- Published: 26 August 2011
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Its connection with the Atonement
'And the priest shall put of the oil ... upon the place of the blood' (Lev. 14:28)
What does Scripture mean by sanctification? We read and hear much about 'Sanctification of the Spirit', of the 'Higher Life' and many other expressions. We have 'Holiness Meetings', and 'Consecration Services', and we are continually exhorted to 'Touch not, taste not, handle not', until the antichristian 'abstaining from meats' (1 Tim. 4:3) seems to be perilously copied.
Again we say, What is sanctification as presented in the Scriptures? Is it primarily the sanctity of the believer's walk, produced by the Holy Spirit in his life by the Word, or is it first of all the unqualified perfect possession, and blood-bought birthright of every child of God, from the least to the greatest, sanctification wrought by atoning blood? Rome has canonized her 'saints'. Many believers today make no profession of being saints, whereas Scripture applies without distinction this wonderful title to every redeemed sinner. We give a few out of many passages to illustrate this:
'To all that be in Rome (i.e. all believers) beloved of God, called saints' (Rom. 1:7).
'Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints' (1 Cor. 1:2).
'To the saints which are at Ephesus, and faithful ones in Christ Jesus'(Eph. 1:1).
We find next that sanctification, like salvation, is connected with the unalterable, irreversible purpose of electing grace:
'He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him' (Eph. 1:4).
A reference to Ephesians 5:27 and Colossians 1:22 will show that this purpose has been fully established by the Work of Christ:
'That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish'.
'In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable (unreproachable) in His sight'.
Thus it will be seen that the death of Christ procures this wondrous blessing of sanctification, unto which we were chosen before the foundation of the world. In the next Scripture it will be seen that the sanctification of the Spirit is directly connected with the blood of Christ, and the Spirit of God never leads to sanctification apart from this:
'Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' (1 Pet. 1:2).
This same truth is typically set forth in Leviticus 14 in the cleansing of the leper:
'The priest shall take some of the blood ... and put it upon the tip of the right ear ... and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot' (Lev. 14:14).
'The rest of the oil ... upon the blood ... ' (Lev. 14:17).
'The priest shall put of the oil ... right ear ... thumb ... great toe ... upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering' (Lev. 14:28).
Beware of any so-called sanctification that would apply the Oil without first applying the Blood, or would seek to put the Oil on any other place except 'upon the place of the blood'.
For the benefit of the reader who may not be sure, the words 'saint', 'sanctify', 'holy', 'holiness', are words from the same root in the original of the New Testament.
We have already referred to 1 Corinthians chapter 1, and we turn to it again for further teaching on the subject of sanctification. Verse 29 gives the divine object in the method of salvation. God hath chosen the foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, yea, the things which are not -- 'that no flesh should glory in His presence'. Verse 31 bears a similar witness, 'He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord'. Verse 30 comes in between these statements and reads, 'But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, both righteousness, and sanctification and ("as well as" Greek particles kai ... te) redemption'. Christ became unto us sanctification precisely in the same way and degree in which He became unto us righteousness. 'He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him' (2 Cor. 5:21). So with sanctification, it is imputed to the believer as absolutely as righteousness is. 'If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God' (Rom. 4:2). If the children of God were sanctified by their works, 1 Corinthians 1:31 would be nullified.
The subject of 'Progressive Sanctification' is by no means denied by what we have written, any more than the Scriptural doctrine of justification by faith means irresponsible living, or that because we are under grace we may continue in sin. What we seek to do is to put first things first; to lay the foundation before we build the house. The subject of sanctification is several times referred to in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In Hebrews 10:10 we read, 'By the which will we are sanctified through the Offering of the body of Jesus Christ once'.
'By the which will'.-- What does this mean? We have already seen the pre-determining will of God in the sanctification of the believer, but that is not the thought here. The 'which will' makes us look back in the chapter. In Hebrews 10:9 Christ speaks, 'Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God'. It is in (en) the done will of God -- i.e. the obedience of Christ, and through (dia) the Offering of Christ, that believers are sanctified (see again 1 Peter 1:2, 'obedience and sprinkling of blood'). Their 'doing' and the 'presenting of their bodies a living sacrifice', is the outcome -- the fruit of this blessed possession. Hebrews 10:14 contains a wonderful truth. 'For by one Offering He hath perfected into perpetuity (eis to dienekes) them that are sanctified'; truly all the glory is the Lord's.
