What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase?
I. THE FACT OF THE RESURRECTION. That the resurrection of Christ is surrounded with mystery, no one will deny. But the evidence by which the great central fact itself is established is so strong, so clear, so decisive, that even scepticism has sometimes to admit itself convinced. The effect of the most able and adverse criticism has only been to establish more and more certainly the fact of the Resurrection, and thus to confirm more strongly the Christian's faith. It is remarkable that two of the greatest rationalists of the present century, who doubted almost every fact of the New Testament history, admitted that the Resurrection was a fact which they could not doubt. Ewald, who deals destructively with most of the gospel incidents, "regarding some as mythical, some as admitting of a rationalistic interpretation, and some as combining the elements of both," is unable to destroy or explain away the Resurrection. "Rejecting all attempts to explain it, he accepts the great fact of the Resurrection on the evidence of history, and declares that nothing can be more historical." The testimony of De Wette is even more remarkable. He was more sceptical than Ewald; so much so that he was called "The Universal Doubter." Nevertheless, such is the force of the evidence, that this great rationalistic critic, in his last work, published in 1848, said that the fact of the Resurrection, although a darkness which cannot be dissipated rests on the way and manner of it, cannot itself be called in question any more than the historical certainty of the assassination of Julius Caesar.
1. The fact of the Resurrection is attested by the four evangelists. The four Gospels were written by men widely separated both in time and place. Their very variations are a proof of their substantial truth. They give varying accounts of the Resurrection, as would naturally be expected from men whom so great an event impressed in different ways, but they all agree in testifying that the event occurred.
2. The narrative of the Resurrection was accepted by the early Christians who lived at the time when the event took place. It is spoken of constantly in the Epistles to the various Churches as an event with which they were all familiar, and about which there was not the slightest doubt. When Peter is proposing the appointment of a successor to Judas, he speaks of the Resurrection as one of the great subjects of apostolic preaching. Indeed, it would appear that he regarded the preaching of the Resurrection as the great subject for which the apostle should be chosen. His words were, "Wherefore of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."
3. The conversion of St. Paul, and his subsequent advocacy of the doctrine of the Resurrection, are perhaps the strongest proofs of its truth. Paul was a persecutor and a bigoted Pharisee. He suddenly became a member of the sect that was so hated and despised. The explanation that he himself gave of this change was that Jesus Christ had appeared unto him. It was not likely that Paul, a clear-headed man, accustomed to weigh evidence, would be deceived as to Christ's appearance. He could not be lightly led to take a step of such immense importance to his whole life. Something more than a mere dream or hallucination must be found to account for his whole subsequent career. He was not likely to undertake those missionary journeys through Asia Minor, through Macedonia, and through Greece, and to persevere in them, in the face of much opposition, ridicule, persecution, and many hardships and dangers, for the sake of a mere fancy. He was not a mere visionary or fanatic. His Epistles show him to have been a man of robust mind, great reasoning power, and soberness of judgment. And yet, in every instance in which a public speech of his is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; in his address at Antioch in Pisidia, in his address at Athens, in his address to the multitude when he was taken prisoner at Jerusalem; whether he is in the presence of the high priest, of Felix, or of Festus and Agrippa, he most distinctly proclaims the fact of the resurrection of Christ.
4. As the life of the Apostle Paul was changed, so the lives of all the apostles were changed from the moment that the risen Christ appeared to them. Before that they were timid and frightened. The boldest of them became so cowardly as to deny that he knew Christ at all. They had all forsaken him and fled when the time of crucifixion drew near. After the crucifixion they became disheartened and depressed. We can easily see what would have become of Christianity had there been no resurrection, as we study the conduct and words of the disciples when they knew that their Master was so soon to be taken from them, and when they thought he was still in the grave. But the Resurrection altered everything. The change that occurred can only be explained by the actual reappearance of Christ to them. The timid became brave again. They cannot but speak the things which they have seen and heard. They endure persecution and suffering and martyrdom now, for the grave is no longer dark, and the crown of life is beyond the struggle and the pain.
