~~ By James Fire
Chapter Six: Dead Man Walking – Alive by God’s Spirit
In the closing verses of Chapter Five of this Pauline epistle, we read about how “sin reigned unto death” and how that “the law entered that the offence [of sin] might abound”. We also examined, and with great joy, that just as “sin reigned unto death” so would “grace reign through righteousness” and that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”.
Because of the Law, sin abounded, but because of the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross, our sin-bearer not only provided His grace, but that this grace abounds even more so than the Law-revealing sin that would condemn us.
Chapter Eight expounds on how there is no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and here in Chapter Six we will begin to examine how that salvation is not just positional, but practical. What do I mean by this?
Put simply, since the day that each of us has received the Gospel via repentance and received Jesus Christ as LORD and SAVIOR, we have been washed clean of our sins and stand before our Holy God as pure and sinless as the LORD Jesus Himself, Who has granted to us His Holy Spirit as well as His flawless righteousness.
~* This was a Divine ‘trade up’ for us: Jesus took our sins, and in return, He gave us His righteousness. That’s our position, that’s how God the Father sees us from Eternity where He dwells. This occurred the very hour, the very moment that salvation was granted to you, who are born again, by the LORD.
Yet there is the matter of how sin still tempts us; our lusts still may to some degree govern our drives; we are, at least in portions and parts of our lives prone to sin. Overall, we are guiltless of sin because the blood of the Lamb cleanses us from all unrighteousness, but in our day to day living, we aren’t experiencing victory over sin in certain respects.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean practically being sinless, but being a Christian does mean that we should (practically) sin less. In other words, sin should be a diminishing influence in our lives. We grow in holiness and purity; we lessen in the participation and ‘death-style’ of sin. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect, but it does mean that God is able to work in our yielded hearts in “perfecting holiness” in us, His children:
2 Cor 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
That word “perfecting” is significant; it means “to execute, to perform, to complete, to accomplish” and it intimates a work that is to be finished, an enterprise that has a terminus where everything necessary is fulfilled to completion.
How can we experience spiritual victory over those besetting sins that cause us to stumble in our walks with the LORD? That is the subject Paul tackles here! I am persuaded that most Christians, who are frustrated by their inability to overcome sin, are so frustrated because they don’t understand Romans Chapter Six (and Seven and Eight). Because of this frustration and their unsuccessful struggles too many saints have resigned the fight and resolved towards compromise.
One man who claimed to be a Christian told me that sin is hard to beat, that the devil is too strong for him, and for this reason he has given up in his walk (not his belief in God) and surrendered to the powerful influences of sin.
Indeed, remember this: sin is such a powerful force assailing fallen humanity, that it took no one less than God made flesh, the LORD Jesus Christ to ruin its power! Now I think we can lay the argument to rest that we are able to defeat it and that it’s up to us to beat sin!
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Dr. Scofield comments on the issue of sin and its biblical definition:
“Sin, Summary: The literal meanings of the Heb. and (Greek - sin," "sinner," etc), disclose the true nature of sin in its manifold manifestations. Sin is transgression, an overstepping of the law [which is] the divine boundary between good and evil Psalms 51:1; iniquity, an act inherently wrong, whether expressly forbidden or not; error, a departure from right; Psalms 51:9; Romans 3:23, missing the mark, a failure to meet the divine standard; trespass, the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority Ephesians 2:1, lawlessness, or spiritual anarchy 1 Timothy 1:9, unbelief, or an insult to the divine veracity John 16:9.
Sin originated with Satan Isaiah 14: 12-17; entered the world through Adam, Romans 5:12; was, and is, universal, Christ alone excepted; Romans 3:23; 1 Peter 2:22, incurs the penalties of spiritual and physical death; Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23 and has no remedy but in the sacrificial death of Christ; Hebrews 9:26; Acts 4:12; availed of by faith Acts 13:38, 39. Sin may be summarized as threefold: An act, the violation of, or want of obedience to the revealed will of God; a state, absence of righteousness; a nature, enmity toward God.”
We who have been born of God’s Spirit, born again of God (John 1:13; 3:3, 5) and have entered into the Kingdom of God, perceiving its reality and understanding the governing truth of that realm, now live under the reign of grace, and not of sin and death.
