Saturday, 18 May 2013
For he who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:7
Care must be taken when evaluating Romans 6:7. We are told that he who has died has been freed from sin. What was it that died? We are still physically alive and in our fallen bodies. We have not yet received the glorified bodies promised to us. One must return to 5:18-5:21 to remember the context. In Adam, man died spiritually – because of one misdeed. In Christ, we are born again spiritually – because of His work. We are also told that the law was introduced that sin might abound “so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This is further explained in Colossians 2:13, 14 –
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
Sin came about by the introduction of law (one law for Adam, but still the law). Paul has already explained that through the law is the knowledge of sin and where there is no law there is no transgression. Christ has taken away the power of sin by taking away “the handwriting of the commandments that was against us.” The law is what was nailed to the cross; Jesus is the embodiment of the law. When He was crucified, the power of the law was removed. We have died to this same law through our uniting with Christ. Thus we are free from the law’s constraints. This however doesn’t mean we have been freed from sin’s presence, only its penalty. The law has no jurisdiction over someone who has died.
This is what Paul is explaining today. He is not saying that we can not sin, he is saying that sin and its consequences have no judicial power over us. The teaching which from time to time creeps in that states that we can be sinless in this life is in error. John Gill rightly speaks of our state in Christ –
“…such are “freed from sin”; not from the being of it; nor from the burden of it; nor from a continual war with it; nor from slips and falls into it; no, not even freed from it, in the most solemn services and acts of religion; but they are freed from the dominion of it, from servitude to it, and also from the guilt of it, and from obligation to punishment on account of it.”
Those denominations and teachers who lead their flock down the path of assuming they can become perfect in this life have a fundamentally flawed view of the natural man with whom we are, and will continue to be, at war with. The physical body didn’t die and our physical body remains fallen until the day when a new one is given. Therefore, to claim that a sinless state can be obtained in this fallen body can only lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and neuroses of the soul who continues to struggle with sin, wondering why they alone have such trials, when in fact all do.
The three “P’s” are good to remember when evaluating sin –
1) When we die to sin, being reborn through Jesus, we die to sin’s Penalty. This is immediate and eternal in nature.
2) As we grow in holiness and sanctification, we die to sin’s Power. This is on-going until we die.
3) When we are glorified, we will be completely removed from sin’s Presence. This will be our eternal state. Only when our fallen bodies are transformed to His likeness will this state be realized in us in its fullness.
Life application: Where there is no law, there is no transgression. Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf and then He died in fulfillment of that law. It was nailed to the cross. When we receive the work of Christ, we die to that same law, once for all time. Sin no longer has the ability to accuse us because we are dead to the law which gives sin its power. Thanks be to God for the work of Jesus.
Lord, as I read and study Your word, be with me, guide me, and help me to understand it in the way in which you intend. There are contrasting views on many of the important issues in it and surely only one is correct. Lead me to sound instruction and those who properly handle it so that my life will be lived in the way which is acceptable. To Your glory I pray this. Amen.