II. THE DOCTRINES WHICH IT TEACHES.
1. That there shall be a general resurrection of the dead. "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
2. That those who believe on the Lord Jesus shall live with him for ever. "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). And here the apostle says, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (ver. 8). Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. He has satisfied the yearning of the human heart for a life beyond the present - a yearning so strong that one of the greatest thinkers of our own time, though the logical conclusion of his system is universal death, nevertheless tries to avoid or overcome this dreary prospect by the suggestion that out of this death another life may spring. Our poet-laureate has expressed that yearning thus. Speaking of love, he says -
"He seeks at last III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS WHICH IT CONVEYS. "That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (ver. 4); "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (ver. 12). Elsewhere the apostle expresses the same truth. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1). This is the practical power of the fact and doctrine of the Resurrection. If we have in our hearts the hope of being with Christ, what a transforming influence that hope should exercise upon our lives! We should "yield ourselves unto Cod, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (ver. 13). Thus the risen life of Christ enters into and becomes part of the present life of his people. Thus their life enters into and becomes part of his. "Our life is hid with Christ in God." - C.H.I.
III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS WHICH IT CONVEYS. "That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (ver. 4); "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (ver. 12). Elsewhere the apostle expresses the same truth. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1). This is the practical power of the fact and doctrine of the Resurrection. If we have in our hearts the hope of being with Christ, what a transforming influence that hope should exercise upon our lives! We should "yield ourselves unto Cod, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (ver. 13). Thus the risen life of Christ enters into and becomes part of the present life of his people. Thus their life enters into and becomes part of his. "Our life is hid with Christ in God." - C.H.I.
1. The foregoing chapters are a proof and defence of the first fundamental truth of the gospel — that the only way in which we can be pardoned is through our trusting exclusively, not to what we have ourselves done, but to Christ and His atonement. Nay; we have the principle that the more sin has abounded, so much the more superabundant and triumphant is the free favour of God.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?1. This question was prompted by a sentence, the very cadence of which seemed to be still alive in the apostle's memory (Romans 5:20). It is well to trace the continuity of Scripture — to read the letter of an inspired writer as you would read any other, as an entire composition, through which there possibly runs the drift of one prevailing conception.
2. The tenure upon which eternal life is given, and upon which it is held under the economy of the gospel, Paul makes abundantly manifest by such phrases as "grace," and "free grace," and "justification of faith and not of works," and the "gift of righteousness" on the one hand, and the "receiving of the atonement" on the other. And yet the apostle, warm from the delivery of these intimations, and within a single breath of having uttered that where there was abundance of guilt there was a superabundance of grace in store for it — when met by the question of What then? shall we do more of this sin, that we may draw more of this grace? on his simple authority as a messenger from God he enters his solemn caveat against the continuance of sin. Lavish as the gospel is of its forgiveness for the past, it has no toleration either for the purposes or for the practices of Sin in the future. Couple these two verses, and learn from the simple change of tense two of the most important lessons of Christianity. With the first of these verses we feel ourselves warranted to offer the fullest indemnity to the worst and most worthless. Your sin has abounded; but the grace of God has much more abounded. No sin is beyond the reach of the atonement — no guilt of so deep a dye that the blood of a crucified Saviour cannot wash away. But the sinner should also look forward, and forget not that the same gospel which sheds an oblivion over all the sinfulness of the past, enters upon a war of extermination against future sinfulness.
3. The term "dead," in the phrase "dead unto sin," may be understood forensically. We are dead in law. The doom of death was upon us on account of sin. Conceive that just as under a civil government a criminal is often put to death for the vindication of its authority and for the removal of a nuisance from society, so, under the jurisprudence of Heaven, an utter extinction of being was laid upon the sinner. Imagine that the sentence is executed — that by an act of extermination the transgressor is expunged from God's animated creation. There could be no misunderstanding of the phrase if you were to say that he was dead unto or dead for sin. But suppose God to have devised a way of reanimating the creature who had undergone this infliction, the phrase might still adhere to him, though now alive from the dead. And in these circumstances, is it for us to continue in sin — we who for sin were consigned to annihilation, and have only by the kindness of a Saviour been rescued from it? Now the argument retains its entireness, though the Mediator should interfere with His equivalent ere the penalty of death has been inflicted. We were as good as dead, for the sentence had gone forth, when Christ stepped between, and, suffering it to light upon Himself, carried it away. Does not the God who loved righteousness and hated iniquity six thousand years ago, bear the same love to righteousness and the same hatred to iniquity still? And well may not the sinner say — Shall I again attempt the incompatible alliance of an approving in God and a persevering sinner; or again try the Spirit of that Being who, the whole process of my condemnation and my rescue, has given such proof of most sensitive and unspotted holiness? Through Jesus Christ, we come again unto the heavenly Jerusalem; and it is as fresh as ever in the verdure of a perpetual holiness. How shall we who were found unfit for residence in this place because of sin, continue in sin after our readmittance therein?
