No Longer Slaves of Sin.

 

To understand our struggle to live a godly life we need to look at what happened in the Garden of Eden.

When God made Adam He told him that he could eat any fruit in the garden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The day he ate of it he would surely die.

Things went fine until the day that Satan came in, and deceived Eve into eating of the forbidden fruit.

They disobeyed God, ate of the fruit and died to God.  Death set in also in their bodies so that eventually they would die physically and pass from this world.

Not only that, but they had also obeyed Satan.  The Bible says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves to whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

By eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they made themselves independent of God, and by obeying Satan they made themselves slaves to sin. 

All peoples from now on would have sin dwelling in their flesh prompting them to sin against God.

However God promised them a way of escape, a person would come, the Seed of a woman who would bruise Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).

Down through the ages Satan was watching for this Seed of a woman in order to destroy it before it could bruise his head.

We know how God had His hand on His elect all the way down through the ages, Abraham was chosen of God, Isaac was Abrahams promised child, followed by Jacob whose name was changed to Israel, then out of the twelve tribes of Israel God chose the tribe of Judah and out of the tribe of Judah a young God fearing woman, a virgin, her name was Mary.  Mary was chosen to be the vessel for the Son of God to be born into this world.  The Holy Spirit came upon her and she conceived a male child who would be called Jesus.  Jesus was not the seed of a man; He is completely separate from Adam’s race apart from being born of a woman.  He was the promised seed of a woman that would come and bruise Satan’s head.

We know how He came into this world, born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, He was the promised Messiah to the Jews, yet they missed Him.  He opened blind eyes, healed the sick raised the dead and cast out demons, yet they crucified Him.  He died a terrible death on a wooden cross; His disciples were devastated, they were certain He was the Messiah who would restore the kingdom to Israel.

What went wrong?  Nothing went wrong.  In order for God to restore us into fellowship with Himself sin had to be dealt with.  God is righteous and being righteous He cannot turn a blind eye to our sin.  How can He be righteous and love the sinner at the same time?  To be righteous sin must be punished; the soul that has sinned shall surely die.  God’s perfect plan that reveals His righteousness is that someone who is perfect and has never sinned could die for us who have sinned.  The only person is His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus would have to suffer the punishment for all mankind.  This is why Jesus came and died on the cross, to pay the price for our sins in order that we may receive eternal life.

God’s righteousness and His love for mankind are both revealed in the death of Christ.

So much was accomplished when Christ was crucified on the cross; He bruised Satan’s head as prophesied.  He died for our sins and as we believe on Him all our sins are forgiven and blotted out.

Now the problem is the power of sin that reigns in our flesh.  While ever we are part of Adam we will always be a slave to sin.  Our “old man”, the link with Adam, must die in order for the power of sin that reigns within us to be rendered ineffective.

In general, depending on the context, when the New Testament talks about sin (singular), it is talking about the power that reigns within us, when it talks about sins (plural) it is talking about the things we do, the deeds of the flesh.  Sins are the result of sin reigning within us.

How has God dealt with this power within?

He has placed us “in Christ” so that when Christ died on the cross we died with Him, we were buried with Him and we rose from the dead with Him.  However it was the “old man”, that part of us that came from Adam, who died and was buried with Christ and it was the “new man” in Christ who was raised up.

Romans 6:6 says,  “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”  In other words our “old man”, that part of us that belongs to Adam that was a slave to sin until it died, has finally died with Christ on the cross.  No longer has sin any right to rule over us.  Its power has been “rendered inoperative” as the NKJV margin puts it. 

Now as we understand this that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), then we can reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (see Romans 6:11).

Since our “old man” is dead, sin, the power in our flesh has lost its right to rule over us.  It will try to carry on as normal in order to convince us we are still its slaves, but what is important is that we know the truth.  It has no right or power over the “new man”, but, given the right conditions, it does have power over our flesh.  What are these conditions that give sin this power over the flesh?

The law was given to show what sin is and therefore gave us the opportunity to improve the flesh by keeping the law.  However, in practice, the law made no one perfect for “sin taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.  For apart from the law sin was dead” (Romans 7:8).  In fact, “the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).

So often Christians recognize they are not under law but under grace, however Paul said, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).  This is exactly right of course but some of us seem to focus on, and emphasize to ourselves, that even though we are under grace we must not sin, which is interpreted in practice as controlling the flesh in order to stop it sinning.  Without intending to we bring ourselves under the law and therefore when we sin we feel condemned and shamed.  I think the people who suffer this most are often the ones who want to please God most so they try hard to be perfect.  Their hearts are right but they are going about it the wrong way, what they need most is a revelation from God about grace and also to take their eyes of self and to look to Jesus.  God wants us to be completely dependent on Jesus for everything.

The Spirit of life working within us will achieve the desired state setting us free from the law of sin and death.

Our every effort to improve the flesh will only increase the power of sin in the flesh and the more we try the worse it gets. When God gives us the revelation we need we can only utter, “I thank God----- through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Now if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh and the righteousness which the law demanded but couldn’t achieve because of the weakness of the flesh will be fulfilled in us as we walk according to the Spirit.

Next: God's Love

Mark Greenwood

January 2019