The Sin Nature And The Sanctification Of The Saint - Part III
What The Believer Must Know
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” — Romans 6:3
In order to properly understand what has been said previously, it would be better, if at all possible, for the reader to obtain copies of the March and April 2019 issues of The Evangelist and read this series of articles consecutively. Time and space do not allow us to cover in-depth what was given in the previous articles. There we have introduced the sin nature as a fact of the Christian experience. When Paul introduces the subject of sanctification, the first thing he does is describe the sin nature to the church in Rome. He declares that the sin nature reigned, like a king, on the throne of the hearts of all men. In the second article we look at Paul’s statement in Romans 6:2 that declared the believer to be dead to the sin nature. We took the time to reveal that the term dead had to do with relationship. The initial relationship of the sin nature to the Christian has been changed. What we were once dominated by, we now have become dead to. How did this happen? That is what the believer must know. In this article, we begin the conversation regarding the process of the defeat of the sin nature in the life and heart of the believer.
What The Believer Must Know
Paul would ask the church at Rome a simple question: Don’t you know? He is going to teach them something that either they had never heard or something that they had not been paying attention to if they had heard it. If Christians do not understand what Paul taught the church at Rome in this verse, the process of being conformed into the image of Christ is nearly impossible, if not entirely impossible.
What Paul is about to teach answers the question as to how the believer became dead to the sin nature. He states that as “many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death.” While utilizing the metaphor of water baptism, Paul is not referring to water baptism in this verse. Instead, he is describing a part of the process of regeneration. At the moment in time that the believing sinner asks Christ to come into his heart, the Holy Spirit baptizes him into Christ (I Cor. 2:13, Gal 3:27). This union with Christ allows the Holy Spirit to carry out the work of regeneration which is far more extensive than most Christians realize. The end result of regeneration is that the new convert has become a new creation and exists within the person of Christ Jesus (II Cor. 5:17).
Being Made One With Christ
The believer is now one with Christ. In the mind of God, the believing sinner and Christ become one. This affects his present situation as he is presently seen as one who “sits in heavenly places” in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). It will affect his future situation, as his union with Christ guarantees that he will rule with Him when He establishes His kingdom (Rev. 20:6).
But it also means that we have been with Him and that we were in Him when He traveled to Calvary to pay the sin debt for all of mankind. In essence, we were crucified with Him. Paul mirrors this truth in Galatians 2:20 when he states, “I am crucified with Christ.” It was here that the power of the sin nature’s dominion was broken. The cross is not only the event that paid the penalty for man’s sin. The cross is also the event that breaks the believing sinner free from the power of sin. The moment you became a Christian, the fact that you were “baptized into his death” freed you from the dominion of the sin nature. You are now dead to the sin nature.
Once again, it is important to note that being dead to the sin nature does not mean that it has been eradicated. It means that the sin nature, the principle of sin, was defeated and its dominion over the believer stripped, like a soldier taken captive is stripped of the armaments of war. Instead of it ruling over you, the believer now has the capability to live ruling over sin. If this information is believed and properly applied to the situation, the believer can live free from the dominion of the sin nature. This includes the principle of sin, all the power of sin, every aspect of sin’s grip and control. All of this is ours because of what Christ did for us at the cross.
Why The Believer Must Know
Why is this important to know, you ask? For the simple reason of causing the Christian to place his faith in the proper object. The most important role we play in our progressive sanctification is the role of faith. When we know what Christ did for us, we should then realize where our faith must be placed. So many believers today are attempting to overcome sin and all of its nuances through the means of religious works. We have been taught that praying, fasting, Bible study, the rebuking of the devil, and various other activities will free us from the dominion and power of sin.
Not understanding that sin has already been defeated, we ignore the process of faith and grace, and set out through various acts of Christian disciplines or spirituality to defeat what Christ has already defeated. What fools us is that many of the activities we are involved in can be very profitable if practiced in the right way. We must first realize what Christ has done and place our faith exclusively in His finished work, and then the Holy Spirit will be legally free to work in us and for us. He will bring us all the benefits of Christ’s victory, which include freedom from the dominion of sin. But this is accomplished by faith!
When we don’t know how to address the sin problem, we approach it the wrong way:
• Our pride enters into the equation—we want to do something!
• Previous teaching enters into the equation—we want to follow what others have taught us.
• Satanic powers enter the equation—they will push us anywhere but to the cross.
And so, religious activity to free ourselves from sin becomes as hurtful to the believer as money might be to the unsaved rich man. We place our faith in what we do or in what we have. And all the while, God is in heaven saying, “Why don’t they just believe what I have already done through my Son?”
Paul taught us what the believer must know so that we can place our faith in Jesus alone and what He accomplished for us at Calvary. The double cure is ours if we will but believe. That is, freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom from the dominion of the sin nature. All of this thanks to Christ and His cross. Don’t you know?