“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;”
Romans 6:5-6 (NASB)
Essentially, this verse says that since we have jointly participated with Christ’s death, or planted together, we shall have fellowship with Him by sharing a death like His. That’s a strange way to put it, but really, not only are we dead with Him, but surely, we shall share a resurrection life like His. But we know that our old nature our former self, our body of sin, was crucified with him. What does that mean, “that I was crucified with Christ”? Well, it’s part of 2 very wonderful passages that we are so familiar with: the first one is Galatians 2:20, and the second one is Galatians 6:14. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). “But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). But alas, the obvious problem of majority of Christians today is not that “we have been crucified to the world”. The problem is, the world is alive and kicking in the lives of modern-day Christians. Our lives are characterized not by the things of God, but by the things of this world; the things of self, the things of possession, the things of ‘me and mine’, And God help us, as we should have been dead to sin. The problem is that, I’m not sure we know we have died to sin, and our lives do not reflect that we walk with Him. The only difference in our culture most of the time between those who claim to know Christ and those who don’t is their Sunday church attendance which is usually borne out of a sense of obligation, rather than real love for the Lord, anyway. And they wonder why they are individually powerless, and their churches are empty. And the reason is because we compromise with a world system. We claim to know Christ, we claim to trust Him, but out lives have no distinct quality of holiness. This is the balancing doctrine we call – Sanctification. The Bible teaches that when we’re saved, we’re both justified and sanctified (cf. 1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Cor. 6:11). Both of those happened as an instantaneous act because of our relationship with Christ; we’re made right with God, and we are holy. This is saying basically, that because we are holy, we need to move onto personal holiness. Others have emphasized that when you’re saved by Christ, that settles it. No matter what you do, your sins are forgiven. And once you’re saved, you can’t be lost. Of course, that’s a wonderful truth about the freeness of salvation in Christ. It’s a wonderful summary of Romans 3:20 through 5:21, that everything we have, we have in Christ, and it’s a free gift of God, and whosoever will may come, and I love that. But friend, there is another major truth as equally important as the doctrine of assurance. And that is, if you know Him, you’ve got to walk in Him. If you know Him, your life has to be different. Your dreams, your plans, your goals cannot be the same after you’ve met Christ. There is going to a progressive Christlikeness where there was a positional Christlikeness. This passage is teaching us so wonderfully that we are not slaves to sin any longer because sin has been made inoperative, ineffective, and powerless for evil. The picture that the Bible portrays is that Jesus has potentially dealt with the Sin problem in the life of the Christian. Now, what this is saying is that Jesus has theoretically pulled the power source off your old sinful nature, thereby making sin ineffective, inoperative, and powerless. But God help us friend, you and I keep plugging in back in; not because we have to, but because we want to. Sin in the life of the Christian is not a must. It’s a willful open-eyed rebellion against the will of God for their life. And the problem of ‘once-saved-always-saved is that it seems to give us a license to do it. Every time we choose to rebel against God, there is a problem in our relationship with Him. And we continue to plug that old nature back in, and back in, and back in in our lives. Yes, I believe this chapter is teaching sinless perfection. Yes, I believe it is the will of God that Christians never sin. Yes, I believe that Sanctification is possible in the finished work of Christ, just as Justification is possible in the finished work of Christ. We’ve been so nervous about that, because we know we all sin, and we don’t know how to handle our sin. So, we claim that being perfect of Christlikeness is impossible. I submit to you that is possible! Now, Romans chapter 7 will teach us that practically speaking, all of us will struggle with sin until we die. But I want you to know the reason we struggle with sin is because of us, not because of the finished work of Christ. Potentially, we are Christlike in His finished work, just as we are potentially saved in His finished work. But we don’t like that because that puts the fear of sin right back on where it should be: on you and on me. Yes, we ought to preach assurance, and at the same time preach the goal for every Christian is Christlikeness. We may not reach it, but we have no right to abrogate the goal. Verse 7 says it in the strongest terms possible: “But we have been set free, we are no longer slaves to sin, we do not have to sin”. The fact is, we sin because we love it.