4. But while we have thus insisted on the forensic interpretation of the phrase, yet let us not forbear to urge the personal sense of it, as implying such a deadness of affection to sin, such an extinction of the old sensibility to its allurements and its pleasures, as that it has ceased from its wonted power of ascendency over the heart and character of him who was formerly its slave. So the apostle (vers. 5, 6) goes on to show that we are planted together in the likeness of His death. He is now that immortal Vine, who stands forever secure and beyond the reach of any devouring blight from the now appeased enemy; and we who by faith are united with Him as so many branches, share in this blessed exemption along with Him. And as we thus share in His death, so also shall we share in His resurrection. By what He hath done in our stead, He hath not only been highly exalted in His own person; but He hath made us partakers of His exaltation, to the rewards of which we shall be promoted as if we had rendered the obedience ourselves. This tallies with another part of the Bible, where it is said that Christ gave Himself up for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify us unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.
5. Now how comes it that because we are partakers in the crucifixion of Christ, so that the law has no further severity to discharge upon us, that this should have any effect in destroying the body of sin, or in emancipating us from the service of sin? How is it that the fact of our being acquitted leads to the fact of our being sanctified? There can be no doubt that the Spirit of God both originates and carries forward the whole of this process. He gives the faith which makes Christ's death as available for our deliverance from guilt; and He causes the faith to germinate all those moral and spiritual influences which bring about the personal transformation that we are inquiring of. But these He does, in a way that is agreeable to the principles of our rational nature; and one way is through the expulsive power of a new affection to dispossess an old one from the heart. You cannot destroy your love of sin by a simple act of extermination. You cannot thus bid away from your bosom one of its dearest and oldest favourites. Our moral nature abhors the vacuum that would thus be formed. But let a man by faith look upon himself as crucified with Christ, and the world is disarmed of its power of sinful temptation. He no longer minds earthly things, just because better things are now within his reach, and "our conversation is in heaven — whence we also look for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ." And this is in perfect analogy with familiar exhibitions of our nature in ordinary affairs. Let us just conceive a man embarked, with earnest ambition, on some retail business, whose mind is wholly taken up with the petty fluctuations that are taking place in prices and profits and customers; but who nevertheless is regaled by the annual examination of particulars at the end of it, with the view of some snug addition to his old accumulations. You must see how impossible it were to detach his affections from the objects and the interests of this his favourite course by a simple demonstration of their vanity. But suppose that either some splendid property or some sublime walk of high and hopeful adventure were placed within his attainment, and the visions of a far more glorious affluence were to pour a light into his mind, which greatly overpassed and so eclipsed all the fairness of those homelier prospects that he was wont to indulge in — is it not clear that the old affection which he could never get rid of by simple annihilation, will come to be annihilated, and that simply by giving Place to the new one.
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
2. To many this has always appeared to be very perilous teaching. It seems to offer no security for practical virtue — if, indeed, it does not actually put a premium upon sin. What else is that but to say that we may sin the more in order to make God's forgiving mercy the more illustrious? Of course, if anything approaching to this were a fair deduction from the doctrine of justification, then such a doctrine would be grossly immoral. But the same objection was taken in St. Paul's day against St. Paul's teaching; and he met it by a vigorous repudiation. Indeed his answer to it formed the second main section of his theological system, since in that answer he developed the whole theory of Christian holiness. And the charge of immoral tendency, which glanced harmlessly off St. Paul and the Church of his time, may very well prove equally harmless against the evangelical Churches of modern date. Remember, the free acquittal of a penitent believer is not the end of the gospel, but only the means. Now, if free justification turn out on trial not to save a man from his sin, but to encourage him in it; then it turns out to be a cheat, like all other gospels or recipes for working deliverance which men have ever concocted or experimented with before Christ and after Him! The question, therefore, is a vital one. It just means this: Is the gospel a success or a failure?