Therefore it is entirely inappropriate that any true Christian should “continue” in the old ways before we came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As believers we shouldn’t find ourselves ‘at home’ in our old life (sin committed is something that bothers the saint, not the sinner). The word “continue” implies an intensive form of “dwelling, to tarry, persevere, to remain, to continue long, and still to abide.”
So Paul asks the rhetorical question of whether we should make ourselves at home with sin, so that God’s forgiveness via His grace should abound.
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
That’s his answer, and it is also mine: “God forbid”!
Imagine with me for a moment that there has been a death in a family; the corpse, rather than being delivered to a mortuary and later a funeral home to be assigned a casket and then a burial, was left at home, and tended to by family members in dressing them every day, sitting them down to meals, bringing them into the family room to enjoy a night of television with their spouse and children, etc.
After about a week or so, it would become amazingly clear that this person does not belong in the house. They are starting to smell and decompose. They never share in the family conversation. They don’t lift a finger to help around the house. They don’t share in the financial responsibilities to maintain the household, etc. etc.
The fact that they are dead means that they no longer belong to the world in which they once lived. They need to be separated! So too for the Christian; since we are now “dead to sin” we no longer belong to this world of sin; we belong elsewhere, yet while here, we are to be separated - sanctified unto our God!
Suppose that corpse died of liver failure due to excessive drinking; now there they are, lying on the couch, and you take a bottle of their favorite brand of whiskey and swirl it in front of their pale, rotting face. I don’t think you’ll get much of a rise out of them! They are dead and any such attraction to alcohol is absent from them.
Since we likewise are “dead to sin” any such temptations shouldn’t get much of a rise out of us either! Yet it does; constantly in many, too many of us! Why?
We are not living the crucified life, that’s why! And what is the crucified life? The crucified life is that life of a believer who has walked away from the cross which has done its work in the soul and so that believer is ready for burial:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
In many passages of the Scripture, we read the phrase, “in Christ” and in this epistle alone this phrase is mentioned several times (3:24; 8:1-2, 39; 9:1; 12:5; 16:7 and in other passages in Romans but these have a different meaning). How is it that the believer is “in Christ”?
If one is water baptized, they are then ‘in water’ and if one is “in Christ” it’s because they’ve been “baptized into Jesus Christ” and are now members of the body of Christ:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
1 Cor 12:13
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
See also: Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21.
This baptism of the Spirit is distinct from, but sometimes coincidental with water baptism.
Baptism is a means by which one is identified with another, or a particular office or ministry.
Jesus our LORD was baptized by John, but had no sin for which He had to repent of; rather He was identifying with fallen humanity, and this was likewise in preparation to inaugurate His ministry.
Those who are baptized into Jesus Christ are identified with Him, not in some mere ceremony, but in a spiritual reality and transaction based on the new covenant/testament made valid by the blood of Christ.
Jesus Christ died on the cross; His was an actual death because He took on our sin (the wages of sin is death (6:23a), and just as that is a reality so also is our identification with Him a reality! Read slowly vs. 4 of this chapter.
The fact that we are buried with Him by baptism into death means that, spiritually speaking, WE – ARE – DEAD – IN – CHRIST (the crucified life)! The LORD Jesus however didn’t ‘stay dead’. He is the exclusive example (but only for now!) of the physical resurrection, the “first fruits from the dead” as the Bible puts it in 1 Cor. 15: 20. And just as He is alive forever more (Romans 6:9) so we should walk in that same “newness of life”, a newness that is born, grown, maintained and flourishing by the Holy Spirit in the yielded heart of a believer.
It’s the yielding that presents the problem however; Christians yield to sin because sin is enticing, it is pleasurable, it is ‘fun’ for the old sinful nature and it always will be. The answer then is that we decide by faith in God’s Word and what it declares, that we are “dead to sin” being identified with Christ Jesus on the cross, just as Paul declared in:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
As we have observed a moment ago, you can’t tempt a corpse (No, of corpse you can’t!); temptation in the life of a believer should be no greater a force to contend with.
