I Corinthians 1:23 - “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”
THE PROBLEM IS SIN
Now, let’s go straight to our text in the sixth chapter of Romans, and we will copy verbatim from the text and notes of The Expositor’s Study Bible: “What shall we say then? (This is meant to direct attention to Rom. 5:20.) Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Just because grace is greater than sin doesn’t mean that the believer has a license to sin.) God forbid (presents Paul’s answer to the question, ‘Away with the thought, let not such a thing occur’). How shall we, who are dead to sin (dead to the sin nature), live any longer therein? (This portrays what the believer is now in Christ)” (Rom. 6:1-2).
In the seeker sensitive churches, so-called, sin is never mentioned. The same can be said for the Purpose Driven Life church as well. It is said that if sin is mentioned, this will be an offense to people. So, to keep from offending anyone, sin is never mentioned.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Word of Faith doctrine, which in reality is no faith at all, claims that if sin is mentioned by the preacher, it will create a sin consciousness in the people, which will cause them to sin. So, according to what they say, if sin is never mentioned, then people won’t sin.
It’s strange that the Apostle Paul, and above all, the Holy Spirit, didn’t have access to this great information. In fact, Paul mentioned sin 17 times in Romans, Chapter 6, alone.
Let us say it again: the problem is sin! Denying it won’t solve the problem, and neither will ignoring it solve the problem. Man is a sinner. As such, he desperately needs a redeemer. There is only one Redeemer, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us put it in this fashion:
The only way to God is through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6).
The only way to Jesus Christ is through the Cross (Rom. 6:3-5).
The only way to the Cross is a denial of self (Lk. 9:23).
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
“Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ (plainly says that this baptism is into Christ and not water [I Cor. 1:17; 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Eph.
4:5; Col. 2:11-13]) were baptized into His death? (When Christ died on the Cross, in the mind of God, we died with Him; in other words, He became our substitute, and our identification with Him in His death gives us all the benefits for which He died; the idea is that He did it all for us!)” (Rom. 6:3, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Unfortunately, most Christians, even, by far, most preachers, think that Paul is speaking of water baptism in Romans 6:3; consequently, knowing they have already been baptized, most Christians discount this chapter, which means they little understand what Paul is really saying. That is tragic considering that one could say that Romans, Chapter 6, is the central chapter of the entirety of the Word of God.
Some 99 percent of the Bible or more is given over to telling believers how to live for God. And this sixth chapter of Romans brings it all together. But due to misunderstanding the word baptize, most never understand the phenomenal truth that is given to us in this particular chapter.
If one looks in Strong’s Concordance, one will see that the word baptize can be used in either a literal or figurative sense. Let me give you an example how the Word of God uses the word in both senses.
John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance (here, the word baptize is used in its literal sense): but He (Christ) who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you (here it is used in the figurative sense) with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” (Mat. 3:11).
When the believing sinner accepts Christ, which is done by faith in Christ, at that moment, in the mind of God, such a person is placed in Christ “into His Death.” It is like the person dies with Christ. At least that’s the way the Lord sees it. This is the reason the Cross is so very, very important!
BURIED WITH HIM AND RAISED IN NEWNESS OF LIFE
“Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death (not only did we die with Him, but we were buried with Him as well, which means that all the sin and transgression of the past were buried; when they put Him in the tomb, they put all of our sins into that tomb as well): 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 (we died with Him, we were buried with Him, and His resurrection was our resurrection to a ‘newness of life’)” (Rom. 6:4).
LIVING FOR GOD
Whenever we accepted Christ, as stated, in the mind of God, we died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ that “we also should walk in newness of life.”
Even though we did not die physically on that Cross, and even though Jesus died in our place, still, faith exhibited in Him and what He did for us at the Cross, gives us all for which He died, which was and is the intention of the crucifixion. Now don’t misunderstand, Christ is not still on a Cross. As well, He is not dying again and again. In fact, He is seated presently at the right hand of the Father, and spiritually speaking, we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
But the one sacrifice of Christ was of such magnitude that anyone and everyone who evidences faith in Him receives the benefits for which He died. One must ever understand that everything Christ did, He did it for us. He did not do it for Himself, because He did not need such. He did not do it for angels, or anything else, but only for sinners.
“For if we have been planted together (with Christ) in the likeness of His death (Paul proclaims the Cross as the instrument through which all blessings come; consequently, the Cross must ever be the object of our faith, which gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our lives), we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (we can have the ‘likeness of His resurrection,’ i.e., ‘live this resurrection life,’ only as long as we understand the ‘likeness of His death,’ which refers to the Cross as the means by which all of this is done)” (Rom. 6:5).
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY RESURRECTION LIFE?
Paul is not speaking here of the resurrection, which will take place when the trump sounds. He is speaking of the victory that we now have as a result of the death of Christ and our faith in His finished work. Every believer is meant to have “resurrection life,” but it must be understood, this can only be had if we first of all understand that it has been made possible by His death.
“If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death,” meaning that we understand why He died, then “we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” However, this is all predicated on our understanding the veracity of the Cross of Christ.
Many Christians talk about resurrection life, but they don’t understand that it is predicated solely on the death of Christ. It is the Cross of Christ, and this we must ever understand, that makes everything possible.
THE SIN NATURE MADE INEFFECTIVE
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him (all that we were before conversion), that the body of sin might be destroyed (the power of sin broken), that henceforth we should not serve sin (the guilt of sin is removed at conversion, because the sin nature no longer rules within our hearts and lives)” (Rom. 6:6).
A BETTER TRANSLATION
The phrase, “that the body of sin might be destroyed,” would have been better translated, “that the body of sin might be made ineffective.”
The Greek word for destroyed is katargeo, and means, “to destroy or to make of no effect.” We know from the way Paul addresses the sin nature in the balance of the chapter that it is not destroyed, but rather made ineffective at conversion. If it were destroyed, it would not be possible for it to be revived again; however, if it is made ineffective, it can be revived, which, of course, is what Paul teaches.
The “old man,” as Paul uses the term, is what we were, our life and living before we came to Christ. That old man was “crucified with Him.” In fact, it could be no other way.
The old man cannot be improved, it must die! The type of death it must die cannot be brought about by mankind, only by Christ, and only by what Christ did at the Cross. That’s what Paul was talking about when he said we “were baptized into His death.”
Unfortunately, the greater pastime of modern America is self-improvement. It once was baseball, but now it’s an emphasis on self. While we are a self, and will ever be a self, and while it is obvious that self definitely needs improvement, the truth is, self cannot improve self. There is no such thing as moral evolution. And yet, man keeps trying, and religious man most of all! In fact, the most popular preachers presently over television are those who constantly acclaim the improvement of self. In other words, they claim to know how to improve self by eliminating bad habits and developing good habits. Unfortunately, the problem is far worse than that. The old man is totally and completely corrupted. That’s the reason when the believing sinner comes to Christ, “he is made a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
But even then, the believer finds the old man trying to come alive again, trying to usurp authority over the new man. The believer will find this is a constant struggle never-ending. There is only one solution for it, and we mean only one.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Jesus addressed this very thing by saying:
If any man will come after Me (the criteria for discipleship), let him deny himself (not asceticism as many think, but rather that one denies one’s own willpower, self-will, strength, and ability, depending totally on Christ), and take up his cross (the benefits of the Cross, looking exclusively to what Jesus did there to meet our every need) daily (this is so important, our looking to the Cross; that we must renew our faith in what Christ has done for us, even on a daily basis, for Satan will ever try to move us away from the Cross as the object of our faith, which always spells disaster), and follow Me (Christ can be followed only by the believer looking to the Cross, understanding what it accomplished, and by that means alone [Rom. 6:3-5, 11, 14; 8:1-2, 11; I Cor. 1:17-18, 21, 23; 2:2; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 2:14-15]). For whosoever will save his life shall lose it (try to live one’s life outside of Christ and the Cross): but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it (when we place our faith entirely in Christ and the Cross, looking exclusively to Him, we have just found ‘more abundant life’ [Jn. 10:10]) (Lk. 9:23-24, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit alone can develop us, thereby, making us what we ought to be. And just because we are born again, meaning that the Holy Spirit now lives within our physical and spiritual lives, still, we hinder Him greatly, not understanding how He works.
The Holy Spirit works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ (Rom. 8:2). In fact, He will not work outside of those parameters. He doesn’t demand very much of us, but He most definitely does demand one thing, and that is that our faith be exclusively in Christ and the Cross. This being done, it means that we understand that our source is the Lord Jesus Christ, while the means by which He gives us all things is the Cross. Only then can the Holy Spirit function as He desires to do within our hearts and lives, developing us as He so desires. It cannot be done any other way.
SERVING THE SIN NATURE
Paul said in Romans, Chapter 6, Verse 6, “That henceforth we should not serve sin.” This refers to serving the sin nature. What did he mean by that?
