ,—becoming members of
Christ and members one of another, a marvelous thing and a new!
After Pentecost the “house of God” was not at Jerusalem, but “in the
midst” with believers anywhere,—even of twos or threes gathered in
Christ’s Names for there He Himself is (Matthew 18:19, 20); and there
the Holy Spirit is (I Cor. 3:16; Eph 2:21, 22).
[Jewish Old Testament saints, contrasted with Gentile [believers] were
kept under the Law . . . The Law was our tutor to lead us unto
Christ—to be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we [Hebrew
believers] are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:23, 24).
“Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the Law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
“If ye are led by the Spirit, YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW”! (Gal. 5:18).
abolished in His flesh the enmity [between Jew and Gentile], the Law of
commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15).
“ . . . For there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, (for The Law MADE NOTHING PERFECT), and a bringing in thereby of a BETTER hope, through which we draw nigh unto God” (Heb. 7:12, 14, 18, 19).
word “delivered” is the word constantly used, for instance, of our
Lord’s being handed over to His enemies (Matthew 20:18, 19; John 19:11,
16); and of the disciples’ being delivered over to councils (Matt.
10:17, 19). It is used of the Jews’ being “delivered over to serve the
host of heaven,” in Acts 7:42 (most significant as to its force in Rom.
6:17); and I Corinthians 11:23 contains the word in both its
significances: Paul delivered over to the Corinthians directions
concerning the Lord’s supper; Christ was delivered over to His enemies.
It is the same Greek word in both cases.
This distinction is
vital, because people conceive of the Gospel as something delivered to
them to “live up to,” or to lay hold of by their own wills, rather than
as of a body of truth unto which they, as believers, have already been
blessedly handed over! “Obedience of faith” can be nothing else than
walking in the light of facts Divinely revealed.
To make the words “free from sin” of Chapter 6:18 denote what is called
“eradication of the sin-principle,” a sinlessness in the flesh, is a
terrible perversion. Paul constantly preached and testified the
contrary. Our bodies will not be redeemed (no matter how much we may be
blessed or filled with the Holy Spirit) until “the redemption of the
body” at Christ’s second coming. Till that time, sin will be in the
flesh, although those who “obey from the heart” in simple faith that
word of the cross unto which they have been delivered, will find
themselves in a state of blessed relief from sin’s bondage. For
Scripture does teach heart-cleansing, a “pure heart,” as we have
“There seems to be a grave but cutting irony in this allusion to their
old condition, when the only freedom they knew was in respect to
righteousness! They were slaves of sin, and had nothing to do with