Bible Reading on Romans 6.

1919 359 It is part of the evidence of the inspiration of the word of God that all possible objections are anticipated, and met; and no objections are so hard to combat as the allegation that the gospel of grace, pure, unmerited grace on the part of God, will tend to license and liberty to sin. And it is a very effectual weapon of the enemy to keep us under law — from recognising that we stand purely under grace. However small the mixture of law with grace it alters its character.

Divine grace is the unmerited favour of God, the love of God over-riding and overflowing the sinfulness of man, and coming to man when he is evidently ruined. Man is not on his trial, but under condemnation; he is ruined. So then God comes out in unlimited grace; and the objection is raised that if He is so gracious, we may go on sinning with impunity. But this is the reasoning of an unregenerate mind. So the apostle deals with it, and meets it by saying, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein" (ver. 2)? He cuts the ground right away underneath it.

There are two aspects of the cross. We are apt to take the one, and say, 'Christ died for me'; and leave the other. Christ did die for me. Blessedly true! "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and He was buried; and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Its application to the believer is,"Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification," and this practically brings me to the end of the question of my sins. This terminates at Rom. 5.

But what the apostle is dealing with here from the twelfth verse is not "sins," but "sin; not the fruit or branch, but the root. So he shows us that not only did Christ die for our sins, but we died with Christ. Scripture uses death in a twofold way. Spiritually, we are all "dead in trespasses and sins"; "and you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Thus are all viewed as dead in God's sight. When grace meets us, and the cross is presented, where Christ died, and we died with Him, we are entitled to look at things as God looks at them. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin."

The Lord said to one who came to cross-examine Him, "How readest thou?" "We have died out of an earthly condition." In Rom. 7 it is brought out even more forcibly. The husband must be dead before a woman can be married again, or she is an adulteress. The law does not die (that is the husband), but the woman dies: she is free from that law. We used to sing
"Free from the law! O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission,"
but it is not only that Jesus has died and here is remission, but I have died in the death of Jesus. It has been frequently pointed out by others before us that in the Red Sea is Christ's death for us; but in the Jordan, with its twelve stones set up in the river, and its twelve taken from the bed of the river, and set up on the bank, we have Our death with Christ. The two truths must go together, not only that Christ died, but that we died, and so the law has nothing to say to us, for we have passed out of its jurisdiction; and thus sin has lost its dominion. There is no necessity to continue in sin. In chap. 7 the man says, 'I cannot do what I would.' Why? Because he has put himself under law, but the moment he looks away to Christ, he gets deliverance. It is not his trying, but Christ's delivering power. Well, we have died to sin, and consequently, "how shall we live any longer therein?"

Then the apostle brings forward the subject of baptism. Has it ever occurred to you how wisely God introduces things, always at the proper time, and place? If baptism had been introduced before, people would have attributed forgiveness of sins, etc., to it. But baptism is always connected with death. "As many of us as were baptised unto Jesus Christ, were baptised unto His death." There was something else they could have been baptised unto. In 2 Cor. 10 we read, "They were baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." What a difference between "unto Moses" and "unto Jesus Christ!" One is to place themselves under law; that is what Moses stood for. On the mount of Transfiguration you get Moses and Elijah (i.e., "the law," and "the prophets") talking with Christ of His decease to be accomplished; and this decease releases us entirely from that condition of things. We are not baptised unto Moses, but unto Jesus Christ. Look at 1 Peter 1:2. The Holy Spirit there takes action — sanctifies or sets apart "to obedience, and sprinkling of the blood, of Jesus Christ" — an object to obey — as He obeyed; not under an obligation, as Moses and the people; but the Holy Ghost sets me apart to Christ's obedience — this the standard, and this the power. The obedience of Jesus Christ is a willing obedience, delighting in doing a thing because it pleased the Father; not against my desires or because of a penalty if neglected, but something according to my new nature which delights to please God. The old nature never alters its character, even in a saint, but the new nature is born of God. Because we have a new nature that does not sin we must not think we cannot sin. We have an old nature that can sin, and we must look at Rom. 6, and the baptism that shows our deliverance from its power — not its presence. Many think they cannot sin, but the old nature is there, and it is no wisdom but a snare to ignore the fact that you have it; to reckon it dead, and look to the cross where God condemned it is right. We must learn "In me, that is in my flesh, good does not dwell."

