Do you think that it is possible to experience victory over sin today? For the longest time I thought that sin was a nagging problem that takes a life-time of self-willed discipline and determination to reduce. This, frankly, was the result of a shallow understanding of Christ’s accomplishment on the cross and my relation to that. The truth of the matter is, we have been crucified with Christ.
“Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves” Romans 6:6
“For you died” Colossians 3:3
For my entire Christian life, I have always known of the substitutionary death of Christ. “Jesus died in my place that I might not be condemned.” “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “He is our penal, substitutionary atonement.” These great truths were assuring and gave me hope for my future.
What I was never told, or at least what was never deliberately wrought into the core of my being like the truths above, was that while Christ died for me, I also died with Christ! Christ’s death on the cross included me, not just my sins. While He did bare my sins in his body upon the tree, He also took me with Him.
Reckoning, not Restricting
“So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
“If you died with Christ from the element of the world, why, as living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances?” Colossians 2:20
We have died. Our body of sin was taken up with Christ on the cross. Yet in our experience we say, “Lord that is a lie! It seems as though I sin now just as much as before you regenerated me!” The reason this is our experience is a lack of reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin.
Do you believe you died? I don’t think you truly do. We act as though we have so much wrong with our old man that must be fixed and disciplined. We subject ourselves to the ordinances of men, saying “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch,” as though we can fix our old man. The Lord’s solution is much better: he terminated us.
We must believe this Word with determined faith. We must pray that the Lord would increase our faith to the wonderful truth of co-death! The solution to sin and the way for “our body of sin” to be “annulled” is only a matter of reckoning.
Why is verse 11 in Romans 6 needed? According to our natural concept, if something happened historically 2000 years ago, then we have no part to play today. But the Lord offered Himself through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). That means what He accomplished is applicable and reckon-able. Christ’s substitutionary atonement was accomplished and has zero need to be applied to us inwardly. God’s judgement is satisfied objectively. But Christ’s terminating the old man, being buried, resurrecting, and ascending to the throne are all applicable to us today subjectively (Rm. 6:6, 4; Eph. 2:6).
Living to God
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
“Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body so that you obey the body’s lusts; Neither present your members as weapons of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13
Here in Galatians, you see an example of someone reckoning themselves dead to sin. “I am crucified with Christ.” What faith! Paul is exercising his faith to reckon his old man dead. But this is not the end of the problem of sin. If we were only dead, we would be empty vessels still, and the problem would come back 7-fold (Matt. 12:44-45). There is another step needed in order to truly have victory over sin.
“Present yourselves to God as alive from the dead.” God will not strive with our old man. He will not fix it, nor will he work along side it. He has given the diagnosis: the flesh is weak, corrupted with sin, and utterly satanic. So God crucified our old-man and resurrects it in newness of life! We need to reckon ourselves dead, and then present our members as slaves to righteousness.
God will lead us if we present ourselves as alive from the dead. He desires consecrated vessels; those who give themselves fully to Him and His leading. If we do this, and choose to live in faith, He will lead us and even be the one living. That is how John is able to boldly claim:
“Everyone who has been begotten of God does not practice sin” 1 John 3:9
When it is Christ living, there is no sin. The old man is full of sin, and if you claim that you don’t sin, you are a liar:
“If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
John asserts both because the Lord made it clear to him that only God is without sin, and only when we are presented as vessels for God to live through can we overcome.
This is Confusing…
So what do we do? This seems contradictory, confusing, and doesn’t quite match our experience. The answer is that we start now. We need to begin today! Lord we reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to you. Let us abide in You today! We have been crucified with Christ!
In practical terms, spend a ton of time with the Lord. Read the Word every morning. Pray over God’s Word every day. Spend time in fellowship with other believers (not the same as hanging out with Christians). And continually have this prayer on your lips: “Lord I have nothing to offer you in myself. I give myself to you as a vessel. Live through me today!”
“Everyone who abides in Him does not sin” 1 John 3:6