by Mike Ratliff
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)
The Doctrine of Regeneration tells Christians that the life they live now will not be as it once was, but will take on the characteristics of regeneration. The Christian is a new creation. The attributes of this pertain to spiritual quality rather than physical substance, however, the evidence of it will become manifest in how the Christian walks through each day and deals with the circumstances of life.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
God’s ways are not man’s ways. His ways, while always right, will appear to the spiritually immature or the unregenerate as bizarre or wrong, or incomprehensible. Christ’s victory at the Cross was won by laying His life down as an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of His elect. The natural man cannot comprehend this. I know of Christians who still believe that Christ’s crucifixion was a great tragedy. No, while horrible and unjust according to the person of Christ Himself, it was all according to God’s plan and accomplished exactly what the Father willed and from it we have the focal point of God’s Word — The Doctrine of Substituionary Atonement.
The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what He did as a great public representative person, and His dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all His people. Then all His saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ’s chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ’s death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, “I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ!”
But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ’s death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself in causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, “I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them.” Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, “Nevertheless I live.” He is fully alive unto God. The Christian’s life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. O for more enjoyment of them! – C.H. Spurgeon from his Evening by Evening Devotion for December 14th.
At salvation, each Christian participates spiritually with the Lord in His Crucifixion including His victory over sin and death. Because of this, each believer’s “Old Self” is dead, having been crucified with Christ as you read in Romans 6:3 and Romans 6:5 above. As new creations in Christ each believer has the privilege of the indwelling Christ empowering him or her and living through them (Romans 8:9.10). This walk described by Paul here is possible only by the grace of God, but Christians have responsibility.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:16-24 ESV)
The desires of the flesh are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit implies both direction and empowerment. I pray for wisdom and discernment each morning before I go to work. I pray for direction and the ability to make choices according to the will of God. This walking will produce fruit that will reveal a pattern of conduct that is under the control of the Holy Spirit. The believer waking this way will do so only as their flesh is crucified. That means that the ordinary desires of the fallen human nature are denied. Notice also, that those who profess to be Christians, but whose walk is not marked this way, live and walk according to the desires of the flesh, and will not inherit the kingdom of God. There are some today who preach that this is not so. They deny Sola Scriptura by placing their own experiences and feelings over the truth of God’s Word. I hear from unrepentant sinners more often than you can imagine who are quite angry with the me and the consistent message we proclaim on this blog. They refuse to let go of their favorite sin yet they claim God is quite accepting of them that way because they “feel good about themselves” or something similar. I am certain that some false preacher or false teacher has led them to believe this.
There is a strong delusion coming into the Church right now that attempts to nullify all teachings about the exclusivity of the Gospel. It says that those who do not receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour are going to be with Christ in eternity as well as the Christian. Why? Because they teach that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was meant to redeem all people and has done so regardless of what they believe or if they repent of their sins or not. Those who teach this take a few passages out of context and isolate them to the point that they are making them say what they want, while they ignore the rest of Sacred Scripture, such as Galatians 5:16-24 above, which teaches that those who will inherit the Kingdom of God will have lives marked by a pattern of the fruit of the Spirit, which is impossible for the unregenerate. Also, those who have been deceived by this delusion teach that even those who hate God and the Lord Jesus Christ will still be saved even if they die unrepentant. It is almost as if these people are attempting to open wide the narrow way and include everyone into the Kingdom, even those who hate the real Jesus Christ. We see this everywhere right now with so-called Christian leaders saying Christians and Muslims serve the same God!
This is fallacy and absurd, but the unregenerate love it. Why? They do not have to repent. They can remain conformed to the world and its ways while still believing in their make-believe Jesus who simply wants everyone to be prosperous and happy in their sins and greed and selfishness. Or, if they are Muslims, or instance, they can remain a “good Muslim” and they do not have to worry about the Gospel. Let us pray for one another for God to give us wisdom and discernment and opportunity to share the Gospel with those all around us who have believed the lies of the enemy. Perhaps He will save them unto glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!