Just as we have believed by faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins, we have exercised repentance towards God and surrendered to Him, and thus received the fruit of salvation which itself has rendered effective results in our lives; so too, this is an exercise of faith:
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Our old man, our sinful nature, that spiritual rebellion that was commenced by Adam and even now continues to work in the hearts of the lost, the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) is crucified with Jesus Christ, Who hung on the cross two thousand years ago. Receive this truth just as you received the truth of the Gospel, for its all part of the same work of salvation! Believe by faith that it is just as God said in His Word.
Now are you beginning to understand the glorious liberation from the old ways, the sinful life of the old man, the enslavement to sin? – so that we are not just freed from the penalty of sin (justification) which is hell fire, but also from the power of sin (sanctification) which is spiritual enslavement to sin! We are free from sin! WE ARE FREE FROM SIN!
The sinner, having a sinful nature will sin; he can’t accidentally be righteous before God; it’s just not in his nature. The only thing he can do, when once he falls under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and finally understands the Gospel of Grace, is to receive such from the LORD Jesus Christ. Until then he has but a singular, selfish, self-seeking sinful nature that is “prone to sin”.
For the saint however, we have a dual nature – we still have the fallen Adamic nature of sin, but now we also have the nature of the Spirit of Jesus:
2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Both Paul (Romans 6:1 and elsewhere) and Peter (here above) make reference in their respective commentary on the reception of the new nature by means of Jesus Christ’s atonement and resurrection as the supreme manifestation of the grace of God. What is the ‘grace’ of God? As I’ve used this acronym before, indulge me as I use it once again here:
G.R.A.C.E. – God’s Riches of righteousness Attributed to us at Christ’s Expense. In other words, this is the unmerited blessing of God’s salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for our justification and the endowment of citizenship in the kingdom of God as sons and daughters of the LORD God our Father!
Later on in the 2 Peter 3:18, Peter mentions grace again.
Scofield’s notes have ample edification in exposition on this primary attribute of the LORD our God:
Grace (imparted). Summary (see "Grace,") (See Scofield John 1:17) grace is not only dispensationally a method of divine dealing in salvation but is also the method of God in the believer's life and service. As saved, he is "not under the law, but under grace": Romans 6:14. Having by grace brought the believer into the highest conceivable position: Ephesians 1:6. God ceaselessly works through grace, to impart to, and perfect in him, corresponding graces: John 15:4, 5; Galatians 5:22, 23.
Grace, therefore, stands connected with service: Romans 12:6; 15:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 1:3-7; 10 ; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:7, 8; Ephesians 4:7; Philippians 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:1, 2; 1 Peter 4:10 with Christian growth: 2 Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:16; 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 12:28, 29; 13:9; James 4:6 ; 1 Peter 1:2 ; 3:7; 1 Peter 5:5, 10 ; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 1:4 and with giving: 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 7, 19; 9:14.
Now because we have this ‘split-personality’ as it were of our carnal, sinful nature and that nature divine in Jesus Christ, we have a choice to make every day, every moment of every day:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Lust (besides but also including the sexual kind) is very much ‘old man’ and ‘old world’ and is a power exploited by Satan in tempting souls to commit sin; such things that are welcome by the citizens of the kingdom of darkness, but not the kingdom of God! We are dead to self, to sin, to seduction, to the world in all of its secularism.
Have you ever noticed that human beings are built in such a way that we are incapable of walking in two different directions at once? We can only move in one direction at a time, even if it’s just a step to the right and then a step to the left. Likewise in the Spirit: you can’t walk after the Spirit and after the flesh at the same time.
So, it’s very much a matter of choosing, step by step, the way in which we will walk: either spiritually or carnally.
So when temptation comes slithering into your thoughts, you not only have the opportunity, but the spiritual obligation to seize such thoughts by the throat (2 Cor. 10:4-5), and declare that such things are a trespassing by Satan on to holy property purchased and redeemed by the LORD Jesus Christ’s own blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20); that such thoughts are a form of spiritual treason against the KING Whose kingdom we now belong to (1 Peter 2:11; and NOT that of Satan’s) and will therefore NOT BE TOLERATED!
