Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:8-11
What our minds focus on matters in our faith journey. When God drew us to Jesus, our minds were not healthy places. Like all people who have been affected by the Fall, we all accumulated a pack of lies that we called ‘truth.’ Some of these lies came from our futile beliefs that we could reign over our own lives better than the Father who created us. Some of them came from the enemy, who continually misrepresents God to us. Our whole belief system had to be shattered by God—just to bring us to faith.
Yet lies die a long death. All of us still harbor thoughts that need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And one of those lies is about our freedom from sin. Satan would have us continue to believe we are merely forgiven—which is good news in itself—but still doomed to live out a miserable life, sinning as regularly as those who do not believe. I have met believers who obsess over this. They are overwhelmed with this lie. They talk desperately about wanting to stop sinning, about how much they are either disappointing God or how expectant of His judgment they are.
But there is no disappointment. There is no judgment. Paul earlier in Romans tells us that because we are in Christ, we have not only died with Christ, we get to live with him as well. He not only lives in us—we also get to live his life. —The life of the person who was tempted in every way we are, yet never gave in to sin (Hebrews 4:15). —Our example, in whose steps we should follow (1 Peter 2:21).
Going forward, we need to ‘reckon’ ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. I grew up with the word ‘reckon,’ which in this version is translated ‘consider.’ But the older word, used in earlier translations, makes a better point. ‘Reckon’ was used in the financial world, where you reckoned up the books. In other words, you gave an account of what you had received. So when Paul says ‘reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus,” he speaks of what is real, true. You have received this from God by faith. You can count on it to be true for you, no matter how convincing the lie of the enemy seems.
Paul builds on this truth. In verse 12, he urges us to refuse to let sin control our choices. You might be wondering how this works. This is possible because the Spirit is leading us. He empowers our minds to realize that we do not need to sin.
Instead, we are to ‘offer’, which is another word for surrender, every part of ourselves to God. I know this sounds to some as a simplistic solution for resisting sin, but I find that it is the only thing that works for me. I tried resisting sin and it beat me every time. I would find myself crushed by my lack of control and embarrassed that others would find out. But then I finally humbled myself and started surrendering whenever temptation was putting pressure on me. I would say “God, I can’t beat this. Help! Take charge!” I have to admit some of my prayers were very weak. But I leaned into Him and God rescued me every time.
This is what reckoning yourself dead to sin is all about. You have received grace from God into your account’s plus column. Sin has been removed as your master. It no longer has power over you. If you believe it still does, you are believing a lie. Begin to think this way and you will live out the freedom you already have. Don’t make it complex. It’s all a matter of trust which focuses on God and not on yourself.
Steve, thank you for this message out of Romans 6. I learned this message in 1988 and it was from a nationwide radio ministry called “People to People’ hosted by Bob George who was, at one time, the outreach Pastor at Dallas First Baptist Church, under Pastor W.A. Criswell. Bob George wrote a book, Classic Christianity, Life is Too Short to Miss the Real Thing. That book changed my life. I hand it out to whoever will read it. Next year, I will have been free in Christ for 30 years. PTL