I Corinthians 1:23 - “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”
DEAD WITH CHRIST
“Now if we be dead with Christ (once again pertains to the Cross, and our being baptized into His death), we believe that we shall also live with Him (have resurrection life, which is more abundant life [Jn. 10:10])” (Rom. 6:8).
When Jesus died on the Cross, and when we evidence faith in Him, whenever that was when we were born again, at that moment, we “died with Christ.” That’s the way that God looked at the situation. As we’ve already stated, the old man had to die, and that we died with Him.
Paul also said, “We believe that we shall also live with Him.” Actually, the eighth verse is very similar to the fifth verse. Resurrection life, for this is what it is speaking of, can be had by the believer and, in fact, is meant to be had by the believer, but, it can be had only by us understanding that the resurrection life is made possible by what Jesus did at the Cross and, in essence, our dying with Him. Unfortunately, far too many believers attempt to have resurrection life while ignoring the Cross. Such is not to be, as such cannot be. It is the Cross of Christ that has made, and does make, all things possible.
DOMINION IS BROKEN
While the dominion of the sin nature is broken with the conversion of the believing sinner, still, for it to remain broken, the individual has to know and understand how it was broken to begin with. If believers understand anything about this at all—and most don’t—then they know that the dominion of sin was broken in their lives by virtue of the Cross. However, most of the time, if any thought is given to it at all, which it seldom is, most do not understand that what got them in keeps them in. Not understanding that, faith is transferred to something else. When that happens, the sin nature, as we have stated, begins to have a revival, and once again begins to dominate the child of God. And it doesn’t matter how consecrated that person might be or how much he loves the Lord, it is impossible for such a believer to properly live for God. They can be saved and can make heaven their eternal home; however, when it comes to victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil, when it comes to growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord, and when it comes to enjoying the “more abundant life,” which Christ spoke about, that they don’t have. And the sadness is, due to the paucity of preaching and teaching from the pulpit as it regards this all-important subject, these believers, and I speak of those who truly love the Lord, are left in a quandary. And sadder yet, this is not speaking or addressing one here and there but virtually the entirety of the present body of
Christ. By not understanding the Cross—as it refers to sanctification and how we live for God—such an individual is programmed, so to speak, for failure. There are no exceptions!
While many aren’t controlled by vices, they are controlled by other types of sins. In fact, the Apostle Paul listed these “works of the flesh.”
WORKS OF THE FLESH
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these (if one attempts to function by means of law of any nature, the ‘works of the flesh’ will be manifested in one’s
life); adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like (if one is walking after the flesh [Rom. 8:1], one or more of these sins will manifest themselves in one’s life; the only way, and I mean the only way, one can walk in perpetual victory is to understand that everything we receive from God comes to us by means of the Cross; consequently, the Cross must ever be the object of our faith; this being the case, the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively within the confines of the sacrifice of Christ, will exert His mighty power on our behalf, which will enable us to live a holy life): of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past (refers to the fact that the apostle was not afraid to name specific sins), that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (This tells us in no uncertain terms that if our faith is not everlastingly in Christ and the Cross, we simply won’t make it. God doesn’t have two ways of salvation and victory, only one, and that is ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified’)” (Gal. 5:19-21).
The word heresy means “a departure from revealed truth.” So, while many Christians may not be involved in the vices, although many are, some are most definitely involved in heresy or idolatry. In fact, idolatry is rampant in the church, with untold millions putting their faith in their church denomination, etc. So, the works of the flesh run the gamut from the proverbial A to Z.
The point is this: If the believer doesn’t have his faith anchored in Christ and the Cross, but rather in something else, without fail, one or more of the works of the flesh are going to manifest themselves in one’s life. The Cross of Christ is God’s way. Unfortunately, most do not see that or know that.
The unredeemed world has forever tried to manufacture another god. The church, sadly and regrettably, has ever tried to manufacture another sacrifice. The next verse gives us the answer to that.
DIED UNTO SINS ONCE AND LIVES UNTO GOD
“For in that He died, He died unto sin (the sin nature) once (actually means, ‘He died unto the sin nature, once, for all’): but in that He lives (the resurrection), He lives
unto God (refers to the fact that all life comes from God, and that we receive that life by virtue of the Cross and our faith in that finished work)” (Rom. 6:10).
ONE SACRIFICE FOR SIN
There was and there is only one sacrifice for sin, and because only one sacrifice was needed. The phrase, “For in that He died, He died unto sin once,” proclaims several things. Some of them are:
- He atoned for all sin—past, present, and future—at least for all who will believe (Jn. 3:16).
