Dead to Sin Alive to God and Slaves to Righteousness

by Mike Ratliff

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1Timothy 1:11-13 KJV)

The older I become as I journey down this narrow way the more what passes for Christianity seems more and more absurd. Why? I suppose it is that I have become very convicted that we are very guilty of taking God for granted. Instead of worshiping Him for who He is, we seem to be totally focused on His works. While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.

Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism. Easy-believism produces professing Christians who believe their salvation came as a result of something they did. I know this because I was one of them for nearly 20 years. If this is our mindset about our salvation, we believe that our walk as Christians is also totally dependent upon our will power. It is as if what the Bible teaches about regeneration is unheard of or at least completely misunderstood. Also, Jesus’ own words about the exclusivity of who are His disciples and who aren’t seems to be in code because few seem to grasp what He is saying.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 KJV)

Easy-believism either colors over or totally ignores this passage. Jesus tells everyone that to be His disciple, he or she must deny self, take up their cross and follow Him. This speaks of dying to self. This is total submission and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. The Apostle Paul taught on this in Chapter 6 of his incredible epistle, the Book of Romans. Let us start with vv1-4.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4 KJV)

What is the Holy Spirit telling us in this passage? Genuine Christians are to forsake their sinful pasts. The Greek word for “baptized” in these verses is “baptizo.” It does mean to be immersed, but in this passage as well as in 1 Corinthians 10:2, for example, “baptizo” means “to be identified with.” Christians are immersed into Jesus Christ and into His death. Paul tell us that since this is true, if we are genuine Christians, then it is absurd for us to continue in sin. The Greek word for “sin” here is “harmartia.” It means, “to miss the mark.” Its Christian meaning, referring to sin, is to miss the true goal and scope of life. Our sin is an offense in relation to God with emphasis on the resulting guilt.

Remember a week or so ago when we had that huge conflict with those who were saying it is okay to use foul language and cursing? Their point was to try to determine what words were okay to say and what weren’t. They had no concept of what they should really be about and that is to not sin because it is an offense against our Holy God. The more I debated from the stance of our sanctification, the more they accused me of hypocrisy, ignorance, and arrogance. We are to live this life as totally dead to self and alive to God as we walk in newness of life because we are new creations.

“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 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. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:5-11 KJV)

That passage is very clear isn’t it? Paul is assured that all genuine Christians have been immersed in Christ and His death. Our old nature, our sin nature, has been killed, crucified with Christ. Why did God do that? He did it so we now have the ability to not sin. Prior to our regeneration we were helpless in our sin and could do nothing that wasn’t sin. However, we are now new creations who have been gifted with a new nature and the Holy Spirit. We can now live free and not serve sin. We understand and can walk in a way where we do not miss the true goal and scope of life. We may stumble, but we can repent. Christians must not allow sin to reign in them. Victory over sin begins when we reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is a process and it takes the rest of our lives to walk the narrow way following our Lord for us to mature in His grace and in the power of His joy.

“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.”(Romans 6:12-14 KJV)

This passage describes what we do when we walk in repentance. It is a battle. It takes continual diligence to monitor what our hearts are up to. When we detect it moving away from God towards some sort of self-gratification fleshpot then we repent. We move our hearts back to God in worship and devotion and delight. We die to self when we do this. This solidifies our life in our Lord. He gives us joy, which strengthens us. (John 15) Christians are under grace while non-Christians are under the law. When we sin, we must confess and repent and move forward with our Lord. We can do that because the price has been paid for our sins. However, the lost’s sins are not atoned for and so their sins are being counted and stored up awaiting their judgment according to the law.

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” (Romans 6:15-19 KJV)

Christians do not have license to sin. God forbid that we should live that way. If we live that way we are slaves to sin. Christ died to free us from the penalty of our sin so how can we live in it? None of us are perfect. However, we must learn to live Spirit-filled lives so we can learn to yield our members as servants to righteousness unto holiness. That is a very good description of our sanctification.