We then must ask the LORD to take that which is of our flesh that is lusting and struggling to free itself out of our grasp to obtain the desired sinful object and crucify it on His cross, so that it might die the death. The flesh may plead and whine and struggle, beg and placate us to let it be, to allow it just this once to indulge itself, but such cries must fall on sanctified ears that are deaf to their imploration. Rather, without mercy we must drag our lusting flesh to the cross, and all the while it will kick and scream in utter rebellion like the wild, savage beast that it is.
Ultimately, we must therefore see it impaled on the cross and die. This is what’s called the mortification of the flesh.
Here are some scriptures on this theological truth:
Matt. 5:29; Rom. 6:6; 13:14; Gal. 5:16; Col. 3: 5; 1 Pet. 4: 2.
Then we must turn once again to the LORD and ask Him to fill the vacancy that was once occupied by that sinful tendency of our old man with His Holy Spirit and sanctify that region of our soul with His presence so that the nature of Jesus (new man) will be all the more present and our sinful nature less so. This is sanctification. This is growing and living in becoming more like Jesus!
Here are some scriptures on the theological truth of sanctification:
John 17: 19; 1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; Eph. 5:26; 2 Tim. 2: 21; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; 13:12; 1 Pet.1: 2; Jude :1.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Just as certainly as the death of Christ on the cross will work effectively in our own death towards our sinful nature, so too, the resurrection life of Christ will work effectively in the imparted eternal life given to us by the LORD Jesus (This being incorporated by our new and godly nature); the body of Jesus Christ was never found, because people have looked for it in all the wrong places.
Where they should look to, is to the right hand of the Father in heaven, where Christ is seated (Rev. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; 10: 12).
Because He is risen from the dead, we understand and know that our sins indeed have been done away with, that He has overcome – that death no longer has dominion over Him, and because of this, death and the sin that causes it, need not have dominion over us either!
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
2 Tim 1:9-10
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
That blessedness of life eternal is not something that we will rejoice in when once we enter heaven’s portals; this eternal life is something that we as saints of the living God enjoy here and now! The LORD Jesus, in praying to the Father before His Passion, declared what eternal life really is:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
This knowledge of God is not academic or theological knowledge, nor is it knowledge about God; its knowledge of God in His Person, just as we know the persons of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children and our friends. It’s the sort of intimate knowledge that comes through relationship not research; by fellowship, not fact finding. This relationship commences when once we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, post-Cross, that is, we are able for the first time, since Christ Jesus offered Himself for our sins and then rose from the dead, to know God – not just as Creator or Judge or Author of the Scriptures, but as our Father who is “the only true God” (John 20: 17):
1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Just as certainly as intimate knowledge, relationship and fellowship with spiritual communion with our Father, via Jesus Christ His Son brings eternal life, we as saints are confident in our knowledge that we possess eternal life because we have believed “on the name of the Son of God.”
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
On a side note: unfortunately, Roman Catholics have Christ dying for our sins millions of times each year around the world; they say that it’s not a series of singular, independent deaths, but the same death He suffered two thousand years ago, and continuing on in what they call “the mystery of the hour”. This is a false doctrine; Jesus Christ died once and only once, whereupon completing the atonement for the sins of the world He declared “It is finished.”
Hebrews 9:26, 28
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
For information on this issue, visit Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) and read the following article:
Transubstantiation and the Real Presence
For a ministry outreach to Catholics by former Catholics (and priests) please visit this site: The Berean Beacon
Also, Jehovah Witnesses will often quote this verse, supporting their view that Jesus is the Son of God, but not God because “he liveth unto God” yet when one takes this verse and seeks out other scriptures that deal with the relationship between the Father and the Son, it is clear that Jesus Christ is indeed God (John 10: 30; Heb. 1: 8; 1 Tim. 3:16, etc.).
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Just as in the previous chapter where Paul addressed how that death reigned, here now he admonishes the saints to not “let . . . sin therefore reign in [our] mortal [bodies]” and mortal they certainly are! Corrupted bodies with the taint of sin nature inherited by Adam; yet by faith we can accept the truth of God’s Word, that we are in Christ, dead to sin, free from sin – liberated, no longer enslaved, chained, held captive by sin! Rather, we are “alive unto God through Jesus”!