May we who have died with Christ from the rudiments of the world hold the Head, remember our completeness in Him, set our minds on things above where Christ is, and leave the doctrines and commandments of men, the touch not, taste not, handle not, satisfying of the flesh, and confess to the God of all grace that 'all our springs O God, are in Thee'.
Sanctification, like justification, is primarily and foundationally connected with, and results from the atoning death of Christ. We now seek to show that the resurrection also has a great bearing upon this most important subject. Many of our readers will at once think of Colossians chapter 3. Before quoting from this chapter, however, let us see what leads up to its wonderful teaching. The saints at Colosse, like all the redeemed, were 'perfect', 'complete', 'made meet', and will be 'presented holy' (Col. 1:12-22; Col. 2:10).
Not only had they died with Christ, and been buried with Him, but they were risen with Him, quickened together with Him (Col. 2:12-13), which meant that 'the body of the sins of the flesh' had been 'put off', the divine inference from these passages being, 'Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days' (Col. 2:16); 'Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels' (Col. 2:18); 'Wherefore if ye died with Christ from the religious codes of the world, why as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances? Touch not (see 1 Cor. 8:1 for meaning, and compare the same element in the false holiness of the apostasy in the last days, 1 Tim. 4:3), taste not, handle not' (Col. 2:20-21).
Here is sufficient to point the contrast between holiness according to God, and holiness according to man. True holiness is only possible in the power of the resurrection. The saved sinner looks back to the cross and sees Christ dying in his stead, and says, 'I died there too'. He looks up to the right hand of God, where Christ sitteth, and says, 'I have been raised together with Him'. This is the argument of Colossians 2 and 3.
'If ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (cf. Phil. 3:19-20). For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth' (Col. 3:1-5 author's translation).
In Colossians 2:23 we have the 'neglecting of the body' which leads after all 'to the satisfying of the flesh'. This comprises all the will worship and humility of Rome, with its fastings, penances, and other inventions for the manufacturing of a creature of holiness, right down to those holiness conventions that stress rules and resolutions, badges and slogans. In direct contrast with the 'neglecting of the body' in the wrong sense, we have in Colossians 3:5 the 'mortifying of the members' in the Scriptural sense as being a direct result of being raised with Christ and being occupied with Him. Our life is there and death here. The word translated 'mortify' occurs only in two other passages in the New Testament.
'And without being weakened in faith he considered his own body now as good as dead' (Rom. 4:19 R.V).
'Wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars' (Heb. 11:12 R.V.).
This is the lesson in Colossians 3. Just as Abraham, we also are to see by faith that our sinful selves are as good as dead, and to believe God's verdict that we died with Christ from the law of God as a means of justification, and to all works of the flesh as a means of sanctification.
Instead of the word 'mortify' countenancing ritualistic teaching, it teaches just the opposite. As we feed the new nature we starve the old. As by faith we walk in the power of the 'new man' which has been created in true holiness, we shall 'put off the old man with his deeds'. Apart from the risen Saviour all sanctification is of the flesh, and is 'put on' in a different sense than that meant by the Scriptures.
Some may have observed in a sheltered spot a tree covered with dead leaves, having gone through the winter without actually dropping them to the ground, but when the returning spring forces the new life through the branches, the old leaves must go, being removed by the power of the life within; so to live in the light of Colossians 3:1-4 will of itself bring about the 'mortifying' of verse 5. A glance at verses Col. 3:5-17 of this chapter will show that the believer is called upon to 'walk worthily'; but verses 1-4 come first, and as the other side of the question is that which appears most prominent in the sermons and literature of today, we seek to give prominence to the foundation of all holiness, trusting that then we may build something more acceptable to God. In the Pentateuch we read of 'strange incense' and 'strange fire'. Every time the believer forgets the import of the words 'accepted in the Beloved', every time he is prompted to lean on something apart from Christ, he is preparing 'strange incense' which cannot please God.
Sanctification includes consecration, for resurrection life is preeminently a life unto God. How many times have we reviewed our past and mourned that we have not lived unto God? How many times have we resolved to keep down the flesh and 'yield ourselves' to Him? How many times have we failed? If one may speak for many, we know what a miserable failure it has always been. Let us, therefore, see whether Scripture does not give some surer way of living unto God than we have hitherto discovered.
