November 21: Presenting: Sanctification’s Third Step

Romans 6:12-13. 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.

Paul makes the progression of faith filled sanctification clear. First we must KNOW that the old self has died to sin. Then we must CONSIDER ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God. Third, we must PRESENT ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. There is no other order, and there is no other way to grow in Christ.

Please, please, please understand that we cannot even begin to think about Romans 6:13 without first having appropriated Romans 6:6 and 6:11 (knowing and considering) – notice the word therefore in 6:12. Presenting follows considering. Your relationship to sin is the same as Christ’s. You are dead to it. Only when we trust this greatest of truths can we begin to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness.

Because our old self has died with Christ, and as we consider our old self to have died with Christ and raised to new life in God, we are now ready to present our bodies to God. We are not presenting our old self to God. He already killed it. He has no use of it. We are presenting our new resurrected self to God. The self that is united to Christ.

Here in Romans 6:12-13 Paul is moving us from the faith of dependency to the faith of activity. He is moving us into the volitional side of the Christian life (the will). In 6:1-11 I am depending on my union with Christ. Now in 6:12-13 I am acting upon my union with Christ.

We consider ourselves alive to God (6:11). Not alive to ourselves. We belong to him. We are his possession now. The natural outflow of truly knowing and considering this – applying it to our lives – will be that we then present ourselves to God. If my co-death and co-resurrection with Christ are true, then there is no part of my life that does not belong to him and that I should not want him to have to control.

We must also note that we are presenting our members, that is, our bodies to God. Not our hearts or our spirits. Again, this would be unnecessary because that part of you has already been made righteous and new in Christ. Your body is the part of you that is still corrupt.

Christian this is what holiness is. Presenting. Sanctification means to be set apart. To be presented to God. Holiness is not you trying to stop sinning. Good luck with that. Holiness is you presenting yourself to God to be used for the sake of justice and righteousness, based on your dependent faith in your death to sin in your being (not behavior) and your resurrection to new life in your being. Holiness is much more about what you do then what you don’t do.

But veyond what we do, holiness is found only in the attitude of presenting yourself to God. You can be perfectly moral and not be holy – set apart or presented to God for his righteous will. There may be two identically clean cups, but only one is sanctified for use in the Temple. Oh, and by the way, as you present yourself to God, don’t be surprised if some sins start to naturally melt away.

Presenting is this third and final step in your sanctification process, an ongoing and repeated process over and over for the rest of your earthly life. We don’t die to sin over and over, but we do present ourselves to God over and over as those who are his possession.

There is no faith without knowing. There is not faith without considering. And there is not faith with presenting. You can say you believe that you are united to Christ but without any kind of presenting yourself to God as his possession can’t we doubt that faith?

“To live is Christ” is the daily process of knowing, considering, and presenting. But make sure you get this order correct. To present without knowing and considering is to embrace a fruitless works righteousness, a legalism that will only destroy (more on that tomorrow).

Do you consider yourself the possession of God? On what basis? Have you presented every area of your life to Christ? How does knowing and considering your union with Christ empower you to do this?

November 20: Considering part 6: In Christ Jesus

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Look at the last three words of Romans 6:11. In Christ Jesus.

This is the formula for our entire life. These three words are the answer to all of life’s questions including the question Paul began this chapter with: are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!

Anyone that believes that grace gives them a blank check for sinning simply does not understand their union with Christ. Which means they lack an understanding of what salvation actually is. Salvation is not a “get out of jail free” card. It is not freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Salvation is union with the person of Christ. Therefore it is union with Love.

Our union with Christ is an unbreakable union. It is a uniting of our life to Jesus’ own life – his perfect love. We are not saved in order to keep our own old life going forever. As we have seen here in Romans 6, that life died. The old man has been crucified with Christ. We are saved into something beyond us as an individual. Our union with Christ’s life makes us part of the Body of Christ, his building, his bride.

It is this union with Christ that is to make sin unthinkable for us.

Think about Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian church when talking about sexual sin:

1 Corinthians 6:15-18. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality.

First and foremost Paul never tells Christians that their sin is no big deal especially since they are living under grace.

Grace as our union with Christ is actually what empowers us and motivates us to forsake sin. Notice Paul’s logic here in 1 Corinthians. He doesn’t tell them that if they sleep with a prostitute they will lose Christ and his love. “If you sin, Christ will leave you.” Nope.*

Rather, he says that if they sin, they will take Christ into that sin with them. Christ will never leave us or forsake us, even when we are sinning. He gets dragged right into it. Why? Because his love for us is unconditional. His union to us is unbreakable.

