SET FREE FROM SLAVERY TO SIN (EXCERPT OF A STUDY GUIDE FOR THE BOOK OF ROMANS)
From: A Study Guide for the Book of Romans
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Each one of us was born with two problems as far as God is concerned. The first problem is that we were born spiritually dead, cut off from God because of the guilt of Adam’s sin. The second problem is that we have inherited in our flesh a disposition toward sin and rebellion against God.
It appears that most Christians understand quite well the extraordinary lengths to which God went on Calvary in order to remove the guilt we have inherited (as well as the guilt we have acquired because of our own sinning). What has not been as clearly understood perhaps is the provision God has made for the second problem, that is, the bondage of slavery to sin—the compelling power in our flesh that urges us to keep on repeating the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
If a human being is to be restored to favor with God, two aspects of sin must be dealt with: (1) the guilt must be removed; and (2) the bondage of slavery must be removed.
SET FREE FROM SLAVERY TO SIN
What is true of the person who has died?
He has been freed from sin.
It is true in criminal law that once the accused is deceased the judge cannot sentence him to any punishment. If he is dead he is dead. The maximum penalty has been paid.
The Law of Moses does not judge and convict a person who has died. Once we die we no longer are under the Law of Moses. If we reckon ourselves dead in water baptism, then the Law of Moses no longer has jurisdiction over us.
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (Romans 7:1)
Many Christians are confused today over the role the Law of Moses, the Torah, should play in their walk with God. The answer is, the moral principles embodied in the Torah are eternal. They preceded the Law, found expression in the Law, and are written in the heart of the Christian as Christ is formed in him. But the written Torah itself has no jurisdiction over the individual who has died in Christ. This is true of the Sabbath day, circumcision, and all other ceremonial practices.
What results from putting to death our adamic personality?
We are set free from slavery to sin and therefore are eligible to become the servant of another.
What an awesome, far-reaching concept is presented in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans.
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. (Romans 6:6,7)
In order to appreciate what God has provided here we have to consider the condition of mankind upon the earth.
Each person born on the earth has been convicted of sin already and is awaiting the sentencing of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Every individual was born with two counts against him or her. The first problem is, we are guilty of disobedience to God’s will because of the disobedience of our father, Adam. The second problem is, we have inherited in our flesh a disposition toward sin and rebellion against God.
We were born convicted of sin and full of sinful, rebellious tendencies. We did not have a chance to be a righteous person in God’s sight. We were born in a thoroughly unrighteous condition.
More than that, we were born to await the Day of Judgment, the day of sentencing. The maximum sentence handed down from the Judgment Seat of Christ is eternal banishment from the Presence of our Creator in an area of tormenting fire.
The Day of God’s vengeance has not come as yet. However, the date of sentencing was set when the angels of Heaven fell in pride and disobedience.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Matthew 8:29).
“Before the time”! The time appears to have been set.
The moment Adam and Eve were infected with the evil virus of spiritual wickedness, they too, along with the rebellious angels, were convicted of sin against God. They were cut off from His Presence as they had known it in the garden, and joined the company who are awaiting the day of sentencing.
Adam and Eve became the slaves of sin, for whoever sins is the slave of that sin. No human being ever can become the master of sin. He is the slave of the sin he commits.
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whoever committeth sin is the servant [slave] of sin (John 8:34).
Has the God of Heaven actually stated we are sinners from the moment of birth? Were we born guilty? Are we compelled to behave unrighteously? Are we all sinners by virtue of being human beings?
Yes, it is true. Because our ancestors, Adam and Eve, consented to join the ranks of the spirits in rebellion against God, they and every one of their descendants were convicted of iniquity and brought under slavery to the compulsion of sin.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).
We are not of those who teach that babies, if they die before they are baptized in water, are cast into the fire because they were born in sin. Jesus saves whomever He chooses to save apart from our theology.
If a human being is to be restored to favor with God, two aspects of sin must be dealt with: (1) the guilt must be removed; and (2) the bondage of slavery must be removed.
Most Christians probably understand quite well the extraordinary lengths to which God went upon Calvary in order to remove our guilt. The blood atonement has been taught clearly by the Christian ministry.
We have stated that we were born convicted of lawlessness and we all are awaiting the day of sentencing, the Day of Judgment. This is true.
But when we believe in Christ, placing our trust in Him for salvation, the Judge hands down the sentence: “Not guilty!”
