The Cross of Calvary # 6
The Cross and the Bondage of Sin
"Crucified with Him ... that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin" (Romans 6:6).
"Reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved in His life," writes Paul to the Romans, as he goes on to show the wondrous plan of God, that all who are thus reconciled, and recipients of the gift of righteousness should" reign in life". As sin had once reigned over them, even so might grace through Jesus Christ.
But someone may question, "shall we continue in sin" that God may show His abounding grace: God forbid! bursts forth the Apostle. The death of Christ, and the free grace of God abounding therefrom, can never be meant to minister to sin!
It is true that God's abounding grace is given to sinners through the death of His Son, but with the Son of God we "died", then how shall we who have died to sin, live any longer therein?
The Apostle of the Cross is deeply moved as he writes! By "revelation of Jesus Christ" he had been shown the meaning of Calvary, and in the light of the Cross had seen the depth of the Fall, and the exceeding sinfulness of sin, which demanded nothing less than the death of the Son of God Himself, in unparalleled suffering and shame, to rescue the doomed sinner.
"Continue in sin" when Christ had died to deliver from sin! God forbid! Sin has abounded, but "grace did abound more exceedingly" to save the sinner from his bonds.
In the light shining upon Calvary as unveiled to him by Christ, the Apostle shows the meaning of that death, so that none in Rome could be ignorant any longer of the purpose for which Christ died.
"Our old man was crucified with Him" is the message of Calvary to the fallen sinner, and is the secret of deliverance from the bondage of sin. All who were baptized into Christ "were baptized into His death". Through "baptism into death" they were buried into His grave for the express purpose" that like as Christ was raised from the dead", they might look upon His Cross and grave as a great gulf fixed between them and their past,and with the Risen Christ emerge to "walk in newness of life".
This, of course, was if they were really and intimately united with the Lord in His death! A mental assent alone would not produce a real union with the Risen Lord. They must by the Holy Spirit be so vitally united with the crucified One, that they shared the very likeness of His death.
And if this union existed, then they would realize the power of His resurrection, and know that they were crucified with Him. So they would no longer be in bondage to sin - slaves of sin - for "he that hath died is justified from sin". Sin has no longer a claim to reign - its tyranny is over.
Moreover, the death of Christ meant more than negative deliverance. They were set free from the reign of sin, not only by death, but by life. The life of Christ which triumphed over death and the grave, would be manifested in them; for if they truly died to the old they would live with Christ, and share the life that He now liveth - a new life, a life "unto God".
Abundant life; a reigning in life; was the purpose of Calvary. The death of Christ died He died unto sin for us, and He died "once for all". Even so they were to reckon themselves dead unto sin with Him, and utterly refuse to let it reign over them, for they were "alive unto God in Christ Jesus". Abiding in Him as their very life, they would reign in life in Jesus Christ their Lord.
But they must not forget that this must be lived out in practice! They cannot be truly crucified with Christ, and at the same time yield to sin, or hand over the members of their body as instruments of unrighteousness; else they would be making" void the grace of God". If they desired to realize the full deliverance of Calvary, they must not only gladly recognize their death with the Crucified One, but they must present themselves unto God as "men living after death", and in "newness of life" yield the members of their bodies unto God as weapons of righteousness.
But another question arises here. Will not the grace that sets us free bring in a danger of license beyond the bounds of liberty?
"God forbid!" again cries the Apostle. Did they not know that the things brought about by union with Christ in His death and resurrection meant a revolution deep down in the center of a man's being? That those who had thus proved the power of Christ's death, became "obedient from the heart" in that pattern where unto they were delivered. In newness of life they gladly became servants of God instead of servants to sin,and of their own free choice, chose day by day to present their bodies as bond-servants of righteousness in joyous obedience unto God.
In this chapter in Romans the severing power of the Cross is clearly seen. The work of deliverance from the guilt and bondage of sin was wrought out at Calvary, and the Apostle calls upon the Roman Christians to enter upon the fruit of Christ's death, by a decisive act of faith. With Christ upon the Cross they died, and in His death they were cut off from their old life. "United with Him by the likeness of His death," they were to account themselves crucified with Him, "dead indeed unto sin", and living unto God in Him.
"But I have reckoned thus, and it seems nought but reckoning a lie," cries some longing heart.
Ah, soul, maybe your eyes are in the wrong direction. You are looking within, occupied more with your "reckoning" than with the work of your Saviour. The Holy Spirit will not bear witness to your "reckon", apart from the object of your reckoning.
Look away to Calvary. The Lord Jesus died on you behalf, and as your Representative carried you with Him to His Cross. Are you honestly determined to part with every known sin, and willing for the death with Christ to be wrought out in your experience? Then from this crucial moment see yourself as nailed to the tree with your crucified Lord.
Relying upon the Holy Spirit, and in faith in the word of God, "Let not sin therefore reign", for God has said that through Christ's death, and your sharing of that death, "Sin shall not have the mastery over you."
Hidden in Christ upon His Cross, and joined to Him in His life, thy part, O child of God, is the continual choice of thy will, for to whom ye yield, His servants ye are. In the hour of sore temptation, in the center of the being thou must promptly retire, so to speak, to the Cross, and hiding in Him Who carried thee there, refuse to be drawn out of thy place in Him. Do not struggle with might that comes to thee, but hand over all to Him Whose life thou dost share, and thou shalt find that He is able to deliver and to keep thee day by day.
But now, being freed from the bondage of sin, and enslaved to the service of God, thou must deal honestly with sin, calling sin, sin; and be steadfastly purposed to walk in obedience to thy Lord, counting upon Him to work in thee to will, and to do of His good pleasure.
Let every stress of trial, or temptation, drive thee to the searchlight of His face that thou mayest see all things in His light; so shall thou walk in the light, as He is in the light, with the precious blood of Jesus Christ cleansing thee from all sin. "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous" - He who is "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."
But if we crave deliverance we need feel the weight of our chains. At this point we come to the purpose of the law unfolded in the seventh chapter of Romans.
(continued with # 7)