WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE RADIO SERMON August 29, 1976
DEATH TO SIN
Romans 6:1 4
The declaration of salvation by grace through faith is always liable to be mis¬understood. If a man has not been
accused of ignoring the need for holy living, he has probably not been strong enough on grace. Paul was
accused of encouraging people to live in sin. He considers the question in this great sixth chapter of Romans.
As we begin our study of this chapter, we need to be clear about its position in our study of Romans. Most
students of this letter understand Romans six to be the be¬ginning of a new topic. They understand the apostle
to be turning from justification to sanctification. However a careful look at the chapter will indicate that there is
no clear break between this present chapter and what has gone before. Actually this chapter can only be
understood by connecting it with what Paul has just presented about man in Adam and man in Christ. Rather
than beginning something new, he is dealing with some of the objections to the truths just set forth.
This does not mean that the Apostle is not discussing sanctification. He is dis¬cussing sanctification, but as a
part of his presentation of justification. He is showing that sanctification is provided for by God in justification.
This is really a defense of the doctrine of justification before critics.
The critic raises a question. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Paul is
reverting to his training as a Rabbi in this passage. The Rabbis would anticipate questions from their critics, and
then provide an answer to the question. Paul's statement about "where sin doth abound, grace doth much more
abound" prompted this question. If the multiplication of sin leads to the multiplica¬tion of grace, is it not
reasonable to conclude that the multiplication of sin only gives the grace of God opportunity to express itself,
and thus should be encouraged. Does the doctrine of salvation by grace encourage a man to live in sin? This is
Paul's response is immediate and full. "God forbid"! This was the strongest way possible to express revulsion at
the idea. Such a thought should be utterly banished. It is totally inconsistent with the truth as it really is. In
response to the question, Paul affirms the basic thing each Christian should understand. "How can we who died
to sin live any longer therein?" It is a rhetorical question that expects no answer. To the writer the answer is
obvious. The fact that the Christian has died to sin makes con¬tinuance in sin impossible.
This brings us to an important point. Exactly when and how did the Christian, the justified man, die to sin? The
whole message of this passage depends upon this.
THE CHRISTIAN DIED TO SIN ESSENTIALLY AT THE CROSS
"How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" We must be careful about the words of this
sentence. "Are dead" is better translated "died". The verb points to something that took place at a point in time
once for all. As you read through the passage it becomes obvious that essentially this death took place when
Jesus died upon the Cross. "Know ye not, that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were bap-tized
into his death?" "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed."
"Now if we be dead with Christ". The point is clearly stated when Christ died, we died to sin.
This is a continuation of the theme of the last chapter. There the justified are presented as being in Christ. Just
as they were once in Adam, and what happened to Adam happened to them, now they are in the last Adam,
Christ, and what has happened to Him has happened to them. Our union with Christ in His death, burial, and
resurrection are the basis of this great truth of freedom from sin. He not only died for us, but we died with Him.
Another important question in this statement is as to the meaning of "sin". What does the word sin mean here?
Does it mean all sin? Some understand this to mean "the possibility of sin." They would teach us that if you are
truly in Christ, truly a sancti¬fied Christian, then you cannot even commit acts of sin. But this is contrary to the
ex-perience of all Christians. All Christians are painfully aware of the presence of acts of sin in their lives. Dr.
Harry Ironside came under the influence of such teachings as a young Christian. Again and again he sought the
experience whereby the possibility of sin would be removed. He sought an experience that would make him
sinlessly perfect. At times he would think that he had arrived, but then he would be shattered by the
reoccurrence of acts of sin in his life. Obviously this is not what the Apostle is teaching.
Close akin to those who teach that this means the possibility of sin are those who teach that this means the
complete eradication of the old sin principle from man. They teach that there is an experience of death to sin
whereby God cuts out of man his old sin nature so that he will never want to sin any more. This removes the
possibility of sin. The Apostle John spurned such a view with sternness when he wrote, "If we say that we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." ( I John 1:8) A claim to have experienced the removal
of the sin nature is an act of self deception. It will be obvious to those who know you best that you have not lost
the sin nature.
It may be well to emphasize here that the Apostle says nothing about an experience. He points to this death as
something that has already happened in the past. He does not say that we ought to die to sin, or even that we
ought to die more and more to sin, but that we have died to sin. It is history. If you are in union with Christ Jesus,
you have died to sin.
We should interpret the word sin in the context. Sin is personified in this context. Beginning back in the last
chapter, the Apostle has been viewing sin as a terrible monarch with a kingdom. The whole race has been
under his sway and acts as his subjects. But when a man comes to be in Christ, he dies to the reign of sin. Any
person in Christ Jesus is dead to the reign of sin. He is no longer a subject of the throne of sin. However, it
should be emphasized that this is the position of the person in union with Christ, not necessarily his experience.
Do you struggle with the difference between a "position" and an "experience"? I must confess that I do. The
Christian life is more “becoming what you are” than anything else. Does that make sense? If you are in Christ,
you have died to sin. You have been crucified. All justified people are crucified people. Maybe an illustration will
help us. When Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation granting freedom to all of the slaves in this country,
their freedom was a reality. But it does not mean that all of them began to experience freedom at once. In fact
many of them just could not conceive of being free. They con¬tinued to fear and tremble in the presence of
their former masters. Many of them con¬tinued to serve their former masters out of fear after they were legally
and positionally set free. The same thing happens to us. If we are in Christ, we are free, we have died to sin, but
yet we may slip right back into the pattern of obedience to the old master.
The point of the Apostle is clear. When Jesus Christ died upon the Cross, I died with Him to the reign of sin. This
is essential thing.
THE CHRISTIAN DIED TO SIN PERSONALLY AT CONVERSION
So many good things happen to a person at the moment he commits his life to Jesus Christ in faith. It is the
moment of justification. It is also the moment in which that person comes to be in Christ Jesus. From that
moment onward he is no longer in Adam, but is in Christ. He also is no longer under sin, but is under grace.
From that moment forward that person is positionally no longer under the reign of sin. Sin no longer has power
or authority over the Christian.
Does someone want to protest that they were not aware of this when they put their faith in Christ for salvation?
You are probably right. There are many privileges of life that I was not aware of when I was born into the world
physically, but when I became aware of them, I began to enjoy them. The same is true of becoming a Christian.
At that moment God delivered me from the reign of sin and put me under the authority of His dear Son, made
me a citizen of the kingdom of Christ. I am no longer under the reign of sin and in the kingdom of darkness. This
happened to me personally at the moment of conversion.
Let me make a confession. I have spent several agonizing hours in my Christian ex-perience trying to die to sin
when I should have been accepting by faith what God declares has already happened. He does not admonish
me to die to sin, but declares that I have already died in Christ.
THE CHRISTIAN DIED TO SIN SYMBOLICALLY IN BAPTISM
Time forbids the full development of this now, but this is a part of the proof cited by the Apostle for this death.
He intimates that every person who has been baptized would know that they were acknowledging their death to
sin by being buried in the likeness of His death and burial. A person is personally declaring to the world that
they have died to the reign of sin and have become the full subject of Jesus Christ when they are buried in the
beautiful waters of baptism.
If the Christian has died to sin, then the practical application should be count on it as true and stop letting sin
reign in your mortal bodies. We will look at this more fully later, but today, let me just challenge you to go away
believing that you have died to sin. When Jesus Christ died upon the Cross, you died. You died with Him. You
are no longer under the power of, in the realm of, under the reign of sin. If you are in Christ, you are under
grace. And the grace of God is mighty to the perfecting and delivering of your life from sin totally.
Amen! What a truth!