Freedom From Sin Part III
Scripture: Romans 6:1–23
“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22)
“Who am I in Christ?” There are four common answers to this question.
- Some say a Christian is basically a sinner who is forgiven.
- Others say a Christian is a saint who occasionally sins.
- Still others try to combine the first two answers and say a Christian is simultaneously a sinner who by God’s grace is forgiven and yet a saint who still sins.
- The fourth answer says a Christian is a saint who has renounced willful sin and consistently walks in all the light God gives him (1 John 1:7).
This fourth answer is what I believe Paul teaches in Romans 6. In Romans 6:1-10, we saw that participation in death, burial, and resurrection with Christ at the new birth severs the believer from his old life and the dominion of sin.
Further, participation in Christ’s resurrection empowers a believer to live in a new sphere of willing and continual obedience to the Father’s will.
The eight truths that Paul gives us in Romans 6:1-10 about the identity of the believer form the factual foundation upon which we are to build our faith.
However, we must never stop with factual data. For we are commanded to translate the factual data into actual transformation of our lifestyle through faith and obedience.
This brings us to the practical applications we are to make in light of our identity in Christ. Paul exhorts us to live up to our new privileges in Christ by taking two actions. Each believer must:
- reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin, and
- yield himself and the members of his body as tools of righteousness (Romans 6:11-23).
The first action is accomplished by faith, while the second action requires a full surrender followed by an on-going obedience.
Step One: Reckon!
Believers must reckon (or count) their death, burial, and resurrection with Christ as accomplished, life changing events (6:11). “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The term “reckon” simply means “to take account of what actually is.” Reckon is a bookkeeping term and previously occurred in Romans 4:1-12 in relation to Abraham’s justification (used eleven times and translated “count” two times, “reckon” three times, and “impute” six times).
As Ralph Earle explains, to reckon oneself to be dead indeed to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord “does not stand for a whitewash that ‘imputes’ a righteousness which does not in fact exist.
It stands for crediting to one’s account (by God in response to faith) a cleansing that has in actual fact taken place” (Word Meanings in the New Testament, 138, 168). What is the method of reckoning?
By faith I receive the powerful and liberating Word of God as Truth for my heart. Once I know I have made a full confession of sin to God, and I have received the assurance of salvation, I can declare, on the authority of God’s infallible Word that I am set free from all sin and made fully alive to God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
As the patriarchs in Hebrews 11 acted in faith, I am not to wait until I understand all about God’s commands and promises, but I am to believe my death to sin and freedom from sin through my union with Christ to be real.
Reckoning is not claiming a promise; it is acting upon a fact! And we need to be cautioned that even in an obedient saved state, feelings may come and feelings may go.
We are to do as John Wesley counsels:
“Frames and feelings fluctuate.
These can ne’er thy savior be!
Learn thyself in Christ to see:
Then, be feelings what they will,
Jesus is thy Savior still!”
We are to reckon, and keep on reckoning that we shared Christ’s death to sin, and that we are alive unto God in Him. We are not told to die to sin. Rather, because we are in Christ Who did die to it, we are declared to be dead to sin. Reckon it so. And since it has pleased God to call for our response of faith, let us follow His method.
Faith says “Amen” to the facts of God’s Word. Faith says, “Yes, it is true. I am dead to sin, and I am living unto God!
I rejoice in this fact!”
Step Two: Yield!
Believers must purposely yield themselves and the members of their body as tools of righteousness (6:12-13, 16, 19).
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Being “dead to sin and alive to God” is not only a matter of proper thinking (“reckon yourselves”) and faith, but it also involves one’s choices and actions. A Christian must not allow sin to reign in his body.
The command, “let not sin reign in your body,” clearly informs us that being dead to sin does not make a person impervious to temptation, nor does it remove the susceptibility of a Christian to wrong desires. But it does enable us to stop sinning.
This is what Jesus meant when He commanded people to “sin no more” (see John 5:14 and 8:11). Neither Jesus nor Paul expected the impossible! A Christian must yield himself fully to God.
The word yield is found five times in this section [Rom. 6:13 (twice), 16, and 19], and means “to place at one’s disposal, to present, to offer as a sacrifice.” It also appears in Romans 12:1, where it is translated “present,” and occurs in the phrase, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”
Notice that a person must be “holy” before such a presentation becomes “acceptable” to God. This is not the surrender a sinner makes to God at salvation; it is the surrender a Christian makes after salvation as an act of gratitude to God for His mercies (Rom. 12:1). Yielding oneself to God requires four steps:
- a decisive act,
- a transfer of control of every aspect of your life to God,
- a finality of commitment, and
- a moment-by-moment maintenance of that commitment.
Therefore, a Christian must purposely and decisively yield himself to God, transferring to God full control of himself and his body and daily maintain that surrender. This does not mean that there may not be further calls by God to demonstrate the reality and depth of one’s surrender.
Abraham was called to go out to a strange country (Heb 11:8) and he obeyed; he was later called to offer his son, his only son Isaac, as a burnt offering (Heb. 11:17) on Mt. Horeb, and again, he obeyed. Why does the Lord want your body?
Warren Wiersbe explains that the believer’s body is not only God’s temple, which He desires to use for His glory (1 Cor. 6:19–20; Phil. 1:20–21), but it is also God’s tool and God’s weapon (Rom. 6:13).
“God wants to use the members of the body as tools for building His kingdom and weapons for fighting His enemies.”
“The Bible tells of people who permitted God to take and use their bodies for the fulfilling of His purposes. God used the rod in Moses’ hand and conquered Egypt. He used the sling in David’s hand to defeat the Philistines.
He used the mouths and tongues of the prophets. Paul’s dedicated feet carried him from city to city as he proclaimed the Gospel. The Apostle John’s eyes saw visions of the future, his ears heard God’s message, and his fingers wrote it all down in a book that we can read.
“But you can also read in the Bible accounts of the members of the body being used for sinful purposes. David’s eyes looked on his neighbor’s wife; his mind plotted a wicked scheme; his hand signed a cowardly order for the woman’s husband to be killed.
As you read Psalm 51, you see that his whole body was affected by sin: his eyes (Ps. 51:3), mind (Ps. 51:6), ears (Ps. 51:8), heart (Ps. 51:10), and lips and mouth (Ps. 51:14–15).
No wonder he prayed for a thorough cleansing! (Ps. 51:2, 7, 10)”
[The Bible Exposition Commentary, (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), Rom. 6:12].
We have seen that it is our blood-bought privilege to have complete freedom from the controlling power of sin. But more than that, it is God’s command that we be victorious. Perhaps you have never realized this truth before.
Why not purpose in your heart right now to obey God’s commands to reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin (6:11), and to fully yield yourself and the members of your body to God (6:13).
In our next sermon, we will learn the results we can expect when we fully yield ourselves to God.
Dr. Allan P. Brown teaches such courses as Christian Beliefs, Doctrine of Holiness, Wisdom Literature, Hebrew, Preaching Holiness, Romans and Galatians, and Letters to the Hebrews.
He has been on faculty at GBSC since 1996 and is the author of several books and articles.
Dr. Brown also speaks at churches, camp meetings, revivals and more.