One part (among many parts) of the glorious inheritance that we have received in Christ is found in Romans 6.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
We ARE Dead to Sin
What a glorious passage! Commenting on this truth, A.W. Pink says that in Christ, we are indeed dead to the “pleasure, penalty, and power” of sin.
Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we died with Christ. When Jesus died, we died as well. Therefore, we are truly dead to sin’s pleasure and its power to make us obey it. This is not wishful thinking. It is in fact the truth about who we are now because of what Jesus has already done, fully, completely and sufficiently for us (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10). The problem, our problem, is that when we examine how we live, the choices we make, we really don’t believe this.
Living as Dead to Sin is an Exercise of Faith
Sure, we experience the pull of temptation. We will until the day we die. However, here’s the key. Paul reminds us in Romans 6:11 that we are to “recon” or “consider” ourselves dead to sin. By faith, we are to live each moment of each day in light of this [and the many other gospel truths that we find in the Bible].
Suppose you’re tempted to lash out at your spouse or child. Is your first thought that you are dead to the desires that are stirring the angry response? Even more important, is your own identity, how you think about yourself (even when you are not under the pressure of temptation) being changed (“renewed” – Rom. 12:2) increasingly through a focus on these gospel truths?
“I’ve Never Really Considered That I am Dead to Sin”
When I shared that we are “dead to sin” with a fellow Christian who had been a Christian for a very long time, he said that he had never really considered it before. It had no real impact on his battle with the flesh each day. But is he really that different from most Christians? Tragically, I believe not, at least if my own experience is any indication.
(Our churches are filled with many faithful attendees; people who are well-meaning and busy with ministry. But for some (perhaps many) of them, they never really learn the fundamentals of how to live in Christ. These “simple” truths never take root and thus are not nurtured into maturity. It’s like a child spending one week learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and then moving on to something else. It just doesn’t work that way…and we see books such as Michael Horton’s, “Christless Christianity” explaining why: we’ve departed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Faith is not a Formula
Living by faith is hard in large part because our flesh instinctively seeks its own salvation on our own provision for ourselves apart from faith. In fact it is much harder to act in faith than it is to work at defeating the flesh through will-power, rule-keeping, or formulas (that often have some biblical aspect to them). But it is only by faith that we access and apply Christ’s once for all victory to our daily struggles with the flesh!
Are We Reminding Others of This?
Do those in your church—and those in your home—know they are dead to sin? Are you reminding them of this and other gospel truths, regularly? Do they know these well-enough that it makes a positive difference in how they live each day?
Our Minds Are Renewed by The Gospel
As we dig deeper into Christ, identify and remind ourselves of these gospel truths, we gain a supernatural weapon in our battle against the flesh. We battle from the standpoint of victory: the victory already accomplished by Christ. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” as he breathed his last on the cross, He meant it. There is nothing incomplete about what he accomplished. Our job is first and foremost to exercise our faith in what he has already done by virtue of our being “in Him”.
By faith, the Holy Spirit applies the gospel to our hearts thus giving us victory resulting in obedience that brings us into greater conformity with Christ and more glory to God.
Is this the message we speak, not only on Easter, but every day to ourselves and to each other?