We share in His death, we share in His burial, and we share in His resurrection life! One day we will likewise share in His ascension at the rapture of the church when we finally arrive home! We have the power, by the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, to live our lives just as Jesus did (Rom. 8: 8-16; 1 John 2:6) – albeit not as perfectly, as He was absolutely without sin, but ‘grow into’ the walk of a mature believer in Christ (2 Cor. 9:10; Eph. 4: 15; 1 Thess. 3:12; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3: 17-18).
Spiritual maturity is associated with understanding the Word of God, a deeper relationship with the LORD, obedience and submission to His will, denying one self and being yielded to the Spirit as He directs us.
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.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Just as we surrendered our lives to the LORD when we heard the Gospel message of salvation, so too we surrender (“yield”) ourselves by faith, and allow God’s Spirit to use our members (our very bodies and minds) as instruments for righteousness! We are not empowered by the Law to do so; the Law can only reveal the holiness of God and thereby condemn sin – those are its only functions. Rather, we acquire the power to live holy, righteous lives by the grace imparted by the LORD.
Grace is not only for forgiveness of sin, but empowerment to resist sin (Heb. 4: 16): “…to find help in time of need.”
In these two verses (13, 14) we have the same dynamic and spiritual truth as found later in the 12th chapter of Romans, vs. 1 – 2. Our spiritual liberty is spoken of everywhere in Scripture; here are a few examples: Gal. 3:23-24; 2 Cor. 7: 1; Titus 2: 12-14.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Seeing how Jesus Christ suffered and agonized the cross and all the excruciation of the sin bearer, being separated from the Father and enduring the wrath of His holy judgment – all for the sake of delivering us from sin, death and hell, but also delivering us from the powerful enslavement to sin, how can we then relish sin as believers? How can we imbibe deeply of iniquity? How can we render ourselves back into servitude to sin, when our LORD did beyond imagining, freeing us from such, so that we are no longer slaves to sin?
If we obey sin, there will be death – not physical death necessarily (but eventually), but perhaps the one that obeys the sin of adultery will see the death of their marriage, or health; the drug addict that obeys his sin will most certainly see the death of his health, family, finances, a law abiding status, etc.
The one that obeys the sin of lust in pornography will likewise see the death of their marriage, of wholesome relationships, and may well find themselves convicted of the crime of assault and rape.
Yet those that are obedient to God will find themselves in 'right standing' before the LORD and their fellow man that is, righteousness which in itself is a protection against the many destructive ‘deaths’ that are rampant in our dying society.
“God be thanked” for what He has done for us! Let us offer up our very lives as a giant “thank You!” to God for His kindness and grace and tender mercies in delivering us from our obstinate rebellion and transgressions! Let us express our gratitude by honoring Him in our loving obedience “from the heart” (for the saint, there should be no other kind!) to His will, which is for our blessing besides!
“…that form of doctrine delivered to you.” And to think, there are those that say “doctrine doesn’t matter” or “doctrine is divisive” or “we’ll set doctrine aside for the sake of unity”! Doctrine is vital in the life of the believer, for by the truth that it employs and is inspired by, it brings us life and peace, righteousness and the means to know how to please God with our obedience.
Having “doctrine . . . delivered” to us liberates us from the enslavement of sin as shown in vs. 17 of this passage. Doctrine is not for learning only; consider the first two letters in the word.
James 1:22, 25
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
And now for the last remaining verses in this chapter:
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Being a slave of righteousness brings far, far greater and powerful freedom than a death-style of sin couldn’t even imagine! Partaking of sin entangles a soul until it suffocates under the oppressive weight of this downward spiral (“uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity”) of corruption and anguish. Of course, sin is pleasurable for a season (Heb. 11:25), that is until the seeds of such bears its stinking, vile and poisonous fruit (Matt. 7:17-18)!
Far more blessed is the soul that will follow after the LORD, heed the call of salvation, and enter into that blessed rest of the LORD Jesus Christ, embarking on this fantastic journey into eternity where we will know joys sublime, love everlasting, and peace ever enduring (Psalm 1:1-3; Matt. 13:23; John 15:5, 8)!