3. St. Paul's instant reply is a blunt and staggering one. It amounts to this: such an abuse of free grace is unthinkable and out of the question. Christians are people who, in the mere fact of becoming Christians, passed through an experience which put a virtual end to their sinful life. Such a difficulty is purely intellectual, arising in the minds of men who try to comprehend the gospel from the outside without having first experienced it. But, then, when once this intellectual difficulty has been started by a non-Christian objector, the Christian craves to find an intellectual answer. That my Christian faith is inconsistent with persisting in sin, I feel. How it comes to be thus inconsistent with it, I want also to see.
4. It is under this view that St. Paul proceeds. "Are you ignorant of what every Christian is supposed to know — how as many of us as were baptised into Christ, were baptised into His death?" Well, then, it fellows that "we were buried along with Him by means of that baptism of ours into His death, for the express purpose, not that we should remain dead any more than He did, but that, just as He was raised from the dead, so we also should walk in a new life." In the case of converts in the primitive Church, conversion was always publicly attested, and its inward character symbolised, by the initiatory rite of baptism. For them nothing could seem more natural than to look back upon their baptismal act whenever any question arose as to what their conversion really meant. Its most general meaning was this, that it put baptised believers into the closest possible relationship with Christ, their Second Adam, of whose "body" they were thenceforward to be "members," whose fortunes they were thenceforward to share. But if baptism seal our incorporation into the Representative Man from heaven; who does not know that the special act of Jesus with which of all others we are brought most prominently into participation, is nothing else than His death and burial? That central thing about Christ on which my faith has to fasten itself is His expiatory death upon the Cross for sin. Am I to be justified through Him at all? Then it is "through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:25). Have I, an enemy, been "reconciled to God" by His Son at all? I was reconciled "by the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10). To that death upon the Cross of expiation which was attested by His three days' burial the gospel directs the sinner's eye, and on that builds his trust for pardon and peace with God. And the great rite which certified the world and me that I am Christ's, was before all else a baptism into the death of Him who died for me!
5. All this St. Paul treats as a Christian commonplace. Its bearing on our continuing in sin is obvious. Conversion through faith in Christ's propitiation is seen to be essentially a moral change, a dying to sin. The nerve of the old separate, selfish, sinful life of each man was cut when the man merged himself in his new Representative, and gave up his personal sins to be judged, condemned, and expiated in his Atoner's Cross. Now, how can a man who has gone through an experience like that continue in sin? For him the old bad past is a thing dead and buried. Old things are passed away, everything has become new. Such a man can no more go back to be what he was before, feel as he felt, or act as he used to act, than Jesus Christ could rise out of His grave to be once more the Victim for unexpiated guilt and the Sin bearer for a guilty race.
6. The Christian dies to his old sin that he may begin to live to holiness and God. This is the express design God had when He put our sins to death in His dear Son's Cross. Faith in Christ makes us morally incorporate with Him in spirit, as well as legally embraced under Him as our Representative. Christ is our Head in that He represents us before the law, so that in His death all who are His died to sin. Christ is no less our Head to quicken us as His members, and in His living again we all live anew. The will and the power to walk in new moral life are therefore guaranteed to us by our faith. Christian faith is very far from a superficial, or inoperative, or merely intellectual act, such as a man can do without his moral character being seriously affected by it. It is connected with the deep roots of our moral and religious nature. It changes the main current of our ethical life. Those who have been baptised into Christ and say they trust in His death as the ground of their peace with God, are bound to satisfy themselves that their faith is of a sort to kill sin, and to maintain the life of righteousness.
(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)
I. FROM THE NATURE AND PERFECTIONS OF GOD. He is a being of absolute purity. Being thus perfect in Himself, He must love every resemblance of His own perfection in any of His intelligent creatures; and the more nearly they resemble Him, the more must they be the objects of His favour.
