"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."


- Martin Luther




Luther's Rose


I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.



SOLI DEO GLORIA



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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Brethren in Christ, the Holy Scriptures use three terms in regards to our great salvation – justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification has to do with the fact that we have been saved in time past. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8). Sanctification refers to the fact that we are presently being saved from the experiential hold that sin has had upon us. Thus Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12, 13). Finally, glorification looks to the future when we shall be saved from all aspects of sin – in body, soul, and spirit. Jesus said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13). With justification, we have been saved from the penalty of sin. With sanctification, we are being saved from the experiential power of sin. And with glorification, we shall be saved from the very presence of sin.

Romans 6:3-11 begins a section in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans dealing with the doctrine of sanctification. The Apostle writes, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now it is important to understand the context of this passage within the overall Book of Romans. The theme of Romans is the righteousness of God, as wrought by Christ through His perfect obedience, suffering, and death on the Cross, and as offered to us in the Word of the Gospel. Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” (Rom. 1:16, 17). Paul points out that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). All men, both Jews and Gentiles, stand condemned before God, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, the only way of salvation is through “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22). Paul shows that it is by this foreign righteousness (as Luther called it), belonging to Christ but imputed to us by faith, that all men have ever been saved. He cites David and Abraham as examples of this way of salvation in Romans 4. Finally Paul shows how sure and secure this way of salvation is in Romans 5, concluding with the statement that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20).

In Romans 6, Paul imagines someone raising an objection to what he has just said. This critic thus questions, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1). In other words, “if what you are saying, dear Paul, is true, that “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound”, then what is to stop a person from sinning? Why not continue in sin, that grace might all the more abound? Here we see the danger of fallen human reason. Reason will often take a truth of Scripture, and draw a reasonable deduction from it that violates other Scripture. It will say, “if this is true, then it follows that this too must be true”. As the Calvinists wrongly conclude, “if it is true that God predestines only some to salvation, then He surely does not love all people”. Or as the Arminians falsely reason, “if God loves all people, then He surely did not choose only some to salvation, etc.” This is the voice of fallen human reason. It insists that its deductions are true and right, even though the Word of God plainly teaches otherwise. This is why we are to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Reason would charge the freeness and abundance of God’s grace as an actual license for sin. “Let us do evil, that good may come.” (Rom. 3:8).

We should also underscore that when this objector speaks of “continuing in sin”, he is not talking about the fact that all Christians still sin daily due to the weaknesses of their faith and of the flesh. No, the real Christian is grieved by his own sins, and longs to live righteously before the Lord. Like Paul, he “delights in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22). He does sin, but he also always repents. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Prov. 24:16). Rather, this objector is speaking about “continuing in sin” in an on-going unrepentant manner. Such a one is at peace with his sin, and has no intention of turning from it. To him the warning of Hebrews belongs, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26, 27).

Paul now gives his answer to this objection from the voice of depraved human reason. As to “continuing in sin, that grace might abound”, he says, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:2). Paul’s answer as to why a true Christian cannot continue in sin is that the Christian is “dead to sin”. This being “dead to sin” becomes the theme of the following verses, Romans 6:3-11. In verse 3 we see that we “were baptized into Christ’s death?” Verse 4, “we are buried with him by baptism into death”. Verse 5, “we have been planted together in the likeness of his death”. Verse 6, “our old man is crucified with him”. Verse 7, “For he that is dead is freed from sin”. Verse 8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, etc.”. And verse 11, “likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin”. Our death to sin is mentioned in just about every verse. Thus, we can see that this death to sin is the key to Christian sanctification. But we must now ask two questions – 1) How do we become dead to sin?, and 2) What does it mean to be dead to sin? It is these two questions that Paul now goes on to answer in Romans 6:3-11.

In Romans 6:3-5 Paul answers for us the question, how do we become dead to sin? He writes, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:3, 4). Here we see that we were made dead to sin by being joined to Christ in the waters of baptism. As Luther often pointed out, baptism is no empty sign. Rather it is the effectual means by which God applies to us the atoning blood of Christ and causes us to be born again. It is a true “washing of regeneration” (Tit. 3:5). By it we have the sure and certain knowledge that we have been joined to Christ and are made partakers of the benefits that He has wrought in our behalf. Paul tells us here that via baptism, we were joined to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is not just true of some of us, but of all of us, for he says, “so many of us as were baptized”. The Greek word is “hosos”, and means “all collectively”. Thus, this entire passage and all of the blessings it describes applies to each and every one of us who have been baptized. The certainty of our state of grace is founded upon the objective fact that we were baptized in accordance with the Word of God for the remission of our sins.