Of Christ it is written, 'For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth (i.e. in resurrection), He liveth unto God' (Rom. 6:10). Of the believer, it continues, 'Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Rom. 6:11). The power, then, to live unto God comes through believing implicitly the wonderful fullness of the redemptive Work of Christ. It is not trying, but reckoning as God has reckoned, and acting accordingly.
'Whether we live, we live unto the Lord' (Rom. 14:8).
This is connected with Christ's resurrection in verse 9, and with the futility of others' judgment upon such an one with respect to 'eating' and 'observing days' etc., and all the other impositions of men.
'Judging this, that if One on behalf of all died, then all these died also'. 'He died on behalf of all, with the object that those who live (i.e. in resurrection life) should henceforth not live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man according to the flesh ... If any man be in Christ there is a new creation; old things did pass away; behold, there have come into being new things' (2 Cor. 5:14-17 author's translation).
'For I through the law, to law died, with the object that I might live unto God; with Christ I have been crucified, but I live; yet not I, but there liveth in me Christ' (Gal. 2:19-20 author's translation).
These passages of the Word speak more plainly than any comment we can give; life unto God (consecration, sanctification), is found in the sphere of resurrection with Christ. Romans 6:1 commences with the awful question of one who imagines that free grace means licence. We do not doubt that some who read these pages will likewise question our doctrine and say it is 'dangerous'. What answer does the apostle make to the libertine? Does he water down his strong statements? No, he applies them with full force. 'How shall we that died to sin live any longer therein?' It is a matter nothing short of life and death. The question goes deeper, however, in verse 15. 'Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace?' The answer is summarized in verse 22, 'But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life' (see Col. 3:3-4). With this compare verse 13, 'Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God'.
The Epistle to the Galatians deals with the same subject. Under law and in the sphere of the flesh, seeking to be made perfect according to the flesh means bondage (Gal. 3:2-3; Gal. 4:3-5, Gal. 4:9; Gal. 5:1-3). Being under grace means liberty and perfection is in Christ alone. Again the apostle has to meet those who abuse this liberty. He says, 'Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free'. 'For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty' (Gal. 5:1, Gal. 5:13), and then adds,
'Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (verses Gal. 5:13-14).We have already seen that resurrection life is the answer to the question, How may I find power to live unto God? We see here that in this same blessed sphere we are at liberty to fulfil our duties to one another.
In Ephesians 2 we have a further lesson. Eph. 2:10 tells us that, 'We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them'. We are to walk in the works and merits of Christ. We are to work out that which has been worked in; or, as Hebrews 13:21 puts it, 'Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, doing in you that which is well pleasing in His sight'.
May the fact of a risen Saviour at the right hand of God, a life hid with Christ in God, a glorified Head in heaven, our legal death with Christ here, our position as being 'raised together and made to sit together in heavenly places', become more and more to us; and so will the dead leaves and deadly regulations of men fall and fade, leaving us standing and walking by faith, not by sight, looking for that blessed hope, of which, by grace, may we seek to walk worthy.
Let us now consider the teaching of one or two passages in 1 John which show (1) the absolute, and (2) the progressive or responsible aspect of sanctification.
'As He is'. Christ is the center of all the purposes of God's grace. He is the Author, the Perfecter, the Goal. We have seen the connection between resurrection and sanctification. Likeness to our risen Lord is the theme before us now, both during our sojourn here, and in that day when we shall be satisfied upon awaking in His likeness. First, let us briefly 'consider Him'. 'If we walk in the light as He is in the light' (1 John 1:7). 'He is in the light'. Verse 5 declares that 'God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all'. In the full blaze of glory our Saviour stands. Not only is He there by the right of His own Godhead, but He is there because of the perfectness of His atoning work. Nothing but absolute righteousness and perfect holiness could endure the light in which our great Advocate stands. Yet, fellow-believer, weak and failing as we may be in ourselves, that and nothing less is our position in Christ.
1 John 2:29 tells us 'He is righteous'; 1 John 3:3 tells us 'He is pure', emphasizing that which is involved in the statement noted above, 'He is in the light'. 1 John 1:7 commences with a 'but if'; a condition is therefore attached. Before we consider the conditional aspect, let us turn to the verses that reveal the absolute nature of the believer's sanctification 'in Christ'.
