"Our old self was crucified with" Christ
The Apostle Paul, in Romans 6 says that we who have put our faith in Christ Jesus, have been united with Christ in his death on the cross, and have been raised with him to a new life, made alive to God, so now we can bear fruit of holy character for God. But sometimes I find that we Christians misunderstand what Paul meant by our death to sin.
Here are some lines of those who miss Paul's meaning on this point - "Nothing can be more unresponsive than a person who is dead...Imagine someone trying to evoke a reaction from a corpse! It can be caressed, commanded, or kicked and no response will come, for the simple reason that it is dead to all such stimuli. God reckons the believer to be dead to the promptings of sin."
The Bible, and Romans 6 in particular does nowhere say that as far as sin is concerned, we are "unresponsive, a corpse, no response, dead to all such stimuli and dead to the promptings of sin". If that was the case, why would Paul tell us in Romans 6.12, "let not sin therefore reign to make you obey its passions", because it will, if we let it; and in 7.21, "when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand", which words show that we're still quite alive to sin and sin in us, and in ch.8.13, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." - here it says that we have flesh, the sinful propensity in us, that it wants sin to express itself through our bodies, but we must put it to death "by the Spirit" that dwells in us.
So, are we dead, or not? YES!, but in past tense, with continuous future consequences. Romans 6.6 - "We know that our old self (old man) was crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." This is what Paul means - being identified with Christ in his death, we have died, because "the soul that sins shall die". There was a legal, judicial judgment on us, and we, our old life in Adam has been already judged, and condemned, in our union with Christ in his death. That is why in next verse 7, it says "For one who has died has been set free (Greek is - justified) from sin." - not free from sin in a way that sin will never bother us anymore. The translation in most Bibles is a bit confusing...but we were "justified" declared not guilty, as those who have paid the penalty for their offense, by union with another, with Christ in his death and resurrection. Even as in v.11 Paul says, "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." "So you also", or it could be said, in the same way as Christ died to sin (v.10), so you must consider, count on it, that you have died to it, in the same way. But how did Christ died to sin? Did he die to the power of sin in his life, so that he no longer responds to it? No! He died to the penalty, the judgment on sin, that he took upon himself for us, as our representative. In Romans 3.21-4.25 we see the truth that we were justified from our sins, through the atonement and righteousness of our substitute - Christ Jesus. In this section of Romans 5.12-7.6 is the judgment on our sin, our old life as we were in Adam. But now we are in Christ, united to him as a branch to the vine, we are a new man, new person, in Christ, bearing fruit of God's character in our lives, and so we are not under judgment for our sin anymore. The evidence is and will be evident.
Many of the authors that promote these views that we are dead to sin, in a way that we no longer respond to sin, like a corpse that doesn't respond to the tickling and kicking, they mean well, but don't promote the wellness to our souls we need as Christians, which comes from Romans 6.6,11.
Here is my favorite author, H.C.G.Moule on Romans 6.6a, "This knowing, that our old man, our old state, as out of Christ and under Adam's headship, under guilt and in moral bondage, was crucified with Christ, was as it were nailed to His atoning Cross, where He represented us."
And Moule on v.11, "Even so must you too reckon yourselves, with the sure "calculation" that His work for you, His life for you, is infinitely valid, to be dead indeed to your sin, dead in His atoning death, dead to the guilt exhausted by that death, but living to your God, in Christ Jesus." (the highlighted words are Moule's own translation from the Greek)
Let Paul have the last word on the reality of the war within, and the call to fight the sin in us, by the power of the indwelling Spirit -
"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions." Rom.6.12
"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Rom.8.13
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Gal.5.16
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The reality of the presence of sin in the believers
Worse yet, if it was biblicaly true, as some wrongly say it is, that we are not supposed to feel the impulses, stimuli and promptings of sin in ourselves, than we're all doomed - because we all, those of us that genuinely believe in Christ, do feel sin in our flesh. unbelievers don't feel it and are not bothered by sin, because life of sin and self-pleasing is their life and joy.
But we his redeemed children feel sin in us, and we fight it, putting it to death, by the power of the Spirit in us, daily...and that makes us very much alive, to God.