This is the love that will produce a hatred of sin. This is the grace that will produce a hatred of the flesh. When we realize that Christ loves us so much that he won’t ever abandon us, even while we are sinning, it is this loyalty of Christ that will create a loyalty in us toward him that rejects all that hurts him. Conditional love never ever produces this kind of holiness. Only unconditional love and grace can do that.

“To live is Christ” is to be in Christ Jesus. To be in unconditional love and grace. This kind of grace will never desire more sin. When truly understood, this unconditional grace will produce a satisfaction with Christ that will consider being alive to God of far greater worth than any thing sin could offer.

Have you used grace as an excuse for sin? How can the abundant grace of your union with Christ allow you to find freedom from the desire for sin?

* I am indebted to Glen Scrivener and Speak Life for this idea and others in this blog.

November 19: Considering part 5: Only Considering Brings Christ Likeness

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Christian, it is important that you understand that God is not doing anything new in your life. Everything you need you already have. There is no more. You are alive to God. Our spiritual experience is never of something new, it is of what has already been done. This is why considering yourself dead to sin and alive to God is the only way toward progress in the Christian life.

There are many things that we do as Christians in order to bring about our own sanctification in a new way, but none of them are a replacement for knowing and considering. None of these are bad things or wrong in their own right, but without considering our position as dead and alive, these things are just more of the flesh. Remember the flesh can be lawlessness or it can be legalism. It can be immorality or moralism. Our efforts at self-sanctification will always be fleshly and must be abolished.

Self-denial

Starving your affections or desires will never kill the flesh. It only feeds the fleshly pride that comes from the overcoming of a bad habit by will power. Only considering yourself alive to God can actually change the affections from selfish to Christ like.

Separation

Many Christians believe that sanctification comes by separating themselves from the world. But separation from the world is not separation from the flesh.

Surrender

“Jesus gave his all for you, the least you can do is give your all for him.” This mindset keeps us living from substitution (Romans 3-5) and fails to take us into considering the identity truths of our union with Christ (Romans 6). The question is what life are you surrendering to Christ? The dead old self? The new self? If the answer is the new self (alive to God) this changes how we see surrender, doesn’t it?

Confession

Of course confession is good and necessary. But confession without considering is just a “bar of soap” used to keep “short accounts with God.” Considering yourself dead to sin and alive to God means there is no such account. It is good to agree with God about our sin, but we must also agree with God about his blood and his cross. These alone have dealt with your sins and your Sin.

Spiritual experiences

Many rely on moving from spiritual experience to spiritual experience in order to grow in Christ. Concerts, conferences, conventions and camps. Calling down the Spirit. Manifestations of gifts. This was the problem of the Corinthian church. They relied on experiences over their co-crucifixion with Christ. The one and only spiritual experience that you need is your union with Christ. And it has already happened to you. Rest in it.

Service

Many well intentioned Christians think that the path to Christ likeness is to simply stay busy, working in ministry and serving. But service must flow from faith. From rest. Serving alone will not produce Christ-likeness. Service can produce suffering, and suffering can cause us to have to consider our death to sin and our resurrection to God (read 2 Corinthians). But service alone will not replace considering ourselves dead and alive. For many, who fail to consider their union with Christ, service just produces burn out and exhaustion.

None of these things can replace considering (counting, imputing, reckoning) our union with Christ. Only considering will produce Christ likeness. You are alive to God. God’s life is in you. Now what’s left is to have that life worked out of you. How? By considering it. “To live is Christ” is to live in this faith. The faith of counting yourself as what God says you are.

Do you truly believe that you are dead to sin? Do you truly believe that you are alive to God? How would your life look different today if you really believed these two essential truths?

November 18: Considering Part 4: Alive to God.

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Praise God that this scripture does not end at consider yourself dead to sin. Praise God that it takes us further into considering ourselves alive to God.

We are no good if we are left dead. New life is a necessity. And, like our death, our new life is an objective fact. Did Christ rise from the dead? Then so did we. We are complete in Christ. New creations in Christ. Seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Our spiritual resurrection is not something we are waiting for. It has already happened.

Being dead to sin alone is not enough. Without new life you are not able to live forever with God in the New Creation. You must first be the New Creation yourself. The cross got rid of the old you. But the resurrection brings in the new you. The cross destroyed what God cannot stand. The resurrection brought to life all that God desires (Nee). Union with Christ’s resurrection gives you a new nature. Not just a new morality, or new behavior. These alone are never enough. Getting better will not save you. Only death and resurrection will.

This is why the most moral of persons, if they are still in the flesh and not in the Spirit, will not see eternal life. It was never about morality. In fact, a knowledge of good and evil was not God’s intention for us apart from first a gracious reception of eternal life. The knowledge of good and evil only does us good when we first admit that we are in need of the grace of God. Without this grace the morality of the Tree of Knowledge is only a curse. A way to control. A way to reject God. This is why God must make us new, not just because we are very bad, but because we are also very good.