II. FROM THE CHARACTER AND OFFICES OF THE REDEEMER. The Redeemer is the beloved Son of God, one with the Father; and, therefore, the arguments drawn from the perfections of God, to illustrate the purity of the gospel dispensation, are equally conclusive with respect to the Redeemer. In His several offices, no less than in His personal character, Christ invariably promoted the cause of righteousness. For this He sustained the office of a prophet; for this He became our great High Priest, to restore that intercourse which sin had interrupted. For this end, too, He became our King, and gave us a system of laws suited to that state of reconciliation. Now, such being His character, such the offices which He sustained as our Redeemer, and such the end for which He did sustain them, it follows, by necessary consequence, that the dispensation of the gospel, so far from relaxing the obligations of moral duty, tends powerfully to confirm them.
III. FROM THAT PERFECT RULE OF MORAL CONDUCT WHICH THE GOSPEL PRESCRIBES. It is at once the most simple, the most pure and perfect that ever was delivered to the world; as superior to the much-famed systems of philosophers as its Divine author was superior to them. It lays the foundation of moral duty in the heart, the true spring of action; and by one simple principle of which every heart is susceptible, even the principle of love, it provides for the most perfect moral conduct, and for the proper discharge of the duties of life.
IV. FROM A CONSIDERATION OF THE BRIGHT EXAMPLES WHICH ARE SET BEFORE US IN THE GOSPEL.
V. FROM THE POWERFUL AID WHICH THE GOSPEL PROMISES TO ENABLE US TO OBSERVE ITS PRECEPTS AND IMITATE THE BRIGHT EXAMPLES WHICH IT SETS BEFORE US. The gracious Author of this Divine influence is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, the third person in the ever blessed Trinity.
VI. FROM THE ULTIMATE END AND DESIGN OF THE WHOLE SCHEME. The great end of the gospel scheme undoubtedly is to bring us to a state of perfect felicity in the glorious kingdom of our God; to the full enjoyment of that immortality which our Saviour hath revealed. With the attainment of this glorious end, holiness, or moral purity, and inseparably connected, both in the nature of things and by the positive laws of God's moral government.
1. In the nature of things, the unholy or immoral must be excluded from heavenly happiness. They are incapable of it. There is no conformity between the dispositions which they have cultivated and the joys of the celestial regions.
2. It is not only in the nature of things, but by the positive law of God's moral government, that the unrighteous are excluded from heaven and happiness.
(G. Goldie.)1. What shall we say then? Say to what? To the great affirmation that man is justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Shall it be this: Let us persist in sin that grace may multiply? How sharply Paul turns upon the immoral suggestion! It is a corruption not to be endured.
2. But why did the apostle submit a conclusion like that to his readers? He knew that his doctrine did not contain it, but he knew that a corrupt human heart and a perverted understanding could put it in. That the conclusion, or its equivalent, has been asserted, and that often, where if submitted as a proposition it would be rejected with loathing, it is not without a subtle influence, is matter of observation.
I. THERE ARE THOSE WHO THINK THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO CONTINUE IN SIN AND BE SAVED.
1. How often one is forced to notice that men may combine a love of evangelical doctrine with love of money and a shrewdness that makes men who are not evangelical shrug their shoulders. We have known men, great wrestlers in prayer, whose lives, and the whisperings of whose doings, have made us ashamed. Moral confusion is at the bottom of these inconsistencies. Our evangelical doctrines are not to blame. The fault and the failure is in those who profess them while only half-perceiving them, and ignore their moral issues.
2. Paul shows us that grace comprises not only a gracious act of pardon done by God in the believer's interest, but also an active principle of sanctification in the believer's soul. The abounding of grace is only manifested in the breaking of sin's power and the destruction of sin's principle. Grace is the enemy of sin, not its covering. He who is saved by grace is not a leper clad in white raiment, but a leper healed. Grace is not beauty thrown over the deformity of some foul sickness; it is health. It is life counter-working death, and no man can continue in sin and yet be saved by grace.
