UNITED WITH HIM
“For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For we know that, since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:5-11.
That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it!
As we were saying, Jesus’ death in our place has many more implications than the forgiveness of our sins. Our faith in Him has produced a spiritual union that affects everything about our lives. When we were baptised in water, we witnessed in a physical act our identity with both His death and His resurrection. Jesus’ death and our acceptance of His death for us by faith cancelled our debt of sin and broke sin’s hold over us. The Holy Spirit raised our dead spirits to life, reconnecting us to God, to His life and to His power which enables us not to sin.
In our old state, before we believed in Jesus, we had no power not to sin because the pull of our old nature was towards disobedience. But now, in Christ, sin’s hold over us had been broken. God has restored His own nature in us and the Holy Spirit is united with our spirits so that we are able to respond to His prompting towards trust and obedience.
Paul put it this way: just as we died with Jesus symbolically in our baptism, so we also died in Him in reality when He died on the cross. In the same way, just as we rose symbolically from our watery grave, so we also rose from the dead in Him. His resurrection guarantees our life because He can never die again. Death is the cut-off point of this life. What happens afterwards depends on what happens here and now.
This has all happened in the unseen realm, legally if you like. We have been legally declared “Not guilty,” and our debt has been cancelled. God has removed all the barriers between us and Him. We have access to Him without sacrifices or priests, through Jesus our High Priest and Mediator. Our status has been changed from “sinner” to “son”. We are in Christ and since He is alive, we are alive in Him.
But where do we go from here? From God’s perspective everything has been done. It’s not about “what we will be” but “what we are”. We have not only been forgiven, rescued and set free; we have also been made perfect in Christ. Our entire past has ceased to exist. We are free from its debt and its guilt and shame, to pursue who we now are.
So, Paul says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Since this is all a fait accompli, act on it because, and as if it is true. “But,” you say, “that’s all very well, but I still cannot do the right thing on my own.” But that’s the point. You have been set free to choose to obey God rather than the dictates of your old selfish and rebellious nature. Once you have made your choice to obey God because you value Jesus more than yourself, the Holy Spirit supplies the strength to do it.
That’s what Paul means by “count”; reckon, accept that it is so and make your choice accordingly. The Holy Spirit is in you to enable you to carry through on your decision. Every time you deliberately choose to obey God, it becomes easier to do it the next time. In this way you will be strengthening the divine nature in you and putting to death the old nature which is already potentially dead in Christ.
God has equipped us with two sources of power – the Holy Spirit and His Word. Look at this Scripture:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that, through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort…” 2 Peter 1:3-5a.
It has happened! Now make it happen.
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