by Mike Ratliff
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:5-7 (NASB)
Post-modern preaching is man-centered, that is, it is geared to cause hearers of it to be self-focused instead of God-focused. In this seeker-sensitive approach to preaching with all the emphasis being on self-awareness and self-improvement and self-esteem, is there any need for Christ and the Cross or repentance with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit? If you are honest you must say no and then as you think theologically about it consider this, this is just another example of the natural outflow of Pelagianism, which is at the root of post-modern “christianity.” The leaders in the seeker-sensitive movement discount the Cross of Christ and the Gospel and put the person at the center of all things. This is why they continually insist that their disciples look within to find their true self while covenanting with them to keep certain values and obey their commitments. In other words, this is a form of law keeping and has nothing to do with grace nor the Gospel. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our true nature and what we can and cannot do as Christians.
Romans 6:6 clearly shows us that true believers become holy in Christ. However, there is confusion because many do not look correctly at the Greek verb tenses in this passage. If they simply read it in English or some other translation it is easy to not see that the all the verb tenses here are past tenses (aorist or perfect). What this means is that every verb tense here that refers to our identification with Christ in His death refers to it being completed in the past. Romans 6:6, therefore, says ὁ παλαιὸς ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος συνεσταυρώθη or “the old of us man was crucified together” way back when Christ died and that it was completed then and there. What it does not say is that we must each morning get up and “crucify ourselves again to sin.” Instead, it says that by God’s judicial act, not by our experiential effort, the old of us man was “crucified” and therefore “destroyed.”
The word translated here as “old” is παλαιὸς, which means “old in the sense of worn out, decrepit, useless.” So, the old, worn out, decrepit person we used to be has been rendered inactive or put out of use. It has been replaced by the new man. This “old man” is all that we were in Adam, that is, all the guilt, penalty, power, and dominion of sin that was in Adam. In his Epistle to the Romans Paul made it clear that we most definitely still have a sin nature so we do still sin, but as new creations in Christ the rule of life is not like it was before. We are not dominated by sin as we once were. The old man (or self) is gone because of what Christ accomplished on Calvary. We are not sinless, but we do “sin less” because we are no longer dominated and controlled by sin. While sin used to rule, it is now Christ who rules.
My brethren, all truly in Christ are so by the grace of God not according to works or merit. Our salvation destroys the old man (our old self) and replaces that with the new man (our new self), but our flesh remains. Until we are reunited with our Lord in eternity, we must remain in these bodies to under go our sanctification. This Christianity is not about manmade religiosity my brethren. It is not about keeping rules and/or being part of the “right group.” All of that stuff is just attempts at law keeping. All in Christ are so according to His mercy and grace and have received salvation and have been justified because of what Christ has done not what they have done. Since then we who are so blessed must continue to stand firm seeking to please only Him. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him and the prize, not the accolades of men or the things of this world. God’s will be done.
Soli Deo Gloria!