In verse 5 Paul further shows the intimacy of this union that God has effected though the waters of baptism between the believer and Christ. He writes, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Paul uses an interesting Greek word here for the expression “planted together”. It is the compound word “symphytos”, taken from “sun”, meaning “with” or “together with”, and “phytos”, meaning “to make to grow”. So the word literally means that by baptism we have been “made to grow together” with Christ. This word is sometimes used for grafting a branch. For instance, Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). When Jesus says that He is the vine, He means the whole vine, both stalk and branches. We are not just connected to Christ as branches, but He is in us as branches and we are in Him as the vine in the closest possible union. Paul says, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30). The members are not just connected to the body, but rather are inseparable from the body itself. Again, we are in Him, and He is in us in an incomprehensible, yet real and most intimate union. Our union with Christ is likened to the union of a wife with her husband. “They two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31).

When Paul says that we are “planted together with” Christ, he used the Greek preposition “sun”, rather than the preposition “meta”, which also means “with”. He could have used either preposition, but “sun” expresses a stronger and more indivisible union. If I were to bake some biscuits, I might pull all of the ingredients out of the refrigerator and pantry and set them beside one another on the counter. Thus the ingredients would be “with” (meta) one another (in their own separate areas on the counter). However, if I were to get out a big bowl, and throw the ingredients all in together and mix them all up to make a single substance, then they would now be “with” (sun) one another in a more intimate and incomprehensible way. It is in this latter sense that we have been “planted together with (sun)” Christ. So in answer to our first question – how did we become dead to sin – the answer is by our baptism by which God joined us to Christ in the closest possible union. Thus His life is reckoned to be our life, His obedience our obedience, His death our death, His burial our burial, and His resurrection our resurrection.

Luther writes, “Christ is fixed and cemented to me and abides in me. The life I now live, He lives in me. Indeed, Christ Himself is the life that I now live. In this way, therefore, Christ and I are one… This attachment to Him causes me to be liberated from the terror of the Law and of sin, pulled out of my own skin, and transferred into Christ and into His kingdom, which is a kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, joy, life, salvation, and eternal glory. Since I am in Him, no evil can harm me… But faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached to Him forever and declares: ‘I am as Christ’. And Christ, in turn, says: ‘I am as that sinner who is attached to Me, and I to him. For by faith we are joined together into one flesh and one bone.’” (LW, vol. 26, p. 167, 168).

We now want to turn to our second question – what does it mean to be dead to sin? We know that we became dead to sin when through the waters of baptism we were joined to Christ’s death on the Cross, and His death to sin is reckoned as our own death to sin. But what does this mean? Why is this important? Why does the knowledge of this death to sin help us to not “continue in sin”? In verses 4 through 11, Paul now gives us three practical benefits of this knowledge to help us in our own battle with sin. First, he tells us in verse 4 that death was not an end in and of itself. Rather it was a passageway by which we have now entered into a new kind of life. He says that the purpose of our being joined to Christ’s death was so “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (6:4). This “newness of life” is taken from the Greek word “kainos”, meaning “a new kind of life”, that is, not a natural life, but a spiritual life. Just as we were “planted together” into Christ’s death, so we are now indivisibly joined to His resurrected life (cf. v. 5).

In a similar way Paul says to the Galatians, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Here again we see that Paul reckons himself as having died with Christ, but yet through death he says that he still lives. However, this new life (on the other side of death) is not solely Paul, but rather is a union of Paul and Christ, that is, “Christ liveth in me”. Elsewhere Paul writes, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3, 4). All of this is to say that through our union with Christ’s death (which occurred at baptism) we have now entered Christ’s resurrected life and do now walk in what Paul calls “the newness of life”.

Luther writes, “I am not speaking about my death and crucifixion as though I were not alive now. I am alive indeed, for I am made alive by the very death and crucifixion by which I die. That is, since I am liberated from the Law, sin, and death by grace and faith, I am truly alive. Therefore the crucifixion and death by which I am crucified and die to the Law, sin, death, and all evils is resurrection and life to me. For Christ crucifies the devil, kills death, damns sin, and binds the Law. As one who believes this, I am liberated from the Law, etc. Therefore the Law is deaf, bound, dead, and crucified to me; and I, in turn, am deaf, bound, dead, and crucified to it. Thus I live by this very death and crucifixion, that is, by this grace or liberty.” (LW, vol. 26, p. 165).