3. But still, Is not grace a gift? Certainly. But God gives life. Yet life is not something external to the creature to whom it is given. It is not like a string of beads round the neck or a ring on the finger. The gift of life to a dead stick after that manner would leave it a dead stick still. Hear a parable. Early one summer morning I came upon an orchard. The trees were beautiful, and fruit was abundant. I wandered on until I came upon a tree having neither bloom nor fruit. I said, "You poor, lost tree, what can you be doing here? I marvel you are not removed." Upon which this tree replied, tartly, "You are in a great mistake. I am neither poor nor lost." "Well," I said, "you have neither leaves nor fruit, and, I should judge, no sap." "What has that to do with it?" it broke out. "You seem not to know that a great saviour of trees has been down here, and I have believed his gospel, and am saved by grace. I have accepted salvation as a free gift, and, though I have neither leaves nor fruit, I am saved all the same." I looked at it with pity and said, "You are a poor deluded tree; you are not saved at all. You are dead and good-for-nothing, despite all your talk about grace and redemption. Life, that is salvation. When I see you laden with fruit, I shall say, 'Ah! that poor tree is saved at last; it has received the gospel and is saved by grace.'" As I turned away, I heard it saying, "You are not sound; you do not understand the gospel." And I thought, so it is, as with trees so with men.
II. ANOTHER FORM OF THIS ANTINOMIANISM OF THE HEART CONNECTS ITSELF IMMEDIATELY WITH THE DEATH OF CHRIST. Men talk and act frequently as if in Christ's shed blood there was a shelter from the consequence of their sins, even though they remain in their sins. They harbour covetousness, envy, hate, and pride; they stain their hands with dishonesty, and then, with their stained hands uplifted in the face of God, aver that they believe in the death of Christ for their sins, and are saved. This is not the gospel Paul preached. He asks, "How shall we who died to sin live any longer therein?" He who has by faith appropriated the expiatory death of Jesus, in and by that act died to sin. In the apostle's day, baptism was the open signification of the death. It was as the burial of one who had died. It would be a new thing to see a dead man going on as if nothing had happened. So the saved man does not persevere in sin; how should he? He has died to it. Sin has no further claim. Who can claim anything of the dead? He is not sinless. Sin, alas! is not dead, but lie is dead to it. He has not got beyond its trouble, but he has got beyond its bondage. Faith in Christ's death as our means of pardon, includes also His life as the principle of our sanctification. As one delightfully said, "The Cross condemns me to be holy."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE CONDUCT OF MANY PROFESSED CHRISTIANS INDICATES —
1. That they have some knowledge of grace.
2. That they do not heartily receive it because of sin.
3. That they rather use it as a shelter for sin.
II. SUCH CONDUCT IS ABOMINABLE, because it —
1. Tempts God.
2. Is irrational.
3. Courts certain destruction.
4. Is impossible where grace is really active.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?
I. BELIEVERS ARE DEAD TO SIN.
1. In their condition before God.
2. In their character in consequence of it.
3. Forensically in the eye of the law.
4. Experimentally; in point of fact.
5. In their affection for it.
6. In its power over them. Or, to put it another way, believers have died to sin legally in justification; personally in sanctification; professedly in baptism; and will die completely to it in glorification.
II. THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED —
1. By participation in Christ's death who died for it.
2. By communication of the power of Christ in killing it.
3. By profession made in baptism of renouncing it.Death to sin is the necessary consequence of union with Christ, who delivers from its depraving, condemning, and reigning power.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)Galatians 6:14). This Divine deed necessarily works through the action of faith in Christ's sacrifice.
I. THE CONTRASTED LIVES: "Life in sin," and "being alive unto God." The contrast is such that the unspiritual can perceive it, though unable to understand it. The ungodly may say,We neither know nor care whether a man is justified or not, but we do know whether he keeps the law of conscience, whether he acts up to his professed principles, whether he does that which, apart from his profession, we know to be right. But how is it that the world is able to form these judgments? Was the civilised world qualified to do this in the days of Cicero or of Pericles? Was there to be found then, or is there to be found now, where Christianity is not, anything approximating the same jealousy of conscience, etc., which those who now boast that they are men of the world often exhibit? Surely not. If worldly men are competent judges of Christian principle, it is because the atmosphere breathed by true Christians has stimulated its life and awakened its conscience. The world is indebted to the Christianity it is ready to revile for its power to call Christians to its bar. Note:
1. What is meant by living in sin." The term has been almost appropriated to describe certain forms of bold and unblushing transgression of moral law. If a man is a known drunkard, adulterer, or rogue, he is said to "live in sin"; and no one excuses or palliates his conduct. But the corruption of human nature goes down deeper, and the ravages of sin are far more extensive than this. That man is "living in sin" —(1) Who can sin without remorse. If a man sins and his only thought is, "How shall I escape the indignant scorn of the world?" he is taking pleasure in ungodliness, he is only happy in the absence of God.(2) Who does what he knows to be wrong, but palliates it by pleading the force of circumstances, the nature of society, or the custom of the world.(3) Who habitually neglects to do that which God and his conscience have often called upon him to accomplish. "To him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." It is not enough that a man should avoid the practice of evil; he must not be lacking in generosity, good temper, self-restraint, religious emotion, zeal and work for God and man.(4) Who finds pleasure in the commission of sin, hankers after forbidden sweets, and would like to go where he could escape detection. To sum up, "All ungodliness is sin." To be without God, to act irrespectively of His authority, to find pleasure in what is opposed to His will, is to live in sin and bring the consequences of such a life down upon the soul.