We are not guilty now. We shall be found not guilty in the Day of Judgment. Such is the love of God toward us. God found a way to remove condemnation from us. He suffered the penalty Himself.
What has not been as clearly understood by many Christians, it appears, is the provision God has made for the second problem, that is, the bondage of slavery to sin—the compelling power in our flesh that urges us to keep on repeating the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
The Lord God requires righteousness of us, not only the righteousness He has imputed (assigned) to us but also righteous behavior. The Kingdom of God is in righteous behavior, not in assigned righteousness.
We find an actual “law,” as Paul describes it, dwelling in our body, striving to dictate to us that we, whether or not we approve, must keep on breaking God’s laws. We inherited this law, this compulsion. It is resident in our flesh. The law of sin in our flesh hates God and resists righteous behavior at every opportunity.
Some may welcome the dwelling of the law of sin in their flesh and agree with the deeds it urges them to do. But in the case of numerous believers the sinful tendencies often find expression in spite of their desire to be righteous. They are in slavery to an alien force that took dominion over mankind by means of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
Therefore, we cry out with Paul:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24).
We have said we are not guilty now (Romans 8:1) and we shall be found not guilty in the Day of Judgment (John 5:29). The guilt of Adam’s sin and of our own sinning has been removed from us through the atonement made for us by Christ on the cross (II Corinthians 5:19).
But now we come to a different issue. What provision has God made for the corrupting appetites in our flesh, the alien force, the law of sin that keeps our mortal body in a condition of rebellion and death?
How do we gain release from slavery to sin so we can serve the Lord Jesus in righteous behavior?
Let us speak first of the grace available to us in this life, and then of the liberation, the redemption, the salvation coming to us with the return of Christ from Heaven.
We Christians are in the pursuit of eternal, incorruptible life, meaning we are in the pursuit of righteous behavior. Eternal life and righteous behavior always go together. But how can we obtain righteous behavior in our present life?
In order to achieve righteous, holy, and obedient behavior we must, first of all, cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He slays the sinful tendencies in us. Second, we must follow the Spirit as He creates Christ in us. Righteous behavior on our part comes from the Person and Life of Christ abiding in every part of our personality.
All righteousness, including both the removal of condemnation and the release into righteous behavior, proceeds from Christ. The only righteousness God accepts is that which comes from Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He slays the sinful tendencies in us?
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Romans 8:13).
Although the Holy Spirit uses a variety of techniques, including suffering, to free the believer from the works of the flesh, we have found the following five steps of faith to be helpful in gaining release from sinful imaginations, motives, speech, and actions.
- Confess the thoughts, words, or deeds as sin (I John 1:9).
- Resolve never to practice it or them again (I Corinthians 15:34).
- Receive wholeheartedly God’s forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9).
- Draw near to God in order to gain His Presence and help (James 4:8).
- Resist the devil the next time you are tempted by that which has been confessed (James 4:7).
Confess your sinful word or deed to the Lord or to an experienced saint of the same gender as yourself or to your husband or wife. Confession and sincere repentance lead directly into release from slavery to the particular sin, whether it be adultery, fornication, filthy speaking, murderous rage, gluttony, sorcery, gossiping, harsh criticism, impatience, lack of self-control, or any other sin.
As in all areas of the Christian life, wisdom must be used in the practice of confession. Sometimes it is sufficient to name the sin before God. On other occasions it is helpful—sometimes necessary—to get help from members of the Body of Christ. Do not confess your sin to someone who is spiritually immature, or of the opposite sex (except your wife or husband), or who will stumble, or who will repeat to someone else what you have confessed. Do not confess immorality to your wife or husband unless absolutely necessary because your confession may place a terrible and unnecessary load on your partner.
Often the results of these five steps are dramatic. Sometimes, however, we do not obtain relief immediately because the Spirit is working on other aspects of our personality or on circumstances having to do with the behaviors under scrutiny. But deliverance shall come. Sin shall not have dominion over us because the grace of God in Christ is sufficient to deliver us (Romans 6:14).
Some sins can be overcome merely by ceasing to practice them, as in the following admonition:
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame (I Corinthians 15:34).
Other sins are removed from us by chastening and suffering:
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:11).
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (I Peter 4:1,2).
The Divine Life of Christ comes to us through the Holy Spirit, subduing and replacing by superior virtue, wisdom, and force the sinful tendencies of our body. Freedom from condemnation and release from the slavery imposed by sin restore us to the state of innocence in which Adam and Eve began.
