A DIFFICULT SUM
the problem of sin and it's conquest
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but to be living unto God in Christ Jesus."-Romans chap. 6, verse 11.
When Paul reaches chapter 8 in this epistle he is able to state some marvellous truths for us concerning the Holy Spirit. That chapter begins with " no condemnation " and ends with " no separation." It is a word of power and of dominion for every child of God. The foundation of that chapter, however, is not in itself, but in this chapter which we are to consider. That is to say, fulness of life in the Holy Spirit depends on a clear understanding of the significance of the Cross as set forth here.
THE BELIEVER'S CRY
is pitiful. Notwithstanding all the joy we have in Christ our Saviour we are saddled with the desperate experimental problem of sin. Our apprehension of Jesus as Redeemer has brought us assurance of salvation and that assurance we have heartily and gratefully embraced. No man, to whom spiritual facts have become a reality, can possibly estimate lightly the blessing of Calvary as it discharges the penalty of our guilt. At the same time such a revelation brings with it a new estimation of sin and we are painfully conscious of the ramifications of sin's power in our lives as well as being made to see sin where hitherto it had not been suspected. A Christian in such a condition, powerlcss to subdue sin, yet evermore conscious of it becomes in his own mind something of a hypocrite, for he knows he is not what others think him to be. And because he has not mastered the inward problem of sin he acts inconsistently before others and this creates problems in the minds of serious people who wonder how far this salvation really works.
THE UNBELIEVER'S PERPLEXITY
is real. Does this Christianity really bring with it a change of heart and life? Can sin, its power, its affection be broken? Many who wistfully ask that question are watching professing Christians to observe their reaction, and all too infrequently there is no encouragement to embark upon the Christian life. The dynamic witness of the Christian life is in power over sin. We may declare to others the joy of sins forgiven,but the truth that cannot be resisted is the truth of the power of sin broken. Any serious and intelligent reader of this chapter must realise that here is the experience for which he hungers. Paul speaks of the end of the reign of sin in the mortal body, of being made free from sin, of the possibility of yielding our members to righteousness unto holiness. Yet the answer in our own souls may be the cry of the apostle in the next chapter: "0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of this body of death?"
frankly mystifies most people. Few Christians really know this chapter and the reason is a simple one. The theology of this chapter is born out of experience. The truth of the Cross by which Paul was converted came by the light of the Spirit as it came to you and to me. Paul sets it forth, in chapter 5: "But God commendeth His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The Spirit of God alone can open eyes to effectual faith that takes hold of that fact personally and when the Spirit moves upon us in that way we know it. But bound up in that truth is
AN ETHICAL ISSUE.
If sin is so dealt with then it would appear that we may continue in sin that grace may abound. If a father has paid up the debts of his son once, the son may argue that he may go into debt again and his father will repeat his kindness. Gratitude and a sense of filial duty might prevent his doing so, but the son may be just as wrongly disposed after the debt is paid as before. And what is to stop a man sinning again after forgiveness, which is apparently so free as far as the individual is concerned? We know all too well as a matter of experience, that the truth of Christ for us does not prevent our sinning again. It is the burden of heart of Christians that they do continue to sin. For some, indeed, the sin continues without any burden. That is the issue with which the apostle now deals.
CALVARY IS ETHICAL.
By the death of Christ sin is atoned, but when Jesus went to the Cross taking the body of humiliation and suffering there for our sin, He not only took our sin, but in His Person He took us! The acts, on the Cross whereby He took our place are representative acts, and truly as we may say that Christ died on the Cross even so we died. He not only died for sin, but He died TO sin. As representing God He died for sin, as representing us He died to sin. These two great facts are in. inseparable in reality although as a rule the new convert sees the Godward side without seeing the manward side. God is committed to the entire remission of the judgment of our sin on account of Jesus our Lord "Who was delivered up for our offences." We are committed to the ending of the reign of sin in our mortal bodies on account of the death of our Saviour wherein we died with Him to sin.
BAPTISM INTO DEATH
is symbolised in the ordinance of believer's immersion, but we must not be so impressed with the symbol that we forget the truth symbolised. We are, baptised into His death where in the person of our Representative we are indeed dead to sin. We cannot enter into the real blessing of remission of sins through faith in Christ crucified for us without embracing the baptism of death in which in the Christ Who died, we also died to sin. This then becomes our privilege to reckon and calculate that we also ourselves are indeed dead to sin. The fact is that
THE OLD MAN
was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be left unemployed and we are to reckon that since Christ has died for us we by His death are ourselves dead indeed unto sin. The redemptive aspect of Calvary is that Christ died for sin. The ethical that He died to sin and the believer counts on both, sure on the one hand that God has remitted the judgment of sin and equally sure that he reckons himself dead indeed unto sin by the death of Christ on the Cross. The blessing resides in three unmistakable steps. The first:
A RESOLUTE WILL
. No child of God can fraternise with sin. After reading of the awful atrocities in the concentration camps of Germany we may be excused if we feel an utter loathing of the Nazi Party. Well, sin is all that cruelty and much more, and it is a revelation of the state of our own hearts that we do not hate and detest sin. In the light of the Cross, however, we see the character of sin in the awful sufferings of the innocent for the guilty. God wants us, in the light of the fact that in Christ we are dead to sin, to exercise our wills, and standing on the victory of Calvary, to renounce sin and the love of sin and of every sin. We determine we will and do break from all that within ourselves that places Him there! Wherever God finds a determined Christian, a Christian who means and wills that from the heart, God will surely act. To that must be added
A DETERMINED FAITH
We have all known by bitter experience the helplessness of the will to energise the flesh against its own nature. If we resolve to treat the old nature as alive, alive indeed it will be. How true that is, every serious person knows. But there is a way of the Cross revealed in the Word of truth. It is to see my old nature on the Cross with my Saviour. It is a terrible sight because the revelation of Him made sin for us is never forgotten. But the sight of our sin as bringing Him there and seen now for the first time on the background of His purity and holiness will bring us to the depths. Nevertheless, here is the end of all that power of the old nature and to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin by the Cross, is the secret by which the power of sin is broken. As we hold to that in faith, not in feeling, sin as a dead thing will be seen in all it's corruption and loathsomeness. We shall see sin not in its attraction, but in its corruption. The reckoning will be difficult, but God will aid us and as we hold, to it day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, we shall become what we reckon ourselves to be. Faith will declare and experience will confirm concerning ourselves all that God has declared. In such circumstances we
ourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead. The truth as an experimental fact dawns upon us. How indeed could His resurrection life be manifested in and through us in power except through death? That resurrection life is manifested in Him through His death., it will be inactive in us until there is death in us. Thus as we continue to reckon ourselves dead, we shall continue to yield ourselves unto God. Every part of us that has been for sin must be for Him whose bondslave we are. This is the form of doctrine into which we have been delivered and as we obey it from the heart as the apostle enjoins us we shall prove the quickening power of resurrection life within us. The Cross is the one place of death out of which proceeds life, and as certainly as we reckon ourselves dead and yield ourselves to God, for resurrection life to be the inspiration of our being, so surely will God begin and continue to work in us as He did in His Beloved Son.
maybe difficult. Indeed at first it may be unwelcome, but let us seek this morning the Lord of Glory and ask Him to wean us from the world from sin and from self. Let us ask Him to enable us thus to come to the Cross. He will surely do it, and sin in any form will be as loathsome to us as to Him. We shall see ourselves factually dead with Him, and out of the experience of a resolute will a determined faith, a simple yielding we shall prove the power of His endless life in the Holy Ghost.
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