The truth is there is only one “good Christian” in the world. Only one moral man. Only one who actually produces fruit. His name is Jesus. And his life has been grafted into yours so that anything good that comes out of you is because of his new life implanted in you.

Does this new life, being alive to God, leave me passive? Doing nothing? Just believing? Yes and no is the answer.

To live within our new resurrection life is to live a life of rest. Jesus called it abiding. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” he said. Considering ourselves alive to God is resting in that imputed righteousness. Resting in grace. Resting in the finality of the work of Christ. We are IN CHRIST. We have died.

But remember, union with Christ also means that CHRIST IS IN US. We are alive to God. And so we walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

To walk is to live. We are considering ourselves alive to God when we are living in full dependency upon Christ. What we “do” as Christians is primarily learning to rest. Learning to be dependent. Learning to trust the finished work. The results will be natural, for faith always is. It will become an impulse not an effort. It will be from the overflow, not from lack.

“To live is Christ” is both death and life. It is the way of suffering unto death for the flesh, and the way of a life lived for God and his glory by faith. A life of rest and dependency that overflows naturally in faithful love and service for others.

Why is it so important to not only consider ourselves dead to sin but also alive to God? How does our union with Christ allow us to trust in the blessings of the resurrection life of Christ in us?

November 17: Considering Part 3: Dead to Sin

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

There is no progress in the Christian life without considering. That is, without faith in our union with Christ. We’ve already looked closely at the first step in the process of Christian transformation: Knowing. And we have looked at what the word consider means – to count, to reckon, to impute.

Remember the question that launched this whole discussion by Paul: “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” The answer is an emphatic NO. So how do we fight sin in our lives? First we KNOW then we CONSIDER. What exactly are we considering? What are we applying to our account by faith? Romans 6:11 tells us two things: our death to sin, and our life to God. Today, let’s look at our considering our death to sin.

As we’ve already said, we are considering a fact. Not a feeling. Not a promise of something in the future. Your death to sin is as real as Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s a fact that already happened. Considering doesn’t make us dead to sin, we already are dead to sin.

Also, as we’ve already said, the work of the cross of Christ on our part is not to be confused with the work of the blood of Christ on our part. The cross of Christ dealt with you as a sinner. It killed the sinner not the sin. The sin remains in your life. You know this because you still sin every day. The blood of Christ is what deals with the every day sins. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all those sins. The cross of Christ releases us from the sin nature, not from sin itself. IN THIS LIFE YOU EXPERIENCE COMPLETE DELIVERANCE FROM SIN, BUT NOT COMPLETE VICTORY OVER SIN. And that leaves us living by faith. It leaves us to consider ourselves dead to sin.

This means allowing the cross to do its work in our daily lives. 2 Corinthians is an actual case study in the principle of considering our death to sin. Here in Romans we get the theology behind it.

Considering yourself dead to sin is allowing the Holy Spirit to apply the cross to your life. Before we can experience the resurrection of alive to God, we must experience the crucifixion of dead to sin. This is the ministry of suffering and death. The Spirit can only crucify sin. He can’t change it, or correct it, or overlook it. Only death will do. This is his work in you.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but you NEED to hear it. We must resist jumping over the work of the cross to the work of the empty tomb. We must allow the cross to do its deathly work.

And this work is accomplished through suffering. The Spirit is not crucifying the old self, that has already happened. But it is upon that reality that he is crucifying the flesh and its deeds. How is this happening? Primarily through the ministry of suffering. WE CANNOT EXPERIENCE THE WORK OF THE CROSS WITHOUT THE SUFFERING THAT PRECEDES IT.

Think about all the ways you are suffering today. Suffering from sin and selfishness. Suffering from trials. Suffering for righteousness. Is this all meaningless? Of course not! It’s purpose is to transform you into the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). Your suffering is working the death of the cross in your life. How? By exposing the areas of doubt, lust, greed, selfishness, self-righteousness, and moralism. Suffering exposes the places in your heart where your life force is ruled by something other than Christ’s love. It exposes the places where we rely on others or situations or stuff to bring the love and acceptance that only Jesus can offer. Christ saved you so that he might be your life, not just your savior. Once suffering exposes these heart sins, you can consider your death to sin. You can count those sins as worthy of death. You can hang them up next to the old self. You can put your sins into the past tense where they belong, on the cross.

“To live is Christ” is not a sinless existence. It is not freedom from suffering. Quite the opposite. It is suffering unto glory. But glory by way of the crucifixion of the flesh on the cross. Considering yourself dead to sin is the agency of this crucifixion.

What part of your self life needs to be put on a cross today? How can considering (imputing) your death to sin allow you to put sin to death today?