Now we are ready for a strong, conquering love of righteous behavior and a strong, conquering hatred of sin and disobedience to be developed in us—for Christ loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
Where can we obtain a strong love of righteousness and a strong hatred of sin?
Only from the Divine Virtue of Christ Himself. We must eat of Him and drink of Him and live by Him if we are to develop the kind of character the Father in Heaven regards as righteous.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me (John 6:57).
As Christ is formed in us and dwells in us His righteous Nature begins to affect every part of our personality: our speech, our actions, our motives, our imaginations, our emotions, our reasonings, our physical health, our ability to distinguish between good and evil and to choose the good, our understanding, our attitudes—in short, all we are, do, say, and perceive.
True righteousness is Christ in us. Christ is our life, our wisdom, our sanctification, our release into freedom from sin and disobedience. Christ is All in all to us and we are being created the fullness of Him, the revelation of His Divine glory.
Our righteousness shall exceed by far the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees because our righteousness is Christ Himself: first, in removal of condemnation; then, in an indwelling power to love righteousness and hate iniquity. The Holy Spirit is bringing us to the condition of total righteousness of personality and behavior. This is the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Such is the grace available to us in this life. Let us turn now to the redemption, the liberation, the salvation that will be brought to us with the return of Christ from Heaven.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:28).
We believe in and stress the release and blessings Christ brings to us today—right now! Nevertheless, the writings of the Apostles point clearly toward the salvation, the redemption, the release that will be brought to a climax with the filling of our mortal body with resurrection life.
There are many such forward-looking passages, including Hebrews 9:28 (quoted above).
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (Galatians 5:5).
“Wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Can you see in this verse the future aspect of righteousness, the righteousness that is to come?
The future righteousness is not only an assigned righteousness, for we have that already. Rather, it is a righteousness of behavior, a white robe symbolizing the desire to serve God in holiness.
The Apostle Paul looked at righteousness as being the marvelous reward Christ will bring with Him when He appears “the second time without sin unto salvation.”
There are at least three aspects of the salvation, the liberation, the redemption, the righteousness that Christ will bring to us when He returns from Heaven:
- The sentence of “not guilty” in the Day of Judgment.
- The resurrection of our mortal body, the removal of the remaining sinful tendencies from us, and the filling of us with His Presence so we love righteousness and hate iniquity.
- The authority and power of righteousness so we can rule the world in righteousness, enforcing the laws of the Kingdom of God.
The sentence of “not guilty” in the Day of Judgment. The blood of the Lamb of God makes possible an expunging of our record so it is as though we never have sinned.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:9)
The resurrection of our mortal body, the removal of the remaining sinful tendencies from us, and the filling of us with His Presence so we love righteousness and hate iniquity. The Scripture makes reference to the “white robe” of the saint. The white robe is a symbolic portrayal of the removal of sinful tendencies and the possession of the righteous Nature of Christ.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
We must be found “worthy” of the white robe (Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:4). The white robe of righteous conduct will not be given to the lukewarm believers.
Notice the description of the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb at the appearing of Christ:
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints (Revelation 19:8).
The Greek term translated “righteousness” in the above verse does not refer to assigned righteousness but to righteous behavior and should be translated righteousnesses, or righteous deeds.
Revelation 19:8 means that every righteous behavior accomplished in the saint on earth, as Christ lives in and through him, is woven into a garment with which the saint will be clothed at the return of the Lord.
Here is the righteousness of God: we are clothed in our own Christ-wrought righteous behavior. It is true that we reap what we have sown.
If Christ is being formed in us and is dwelling in us, honest, upright character begins to appear; kindness and mercy begin to be demonstrated; our walk begins to be one of faithful, humble dependence on the Lord.
When the Lord appears we shall be clothed with the upright character we have exercised on the earth, the compassion and kindness we have shown, and the faithfulness to God’s will that has been true of us—all of which have proceeded from Christ’ own Character and Virtue.
We have done what we could, with His help. Now Jesus will finish the work by removing all remaining traces of sin and rebellion and by clothing us with a spiritual body free from sin and ready to serve God.
Are you satisfied with the thought of being clothed with your own behavior?
It is the overcomer, the conqueror, who receives the white robe of righteous behavior.
Think about the following words directed toward the believers in Sardis:
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy (Revelation 3:4).
Can you see in the above verse that if we defile our garments (walk in unrighteousness) today we will not be granted the white robe of righteous behavior in the Day of Christ?
If we desire righteousness in the Day of the Lord we must walk in righteousness today.