2. What is meant by being "alive unto God." By being "alive to" anything is meant a vivid conception of its reality, a joy in its presence, a devotion to its interests. Thus one man is alive to business, another to his reputation, another to truth. One man is alive to beauty in nature or art, he is therefore quick to discern its presence, keen to criticise its counterfeits, filled with joy when surrounded with its exponents. Another man is alive to literature or science, his ear is sensitive to every message from the great world of letters and invention, and the world exists, so far as he is concerned, to sustain and furnish material for his favourite pursuit. One man is alive to the well-being of his own country, and another to the wider interests of man. With the help of these illustrations we may assume that a man is alive unto God —(1) When he fully recognises the signs of the presence of God. Habitual transgression or neglect of the laws of God is incompatible with the condition of a man who sees God everywhere. That man is "alive to God" to whom God is not a theory by which he can conveniently account for the universe, or a name for certain human conceptions of nature and its workings, or an invention of priestcraft to terrify the soul, or a philosophic concept the presence or absence of which has little to do with life or happiness, but the great and only reality, the prime and principal element of all his thoughts. No one fully recognises the presence of God unless he has advanced beyond the teaching of nature, and received from Holy Scripture, from the inward operations of the Spirit in his own heart, more than philosophical speculations can give him. If alive unto God, every revelation of His infinite essence suggests to our quickened spirit the presence of our Father and our Friend.(2) When the sense of the Divine Presence awakens all the energies and engages all the faculties of his nature. If duly conscious of the Divine Presence, we shall render the appropriate homage of our entire being. Then every place is a temple, every act is a sacrifice, every sin the pollution of a sacred place, the defilement of a holy day. It is morally impossible for one who is alive unto God to imagine that he is doing too much to express his sense of reverence, gratitude, or obligation. In one word, self is subdued to Him, and human will is lost in God's.(3) When he finds his highest desires gratified. If we are alive unto God, we shall find that we are following the bent of our true nature. He that drinketh of the water given him by Christ, shall never thirst after those draughts of carnal pleasure to be found in the broken cisterns of human invention, and it shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
II. The two lives have been described and contrasted, life in sin and life unto God. IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO CONCEIVE OF TWO MODES OF LIFE MORE OBVIOUSLY OPPOSED TO ONE ANOTHER. They cannot coexist in the same spirit.
1. If sin is delighted in, God is dreaded. There is no tendency in human nature by means of which sin can be remedied or undone. The punishment of sin is death, i.e., moral alienation of heart from God, sinful habit and tendency. Consequently every sin carries in itself its own perpetuation and the germ of further transgression.
2. A life unto God supposes a spirit to whom the nearness, the perfections, the work of the Lord are unutterable delights; to whom the whole universe is a transparent medium, through and behind which is seen the face of the Eternal God.
III. HOW SHALL THOSE THAT ARE LIVING IN SIN EVEN LEARN TO BE ALIVE UNTO GOD?
1. The charge had been brought that that gospel looked leniently on sin, and the apostle boldly takes it up, admits its seeming plausibility, anticipates its possible force, and answers it by showing what was involved in that faith which justifies the soul. The life unto God can never supervene in a soul which has been living in sin, "except," says he, "through a death unto sin." Justification implies the removal of its penalty, its non-imputation, the exhaustion of its sting, the annihilation of its wages. Our new and holy life is not the ground of our justification, nor, strictly speaking, the consequence of our pardon and acceptance with God; but it is in one sense the pardon itself, the way in which the Holy Ghost slays that enmity within us which was the great curse of sin. "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?"
