Dead to Sin, Alive to God Part 3 – Romans 6:11-14
Pastor Mark Hardy August 5, 2012
An adult male elephant can reach weights of six to eight tons, which is between 12,000-14,000 pounds. Since most cars weigh about two tons, that’s big! And yet at the circus we see a huge elephant tied to a small wooden stake and it calmly stands there. Why? Because when the elephant was just a baby one end of a chain was fastened around one foot and the other end was attached to a four foot long iron stake that was driven into the ground. No matter how hard the baby elephant tried to get loose, it was not strong enough. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to break free, the baby elephant eventually came to believe that escape was impossible and it gave up. This belief was then carried into adulthood. Now even though the full grown elephant could easily pull out the wooden stake and escape, it never even attempts to break free. This intelligent, powerful creature is held captive, not by any physical restraint, but by its own beliefs.
Just as the elephant believes itself to still be held captive by the small stake and escape is impossible, so many Christians today believe themselves to still be held captive by sin and unable to escape its rule. But that is not true! Sin’s power has been broken in our lives because of our union with Jesus Christ. But unless we believe and apply this truth we will continue to allow ourselves to be slaves to sin and not live victorious Christian lives. This is what we will be looking at this morning. Turn in your Bible to Romans 6, where we are looking at vv. 1-14, which is one of the most important passages on the Christian life.
In our study of Romans 6:1-14, Paul has given four requirements on how we as believers can turn our vital union with Christ into victorious living for Christ. Thus far, we have seen the first two requirements:
1) We are responsible to not abuse God’s grace.
2) We must know what Christ accomplished for us.
This morning we’ll see the remaining two requirements. The third requirement for victorious Christian living is this:
III. We must Consider our vital Union as Personal
A. Look at v. 11: Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
1. As we come to v. 11 Paul shifts his emphasis from the indicatives or historical facts of what God has already done for us as believers in union with Christ in vv. 3-10 to the imperatives or commands that we are to do in light of those truths.
2. The word “consider” (logizesthe) is the command in this verse and is one of the most important words in Romans, being used nineteen times. It is a commercial accounting term that means “to put to one’s account, to credit, reckon, impute, count, and calculate.”
3. The whole idea in this context is that we as believers are to take the historical facts of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection that we know and believe from God’s Word and “consider” these truths—to so internalize them whereby they move from our minds into our hearts, so that we personalize them and can apply them in our own lives.
4. In other words, to “consider” does not create the fact of our union with Christ, it only makes it operative in our personal lives. And since the word “consider” is in the present tense in the Greek, this is not something we do one time but continually as a habit of life.
5. Notice again the two truths that we are to continually consider about ourselves: First, we are “dead to sin.”
6. Just as Jesus death was a death to sin (v. 10), so we who have died with Christ (vv. 2, 3, 4a, 5a, 6a, 7, 8a, 10) must constantly consider ourselves as “dead to sin.” This is because our old self was crucified with Christ and we are no longer slaves to sin (v. 6).
7. William Newell says to believers, “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.” (pg. 222)
8. It is important to understand that we are “dead to sin” not that sin is dead to us. Since sin is an ever present struggle in our lives often we will not “feel” like we are dead to it.
9. That is why we must not go by our feelings, but by faith in what God said to be true. And we must constantly consider our vital union with Christ as personal.
10. Only then will we personally own the truth that we have been freed from sin’s tyranny and can have confidence that we are fully able to resist temptation in God’s power (1 Cor. 10:13).
11. The second truth that we must continually consider about ourselves is: we are “alive to God.” Just as Jesus powerfully rose from the dead to live forevermore (vv. 4b, 9-10), so we who are spiritually united to His resurrection life (4b, 5b, 8b) must constantly consider ourselves as “alive to God” (Eph. 2:6; Col. 2:12) to “walk in newness of life” (v. 4b).
12. Right now we possess the resurrection life and power of Christ within us to enable us to represent Him by living holy and loving lives in whatever circumstances we are in. And as we do we bring glory to God.
13. Now notice that we are dead to sin and alive to God only because we are “…in Christ Jesus.” All that we have is only because of Jesus Christ and our vital union with Him.
14. The fourth requirement for victorious Christian living is:
IV. We must Present ourselves to God without Reservation
A. Look at vv. 12-13: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness… (Stop there)
1. The word “Therefore” (oun) here draws a conclusion from the facts of our death and life in union with Christ. Since we are actually dead to sin and alive to God in Christ we are to now live that way in our daily lives.
2. In vv. 12-13 Paul gives three more commands and each of these are addressed to the believers will. Thus far we have seen that we have the knowledge of what is true in our minds and we are to consider these truths so that they are personally internalized into our hearts and ready to apply. Now we are to exercise our wills to live them out.
3. In these two verses Paul gives us two negative commands and one positive command. We see the first negative command in v. 12, “…do not let sin reign in your mortal body…”
4. The command to “not let sin reign” is in the present tense, indicating that we are to continually fight and rebel against sin’s usurping rule in our lives.
5. The word “reign” means to rule as king (5:14, 17, 21). Once again sin is personified as a powerful monarch who is determined to regain its control in the believer’s life.