We must demonstrate our worthiness by walking with Him today, washing our robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. There is a very important scriptural concept that seldom is mentioned in Christian circles. It is that salvation comes at the end of our discipleship, not only or even primarily at the beginning. The Christian message stresses we are saved the moment we receive the Lord Jesus. This is true to a certain extent. Much more is stated in the Scripture about salvation in the Day of the Lord than about our initial step of coming to God through Christ.
Consider the following:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
“He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” What does this mean?
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:18)
If we would think of salvation as a process, a program that has a specific beginning, a specific sequence of transformations, and a specific conclusion, an alpha and an omega, we would be closer to the Scriptures in our understanding.
It is possible to begin the program of salvation and then to fail the course.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
Because of man’s love for himself the modern stress is “once you are saved you cannot be lost.” Not only is this doctrine totally unscriptural but it is leading countless believers to destruction.”
The Scripture, Old and New Testament, speak clearly that yesterday’s righteousness does not make up for today’s wickedness. Salvation is a program, a process. We can begin and then back out any time we choose. But only those who persevere to the end of the course will be saved.
The five steps of death to sin we mentioned previously help us wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb.
Washing our robes involves more than a passive acceptance of “Christ’s righteousness.” It includes thorough repentance and laying hold upon God until we overcome, through His grace, the problems with which we are (or should be) wrestling. The promises are to “him that overcometh.”
We are not suggesting the believer should be losing his or her peace by wrestling vainly against sin. The Lord’s overcomers learn when to press the battle and when to rest in the Presence of the Lord.
The following verse reveals the sublime rejoicing of the saint at the moment of his or her resurrection to righteousness:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).
The authority and power of righteousness will be issued to us so we can rule the world in righteousness, enforcing the laws of the Kingdom of God. The nature of the Kingdom of God is first, righteousness (Romans 14:17).
The Lord Jesus will rule the creation in righteousness and we, as His coheirs, shall govern with Him.
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment (Isaiah 32:1).
The scepter of Christ’s throne is that of righteousness.
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom (Hebrews 1:8).
The issue of righteousness, of performing God’s will in the earth, is a question of power.
The authority of Satan was destroyed on the cross of Calvary. Satan no longer can make any lawful claim on the creation.
But Satan’s power (the amount of power Christ allows Satan to exercise, because all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth is held by Christ) prevents us and the nations of the earth from practicing righteousness. We are in a spiritual warfare.
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (Romans 7:23).
We Christians do not behave righteously at all times and cannot command the nations of the earth to act righteously because we do not possess enough power to enforce our will over our own body or over the governments of the world.
But to those who are willing to receive the fullness of Christ, God will issue the crown—the authority and power—of righteousness in the Day of the Lord.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (II Timothy 4:8).
In the Day to come when Paul or some other saint issues a righteous law to a nation of the earth, obedience to that law will be enforced by the powerful angels who do God’s will.
The saints will rule the world in righteousness. The moral law of God will be enforced by the government located in the city of Jerusalem. If you are a believer in Jesus, prepare yourself today to rule, or else to be ruled, in righteousness.
Under the new covenant the Lord God brings us all the way from miserable servitude to sin to glorious royal authority in righteousness. We proceed to this righteousness by the crucifixion of our old nature and the creation of the righteous nature of the Lord Jesus in us.
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 (Romans 6:6).
When we die with Christ on the cross we become legally dead, from God’s standpoint. The purpose of our death to the Law of Moses is that we may be free to marry (come into perfect union with) the Lord Jesus. It is our union with Jesus that brings forth the fruit of righteousness in our personality.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God (Romans 7:4).
Because we are dead with Christ we are released from the guilt imposed by the Law.
Because we affirm and live as though every part of our former personality has died with Christ, every part of our personality is now eligible and available to receive the fullness of the Divine Virtue of Christ. The fullness of Christ produces in us the fullness of righteous behavior—now and at His glorious appearing.
If Christ the Lord is dwelling in us, and we are an eternally inseparable revelation of His Being and Life, God Almighty will entrust to us in that Day the fullness of authority and power, causing us to shine in righteousness as the stars of the heavens (Daniel 12:3).
Our God is a God of righteousness. There is no sin whatever in Him. We are being created in His image as Christ is being formed in us through the various workings of the Holy Spirit of God.
“That henceforth we should not serve sin.” This has been God’s objective from the beginning.
(“Set Free from Slavery to Sin”, 3060-1)