2. As far as his illustration is concerned, the apostle states a truism when he says that one who is dead to sin cannot live any longer therein. A man who is dead to sin may be carried away from his standing ground by some terrible and novel blast of temptation; but it is a contradiction in terms to assert that he can "live in sin."
3. What, then, is meant by "death to sin"?(1) Not a desperate fear of the consequences of sin. This fails to repress gross vice and crime. There are no cowards so great as those who often make violent assault on the life and property of others. They choose darkness that they may avoid detection; they are armed to the tooth when they go against feebleness and womankind. Multitudes tremble at the preaching of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, but sin as if they never trembled. Fear may have kept you back from the commission of sin, and warned you to paths of honour and usefulness, and yet never have slats the desire after what is hateful to God.(2) Not respect to the opinion of the world. The good opinion of our fellow citizens is a powerful motive to virtue; but if it is our only one, there is nothing eternal in our virtue. Then if our circumstances were changed, we should change also. Let us be put back to times when a lower honour prevailed in business or in society, we should be forced back to the undeveloped morality of the past, and "live in" the practice of what we now see to be "sin."(3) Not mere self-respect. There are those who are careless about the world's respect as long as they can secure their own. This reverence for conscience, and independence of the judgment of others, is closely akin to the highest virtue, but yet as an ultimate principle it is not sufficient. The proud independence of mankind may speedily run up into an audacious independence of God. Self-respect may rapidly blossom into self-idolatry.(4) "Death to sin" is not secured by orthodox creed, ceremonial exactness, or even religious zeal. These are all occasionally confounded with it, but they may be all compatible with a "life of sin." Church history is full of proofs that neither articles, nor sacraments, nor profession, nor even great sacrifices for religion, avail to slay the sin of the heart or render the soul alive to God.(5) By this process of exclusion we have brought the meaning of the phrase "death to sin" to a much more limited group of experiences. The apostle identifies it with union to Christ, that which he sometimes calls "faith in His blood," "baptism into Christ," or "living by faith on the Son of God," because "Christ liveth in us." Paul knew he was appealing to a safe and sure tribunal when he went right to the consciousness of his converts. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." It is certain that the apostle would not have these Romans reckon thus unless it were true. Observe, it is not merely that they are to reckon that Christ died for their sins, but they are also to reckon that they too are dead unto sin through Jesus Christ.
4. The way, then, in which this change is effected is by union with Christ —(1) In His Passion. "By the Cross the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world"; "I am crucified with Christ"; "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." We are "buried with Him by baptism into His death." The thought often recurs that our faith in Him nails our own hands to the cursed tree and films our eye on worldly glory. If we have taken up this thought into our entire spiritual nature, that "Christ died for our sins," then we are dead. As we become alive to what the death of Christ really is and means, how it prepares the only way by which a new life could enter our race, and a new spirit be given to transgressors, by which God could justify the ungodly, and still be just; it is not difficult to understand that faith in Christ, that union to Christ, involves dying with Christ to sin. A true and deep faith in Christ, a recognition by mind and heart of His work, is such an intuition of law, such a sense of God, such a revelation of the evil of sin, such a burning of the heart against the world, the flesh, and the devil, that the apostle was justified in saying that Christians might reckon themselves dead unto sin.(2) In His life and resurrection. The new life of the soul is a resurrection life, charged with all the associations and aspirations which would be possessed by one who had passed, through dying, from death to life. The life unto God flows out of the life of God in the soul.
(H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)
(Howels, of Longacre.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
LinksRomans 6:1 NIV
Romans 6:1 NLT
Romans 6:1 ESV
Romans 6:1 NASB
Romans 6:1 KJV
Romans 6:1 Bible Apps
Romans 6:1 Parallel
Romans 6:1 Biblia Paralela
Romans 6:1 Chinese Bible
Romans 6:1 French Bible
Romans 6:1 German Bible
Romans 6:1 Commentaries