If we do not function God’s way, which means that we place our faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross, to be sure, the sin nature will have a revival in our lives, actually functioning somewhat as it did, or even worse, before we were saved. At this very moment, there are millions of Christians all over the world who are struggling with something in their lives, and they are losing the struggle.
As Paul said in Romans 7:15, they don’t really understand what is happening to them. Many of these believers are doing everything within their power to live for God to the best of their ability. But still, they are plagued by some vice over which they seemingly have no control. As someone once said, “They rebuke the Devil, but he don’t buke.”
The reason is, they are trying to defeat this thing by their own strength. They do not understand that, considering they’re using the name of Jesus, are quoting Scriptures, and doing anything and everything else they know, but, if the truth be known, it is all to no avail. By placing their faith in something other than Christ and the Cross, this limits, as stated, the Holy Spirit as to what He can do in their lives, which means they are failing and will continue to fail. In fact, the situation in such circumstances will continue to get worse and worse, no matter how much they love the Lord.
TREATING THE SYMPTOMS OF SIN
The modern church little knows what to do with these situations. They recommend a psychologist, who can only make the matter worse, or they rather treat the symptoms. In other words, what the individual has done and is doing that is wrong, no doubt, terribly wrong, is not the real cause of the problem. It’s just a symptom of what the real problem is. And what is the real problem?
The real problem is a wrong object of faith. That object must be the Cross of Christ. And, as well, our faith must be maintained in the Cross of Christ. It must not move elsewhere.
And please believe me, Satan will do everything within his power to move your faith to other things. And he doesn’t too very much care what the other things are, just as long as it’s not the Cross of Christ.
The reader must understand that everything we receive from the Lord, and I mean everything, comes from Christ as the source and the Cross as the means. If we divorce either one from the other, then we are left with “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4).
“For he who is dead (He was our substitute, and in the mind of God, we died with Him upon believing faith) is freed from sin (set free from the bondage of the sin
nature)” (Rom. 6:7, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
As we have stated, the old man cannot be improved. He had to die, and die he did, on the Cross of Calvary. Of course, and as is understood, this was all by faith. This means it is not a physical thing, as should be obvious, but rather that which is spiritual. The moment the old man died, he was set free from the dominion of the sin nature.
In fact, before anyone gives his heart to Christ, looking back to his unsaved state, he was ruled by the sin nature 24 hours a day. But now, as stated, that dominion is broken. As long as we keep our faith in Christ and the Cross, the dominion of the sin nature will remain broken. Now, this doesn’t mean that Satan will cease all of his temptation, nor does it mean we’ll never have another problem. Such as that does not exist.
Satan is going to continue, trying his best to come up with new means and ways to trip us up, but, above all, to get us to transfer our faith from the Cross of Christ to other things.
This is where the good fight of faith comes in. Admittedly, it is a fight, but it is a good fight, because it is the right fight (I Tim. 6:12). Most Christians, sad to say, are fighting the wrong fight.
There’s really nothing in the Bible that tells us to fight sin per se. While it is a fight and, as well, war, still, as stated, the fight and the war are with our faith. This is the battleground! If we are trying to fight sin, we are fighting a battle that’s already been fought and won at the Cross of Calvary (Col. 2:14-15). Now that’s a phenomenal truth, and one that we need to learn, seemingly, all over again.
When Paul said, “He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it,” (Col. 2:15) he meant exactly what he said. Jesus triumphed over Satan, over every fallen angel, and over every demon spirit. This means that by atoning for all sin, he took away Satan’s legal right to hold man captive.
Paul also said, “But this Man (this Priest, Christ Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever (speaks of the Cross), sat down on the right hand of God (refers to
the great contrast with the priests under the Levitical system, who never sat down because their work was never completed; the work of Christ was a ‘finished work,’ and
needed no repetition)” (Heb. 10:12, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
This tells us that our Lord offered up “one sacrifice for sins,” which was Himself in the shedding of His life’s blood. Likewise, the word forever means that there will never be a need for another sacrifice. It is done forever.
The phrase, “sat down on the right hand of God,” means that God accepted His sacrifice, meaning that all sin has been atoned, and that the sin nature need not any longer dominate any believer. So, fighting against sin of any nature is a fruitless exercise. It’s a wasted effort! As stated, we are to fight the good fight of faith, and never cease fighting that good fight of faith.
This article will be continued in the August issue of The Evangelist.
This article is an excerpt from the book, Paul, The Apostle, by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
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