The gospel is "that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures," — a complete formula of the gospel Paul preached. The gospel rests on solid facts, and carries us back to the death of Christ and what it signifies. I take it, it refers to the Old Testament scriptures there.

Then you cannot separate death and burial from resurrection. You get a lame and halt gospel — an imperfect gospel — if you do not get the resurrection. So Paul says, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." So in Col. 2 you will notice,"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him," etc. The burial necessarily implies what follows; but the baptism itself is putting the person under the water — a burying; and a burying signifies you have finished with the old thing. So in Acts 9, when the apostle is converted, and Ananias comes in he says,"Arise and be baptised." Being converted, the apostle was baptised. There is a time for everything, and the right time for baptism is after a person is converted. When they had been baptised we get instruction about it (ver. 3). The great thing is that "henceforth we should not serve sin."

Ver. 6 speaks about our old man; Eph. and Col. also refer to the old man, and speak of a new man; and the new man is after the image of Him that created him. So in ver. 4 here — we should walk "in newness of life" — the new life is incapable of sinning. "Crucified with Him" implies judgment — sin condemned in the flesh; and on this ground God can effect deliverance for us. "That the body of sin might be destroyed," or annulled. Judgment has been executed. To annul a thing is take away its power, and the body of sin has been annulled. God has broken the dominion of sin for us who believe in Him.

It is not the normal condition of a believer that you have in chap. 7. It does say, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may (not can) not do the things that ye "would" (Gal. 5:17). In Rom. 7, the man is wrestling in his own strength, and the Spirit is not mentioned throughout the chapter. So God cannot be for him, and has to leave him to learn his own weakness; but as soon as he learns "O wretched man that I am?" deliverance comes in. As long as a man is under law, he gives sin power over him; but when he realises he has died with Christ, he is delivered from it. The power is Another's. The law was not given with the expectation that man would live up to it. You cannot be a trespasser if no warning notice has been put up; but as soon as law came in, man was proved a "transgressor." The law was holy, just and good, but became death to me. Why? Because I had a nature opposed to it. So we must believe what God says, and He says, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace" (ver. 14). People say that is for ceremonies; but that is not the whole of the law. The law is not a standard for me — not at all. It says "Thou shalt not." But Christ is the standard; we should "walk even as He walked" — a higher standard indeed; and we fulfil the law, without being under it — "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." What was the righteous requirement of the law? Love to God and your neighbour. The law required it, but man never gave it. But when grace came in, God's love was manifested, and God's love being shed abroad in the heart the apostle could say "we know we love God because we love the brethren." If we really love God, we shall love our brother also. The law is not a standard for the Christian: Christ is that. And to have the Spirit, we must not place ourselves under law, but under grace. Is it not a lesson for us that Israel put themselves under law?

There are three pairs in these three chapters. Two heads in chap. 5 two actions — one an offence against God which made many sinners; and one act of of righteousness by which many were constituted righteous. In this chapter we get the two services — the service of sin, which we have all been under, and we know, by grace, we have been delivered from it: and there is the service of righteousness. There is a wonderful contrast in Eph. 4, "Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labour … that he may have to give," etc. There you get the change from the service of sin to that of righteousness. Then in chap. 7 you get two husbands. We are invited to either the law or to Christ, and must die unto one condition. So you get three pairs of things, but what underlies it all is the allowance of flesh and law. When once that is settled deliverance comes in. God has condemned sin in' the flesh. When and where? Not in us; it would have been utter destruction. No; in His Son. I have no righteousness of my own. Christ is my righteousness, and I have everything in Him. E.B.D.