- The word once means that it will never have to be repeated.
- It means, as well, that God accepted the sacrifice in totality.
- For someone, anyone, to propose another sacrifice is an insult to the Lord of the worst proportions.
The phrase, “But in that He lives, He lives unto God,” tells us that Jesus Christ is the source of all life. But, it also tells us in the first phrase of this verse that the Cross is the means by which this life is given unto us.
The idea is, Jesus Christ has already won the victory, and has done so in every capacity. He died, and He lives! Herein lies all life and living. Understand this and the pieces of life, so to speak, will fall into place. Ignore it, and there is no life.
“Likewise reckon (account) you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto (the) sin (while the sin nature is not dead, we are dead unto the sin nature by virtue of the Cross and our faith in that sacrifice, but only as long as our faith continues in the Cross), but alive unto God (living the resurrection life) through Jesus Christ our Lord (refers to what He did at the Cross, which is the means of this resurrection life)” (Rom. 6:11).
The idea is, considering that we died with Christ on the Cross of Calvary, spiritually speaking, and considering that that victory is just as valid today as it was when we first accepted the Lord, we are to reckon ourselves as “dead indeed unto the sin nature, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
THE KEY TO VICTORY
It is not doing, but rather believing. It sounds easy, but actually, it is the hardest thing for a person to do. As a human being, we want to do something, when the truth is, it has already been done. When we believe that we died with Him, were buried with Him, and were raised with Him in newness of life, and that this is the key to all victory, and I continue to speak of our simple faith in what He did at the Cross, the Holy Spirit, who alone can make us what we ought to be, can then work mightily within our hearts and lives. It is all “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” and what He did at the Cross.
“Let not sin (the sin nature) therefore reign (rule) in your mortal body (showing that the sin nature can once again rule in the heart and life of the believer, if the believer doesn’t constantly look to Christ and the Cross; the ‘mortal body’ is neutral, which means it can be used for righteousness or unrighteousness), that you should obey it in the lusts thereof (ungodly lusts are carried out through the mortal body, if faith is not maintained in the Cross [I Cor. 1:17-18])” (Rom. 6:12).
THE ORIGINAL TEXTS
When Paul wrote this particular sentence, he actually said, “Let not (the) sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” The reason he wrote it that way is because he wasn’t speaking of acts of sin, but rather the sin nature, or as some may say, “the evil nature.”
The subject of the “sin nature” is one of the least understood subjects in the entirety of the New Testament. And yet, it is one of the most important.
The following are some of the ways the sin nature is addressed in the modern church. We will be brief. (For a more expanded treatment of this most important subject, I would
advise the reader to secure for yourself our Cross of Christ Series study guide titled, “The Sin Nature.”)
I have coined some five words to describe the way this subject is addressed by the modern church. They are: Ignorance, denial, license, struggle, and grace. Of the five, grace is the only scriptural way to address this subject. We’ll look at ignorance first.
Actually the vast majority of the modern church world has no understanding whatsoever regarding the subject of the sin nature. Most have never heard a sermon preached on this subject, have never read any material about this subject and, therefore, have no knowledge whatsoever. In fact, I think one could probably say that most Christians have never even heard the term “sin nature.” And if they did, it was only in passing, with little or no explanation given.
But, please understand, ignorance is not bliss in this area of one’s life. In fact, what you don’t know about the sin nature can kill you.
The sin nature can be referred to as the “evil nature,” the “Adamic nature,” or the “carnal nature,” etc.
WHAT IS THE SIN NATURE?
Let us briefly state that the sin nature has to do with the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, their human nature was controlled by the divine nature. But, once the fall took place, then their human nature was controlled in totality by the sin nature. In other words, their very nature became that of disobedience, sin, rebellion, iniquity, transgression, etc. In fact, they were ruled by the sin nature 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And like Adam, so it is with all who are born thereafter, for every one of us was born with the Adamic nature, i.e., the sin nature.
When the believing sinner comes to Christ, the sin nature is made dormant, meaning that it’s made ineffective. But when the believer begins to place his or her faith in something other than Christ and the Cross, and no matter how religious the other thing might be, that’s when the sin nature has a revival, and can become dominant in our lives, actually dominating us, which it is with most Believers. I say most simply because most Christians have no knowledge of the Cross of Christ relative to sanctification, which means they simply do not know how to live for God. As such, the sin nature rules most believers. It is tragic and sad, but true.