'In this hath been perfected the love with us, in order that boldness we may have in the day of judgment, that as He is we also are (though) in this world' (1 John 4:17 author's translation).
God's love to us is the subject under consideration in the verse. The words translated 'in this', are of constant occurrence in John's epistle. In this very chapter they are translated 'hereby' (verse 13), 'herein' (verse 10), and 'in this' (verse 9). To what does the apostle refer when he says 'herein' in verse 17? Does he mean that God's love is perfected in the fact that believers shall have boldness in the day of judgment? Yes -- and yet no -- for this is but a part of the glorious goal. We believe the verse should be read as follows:
'In this is the love with us perfected (in order that we may have boldness in the day of judgment); that as He is so are we in this world'.
The love is perfected in this, that the believer in Christ is as He is. God Himself knows no higher goal for eternity than that the believer shall be as his Lord, and when these bodies of our humiliation are changed for bodies like unto the glorified Lord, then perfect love will have found its goal.
Such is the 'grace wherein we stand'! Every believer equally perfect in Christ! The weakest as the strongest, the babe and the full grown, all are equally and altogether complete in Him. There are no 'ifs' here. This is no more conditional upon our walk and life than is justification. Results will necessarily follow, but let it always be remembered that they follow, not come before. 'He that is righteous (in Christ) doeth righteousness (as a result)'.
As He Is -- We Are (1 John 4:17).
As He Is -- We Shall Be (1 John 3:2).
'We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him'. Again we deal with that which is absolute. 'We shall be like Him', and perfect love will have reached its goal. Can we not better understand the reason why the apostle introduces this marvellous subject with the words, 'Behold what manner of love!' What is to be the outcome of this glorious position? 'Every one that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure'. According to many, possibly among them who read these words, certainty means licence. They think that it is presumption to 'know' that which God has declared. Scripture does not veil the fact that there will always be those who 'turn the grace of God into lasciviousness', but this by no means alters the relations established between 1 John 3:2 and 3.
The reasoning of the heart will be, am I as He is, in Christ? Oh, that I may be more like Him in practice! Am I to be like Him in the future? Oh, for grace to be more like Him now! Keeping 1 John 4:17 in mind, we turn to 1 John 2:5-6. Again we shall read of God's love being perfected, but this time dealing with the conditional side of sanctification:
'But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked' (1 John 2:5-6).
Even in this conditional setting the keeping of the Word is a proof of our being in Him; not that the keeping of the Word either places us in that blessed sphere, or secures us when we are there. By comparing 1 John 4:17 with 1 John 2:5-6 it will be seen that God's love to us, and our love to God, meet together in the Lord Jesus Christ as their great goal; both point forward to likeness to Him. The believer's love to God urges him to seek more conformity to the image of His Beloved Son; and God's love to His people has fixed its goal, perfect likeness to Christ in resurrection glory. Be it noted that this verse does not say, 'We ought to be as He is', but it says, 'We ought to walk as He walked'. 1 John 1:7 speaks of walking in the light. This is how the Lord Jesus always walked whilst here on earth.
In the very presence of God, in the light of the holiest of all; what a standing! what an assurance! No creature preparation or perfectness can avail there; any attempt at such only shows the failure to appreciate the heights of holiness demanded by that light. What is our warrant for daring to walk in this light?
'As He is we are'. Is this 'sinless perfection'? No! If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. If we say we have not sinned we make God a liar. It is not by covering up our sins, neither is it by imagining ourselves to have become sinless that we draw near to the presence of the Lord. No; it is by reason of the wondrous grace that has made us 'accepted in the Beloved', that has 'made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light'. With all our imperfections still upon us, with all our sins of omission and commission, we may draw near, to walk in the light. By this, do we make little of sin? No! God does not, but He has made provision. It is not our walk or talk that will ever keep us fit for His holy Presence, but 'if we walk in the light ... the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin'.
Such is some small fragment of the teaching of these verses. Let us glorify God by believing His Word, and, seeing that by His grace we are (in Christ) as He is, and that as He is we shall be, let us seek by grace to walk as He walked, to walk in the light, to thankfully confess the glorious efficacy of the blood that cleanseth, and to exemplify in some measure the complete sanctification which is ours in Christ Jesus. While we think of the epistle to the Romans when we think of justification, we find that Romans 6:1-14 deals with sanctification under various aspects.
(1) A sphere. It is newness of life.
(2) A condition. It is a union.
(3) A state. Liberty.
(4) How it is apprehended, by reckoning.
(5) It is entirely under grace.
The true sequel of Romans 5:12-21 is Romans 8, where the condemnation brought in by Adam is entirely removed from all who are 'in Christ Jesus'. The Spirit of God, however, knew the heart of man; and how easily even believers may misread liberty for licence, or abuse the overwhelming grace of God. Already the spirit that necessitates Romans 6 and 7 has shown itself. For in Romans 3:7 we have the beginnings of the idea opened up in Romans 6, where the thought that 'the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory' is echoed by the question: 'What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?'
It is not a question of shall I ever fall into sin, or shall I never discover hidden uncleanness, but shall I 'continue in' sin. Epimeno is used in Romans 11:22-23, where it is used of 'continuing in His goodness', and of 'abiding still in unbelief'. In Romans 6:2 the balancing clause to 'continuing in' is 'living in':
'How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?'
Let us notice for our good that the apostle does not temporize with this question. He does not embark upon a lengthy discourse concerning grace; he does not attempt to mitigate the fullness of superabounding grace; he goes straight to the heart of the matter, revealing it to be a matter of life and death.
Grace is grace because of righteousness, so teaches Romans 5:21: 'Even so might grace reign through righteousness', and the only way that grace could reign through righteousness is for sin to have been dealt with righteously, and we know that the wages of sin is death.
Answer to first objection
The answer to the question of Romans 6:1 is found in 6:3-14. Verse 2 is not so much an answer as a refusal to admit the validity of the objection that superabounding grace will encourage laxity of morals. The close of verse 14 corresponds with verse 2 in setting the objection aside as incompatible with the 'grace wherein we stand'. The answer (3-14) is divided into three main sections:
(1) Identification of the believer in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (3-10). This we shall discover is subdivided into three features.
(2) Reckoning of the believer that all this is true.
(3) Practical results of this identification and reckoning: 'Let not', 'Yield not'.
Dead to sin
There is a system of teaching that appears to take these words as meaning abstaining from, resisting, mortifying sin, in which there can be degrees of 'depth'. Hence the expression: 'to die more and more unto sin'. There is most truly an experimental entering into the death of Christ, but we are persuaded such is not intended here. In Romans 6:2, Rom. 6:7-9 the verb 'to die' is not thnesko, but apothnesko, 'to die out, to expire, to become quite dead'. Moreover, it is the actual death of Christ that is in view, 'His death' (3 and 5), death 'with Christ' (8), and it is death 'to sin'. Here again we need care. It is not death to the power of sin, but death to its guilt that is here intended. Our death to sin is not mentioned here as of our conduct or our character, but of our State before God. The R.V. recognizes the aorist tense, and translates the passage, 'We who died to sin', in place of the A.V., 'We that are dead to sin'. Into the vexed question of the true rendering of the Greek aorist we cannot go. On verse 7 Dr. Weymouth gives the following note, which is of weight:
'Lit. "has died"; not "is dead". The distinction cannot be expressed in Latin or French, but can in English and in Greek. The classical scholar will find an excellent example in Euripides, Alc. 541 "Those who have died (aorist) are dead (perfect)"'.
Up to Romans 5:11 the burden of the epistle has been justification by faith. Rom. 5:12-21 adds its quota of superabounding grace, and when the apostle says in Rom. 6:2: 'How shall we who died to sin live any longer therein?' he is not introducing some new aspect of death, but referring to what has already been established. In other words, he replies to the objection by saying, Justification by faith cannot lead to living in sin, for the simple reason that justification is based upon death to sin and guilt. The fact that Paul uses, in verse 10, the same expression of Christ Himself: 'In that He died, He died unto sin once', shows that he had in view death to its guilt. As Calvin says:
'The very form of the expression, as applied to Christ, shows that He did not, like us, die to sin for the purpose of ceasing to commit it'.
The Lord was never under the power of sin. He took the guilt of sin that belonged to us, and for that He died:
'He that is dead (has died) is freed from sin' (Rom. 6:7).
The word translated 'is freed' is dedikaiotai, the perfect tense of the verb dikaioo, 'to justify'. It is most important that this word noted in the margin should be reinstated: 'Justified from sin'. Romans 3:20-30 is the classic passage on Justification, and there dikaioo is used five times. Rom. 5:9 sums up the matter by saying: 'Being now justified by His blood'. In Rom. 6:2 the apostle declares that the believer 'died to sin'. In Rom. 6:7 he reveals the glorious result of that death -- 'he is justified'.
Newness of life
The full truth is that when He died, we died; when He was buried, we were buried; and being dead and buried our hope both now during the life which we live in the flesh (Gal. 2:20), and in the future glory in the life to come, is entirely dependent upon Him. If that risen life is also ours, then even now we may 'walk in newness of life' (Rom. 6:4). If it is not, being dead and buried, we can do nothing but wait amid a groaning creation for the redemption of the body. The walk in newness of life is our experimental answer to His resurrection.
The first note in the chord of sanctification has now been struck. Instead of 'living in sin' we who have died to sin may 'walk in newness of life'. This is more than 'a new life', for the abstract word kainoteti conveys the idea of 'newness'. There are two words in the Greek for 'new': kainos (that gives us 'newness' in Rom. 6:4) and neos. Both come together in Colossians 3:10: 'And having put on the new man (neos) being renewed (anakainoo)':
In other words, we have put on the new, young, rejuvenate man, fresh, vigorous, prime, with all the glorious future stretching out in its limitless possibilities by the grace of God, and have been renewed with a life that standing beside the empty tomb looks back at a past, dead, buried, excluded, finished. Neos turns our faces toward Christ, the last Adam, kainos looks back to the first Adam. The one says "life has begun", the other "that life has finished".
Sanctification demands newness of life -- if so, how then can anyone think of 'continuing in sin' that grace may abound? We may all take to ourselves the words of the apostle, making them a prayer where we cannot state them as an experience:
'I ... am dead to the law (as Rom. 6 "dead to sin") ... I am (have been) crucified with Christ (as Rom. 6 "the old man was crucified with Him"): 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 ("newness of life"), Who loved me, and gave Himself for me' (Gal. 2:19-20).
Sanctification. A condition: union (Rom. 6:1-14)
The first item in the doctrine of sanctification which we have established is 'newness of life'. True, 'death to sin' must precede this new life, but death to sin is not sanctification, any more than a good concrete foundation is a dwelling house. Power for sanctification is life, and the study now before us is to discover from the passage as to what that life is, and how its power may be received, and its effects:
'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 (was) 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' (Rom. 6:5-7).
The R.V. alters the reading 'planted together' to 'become united with', and this is undoubtedly the meaning. 'Planted together' would truly describe a row of lettuces, but each plant would nevertheless be independent; the word sumphutos used here indicates something more intimate, more akin to 'grafting' than 'planting'. The word is used in the LXX of Amos 9:13 for 'melt', and is employed by Xenophon to describe the 'growing together' of man and horse known as the 'centaurs' of ancient myth. The R.V. margin is closest of all to the truth of the passage, and is the rendering of Alford:
'If we have become united with the likeness of His death, so shall we be also with His resurrection'.
There is a real link between 'united' and 'likeness', the contrasted thought being found in Romans 8:3:
'For that which was not in the power of the law, because it was weak through the flesh, God (did), having sent His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin, and on account of sin condemned sin in the flesh' (Author's translation).
The Lord had a nature like our sinful nature, but had not Himself a sinful nature. If the apostle had not used the word 'likeness', it would have appeared that Christ partook of sinful flesh, which, of course, He did not. So the believer is united to the Lord in the 'likeness' of His death, for that death itself allows of no possible partner. He suffered alone, and suffered once for all. He died actually and literally, that we might be reckoned to have died with Him. Moreover, as we shall see in the next verse, 'the likeness of His death' is most certainly a reference to the kind of death He died, namely, not an honorable death, nor the death of an acclaimed victor, but the death of a slave, the death of the accursed, death by crucifixion. All this is included in the original statement of verse 2, 'dead to sin'.
It is of the utmost importance that we shall realize the place that union with Christ occupies in this great doctrine of sanctification. Here, in the short compass of four verses, we have such extraordinary expressions as: 'baptized into His death'; 'buried with Him'; 'united with Him'; 'crucified with Him'; 'like as Christ'; and 'the likeness' of His death. Union with Christ is the very essence of sanctification:
'For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are All Of One ... as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same' (Heb. 2:11-14).
He was made 'in the likeness of men' (Phil. 2:7).
Sanctification. A state: freedom (Rom. 6:1-14)
We have seen that sanctification has a sphere -- 'newness of life', and a condition -- 'unity with the likeness of His death and resurrection'; we now proceed to the consideration of a third feature, a state -- 'liberty'.
Verse 6, where our study is resumed, ends with the words: 'that henceforth we should not serve sin'. From this point to the close of the chapter we have many references to 'servants' (literally 'slaves') who were once under an awful dominion, but are now 'free'. With chapter 7 comes a change of figure, from that of a slave to that of a married woman under the law, who is set 'free' from her marriage and all its obligations by the death of her husband. This is appropriately brought to a conclusion in verse 6 with service 'in newness of spirit'.
The following passages will help us to see how prominently 'freedom' and 'servitude' figure in these chapters; in each case one of the verbal forms of eleutheros is used:
'Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness' (Rom. 6:18).
'For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness' (Rom. 6:20).
'But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God' (Rom. 6:22).
'If her husband be dead, she is free from that law' (Rom. 7:3).
'For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death' (Rom. 8:2).
'Because the creature itself also shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God' (Rom. 8:21 author's translation).
We must now look at the various derivations of the word translated 'bondage':
'That henceforth we should not serve sin' (Rom. 6:6).
'Servants to obey, his servants ye are' (Rom. 6:16).
'Ye were the servants of sin' (Rom. 6:17).
'Ye became the servants of righteousness' (Rom. 6:18).
'Servants to uncleanness ... servants to righteousness unto holiness' (Rom. 6:19).
'When ye were the servants of sin' (Rom. 6:20).
'Now ... (having) become servants to God' (Rom. 6:22).
'We should serve in newness of spirit' (Rom. 7:6).
'With the mind I myself serve the law of God' (Rom. 7 25).
'Ye have not received the spirit of bondage' (Rom. 8:15).
'Shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption' (8:21).
How is this freedom attained, and what is the nature of the bondage from which it liberates? The first part of the question is answered in Romans 6:7; the second in Rom. 6:14 and Rom. 8:21:
'He that is dead is freed from sin' (Rom. 6:7).
'Crucifixion with Christ' is set forth in Romans 6:6 as having a specific object in view: 'to render the body of sin inoperative' (katargeo). There are five other occurrences of this word in Romans 3:3, Rom. 3:31; Rom. 4:14; Rom. 7:2, Rom. 7:6) where it is rendered 'make without effect', 'make void', 'loosed from sin' and 'delivered from'. In no case can the word 'destroy' in its true sense be rightly substituted. The following passages give some further A V. renderings of the word:
'To bring to nought' (1 Cor. 1:28).
'Come to nought' (1 Cor. 2:6).
'Done away'; 'Abolished' (2 Cor. 3:7,11,13,14).
'Make ... of none effect' (Gal. 3:17).
'Become of no effect' (Gal. 5:4).
'Then is the offence of the cross ceased' (Gal. 5:11).
'Who hath abolished death' (2 Tim. 1:10).
'Destroy him that had the power of death' (Heb. 2:14).
To return, then, to our theme: How is the believer to make these blessings something more than a part of a creed, and so believe them that his knowledge shall be neither barren nor unfruitful? The answer is found in Romans 6:11: 'Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; but alive unto God, through Christ Jesus our Lord'.
As the true meaning of the word 'reckon' is vital to our appreciation and appropriation of the work of Christ, no pains must be spared to arrive at as true and complete an understanding of it as possible. Logizomai 'to reckon', comes from leloga, the middle perfect of lego, 'to gather or collect' as in 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. Its proper meaning is to reckon arithmetically. The usage of the word in the New Testament will enable us to get some idea of its general bearing:
(1) To Reason Or Argue Rationally.
'They reasoned with themselves' (Mark 11:31).
'When I was a child ... I thought as a child' (1 Cor. 13:11).
(2) To Infer, Conclude Or Balance After Hearing Reason.
'Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith' (Rom. 3:28).
'I reckon that the sufferings of this present time' (Rom. 8:18).
'Accounting that God was able to raise him up' (Heb. 11:19).
(3) To Think.
'And thinkest thou this, O man?' (Rom. 2:3).
(4) To Account.
'Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ' (1 Cor. 4:1).
'Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves' (2 Cor. 3:5).
'To him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean' (Rom. 14:14).
'He was reckoned among the transgressors'(Luke 22:37).
'We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter' (Rom. 8:36).
(5) To Impute.
'Unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works' (Rom. 4:6).
'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin' (Rom. 4:8).
'To whom it shall be imputed, if we believe' (Rom. 4:24).
(6) To Impute For (logizomai eis).
'Shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?' (Rom. 2:26).
'Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness' (Rom. 4:3).
'His faith is counted for righteousness' (Rom. 4:5).
'The children of the promise are counted for the seed' (Rom. 9:8).
While we have not given every occurrence of the word, we believe we have accounted for every phase of its meaning. It will be observed in Romans 4 that where sin and righteousness are being dealt with, these are 'imputed'; but where faith is being dealt with, it is 'imputed for'. Faith is not righteousness; it is 'reckoned for' righteousness. In Romans 6:11 there is no 'imputing for'; it is as actual and real as the imputation of sin to a sinner.
When we were considering the usage of the words 'crucify with', we observed that it was Luke who recorded the incident of the dying thief, and thus illuminated the doctrine which the words implied. This is as we might expect, if it is true that Luke was raised up to work with Paul. So here, again, it is Luke who gives us the one clear passage that bears most upon our theme. Let us give the passage, Luke 22:37 in full:
'For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, And He was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning Me have an end'. (The verb, 'to be accomplished', is teleo; the noun, 'end', is telos).
The Lord declared that something that was written, was to be accomplished. Where is this written prophecy recorded? The reference is to Isaiah 53:12:
'He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors'.
Earlier in this chapter the prophet had said:
'He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed' (Isa. 53:5).
The things concerning Him had an 'end', not merely a termination, but a goal, something attained and accomplished. When the Saviour cried with a loud voice, 'It is finished', the words meant more than that His sufferings were at last ended; they meant that He had finished the Work which the Father had given Him to do. In Romans 6 we stand looking at that finished Work. He died for sin, He died to sin, and He rose again, the Victor over death. With Him we also died to sin; with Him we rose again victors over death. We were buried 'into His death' and so became 'in Christ'. And just as surely as He was 'reckoned' (or 'numbered') among the transgressors, so are we to 'reckon also ourselves' to have died unto sin, and to be alive unto God in Him.
Sanctification. 'Under grace' (Rom. 6:12-14)
We now have, for the first time in the epistle, an exhortation:
'Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace' (Rom. 6:12-14).
In these three verses we have three features:
The exhortation negatively: 'Let not'; 'yield not'.
The exhortation positively: 'Yield yourselves and your members'.
The assurance positionally: 'Under grace'.
Rendering in modern speech is suggestive 'Let not sin therefore reign as king in your mortal bodies, causing you to be in subjection to their cravings; and no longer lend your faculties as unrighteous weapons (tools or implements) for sin to use.
On the contrary, surrender your very selves to God as living men who have risen from the dead, and surrender your several faculties to God, to be used as weapons (tools or implements) to maintain the right'.
In the epistle to the Hebrews, we observe that it is at the point where doctrinal instruction ends that exhortation begins. 'Having therefore ... let us ... let us ... let us' (Heb. 10:19-24). And so it is in Romans 6 as it must ever be.
The word 'reign' includes in its scope the word 'king', just as 'dominion' carries with it the thought of the 'Lord'. These verses in Romans 6 refer back to Rom. 5:12-21:
(1) Death reigned (Rom. 5:14)
(2) Sin reigned (Rom. 5:21)
(3) Grace reigns (Rom.5:21)
Through Jesus Christ.
(4) Believers reign (Rom.5:17)
'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness (or taking it to its logical conclusion in practice) in the fear of God' (2 Cor. 7:1).