Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
October 10, 2006
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 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.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:
13 neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.
- I. Paul's First "Imperative".
- A. Romans 6:1-10 is doctrinal: Paul laid out the facts.
- B. Beginning in 6:11, Paul began to insist upon a certain response.
- II. The Heart of Paul's Insistence: Reckon.
- A. Nineteen of forty uses of this verb are in Romans.
- 1. The core of the word centers upon the actual thinking processes in which various thoughts are entertained and judgments are made about how solid the ideas are as to logical consistency [Note Mark 11:31].
- 2. From that core, there is a firm "determination" that a certain perspective is "true" and will be "put into place" as a governing reality.
- a. When the Scriptures record, "He was numbered (reckoned to be) with the transgressors", it means that God "put His identity with the transgressors into place" and, from thence forward, that "reality" was established as "fact" and much was afterwards built upon it (Mark 15:28).
- b. There is, in this, a very real "thinking-problem": Jesus, Who never sinned in any respect, was "reckoned" to be "every man's sin" so that the death He died, He died to, and for, sin. This is problematical in that there is a certain "reality" that is set aside so that a different "reality" can be established. And, it works two ways: Jesus, Who never sinned, is "reckoned" to be sin for us; and we, who seldom do not sin, are "reckoned" to be the righteousness of God. Paul addressed this issue in his treatment of Abraham's "faith" in Romans 4:17 where he made the claim that the essence of Abraham's faith was that God "gives life to the dead" and "calls the things that are not as though they are." The entire "faith" issue is the ability to accept God's "reckonings". He "reckons" faith as righteousness (Romans 4:9). He refuses to "reckon" a man's sins to him (Romans 4:8). He "reckons" His sinless Son to be "Sin" and His sinful creatures to be "sinless". This seems to make God out to be "delusional" and "hard-nosed reality" finds it difficult, if not impossible, to buy into God's "way of thinking." But, without buying into it, no man can bear its fruit. And what is that fruit? Less sin. When a man considers that God does not hold him judicially responsible for his sins, he is released from the "pressures" that are often the very roots of sin in the first place. Then, having been released from those pressures, the man finds that their fruit (sin) dies on the vine. Where there is no whip, there is no scrambling to escape it. It all boils down to "reckoning". This may well be the foundation of Paul's "logic" that the Law is the "strength of Sin". Where there is no law, sin is not "imputed" even when it is "really" present (Romans 5:13), and where there is no sense of condemnation, there is no "driver" for many of the "sinful" choices. Until God told Adam, "do not eat", there was nothing for the Tempter to use to "tempt". But, until God told Adam, "do not eat", there was no possibility of Adam's development of genuine love. One cannot "love" in the sense of a deliberate exaltation of one's interests over another's until there is a real difference of interests. But, what of the love of God? Before "creatures", how did God love? Where, in the Trinitarian reality of God was there any "difference of interests"? The issue faces this fact: the essential attributes of God exist in perfect tension and always have and would even if there was no "Trinity". "Wrath" and "Grace" co-exist in perfect harmony in God's glory. This is the heart of the notion of "reconciliation" -- that two in opposition come to harmony by the mutual shedding of those aspects of the opposition that force conflict.
- 3. The question that arises is this: Is sin's origin in "Law", or does it have a root elsewhere?
- a. It seems that Paul is declaring that, since Christ fulfilled the Law and died for sin, any who are "reckoned" to be "in" Christ are, thus, free from the Law and, thus, free from sin's dominion.
- b. But, the assumption here seems to be that "sin" would not exist if "Law" did not exist. Technically that is true: if there were no "boundaries", no violations of boundaries could exist. But, there are always going to be boundaries. It will never be "OK" for a creature to aspire to be God in His place so it may dictate how all will be treated.
- c. Thus, the "root" of sin is not in the presence of boundaries, but in the absence of love. If "the" boundary is "love others more than yourself", sin can be abolished by this "Law". But, if this "Law" exists, everything that smacks of self-love at the expense of others is "sin". Whence, then, comes the willingness to always put others ahead of one's own desires? This seems to be the core of God. His "glory" is that He always acts for the best interests of others. But not so, man. It is his "glory" that he characteristically acts for his own interests regardless of the best interests of others. So, how does God set about communicating His "glory" to man in an effective manner? How does the value system by which God operates become the method by which men operate?
- 1) Incipiently: Paul claims the circumcision of the heart begins the process.
- 2) Incrementally: Paul calls for the "renewing of the mind."
- 3) Experientially: John claims that we "love God" as the consequence of our perception of His love for us; and Paul claims that the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts so that He is at work in us to both "will" and "do" His good pleasure. It is an expression of the uncircumcised heart when one is "loved" and takes advantage of the "Lover".
- 4) Dangerously: Paul's last letter is indicative of the "majority" result -- that men simply cave in over time and will not stay the course. That he had to write to Timothy to summon him to faithfulness and that, in that writing, he mentioned that "all in Asia have forsaken me" is potent testimony to the fact that the provisions of God are not such that the results are inevitable. Godliness is not the inevitable result of a long life; many forsake the clear conscience and sincere faith that are required for a long life to produce the desired goal.
- 5) Bottom Line: God's will is going to be done. That is guaranteed. God's justice has been satisfied. That is guaranteed. God's Kingdom will be populated. That is guaranteed. That Kingdom will be organized and established upon servant principles. That is guaranteed. But, when it comes down to the particular individual, all bets are off. A particular individual may come to regeneration. A particular individual may come to spiritual maturity. A particular individual may hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant." A particular individual may, at the end, be able to say, "I have fought the fight and kept the faith." This is the peculiar tension of divine revelation: the boundaries are set in stone, but the outworking of those boundaries flex within the realities of human responses.