“Righteousness unto holiness” – note here the inclination of spiritual progress (the same idea of such progress was brought forth earlier in this study from Romans 1:17 "from faith to faith"); righteousness is pleasing to the LORD as it entails right standing before God, and in regards to reflecting God’s nature towards others; holiness is something that is directed towards God Himself, from the heart. Righteousness could be feigned as a mere outward shell, but for holiness, there is no such veneer, for holiness is of the heart of the redeemed, where only God Himself can see.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
“Free from righteousness” – we had neither the desire nor even the thought of righteousness when we were in darkness; it wasn’t until the LORD came and began to minister to us by His Spirit (John 14: 17; 16: 7-11) and began to woo us towards the LORD Jesus for salvation. Those who reject such wooing remain “free from righteousness” and continue in a state of darkness and as a result, condemnation (John 3:19).
Vs. 21: Such “fruit” was referred to earlier . . .
“…fruit unto holiness” Have you ever ‘tried’ to be holy? That’s like squeezing the branch of an apple tree in an attempt to squeeze an apple out of one of its stems! Holiness cannot come by any self effort or struggle.
As we simply receive God’s Word (the seed that will produce fruit after its own kind, that is godliness, and holiness of Jesus, etc), and seek God in prayer, and remain yielded to Him just as the soil is yielded to the plow, and subsequently the seed of the sower, the fruit of holiness will simply come naturally – or more accurately, super-naturally by God Himself.
Such fruit as mentioned in Gal. 5: 22-23 and 1 Cor. 13: 4-8a, 13; Heb. 12:11, 14-15 (and those references made earlier) is the blessed fruit that is born of God, and is the very nature and character of the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior!
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Note the contrasts in this single verse: wages as compared to gift; sin as opposed to Jesus Christ; death in comparison to eternal life.
As one goes about their unredeemed life, doing that which comes naturally – that is sin (falling short of the glory of God, and all He intended for mankind), such deeds and practices are by the labors of self; thus “the wages of sin” which brings forth the ‘payment’ of death. Sin separates souls from their Savior (Is. 59:2), and as He is the only wellspring of life (be it physically or spiritually), separation from this exclusive Bringer of life will result in death (remember the ‘fish out of water’ analogy in an earlier study).
See Gen. 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Rom. 8: 6; James 5:20; Rev. 21:8.
God is not seeking payment from ourselves for our sins against Him (the cost is far too high), and so He took on the responsibility of paying the debt Himself, through God the Son, Jesus Christ. So like any gift, the Giver can offer this freely at no charge to the receiver (you and I); and this gift of eternal life is brought to us by Jesus Christ, the only Manufacturer Who can produce this marvelous, inestimably valuable product of perfect salvation!
See John 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Rom. 5:21; 1 John 5:12.
On a final note: Imagine if you will a regal, wealthy and noble King who has a beggar coming before him that owes him a debt he cannot hope to ever pay in his life time or that of his children (sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? Matt. 18:23-35).
The King forgives the beggar the debt… but then He goes yet another step further, because He sees that the beggar is in very poor health, covered in sores, wheezing and coughing, scrawny and nearly starved, with rags for clothes and no where to live but the street.
He takes it upon Himself to bathe the beggar in His own royal bathing chambers; He looks to His own wardrobe and selects of the finest silks and satins and wonderful shoes and a jewel necklace and a ring. He brings him to accommodations of his own to live in the palace with the King where he dines sumptuously at His own dining hall!
He sleeps in sublime peace upon a bed with a deep, soft mattress and a pillow to match. On the next day, the beggar is astounded when some of the Kings servants approach him with papers of adoption for him to sign, so that he actually becomes the adopted son of the King!
Jesus has forgiven our debt and justified us, but His love for us is far too great than to stop merely here; He longs to feed us of the Bread of Life, and clothe us in His own righteousness, and make such provisions for us that will mean our spiritual well being. In lavishing such things upon us and in us, He is bettering our souls so that we not only are delivered from beggarly externals and surroundings, but also delivered from the beggarly practices, attitudes, deficiencies and anything else inwardly that makes us a beggar and transforms us into His begotten. This is sanctification, and this is God’s will, our heavenly Abba’s desire for all of His dear children!
May the LORD Jesus bless us as we continue to know Him, the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection!