I. What it is to be dead unto sin in the sense of
II. What it [is] to be alive unto God?
III. What it is to reckon ourselves to be dead
unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord?
IV. What it is to be alive unto God through Jesus
V. What is implied in the exhortation of our text?
I. Being dead to sin must obviously be the
opposite of being dead in sin. The latter must undeniably be a state
of entire sinfulness--a state in which the soul is dead to all good
through the power of sin over it. But right over against this, to be
dead to sin, must be to be indifferent to its attractions--beyond
the reach of its influence--as fully removed from its influences as
the dead are from the objects of sense in this world. As he who is
dead in the natural sense, has nothing more to do with earthly
things, so he who is dead to sin has nothing to do any more with
sin's attractions or with sinning itself.
II. What it is to be alive unto God? To be full of
life for Him--to be altogether active and on the alert to do his
will; to make our whole lives a perpetual offering to Him,
constantly delivering up ourselves to Him and his service that we
may glorify his name and subserve his interests.
III. What it is to reckon ourselves dead indeed
The word rendered reckon is sometimes rendered
account. Abraham's faith was accounted unto him for righteousness.
So in this passage--reckon must mean--believe, esteem yourselves
dead indeed unto sin. Account this to be the case. Regard this as
truly your relation to sin; you are entirely dead to it; it shall
have no more dominion over you.
A careful examination of the passages where this
original word is used will show that this is its usual and natural
sense. And this gives us the true idea of gospel faith--embracing
personally the salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ. But more
of this hereafter.
IV. What is meant by reckoning yourselves alive
indeed unto God through Jesus Christ? Plainly this: that you are to
expect to be saved by Jesus Christ and to calculate on this
salvation as your own. You are to esteem yourself as wholly dead to
sin and as consequently brought into life and peace in Christ Jesus.
V. What is implied in the exhortation of our text?
That there is an adequate provision for this
expectation, and for realizing these blessings in fact. For if there
were no ground for realizing this, the injunction would be most
absurd. A precept requiring us to account ourselves dead indeed unto
sin and alive unto God, would be utterably untenable if there were
no probability of the thing--if no provision were made for our
coming into such relations to sin on the one hand and to God through
Christ on the other. For if these blessings could not be reasonably
expected, there could be no rational ground for the expectation. If
it were not reasonable to expect it, then to enjoin us to expect it
would be palpably unreasonable. Who does not see that the very
injunction implies that there is a foundation laid and adequate
provision made for the state required?
What is implied in complying with this injunction?
1. Believing such a thing to be possible.
Believing it possible that through Christ we may live in the
required manner, that we may avoid sin--desist from sinning--give it
up and abandon it altogether, and put it forever away. There can be
no such thing as an intelligent compliance with this precept except
as there shall underlie it this belief in its practicability.
2. That the mind regards the state required as a
practicable one--not merely as true in theory--not merely as good
philosophy--but as actually made practicable by adequate grace,
adapted to the laws of mind and to the actual moral condition of
3. That we cease from all expectation of attaining
this state of ourselves, and by our own independent, unaided
efforts. There is no beginning to receive by grace till we renounce
all expectation of attaining by natural works. It is only when empty
of self that we begin to be filled of Christ.
4. A present willingness to be saved from sin. We
must actually renounce all sin as such--that is, renounce sin
because it is sin and for what it is. This position the mind must
take: I can have nothing more to do with sinning--for God hates sin
and I am to live henceforth and forever to please and glorify Him.
My soul is committed with its strength of purpose to this pleasing
of God and doing his will.
5. It implies also an entire committal of your
whole case to Jesus Christ, not only for present but for all future
salvation from sin. This is absolutely essential. It must always be
the vital step--the cardinal act in this great work of salvation
6. It implies also the foreclosing of the mind
against temptation, in such a sense that the mind truly expects to
live a life purely devoted to God. This is the same sort of
foreclosing of the mind as takes place under a faithful marriage
contract. The Bible everywhere keeps this figure prominent.
Christians are represented as the bride of Christ. They stand in a
relation to Him, which is closely analogous to that of a bride to
her husband. Hence when they commit their whole hearts to him,
reposing their affections in Him and trusting Him for all good,
their hearts are strongly foreclosed against temptation. We see the
principle here involved, illustrated in the merely human relation.
When parties are solemnly betrothed in mutual honest fidelity, there
is no longer any thought of letting the eye rove or the heart go
abroad for a fresh object of interest and love. The heart is
fixed--willingly and by blighted [sic.] faith fixed, and this fact
shuts out the power of temptation almost entirely. It renders it
comparatively an easy matter to keep the heart safely above the
influence of temptation to apostasy. Before the sacred vows are
taken, individuals may be excused for looking round and making any
observations, or enquiries: but never after the solemn vow is made.
After the parties have become one by vow of marriage, never to be
broken, there is to be no more question as to a better choice--no
further thought about changing the relation or withdrawing the
heart's affections. No wavering is admissible now; the pledge is
made for everlasting faithfulness, settled once and forever! This is
God's own illustration, and surely none need be more apt, or more
forcible. It shows how the Christian should look upon sin and upon
all temptation to sin. He must say, Away from my heart for ever! I
am married to Jesus Christ; how then can I look after other lovers?
My mind is forever settled. It rests in the deep repose of one whose
affections are plighted and fixed--to rove no more! Sin? I can think
of yielding to its seductions no longer. I cannot entertain the
question for a moment. I can have nothing to do with sinning. My
mind is settled--the question forever fore closed, and I can no more
admit the temptation to small sins than to great sins--no more
consent to give my heart to worldly idols than to commit murder! I
did not enter upon religion as upon an experiment, to see how I
might like it--no more than a wife or husband take on themselves the
marriage vow as an experiment. No; my whole soul has committed
itself to Jesus Christ with as much expectation of being faithful
forever as the most faithful husband and wife have of fulfilling
their vows in all fidelity till death shall part them.
Christians in this state of mind no more expect to
commit small sins than great sins. Hating all sin for its own sake
and for its hatefulness to Christ, any sin however small is to them
as murder. Hence if the heart is ever afterwards seduced and
overcome by temptation, it is altogether contrary to their
expectation and purpose; it was not embraced in their plan by any
means, but was distinctly excluded; it was not deliberately indulged
aforetime, but broke on them unexpectedly through the vantage ground
of old habits or associations.
Again, the state of mind in question implies that
the Christian knows where his great strength lies. He knows it does
not lie in works of fasting, giving alms, making prayers, doing
public duties or private duties--nothing of this sort--not even in
resolutions or any self-originated efforts, but only in Christ
received by faith. He no more expects spiritual life of himself
apart from Christ, than a man in his senses would expect to fly by
swinging his arms in the air. Deep in his soul lies the conviction
that his whole strength lies in Christ alone.
When men are so enlightened as truly to apprehend
this subject, then to expect less than this from Jesus Christ as the
result of committing the whole soul to Him for full salvation, is
virtually to reject Him as a revealed Savior. It does not honor Him
for what He is; it does not honor the revelations He has made of
Himself in his word by accepting Him as there presented. For
consider what is the first element of this salvation? Not being
saved from hell, but being saved from sin. Salvation from punishment
is quite a secondary thing, in every sense. It is only a result of
being saved from sin, and not the prime element in the gospel
salvation. Why was the infant Messiah to be called Jesus? Because He
should save his people from their sins. And does the Bible anywhere
teach any other or different view from this?