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DEVOTIONS FROM ROMANS

ROMANS -- ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST (16)

The Daily Process of Experiencing that Life

Romans 6: 7-14 (NKJV)

Dr. Gordon E. Johnson
Rio GrandeBible Institute

Introduction 

Paul delves more deeply into the heart of the doctrine of sanctification. The truth was begun in Rom. 5:12. We were born into the First Adam and the effects of that nature we continue to carry. However, we were born anew, from above, in the Last Adam. While tensions remain a factor, the reality of being in Christ, united to him in death to sin and  raised to walk in his risen life is a MUCH MORE relationship (Rom. 5:9,10, 15, 17. 20).  

The question can be now asked and answered categorically: Shall we keep on sinning (6:1)?  Definitely NOT.  We died to sin in respect to its control and power. From that judicial death in our representative, we follow him in burial and resurrection. That profound union must be progressively known at a heart and experience level (Rom. 6:6), the work of the Holy Spirit making it real in our co crucifixion. This is a process of faith and gratitude for what he did once and for all in us. "Knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with (that is, rendered impotent, cancelled its power) that we should not serve sin".

The Severing Power of Death, the Ground of This New Union   Rom. 6:7-10

Paul in these verses rings the changes on death in the legal world (7), in our spiritual world (8) and in Christ's unique vicarious death. He appeals to the inability of the law to extract any further judgment on a dead man. When Hitler died in the Berlin bunker in 1945, no world court could further punish him: his infamy would live on but no human power could touch him. The text says death ends the legal process: death clears the guilty of further retribution.

Since it has been established that we died with Christ (6:2), we have been cleared of any retribution;  it follows ipso facto that we will live with him: his death and resurrection are uniquely bound together. Since we share one, we share the other (8).  In verses 9 and 10 Paul expounds on the consequences of that death and resurrection. It is final, definitive, and cannot ever be repeated or duplicated. His death was a cosmic death to the principle of sin in the First Adam and since Christ now lives forever "He died to sin once for all  . . . He lives to God".  This foundational truth is the spiritual leverage for what follows.

It is most worthy of note that Christ died to sin, the exact fact is said of us in Christ in Rom. 6:2 "¿How shall we who died to sin  . . . ". It is as true of one (Christ) as it is of the other (nosotros); hence the result follows: "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" Rom.6:11.

The Role of Faith and Obedience in This Union        Rom. 6: 11-13

We come now to the believer's response. Until this moment, Paul has highlighted almost exclusively what Christ did for us and in us at the cross (Rom. 6:1-10). But the believer's heart faith response must be addressed.  In his death to sin (6:11) is grounded our right to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin. Likewise must mean: if one is true the other is also.

1.)    Be counting yourselves dead to sin and alive 6:11. Notice the two fold present  on going personal command The verb is from the accounting world. Reckon on facts, no feeling. Other verbs may be: consider, act on a divine reality. This is a negative/positive state of heart faith. Here is the exercise of FAITH that introduces the grace of God (Rom. 4:16).The believer must make this a constant act and attitude of the renewed will embracing the dynamic of the Cross.

2.)    Don't be letting sin reign in your mortal body 6:12. Notice Paul negates the reign of sin, not proclaiming the absence of sin. It is, however, a total negation with a reminder of the mortality of the body. Inferred in this command is the glorious fact that in that heart counting on our union in death and resurrection, the power of God is released to make obedience to him an on going blessed reality.

3.)    Don't be presenting your members as ammunition to the sin principle 6:13A Once again it is a present tense imperative. Stop presenting as a habit your members as slaves or victims of sin.  This is then active personal OBEDIENCE.  We must see biblical faith as embracing as a result or consequence active obedience. They are wed and cannot be separated to remain biblical concepts.  This then becomes our responsibility to count and obey in every turn of life.

4.)    Be presenting now and decisively yourself, your will first and foremost and then your members to God 6:13B. The verb changes from a present progressive command to an aorist command, implying heart commitment at a new level. In that heart commitment the believer has complied with the practical steps that lead to victory.  This is the pattern, the road map. If there is failure along the way and there will be, the believer returns to confess his sin (1 John 1:9) and takes the cleansing of the blood and returns to his standing and position united to a risen Christ: the blood for cleansing and the Cross for victory.

5.)    "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" Rom. 6:14. The above pattern is God affirmation that victory was won at the Cross, and faith and obedience activate it in your life and mine. Notice the first and fourth commands are positive with the second and third commands negative, the perfect symmetry of the Message of the Cross.

Conclusion

The key concepts of the Message of the Cross are faith in our union with Christ crucified and obedience to him. Another key concept is the verb PRESENT: (6:13 twice; 12:1).  The essence of the verb is not action or struggle, nor merit but availability, put yourself at his command, even a military term --readiness, unquestioned obedience, not doing but being open and receptive to what God did and wants to do by the Holy Spirit. These truths free us for the struggle to maintain what God has given. Our responsibility is faith and obedience and every thing else is subsumed under that.). Notice the absence of reference in Paul's road to victory of reading the Bible, prayer and other disciplines that follow. These five steps are laid hold of as the dynamic; then the disciplines will follow in the maintenance of our spiritual life. As we were saved, so we walk. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col. 2 : 6

Yours in the Message of the Cross,

Dr. Gordon E. Johnson
Rio Grande Bible Institute