Praise God, that it is not the presence of sin in our flesh that would indicate that we're dead in sins, but it is walking and living in sins and trespasses, that proves people are dead in them (Ephesians 2.1-3).
So, in turn, we who have put our trust in Christ, to save us from our sins, he, God "even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2.5,6)
Therefore we are not afraid of the war within us, because Christ died for us, and God is at peace with us and we are at peace with God. And Christ lives in us, by his Holy Spirit, empowering and leading us to kill sin in us, and working into us his will, so we, depending on Christ's Spirit in us may be able bear/yield the fruit of the Spirit - which is the holy character of God, visible in his children lives. And at times we fail to say "NO!" to sin, with the resurrection power of Christ in us, but his grace forgives and restores us, when we humble ourselves and come to him in repentance.
"Our old self was crucified with" Christ
Thank you for this clear elaboration...reminds me of the following:
A. T. Jones
There is a serious and very bothersome mistake which is made by many persons.
That mistake is made in thinking that when they are converted their old sinful flesh is blotted out.
In other words, they make the mistake of thinking that they are to be delivered from the flesh by having it taken away from them altogether.
Then when they find that this is not so, when they find that the same old flesh, with its inclinations, its besetments, and its enticements is still there, they are not prepared for it and so become discouraged and are ready to think that they never were converted at all.
And yet, if they would think a little, they ought to be able to see that that is all a mistake. Did you not have exactly the same body after you were converted that you had before? Was not that body composed of exactly the same material--the same flesh and bones and blood--after you were converted as that of which it was composed before? To these questions everybody will promptly say Yes. And plainly that is the truth.
And now there are further questions: Was not that flesh also of exactly the same quality as before? Was it not still human flesh, natural flesh, as certainly as it was before? To this also everybody will say Yes.
Then also a still further question: It being the same flesh and of the same quality--it still being human flesh, natural flesh--is it not also still just as certainly sinful flesh as it was before?
Just here is where creeps in the mistake of these many persons. To this last question they are inclined to think that the answer should be "No," when it must be only a decided "Yes." And this decided "Yes" must be maintained so long as we continue in this natural body.
And when it is decided and constantly maintained that the flesh of the converted person is still sinful flesh and only sinful flesh, he is so thoroughly convinced that in his flesh dwells no good thing that he will never allow a shadow of confidence in the flesh. And this being so, his sole dependence is upon something other than the flesh, even upon the Holy Spirit of God. His source of strength and hope is altogether exclusive of the flesh, even in Jesus Christ only. And being everlastingly watchful, suspicious, and thoroughly distrustful of the flesh, he never can expect any good thing from that source, and so is prepared by the power of God to beat back and crush down without mercy every impulse or suggestion that may arise from it, and so does not fail, does not become discouraged, but goes on from victory to victory and from strength to strength.
Conversion, then, you see, does not put new flesh upon the old spirit but a new Spirit within the old flesh. It does not propose to bring new flesh to the old mind, but a new mind to the old flesh. Deliverance and victory are not gained by having the human nature taken away, but by receiving the divine nature to subdue and have dominion over the human--not by the taking away of the sinful flesh, but by the sending in of the sinless Spirit to conquer and condemn sin in the flesh.
The Scripture does not say, Let this flesh be upon you which was also upon Christ, but it does say, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Phil. 2:5.
The Scripture does not say, Be ye transformed by the renewing of your flesh, but it does say, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Rom. 12:2. We shall be translated by the renewing of our flesh, but we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
The Lord Jesus took the same flesh and blood, the same human nature, that we have, flesh just like our sinful flesh, and because of sin, and by the power of the Spirit of God through the divine mind that was in Him, "condemned sin in the flesh." Rom. 8:3. And therein is our deliverance (Rom. 7:25); therein is our victory. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." "A new heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you."
Do not be discouraged at sight of sinfulness in the flesh. It is only the light of the Spirit of God, and by the discernment of the mind of Christ, that you can see so much sinfulness in your flesh, and the more sinfulness you see in your flesh, the more of the Spirit of God you certainly have. This is a sure test. Then when you see sinfulness abundant in you, thank the Lord that you have so much of the Spirit of God that you can see so much of the sinfulness and know of a surety that when sinfulness abounds, grace much more abounds in order that "as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Review and Herald, Apr. 18, 1899