 

 

November 16: Considering part 2: What Does It Mean to Consider?

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Yesterday we began our look at what we are calling one of the most important statements concerning our union with Christ in the scripture – Romans 6:11. We said that before we can consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, we must first know that we are dead to sin. That our old self was crucified with Christ. That Christ died once to sin and so did we. There is no considering without first knowing.

Truly knowing (believing) that you are dead to sin can take years for many if not all Christians. Often it is a part of our faith that is “on again, off again.” We are going to forge ahead in our discussion of considering today, but I must emphasize that if you do not believe that you died to sin, then any attempt to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God will just lead to frustration and doubts. Knowing and considering truly are steps in a process.

What does it mean to consider?

This is not a new word for Paul. He has already used it several times in this letter. Legizomai. To count. To reckon. To count one thing as another.

This word was used 11 times in Romans 4. We called it imputation. God does not legizomai (count) our sins against us, and instead he legizomai (counts) Christ’s righteousness for us. It is both a legal word and an accounting word. Paul uses it in a legal way in Romans. The judge has not counted us as guilty, and instead counts us as not guilty.

Now, here in Romans 6:11, we are the ones doing the legizomai. We count or consider ourselves dead and alive. Crucified and raised. On what basis? In Christ.

How is considering different from knowing?

Considering is the outflow of knowing. If I truly believe and am trusting in my death to sin, I will live each day in a state of considering, counting, and reckoning myself as a new thing. Considering takes our new identity from the spirit to the soul. From trusting in the reality of my union with Christ’s death to applying that reality to the actual thinking, feeling, and choosing that I do each day. It is belief turned into attitude.

Considering is the next part of faith. Knowing is the first part, but without considering faith will die. It will be meaningless. Because considering is faith, it will always go against “sight.” It will be in contrast to your feelings and your actual experiences. What I mean is you will spend the day sinning and yet you are called to consider yourself dead to the power of sin. Only faith can do this.

Remember considering is imputation. Imputation is God calling you something that you really aren’t. He imputes righteousness to you. He calls you righteous even though you still sin. But it is in the imputation that you truly are righteous. It is not a fiction. Not a lie told by God to make you feel better about yourself. You are not righteous, yet he calls you righteous (imputation), and this makes you righteous. How? Because God’s word creates a new spirit inside of you. Now your spirit is truly as righteous as Christ. But your body and brain remain unrighteous – a corrupted tent. The result is that your soul, as the by-product of your spirit and body, becomes the battleground between the flesh and Spirit (Gal. 5).

How is this battle fought? By considering. Legizomai. Counting yourself as something that God says you are, even when your experience says you’re not. “To live is Christ” is to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God.

Is this idea of considering yourself dead to sin and alive to God a new concept for you? Would you say you spend your day considering your identity in Christ? How does your union with Christ allow you to see yourself differently?

November 15: Considering part 1: Knowing Comes First

Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 offers us one of the most important statements of the Christian life. Every Christian must consider themselves to have died to sin and to have been raised to life in Christ. This verse truly is a summary statement of “to live is Christ.” If we had to state what union with Christ is in one phrase it would be Romans 6:11.

But, obviously, this statement does not exist alone. It is part of a detailed argument that Paul is making concerning why we don’t just keep sinning (6:1). It is part of his explanation of the abundance of gospel grace, grace that goes beyond “Christ died for me,” and moves us into “we died and were raised with Christ” (union with Christ).

This is important – before we can consider anything we must first KNOW. Know what?

We must know two things:

Romans 6:9-10. 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.

First, we must know what happened to Jesus himself. He died to sins once for all, and then rose to live to God.

Romans 6:6. We know that our old self was crucified with him

Second, we must know that our old self died with Christ.

We can’t even begin to talk about considering our union with Christ’s resurrection until we first know these things. WE CAN’T START TO THINK ABOUT HOW TO LIVE UNTIL WE FIRST UNDERSTAND THAT WE DIED.

6:11 is no good without 6:6.

“Christ lives in me” is no good without “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Do you believe Romans 6:1-10? Do you see your death with Christ as an objective reality? An actual event? A past tense event? Not something that you are waiting for, or looking forward to one day, but something that fully and completely happened to you by the power of the Spirit.

This is not mere intellectual knowing. It is faith. It is believing that we are actually buried into Christ. We do not work at dying to sin. We do not wait to die to sin. We do not pray to God to crucify us to sin and give us new life. You are dead. You have new life (Nee)!

There can be no considering without knowing. Satan wants to keep you ignorant. This blog wants to fill you with the glorious gospel truths of your union with Christ. Do you know that “to live is Christ” means you died with Christ? Do you believe this?

If yes you’re ready to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.