“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23 KJV)

To be free from righteousness is to be a slave of sin. To be free from sin is to be a slave of righteousness. Genuine Christians are saved from the penalty of their sin and cleansed of its power through the washing of regeneration. What we must learn to do is live like it.

SDG

19 thoughts on “Dead to Sin Alive to God and Slaves to Righteousness

  1. Power packed Mike. It seems that most don’t really have a fear of God. Nor do they believe He is sovereign over all and in control. The arrogance of the ‘christians’ nowadays is just overwhelming. We live in an arminian, semi pelagian country. You stand for the truth, they’ll run you off. We thank the Lord everyday for people like you who can put it on the internet for us anorexic folk out here!!

  2. I’ve never read anything here about Phil Yancey’s book “What’s so Amazing About Grace?”, which is also the subject of a popular contemporary chorus (“It’s all about grace, there’s nothing I can do, to make You love me more, to make You love me less than You do…”). When in the presence of people singing this song, I have an uneasy feeling about how this is being interpreted. Does anyone else have an opinion about this relative to the Truth that we are definitely saved by grace alone?

  3. David,

    I have not read that book, but I have heard that song sung by Allen Asbury. While there are truths in that song, you are right that it is a view of our salvation from man’s perspective alone. That can indeed cause people to “interpret” God’s grace from a doctrinally incorrect viewpoint. The Bible is very clear that we are saved by Grace through faith, it is a gift from God.(Ephesians 2:8-9)

    That tells us that our salvation comes to us from God as a gift via the conduit of faith.

    I am disturbed by the fact that God’s glory through this is totally left out. I believe our worship needs to become more oriented towards who God is rather than exclusively about what He has done.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. Mike,

    Thanks for your insight. I sense that in many churches across the United States Scriptural truths are being presented in a man-centered way (i.e., only the positive side is emphasized). I am often at a loss as to how to respond to people, because I am made to feel that I am against God and His Word when I raise objections. But I want to be brutally honest with myself, too, and not become a “Pharisee”.

    David

  5. Thank you again Mike for another post directing our minds to be occupied with the glory of God.

    The statement below reminded me of a sermon, preached by Paul Washer, that I listened to last week.

    “While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.”

    In the sermon we looked at Acts 13:1-3

    1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

    Paul drew the listener’s attention to verse two where it says these men came together in Antioch to minister to the LORD. He talked about how we would be hard pressed to find a group of leaders, teachers, etc who came together for purpose of “to minister to the LORD.” He reminded us that this is what the heavenly beings have done for all eternity and what we will be doing, too. We will be recounting HIS attributes and worshipping Him directly, and revelling in the glory and privledge we have in doing so.

    This statement below particularly stood out for me, and I have been contemplating it since I read it early this morning. You have expressed it well. We need to continually be monitoring our heart, by His grace.

    “It takes continual diligence to monitor what our hearts are up to. When we detect it moving away from God towards some sort of self-gratification fleshpot then we repent. We move our hearts back to God in worship and devotion and delight. We die to self when we do this. This solidifies our life in our Lord. He gives us joy, which strengthens us. (John 15) ”

    Thanks Mike.

  6. You are very welcome Kim and thanks for sharing that insight about what we will be doing for Eternity. It sure puts a different spin on what most Church stuff todays that are anything but that.

    I don’t bring this up very much, but my role or job or whatever it is that God has me doing is very well defined. My job is to point or direct people to turn their hearts back to Him and away from their idols. I see that in Paul Washer as well. I am hearing the same thing more and more from those other ministers of the God’s truth that I listen to such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur. It seems that we are in the last dying days of this age and it’s time for the invisible church to wake up and fall out of love with this world and in love with Him. Time is short and we must spread this message to all who will hear.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Well, Mike, whether you have said it or not, I knew that you were all about the destroying of idols. :-) That’s why I’m here, to travel with you through the narrow gate and the hard way; for you upbuild and encourage and console, as we are being reconciled and sanctified to God through Jesus Christ.