Now this “newness of life” in which we walk is none other than the kingdom of God, mentioned some 70 times in the New Testament. It is that spiritual kingdom of grace and life that we apprehend by faith in the trustworthy witness of the Word of God. It stands in contrast to this earthly kingdom of sin and death that we apprehend through our five natural senses. It is a heavenly kingdom of light ruled by the power of God, as opposed to this earthly kingdom of darkness ruled by the power of the devil. When we were baptized, God “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:15). We were “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4).

Imagine two fields in the country, with a road dividing them from one another. We’ll call the field on the left the kingdom of this world, ruled by a king named “sin”. The field on the right is the kingdom of God, the “newness of life”, ruled by a king named “grace”. The road is “death”, yea, even infinite and eternal death. By natural birth we were all born into the field on the left, the kingdom of this world. We are by nature sinners and do the will of our sovereign lord sin. Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). No matter what we do we cannot escape our master except by the way of death. But as death is infinite and we are finite, we in our own persons would be swallowed up everlastingly in death if we go that way. But Jesus has provided the way out for us. Through His perfect obedience to the Law and His substitutionary suffering and death on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the whole world, He has opened a way of access through death into the field on the right, that is, the kingdom of grace. Through baptism, we are joined to Christ so that His death becomes our death and His life becomes our life. We are thereby transferred out of the old field and into the new field. We are no longer in Adam, but are in Christ. We are no longer in the kingdom of Satan, but are in the kingdom of God. We are no longer under the rule of sin, law, and death, but are under the rule of grace, righteousness, and life. Paul writes, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).

Luther writes, “When by this faith I am crucified and die to the Law, then the Law loses all its jurisdiction over me, as it lost it over Christ. Thus, just as Christ Himself was crucified to the Law, sin, death, and the devil, so that they have no further jurisdiction over Him, so through faith I, having been crucified with Christ in spirit, am crucified to the Law, sin, etc., so that they have no further jurisdiction over me but are now crucified and dead to me.” (LW, vol. 26, p. 165).

So the first benefit of our being “dead to sin” is that we have now entered the kingdom of God and walk in “the newness of life”. Just as sin was a very real power working in our natural man to make us do its will, so grace is an even greater power working in our new man conforming us to the very image of Christ. How can we “continue in sin” who have such a power now working in us? But there is a second great benefit of our being “dead to sin” that Paul now describes for us in verses 6 and 7. He writes, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” The second reason why we cannot “continue in sin” is that we have been delivered from our sinful selves, our old man and our body of sin.

Now who is our “old man”? Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3, 6). The “old man” is that natural man that is born of his mother’s womb, flesh born of flesh. It is all of who we are as in Adam. It includes not only our sinful body, but also our sinful mind, emotions, and will. It is the whole natural man. The “old man in Adam” stands in contrast to that second-born man, that “new man in Christ”, who is born not of flesh, but of the Spirit. This “new man” is holy and righteous, being born of a holy and righteous God. As the old man is ruled by sin, so the new man is ruled by grace.

Johan Gerhard, the great orthodox Lutheran theologian of the 17th century, gives a wonderful analogy of the old man and the new man. He points out that when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, He was displaying Himself as a king, but of a kingdom that was not of this world. In preparation of this event, Jesus sent his disciples to get a certain donkey “upon whom never a man had sat”. Matthew tells us that the disciples actually brought back two donkeys to Jesus, both a colt and his mother. Contrary to what we would expect, Jesus chose to ride on the little colt, towing the mother ass behind, rather than the other way around. Gerhard says that he did this to teach us about the “new man” and the “old man”. The “new man” is the little colt “upon whom never a man has sat”, but that the Lord Himself rules and directs according to His own power and will. The “old man” is the mother ass, whom we have to drag around with us in this life, but is no longer who we are. We are the colt, belonging to a new kingdom, and being ruled and directed by Christ our King. We are no longer the old ass, but must be tethered to her and experience something of her ornery and stubborn nature while we are yet in this world.