6. But sin is no longer our rightful master. We are dead to sin, its ruling power is broken, and we are no longer its slave.
7. We have been set free and we serve a new Master, Jesus Christ, who reigns over us. This is why we are commanded “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts…”
8. The word “body” (somati) here, like v. 6, refers to our physical body. This is affirmed by the word “mortal,” which means subject to corruption and death.
9. As we saw last time, our physical body is not sinful in itself, but is merely a neutral instrument that can be used for good or bad, for God or for sin. Therefore, don’t confuse agency with instrumentality; it is people who are sinful agents not their bodies.
10. Now the purpose of not letting sin reign in your mortal body is “…so that you (won’t) obey its lusts.” The word “lusts” (epithumiais) simply means longings or desires, and can be either good or bad depending on how the word is used in the context.
11. In this case, the “lusts” or desires are evil. Since our body is not sinful in itself, these desires for sin arise from our sinful heart (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 1:24; Gal. 5:16). Therefore, by an act of our will we must deliberately resist them and refuse to obey them or else they will be manifested in and through our physical bodies.
12. Thomas Schreiner said it well, “What we have is the already-not yet tension that informs all of Paul’s theology. The old person has been crucified with Christ and the new person (Col. 3:10) is a reality, and yet the old person still must be resisted and its desires (Eph. 4:22) thwarted. Believers must also choose to clothe themselves with the new person that is theirs in Christ…Those who are incorporated into him (i.e. Christ) are no longer under the dominion of sin. Nevertheless, since believers live in the gap between the inauguration and the consummation of the new age, sin is still possible. But its tyranny has been broken through the death and resurrection of Christ.” (pg. 318)
B. The second negative command is in v. 13, “…and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness…”
1. The command here is to “not go on presenting.” The word “presenting” (paristanete) or “present” (parastesate) is used five times in vv. 13-19 and is a very important word for the believer’s responsibility in the New Testament.
2. It means “to offer, and to place at the disposal of another for service.” It is also in the present tense, showing that we are not to keep on offering up or placing “…the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.”
3. Now the “members of your body” (mele) refer to the various parts of our physical bodies, such as: our tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.
4. When we choose to allow the tyrant master of sin to reign in our hearts we freely hand over the various members of our body to sin as “instruments of unrighteousness.” The word “instruments” (hopla) is the general word for tools or implements of any kind.
5. Whereas some scholars translate this word “weapons,” since the context has more to do with slaves and masters instead of military warfare, it is probably best to simply take it as instruments.
6. Therefore, when we choose to allow sin in our hearts to reign in our lives it uses the various members of our body as instruments or tools of “unrighteousness.” In other words, our body is used for ungodly and unChristlike living.
7. Our tongue is saying things it should never say; our eyes are looking at impure things; our ears are listening to things that don’t please God; our hands are doing things they should never do; our feet are taking us places we should never go.
8. Once again we become enslaved or addicted to sin. And if we present our physical bodies to such things as drugs, alcohol, or other substances, we will also become physiologically enslaved or addicted and will often need additional medical help to break it.
9. These are the two things we are commanded not to do!
C. Now Paul says what we are to do by giving a positive command in the second part of v. 13: …but (in stark contrast to what we’re not to do) present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
1. Paul command here is to “present (parastesate) yourselves to God…” John Murray accurately states, “This fuller statement shows that although the thought had been concentrated upon the bodily (vss. 12, 13a), yet the apostle does not regard the physical as comprehending the sum-total of devotion. Believers are to present themselves to God as those alive from the dead. Here the whole personality is in view.” (pg. 228)
2. This is the central command that makes the other two negative commands possible. If we don’t offer our entire self to the Lord and place our whole being at His disposal as our rightful Master and Supreme Treasure, then our hearts will look elsewhere for satisfaction and we will open the door to sin.
3. Now the aorist tense of the word “present” usually refers to a completed or finished action once for all, but here it is best to see this as having to do with urgency. In other words, we are commanded to give God decisive control of ourselves right now and to keep on doing so!
4. Why? Because Paul says that we are “…as those alive from the dead.” Literally, “as living ones out from the dead ones.”
5. What a striking and vivid way of referring to us as Christians. We are to make a deliberate commitment to God without reservation because we owe our spiritual life and all that we are and have to Him!
6. And when we fully present ourselves to Him, the members of our bodies constitute part of this offering. This is why Paul goes on to say, ““…and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
7. Beloved, never forget that as a believer your body is the temple of God. For 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
8. God wants all the various members of our bodies to be “instruments (or tools) of righteousness to” Him. The word “righteousness” (dikaiosunes) here is not talking about the declared righteousness of justification, but the practical righteousness of a holy life that is pleasing to God in sanctification (Matt. 3:15; 6:33; Eph. 4:24; 5:9; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; 3:16; 4:8; Jam. 1:20).
D. Paul then shows the reason why we are to continually live with such commitment and devotion to God. Look at v. 14: For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
1. This verse not only concludes the first section of 6:1-14, but makes a transition into the second section of vv. 15-23 by reintroducing the theme of the law, which will take center stage from 6:15-7:25.