  8. I knew you that you are one with discernment Dale. :-) All of your comments reflect that and I appreciate your depth and devotion to the truth. Let us go shoulder to shoulder through the only way to our Master.

  9. Mike–
    Great post, as usual. I am reminded of a song by Michael Card–“Chorus of Faith.” In this song there is a powerful line that speaks to some of the comments left here.
    “We do not sing that we might be more blessed, He loves us with passion, without regret, He cannot love more, and will not love less!”
    This statement is so very true, but it is only true for those who are “singing the chorus of faith”–those who are in Christ. We can rest in the sovereignty of Almighty God, knowing that we did not instigate the relationship, and we cannot do anything to diminish the relationship. This gives security and peaceful rest!

    It is interesting is it not, that the church wants to require less under grace than was required under the law. It seems to me that the reason that God wrote on our hearts His commands and covered us with the blood is so that we would have MORE freedom to become the righteousness of God. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, for those who believe….For in THE GOSPEL the righteousness of God is revealed, faith to faith, for it is written the righteous man shall live by FAITH. Wit this being true, the righteousness of God should be MORE evident in a Child of God, certainly not less. And this is not to say that we are perfected on this earth, but the fruit should definitely be evident, and there should be no doubt of the type of fruit.

    Thanks Mike…it has been good to be here, even if is not regular these days. I appreciate your faithfulness to the truth!

  10. Bruisedreed,

    As always, your comments hit home. Yes, it is tragic that the Church has been overrun by apostasy and downright heretical teachings about God and our salvation and our sanctification. What you said about genuine believers having MORE freedom to become the righteousness of God is something we don’t hear or read much anymore.

    You are missed my sister. I pray that God will bless and keep you…that is, on the narrow way that leads to true life. Can’t wait to meet you there.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. Dear Mr. Ratliff,

    Regarding this comment, “Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism.”

    I realize this is a case by case issue but I think it is imperative that we be discerning enough to stop calling many of these “leaders” Christian. Their apostasy has nothing to do with the blood bought church of our Lord and they are not Christians.

    The Bible defines who a Christian is, not man. If there is not a true Spirit conviction of “sin, righteousness and judgement” leading to genuine repentance there is no regeneration of the “dead in treaspasses” adamic nature and therfore no genuine salvation. decisional regeneration is as useless as Romish water baptism.

    John R. Coon, M.D.

  12. Easy believism. To my mind no modern writer has challenged traditional concepts of the Christian life more than John Piper.

    In his “Pierced by the Word” audiobook he declares “GOD is the gospel!” and asks, “Have you ever asked why God’s forgiveness is of any value? Or what about eternal life? Have you ever asked why a person would want eternal life? Why should we want to live forever? These questions matter because it is possible to want forgiveness and eternal life for reasons that prove you don’t have them…If you want forgiveness only for the sake of savoring the creation [including relief from emotional burdens and guilt], then the Creator is not honored and you are not saved! Forgiveness is precious for one final reason: it enables you to enjoy fellowship with God.”

    A sad mistake is to desire the gifts, including forgiveness and eternal life, more than the Giver. We want and appreciate the gifts only because they enable us to enjoy and give glory to the Giver. If we value these gifts more than the Giver, then sooner or later our lives will show that we are neither forgiven nor saved. It will be evident that we are neither desiring God nor enjoying Him. This fact will be demonstrated by our behavior and by the way we relate with others and with His creation.

    Shalom!

    Mel

  13. Mel,

    Thanks for this comment. You are right, We are not where we need to be as Christians if we seek the gifts rather than the Giver. Amen!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  15. I find all this quite frightening……..I think…….

    ….but what’s the point ? There’s never any point in arguing with those who have found the ‘truth’…..and too many dead bodies.

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