Paul says that our old man is crucified in order that “the body of sin might be destroyed”. The “body of sin” refers to our natural body as the domain in which sin still operates. Elsewhere, Paul calls it our “mortal body” (Rom. 6:12); “the body of this death” (Rom. 7:24), and “our vile body” (Phil. 3:21). The body is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it is not yet redeemed and currently belongs to the kingdom of this world, the field on the left. On the other hand, it is that which keeps us in this world, and allows us the opportunity to be lights in a dark place for the sake of others. Paul said, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Phil. 1:23-24). In our passage Paul writes that our body has been “destroyed”. The Greek word for “destroyed” is “katargeo”, meaning “to be made of no effect”; “to be rendered null”; “to be removed from influence”. The idea is that when our “old man” was crucified with Christ (via the waters of baptism), then the body with its sins were removed from their influence and effect upon who we are as “new men in Christ”. The “body of sin” belongs to the field on the left, while our life is now hid with Christ in God in the field on the right. And Paul now adds the reason why the body of sin can not touch us. He says, “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (v. 7). The perfect tense indicates that we have been freed and that we remain freed from sin and all of its power. Why would we ever want to “continue in sin”?

Paul now gives us the third benefit that we receive from knowing that we are “dead to sin”. Having entered into the resurrected life of Christ and having been completely freed from our former sinful selves, we are now able to walk accordingly. He writes, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:8-11). Paul says that if it is true that we are dead with Christ, then it shall necessarily follow that we do now live with Christ in an indivisible union. What is true of Him is true of us. Just as Christ has once and for all crossed the threshold of death and lives exclusively unto God, so we too are done forever with sin and death, and live with Christ in the kingdom of God. Sin and death have no more dominion over Christ, and thus no more dominion over us. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:24). We are to “walk worthy of (literally, “in balance with”) the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1). Paul says “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Luther writes, “[Paul says], ‘There is a double life: my own, which is natural and animate; and an alien life, that is of Christ in me. So far as my animate life is concerned, I am dead and am now living an alien life. I am not living as Paul now, for Paul is dead.’ ‘Who, then, is living?’ ‘The Christian.’ Paul, living in himself, is utterly dead through the Law but living in Christ, or rather with Christ living in him, he lives an alien life. Christ is speaking, acting, and performing all of his actions in him; these belong not to the Paul-life, but to the Christ-life… He does not deny that he lives in the flesh, for he is doing all the works of the animate man. Besides, he is also using physical things – food, clothing, etc. – which is surely living in the flesh. But he says that this is not his life, and that he does not live according to these things. He does indeed use physical things; but he does not live by them, as the world lives on the basis of the flesh and according to the flesh, because it neither knows nor hopes for any life besides this physical life… For this [alien] life is in the heart through faith. There the flesh is extinguished; and there Christ rules with His Holy Spirit, who now sees, hears, speaks, works, suffers, and does simply everything in him, even though the flesh is still reluctant. In short, this life is not the life of the flesh, although it is a life in the flesh; but it is the life of Christ, the Son of God, whom the Christian possesses by faith… [This] inner man, who owes nothing to the Law but is free from it, is a living, righteous, and holy person – not of himself or in his own substance but in Christ, because he believes in Him.” (LW, vol. 26, pp. 169 – 172, 164).

So how do we “walk in the Spirit”, that is, walk as new men in Christ in the newness of life? The first thing Paul says is to know and affirm who you really are as a child of God. He writes, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). The Greek word for “reckon” is “logitzomai”, meaning “consider”, “count” or “regard” something to be true. It is a word of faith, calling us to “consider it as so”, “count it as so”, because God has said it is so. The word “reckon” is a present imperative, meaning that we are to “continually reckon” that we are dead to the reign and rule of sin, and that we are indeed alive unto the reign and rule of God through our union with Jesus Christ our Lord which came about by means of holy baptism. This is actually the first imperative in the entire Epistle to the Romans. It is the first time Paul has told his readers that there is something that we ourselves are to do. And that thing we are to do is to believe the Word of God, reckon that what God has said about us is most certainly true.

It is well-known that before his conversion St. Augustine had lived a very worldly and sinful life, including living with a woman out of wedlock for a number of years. After his conversion Augustine repented of his sins, grew in his knowledge of the Word of God, and sought to bring forth true Christian fruit unto the glory of God. One day, however, he came across his former mistress on a busy street in Rome. When he turned and started to walk away quickly, she called after him, “Augustine, it’s me! it’s me!” Quickening his pace, he called back over his shoulder, “Yes, I know, but it’s no longer me!” Augustine had learned this truth of “reckoning himself to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. To the Galatians Paul writes, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:15, 16).