Some preachers claim that once the person comes to Christ, there is no more sin nature. My answer to that is simple: If it is true that the believer doesn’t have a sin nature, then I wonder why the Holy Spirit took up so much time explaining something that doesn’t exist? Almost the entirety of the sixth chapter of Romans deals with this very subject.
Some few believers have a modicum of knowledge regarding the sin nature, in other words, they know they have a sin nature. Having this smattering of knowledge, they conclude that because they have a sin nature, they have to sin a little bit every day, etc. The Holy Spirit answered this by saying, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2).
The Lord does not save us in sin, but rather from sin.
Oddly enough, some Christians think that the Christian life is simply a life lived in a constant struggle with sin. Please understand, Jesus defeated all sin 2,000 years ago at Calvary’s Cross. So, if the believer is fighting sin, he is fighting the wrong fight. It’s a fight that’s already been fought and won. The only fight we are called upon to engage is the “good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12).
If the believer is struggling with sin, it is a struggle he is going to lose. While there is a struggle, as stated, it is with our faith. This is where Satan attacks the child of God, and where the real struggle commences.
Out of all the things we’ve named, grace is the only scriptural way and means that we are to address the sin nature.
First of all, grace is simply the goodness of God extended to undeserving believers. Secondly, when we place our faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross, then the Holy Spirit can give us good things and can do good things for us, which amounts to the grace of God, i.e., good things given to us. While grace comes from our Lord, it is the Holy Spirit who superintends this. He doesn’t demand much of us, as previously stated, but He does demand that our faith be exclusively in Christ and the Cross. That being done, good things can be given to us, and to be sure, good things will be given unto us.
INSTRUMENTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO GOD
“Neither yield you your members (of your mortal body) as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (the sin nature): but yield yourselves unto God (we are to yield ourselves to Christ and the Cross; that alone guarantees victory over the sin nature), as those who are alive from the dead (we have been raised with Christ in ‘newness of life’), and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (this can be done only by virtue of the Cross and our faith in that finished work, and faith which continues in that finished work from day to day [Lk. 9:23-24])” (Rom. 6:13).
CAN SATAN OVERRIDE THE WILL OF BELIEVERS, FORCING THEM TO DO SOMETHING THEY DO NOT DESIRE TO DO?
Yes, that is, if the believer has his faith in something other than Christ and the Cross, which then greatly hinders the Holy Spirit from helping us. Paul said as much in Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not,
that I do.” This plainly tells us that Satan can override the will of an individual if that, indeed, is what the believer is depending on. Satan is stronger than our will, as should be obvious. Some believers have the erroneous idea that the Lord gives believers superhuman wills when they get saved. That is not true! My will and your will are no stronger today than they were before we came to Christ. While the will is definitely important, the “will” is not God’s way of bringing about victory in our lives.
His Way is Christ and the Cross, and Christ and the Cross exclusively. Our faith placed in the finished work of Christ guarantees us victory, which then enables us to yield our bodymembers to righteousness. However, the believer should understand, this is the only way it can be done.
SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION
“For sin shall not have dominion over you (the sin nature will not have dominion over us if we as believers continue to exercise faith in the Cross of Christ; otherwise, the sin nature most definitely will have dominion over the believer): for you are not under the law (means that if we try to live this life by any type of law, no matter how good that law might be in its own right, we will conclude by the sin nature having dominion over us), but under grace (the grace of God flows to the believer on an unending basis only as long as the believer exercises faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross; grace is merely the goodness of God exercised by and through the Holy Spirit, and given to undeserving saints)” (Rom. 6:14).
WHAT IS DOMINION?
While the Bible does not teach sinless perfection, it most definitely does teach that the sin nature is not to have dominion over the believer.
What is dominion?
It is when a particular sin dominates a person, with that person unable to throw it off, unable to quit, unable to stop, and in a sense, with it dominating his life. And please believe me, this will happen if the believer doesn’t have his or her faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross. Let the believer ever understand, our victory is in Christ and the Cross, and our victory is in Christ and the Cross alone!
Are we saying that if the Believer doesn’t have his faith exclusively in Christ and the Cross that sin in some way (the sin nature) is going to have dominion over that person?
That’s exactly what we are saying!
As I dictate these notes, there are millions upon millions of Christians around the world, and I speak of those who truly love the Lord, who are battling with some type of vice, or some type of sin and, in fact, are losing that battle. But if the truth be known, in any and every case, the problem is not getting better but rather worse. The church, regrettably, doesn’t have any solution to these problems, because the church doesn’t understand Christ and the Cross, at least as it regards our sanctification, i.e., how we live for God.
This article is an excerpt from the book, Paul, The Apostle, by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
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