2. Notice that Paul first pronounces a glorious promise saying, “For sin shall not be master over you.”
3. The future tense “shall not” is from the perspective of our co-death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. Since we are already dead to sin and alive to God sin shall not be master over us here and now.
4. But it also shall not be master over us in the future when one day in heaven we are fully freed from the very presence of sin. What a day that will be!
5. Now sin’s powerful reign is not “master” (kurieusei), lord or sovereign over us anymore because of the change of Adam’s within us. In salvation God has moved us from being only in union and solidarity with the first Adam, sin and death to now being in union and solidarity with the last Adam, Jesus Christ, righteousness and life.
6. And Paul says the reason why sin shall not be master over us is this: “…for you are not under law but under grace.”
7. Concerning the meaning of “under law,” C.E.B. Cranfield says, “Paul is here thinking not of the law generally but of the law as condemning sinners; for, since grace denotes God’s undeserved favor, the natural opposite to under grace is ‘under God’s disfavor or condemnation.’ (pg. 320)
8. The old covenant system of law could not save and was not a way of deliverance from sin, for it only caused every mouth to be closed and all the world to become accountable to God (3:19). Although the Law is “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12) in itself and can lead people to Christ (Gal. 3:24), by it alone no flesh is justified (Rom. 3:20a; Gal. 2:16; 3:11) for through it simply comes the knowledge of sin (3:20b).
9. The Law doesn’t decrease sin in people’s lives but rather causes it to be strengthened (1 Cor. 15:56) and to increase (5:13-14, 20). It offers nothing but wrath and condemnation to its violators (4:15; 7:10) because of sinful man’s total inability to keep it perfectly.
10. Therefore, to be “under law” is to be enslaved to sin. The Law has no power whatsoever to save or deliver the transgressor.
11. John Stott described the distinction between law and grace this way, “This is the ultimate secret of freedom from sin. Law and grace are the opposing principles of the old and the new orders, of Adam and of Christ. To be under law is to accept the obligation to keep it and so to come under its curse or condemnation. To be under grace is to acknowledge our dependence on the work of Christ for salvation, and so to be justified rather than condemned, and thus set free. For ‘those who know themselves freed from condemnation are free to resist sin’s unsurped power with new strength and boldness.’” (pg. 181)
12. Thomas Schreiner describes it like this, “The phrases ‘under law’ and ‘under grace’ are best understood in a salvation-historical sense. They refer to different eras in God’s redemptive historical plan. The term ‘under law’ designates the Mosaic era as a whole, while ‘under grace’ describes the new age inaugurated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The logic of verse 14 is as follows: If you were still under the era of law, then sin would rule over you; since you are under the age of grace, sin cannot have dominion over you.” (pg. 3:26)
13. Praise God that as believers in union with Christ we are subject to the new age in which freedom from the power of sin is available. Sin shall not be master over us!
14. It is only because of God’s grace that we are enabled by the indwelling Spirit of God to now keep the moral norms of God’s law (Rom. 8:4). This is exactly what Jeremiah and Ezekiel foresaw occurring when the new covenant became a reality (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:26-27).
15. Whereas v. 1 began with an appalling question “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Now v. 14 ends with the promise that we who are under grace don’t live under sin’s control because “sin shall not be master over you.”
E. Now why is Romans 6:1-14 one of the most important passages on the Christian life? It is because here we see the importance of connecting the “indicatives” or historical facts of what God has already done for us with the “imperatives” or commands of what we as believers are responsible to do.
1. Whereas our sanctification on the one hand is not legalistically trying to be spiritual and holy in our own strength or keeping a certain set of rules. Neither is it on the other hand a passive “God-does-it-all” attitude so we must simply “let go and let God” and somehow get there by spiritual osmosis.
2. Our sanctification calls for an active appropriation on our part of the truths of God’s Word. God’s facts are the basis of His commands. Right doctrine is the foundation for right living.
3. In other words, we are to keep on becoming in our daily practice what God says we already are in our divine position in Christ. We have a very important responsibility in the outworking of the life of Christ in us.
4. We see this especially in Philippians 2:12-13 where we are commanded to continually, “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
5. Here we see the biblical balance of both human responsibility and divine enablement in the sanctification process. We are to give our all in obedience to God’s commands, but it is God alone who gives both the desire and the ability to accomplish it.
6. This mutual co-operation between God and us is called “Concurrence,” but I like to call it “Responsible Dependence.” We are to be actively involved in doing our best to obey God’s commands, but doing so in complete dependence on God who alone can make us more like Christ.
In closing, let me ask you: Have you truly presented yourself in full commitment and devotion to God? Or is there something that you are hanging on to—some sin or habit or person or thing that you want more than Him?
If we are going to be victorious in our Christian lives we are going to have to be responsible to not abuse God’s grace, to know the truths that we are dead to sin and alive to God, to consider these truths practically applicable in our lives, and to present ourselves wholeheartedly to God. Only then will we be able to turn our vital union with Christ into victorious living for Christ, for our good and God’s glory.