Knowing who we really are, in accordance with the Word of God, we are now to feed our new man in Christ and starve our old man in Adam. The food of the new man is the Word of God. Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). He says, “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Paul adds, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2). And just as we feed the new man so that he might increase, so we starve the old man so that he might decrease. Paul says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom. 13:14). The relationship of the old man to the new man is like an exceedingly dirty light bulb. The dirty bulb itself is like the old man. It is hopelessly bespeckled and besmirched with sin and is not able to be reformed. It is what it is. But when we are baptized, believing the Word of God for the remission of our sins, then this old bulb is as it were placed in the Gospel socket containing the power of the Word of God. By this power, our filament is lit and light begins to shine through the dirty bulb, even if ever so dimly. The lit filament is the new man, and as he feeds upon the power source (the Word of God) he begins to progressively increase in brightness. His nature ever remains the same. He is light by new birth, and continues to be light. But through feeding upon the Word of God, the new man is progressively manifested through the dirty bulb to the world. Paul writes, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:15).

Finally, Paul implies that we are to keep our eyes upon Christ. Our true life is now “in Christ”. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). If we have “put on Christ” (as a garment so to speak), then we are “in Him”. And since we are “in Christ”, we are to apprehend all things “through Him”. We do this via the Word of God, which as the Voice of the Shepherd, is indivisibly united with Christ. It is His Word, revealing Him as He really is. Thus, through occupation with the Word, having our minds renewed to a true knowledge, we thereby abide in Christ and he lives His life through us. Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 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 for me” (Gal. 2:20). This “faith in the Son of God” is ever directed to the Word of God, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

We see a wonderful example of this in the account of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. You will remember that Jesus had sent His disciples before Him out into a boat on the Sea of Galilee while He went to a mountain and prayed. The wind was quite contrary and the disciples were being tossed with the waves in the midst of the sea. In the middle of the night Jesus came to them walking on the water. The disciples were greatly terrified, thinking that they were seeing a spirit. Jesus told them to be of good cheer for it was He. Peter said that if it was He, then to command him to come to Him on the water. Jesus commanded Peter to come, and at this Word Peter got out of the boat and actually walked on top of the water towards Jesus. So long as Peter kept his eyes upon Christ, believing His Word, he could do that which was contrary to and above and beyond nature. He could do what Christ Himself could do. But then the text tells us that Peter “saw the wind boisterous”, that is, he began to look at himself and the waves around him. And as soon as he did that, he became afraid (lost faith), and began to sink. Looking at the Word of God coming from the mouth of Christ, Peter did the works of Christ. Looking at himself and the world around him, he became as any other natural man. So we, too, must keep our eyes on Christ by occupying with and believing His Word, and Christ will live His life through us. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Let us now summarize what we have learned in this important passage in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. We have seen that this passage deals with the doctrine of sanctification, written as a response to those who would charge the Gospel with providing an excuse to “continue in sin”. While this charge might seem reasonable to depraved human reason, it is not true to the revealed Word of God. Paul has shown that one who is a true Christian cannot continue in sin because he has become dead to sin. This death to sin occurred when we received holy baptism. It was in that event that God joined us to Christ and thus to His death on the Cross of Calvary. By means of this death we have passed out of the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of grace. As sin reigned over us as old men in Adam, so grace now reigns over us as new men in Christ. God’s grace is a very real power that will not allow us to “continue in sin”. Furthermore, we are no longer who we once were. Our old man has been crucified with Christ and we have been freed from sin in every respect. Just as Christ died to sin once and for all, so we too have finished our relationship to it. Just as death hath no more dominion over Christ, so it has no more dominion over us. And just as Christ now liveth forever unto God, so we too now live unto God. We cannot continue in sin because we are those who live unto God. The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. We live by faith in Christ when we believe His Word, reckoning that what He has said is true is most certainly true. We are to believe what God has said about us, reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As those who are alive in Christ, we are to feed the new man with the Word of God, and starve the old man, not making provision for its lusts. And we are to ever keep our eyes upon Christ as we apprehend all things through the trustworthy witness of His holy Word.

Now may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

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