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“Dead to Sin”

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The only way to be free from sin is to become dead to it, “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom 6:7). What is involved being free from sin? Scripture, and the testimony of the believer’s walk, clearly show it doesn’t involve the eradication of sin, nor its source—“the old man,” otherwise known as our sin nature!

Jesus’ crucifixion was physical, and ours was spiritual! He did not need a spiritual crucifixion because His nature is divine. We did not need a physical crucifixion because Jesus endured that for us (Gal 3:13; 4:5; Tit 2:14). Our being crucified with Him (Gal 2:20) crucified our sin nature (Rom 6:6), which results being “dead to sin” in being permanently nullified from its curse of “condemnation” (Rom 8:1) and its “reign” of “dominion” (Rom 6:12, 14).

I believe it is the freedom from the sin nature’s dominion that glorifies God the most, because the dominion of the old man lies within its ability to engender to us the desire to “serve sin” (Rom 6:6). Believers sin but no longer after the manner of serving sin, which is to “willfully sin” (Heb 10:26); “For the law (principle; power) of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2).

“Dead to Sin”

The grace of the Father positions us in the Lord Jesus, in whom the old man was crucified “that the body of sin (not the physical body but the sinful nature, which is as a body with its “members” - Col 3:5, 8—NC) might be destroyed, that we should not serve sin” (Rom 6:6); and yet “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (Jhn 1:8). To preserve these two statements intact and inviolate is the truth. If I am not dead to the old before God in Christ, I am still alive in that which is sinful, and I have no peace; and if I say I have no sin I do not admit that I am that being who needed the Blood of the Lamb.

In order to be at peace with the Father I must see myself in union with the Lord Jesus out of judgment, and that judged (old man—NC) which exposed me to judgment. To every quickened soul, knowing through grace that the Lord Jesus is the propitiation for their sins, and having peace with the Father in the faith that He hath raised our Lord Jesus from among the dead, the next thing is that I reign by one, Jesus Christ. I am a totally new being, with a new life in righteousness. Thus the side with God is all complete. There is propitiation through the Blood of the Savior, there is righteousness through His resurrection; there is life, the result of the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. And now it only remains to be free from the dominion of sin and to know and reckon that we are dead to it.

It is not only that I have received through Christ the gift of righteousness by His righteousness, and the justification of life; but the man, as to the race, was crucified in the Cross, in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should not serve sin. Thus there is the positive side, and having received through Christ abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, we reign in life.

Thus I am assured in a two-fold way; I have received on the one hand everything to fit me for the Father, and on the other hand I have been free form everything in which sin could find a place. I have been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. I am in the vigor of a justified life on the one side, and I am freed from the body of sin on the other, for he that is dead is freed from sin; and as thus, dead to the old before the Father through the Cross. The Spirit of God asserts His claim over the members of the as-yet-unredeemed body, so that they have no right to serve sin (the physical body is not sinful but can be used in sinning—NC). I am through grace set in Christ in newness of life, and in the crucifixion of the old man, and hence the one single responsibility now is to live unto the Father.

“Now, being made free from the reign of sin, you are servants to the Father, you have your fruit unto holiness, resulting in everlasting life” (Rom 6:22). Here there is growth, not because I am dying to sin, but because through the grace of God I am in newness of life; and in Christ I am in One who has died unto sin, and who now lives unto the Father; and therefore, whichever way I look, whether it be the life conferred through the righteousness of One, or the exemption from the body of sin through the crucifixion of the Cross, now living unto the Father, the fruit is holiness, as touching my position in Christ, and on God’s side.

But besides this and because of this—that is, because I am in this new ascended position, this place of liberty before the Father in the Son—I am led by the Holy Spirit by whom I live, to walk in Him; and as I do so, I do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, though they are still there (members of unrighteousness within the body of sin—NC). If they were not, where would be the virtue of not fulfilling them, or where would be that great manifestation of grace which is exemplified in every devoted and growing saint, even with the same nature in which he dishonored God, he is now empowered by the Spirit in a new life and nature to answer the mind of God?

I am to “mortify my members which are upon the earth,” but this is not to attain to death (which occurred in rebirth—NC). Then death would be a work here in me and by me, and not done for me; and the rest in my soul which I can only have because that is “dead wherein I was held” (Rom 7:6), would be dependent on my own progress of self-mortification, instead of, as the Scriptures set forth, the fact that I have died with Christ.

He is my hope; and therefore I am to put to death the members on earth still in existence as to themselves, and as this progresses there is growth. Sanctification does not proceed or arise (manifest—NC) from an improvement in the members, but from a greater subjugation of them in death-like powerlessness; for it is the simple responsibility now that all the members of the flesh should be in a death-state, for we have put off the old man (as we receive desire not to sin—NC), and have put of the new (always receiving desire to holiness—NC), which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who has created him (it—NC). But this is not to attain to a state of death, but because I have died before God in Christ, that I may practically carry out my true standing in my walk and condition here, while still in the body, so that the state may grow in accordance with the standing. For the conscience will be wounded if the conduct of the individual tallies not with the faith which is in keeping with the calling of God (sinning cannot satisfy the believer as before, for it being contrary to the new nature always results in dissatisfaction; and our continuing to put off the sin nature does not effect our “death-state,” but rather manifests it has already been effected at rebirth—NC).

The more I enjoy in my spirit the new state, the more do I deny that which would represent me in a character quite opposed to it, and hence there is an avoidance of everything which would minister to the flesh, not because I expect to expel sin from it; but because, being free from it, I would no longer be enslaved by it. I am no debtor to the flesh, and I prove my freedom by not yielding to it, not in expecting its extinction—for then there would cease to be anything to repel or act against—“but I keep my body under and bring it into subjection” ( 1Co 9:27 – “body” here “is not to be understood by the Apostle of his natural body, and of his keeping it under by immoderate watchings, fastings, and labours, or by whipping and scourging, and lying upon the bare ground, and other such practices (like ascetic ritualism—NC); but of the body of sin (Rom 6:6), the corruption of nature, and of that being laid under some restraints (Cross – Ro 6:6—NC); of the mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit, of crucifying the affections with the lusts, of putting off the old man with his deeds, as concerning the former conversation, and of making no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” - John Gill 1697–1771. “The word here (body) means, that Paul made use of all possible means to subdue his corrupt and carnal inclinations; to show that he was not under the dominion of evil passions, but was wholly under the dominion of the Gospel – Albert Barnes 1798–1870).

Now here comes in the exhortation of 1Peter 4:1, “Arm yourselves … with the same mind (the death of Christ): for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin”—the practical bearing in the body (physical body—NC) the death of Christ, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in the body. There is no clear apprehension of the grace of God unless, on God’s side, I am dead with Christ; and as I see this I “walk in the Spirit” in order to make true in the body here what is true of me by faith in Christ. And as this progresses, there is more control over the old man, and growth develops.

Nothing can be more marvelous than to see the life of the Lord Jesus manifested in the man here on earth through whom sin came in. That is, that the one through whom sin came in should now through grace, not only be dead to sin in Christ, but by the power of the Holy Spirit should be enabled to set forth the life of the Lord Jesus in that very body where sin entered.

- J B Stoney (1814-97)
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