Romans 6:8-14 esv
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When we have put our faith in Christ, we are now in Christ. And we ARE alive to God. And we ARE dead to sin. The word “consider” is to view it as an accomplished reality. “This word deals with reality. If I reckon (consider) that my bank book has 25$ in it, it has 25$ in it… This word refers more to fact than supposition or opinion.” Vines Expository Dictionary.
Since we are alive to God we look to Him to produce the fruit of His Spirit in and through us (see Romans 7:1-6 and Galatians 5:22-23).
And hence then we must war against any sin trying to impose itself upon us, from within (which is in view in this passage) or without. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”
And sin will try to reign. This is implied in Paul’s admonition to not let it reign. It is also stated in regards to the “desires of the flesh” in Galatians 5:16-17 esv:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
SO how does this work in practice?
We must be vigilant to know God’s will for our moral behavior, and no matter how hard our flesh (our feelings, our desires, our fallenness, our bodies themselves) wants to go against what God wants and the fruit of His Spirit, we must surrender to God. And then follow Him by the power of His Spirit.
So for instance, if you are caught in bitter feelings toward someone, you must know that is against God’s will (see Ephesians 4:31-32). Bitterness will manifest in continuing bad feelings toward someone who hurt you, in nitpicking their behaviors, in bringing back to mind how they hurt you, and in strong feelings against them. It may move on to outwardly acting badly and talking badly about them, or even to them. It may lead you to poison others against them (see Hebrews 12:15 esv: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”). This hurting and poison and lashing out are not really because of what they are doing now, but because you are still mad and bitter about the past hurt they caused. All of this is SINFUL. Therefore, we are to be dead to these things.
- So we start by being dead to the sin (v11a). And therefore we confess to God the sin of bitterness and any other behaviors we have done toward the person we are bitter toward. (We can apply this confession in regards to any sin we are walking in). This brings cleansing of unrighteousness and also forgiveness applied to us, and thus we are walking in being alive to God (v11b). So we are in the light of God’s presence (see 1 John 1:6-9).
- Then we present ourselves to God for righteous living (v13), and ask Him to produce in and through us the fruit of love for the person.
- Then as we see and meet and think about that person, if bitterness continues to rise up, we confess it again (dead to sin) and continue to ask God for love and grace (alive to God). Then we walk in that in the power of the Spirit when we are with that person.
- If we have poisoned others with our bitterness, we go to them and tell them our wrong and what we have confessed (living dead to the sin and not perpetuating it).
- If we have hurt the person or wronged them in some way, it would be good to confess our sin to them.
All of this is learning to be dead to the sin, and alive to God, following His Spirit into love, forgiveness, kindness, etc. In this example it could be that the person we are bitter towards needs us to confront them about a sin they committed against us. That would have been the proper first step in the beginning (see Matthew 18:15). But some of us are afraid to confront (it can be very hard), and let that fear control us to keep us from saying what needs to be said TO THE PERSON. So we say it in our flesh to others, or in our hearts we repeat it over and over. And that keeping the record of wrong (which 1 Cor 13:5 says love does NOT do) and rethinking it is where bitterness lives.
- God’s ways really are life.
- And Jesus came and gave His life and was resurrected so we can walk now alive to God and dead to sin.
- And living out of God’s presence in the flesh really is death.
- Let’s all follow His Spirit in surrender, living alive to God, and dead to sin. Whatever sin we are beset with.