We’ve begun a short series on the topic of the Believer waging war against the remnants of indwelling sin. We’ve seen already that the very first Foundational Principle is: This is war. Ephesians 6:10-20.
If the Christian does not enter into and maintain a battle mentality – sin will have its way with us. As that eagle-eyed pastor of an earlier age wrote: “True Christianity is a fight. True Christianity! Let us mind that word ‘true.’ There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not, true Christianity…The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death.” (J. C. Ryle’s “A Call to Holiness” – pg. 52)
In the days to come, we’ll be visiting a number of other principles. In the sense that each one is needed to form a whole – each of them is “foundational”. They will not be laid out in some supposed order of importance simply because in the final analysis, none of them is dispensable. We will just move through them as they strike my own mind. Here then is the 2nd thing I’d like us to consider –
Foundational Principle #2: Sin doesn’t die. Rom. 6:1-14. Please note the language of this passage and others. It differs from the way we generally speak about this matter. While I understand what many mean when they use terminology regarding “killing sin” – it really is not the way the Bible speaks. This is a point of no small importance. The reason is, if you are engaged in trying to accomplish something Scripture never says can or will be accomplished, you will live a life of constant disappointment and defeat. If you yourself use terminology like “I want to kill sin or put it to death” – and you are not clear that such a notion DEOS NOT include the idea of putting yourself beyond temptability, you will believe you have sinned and failed every time you are merely tempted to sin. You will live in perpetual defeat.
The language of Romans 6 in particular, as well as other passages never states that one can purge the principle of sin from dwelling in them in this life. Sin doesn’t die: Instead, the Biblical concept is the WE do the dieing. WE die to sin. We put to death the “DEEDS OF THE FLESH” (Rom. 8;13) but something within us will still resonate with outward temptations.
Look carefully at the text: “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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.““Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” (Romans 6:1-12, ESV)
We must absolutely get this right beloved – the “let not sin therefore reign” of vs. 12, is NOT predicated
on sin having been killed or removed – but on the previous statements regarding our having died to it – and therefore reckoning ourselves – thinking of ourselves – as free not to have to obey its influence any longer.
The Believer is not one who suddenly finds themselves devoid of sinful inclinations – but the one who clearly and by faith, accepting the reality of the work done by Christ at Calvary and our inclusion in it through being brought into Christ by the Spirit – stands armed with that mind and defies the inclinations which arise out of their own hearts. This is what we need to digest – WE DO NOT HAVE TO YIELD TO OUR OWN DESIRES Christian, WE ARE FREE TO DENY THEM and the serve righteousness instead. This is no simple mind game, it is taking up the reality of Christ’s cross-work by faith and living in it. And your own heart will ceaselessly war with you over it. It isn’t until you begin to wage the battle here, that you will find out how “desperately wicked” and “deceitful” (Jer. 17:9) your own heart truly is. “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”” (Mark 7:19-23, ESV)
Do not try to achieve some sort of super-Christendom whereby you are not or cannot be tempted. Even utterly devoid of sin – Jesus was still tempted. Instead, live in the light of the truth that having been born again by His Spirit, He has made you free, so as to shake off daily, even moment by moment – the shackles of your former life which was in utter bondage to sin. Gal. 5:1a – “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Live there!
More on this to come.