Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Romans Chapter 6 Verse 6 : 'The Body of Sin'

Posted in by JS Gillespie |
Taken from a message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:

In response to the question of Roms 6:1 “shall we continue in sin?” we saw 4 reasons why we should not continue in sin:

1.We are dead to sin
2.We are alive to God
3.We no longer serve sin – we serve God
4.Sin remains sin

1.because I'm dead to Sin (6:1-7)

What does it mean to be “dead to sin”?
Does it mean to be unresponsive to sin?

Dead people are unresponsive, aren't they?
In this case then the bulk of Roms 6 would be redundant – the middle section (6:12-20) and 3rd reason for not sinning (cf. Vs 11-13).
If we were “dead to sin” in the sense of being unresponsive to sin there would be no possibility of : “yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” (v13) and we would hardly require to “reckon” ourselves “dead indeed unto sin” for we would be “dead indeed” (6:11) unto sin!
Be careful what you use to interpret the scriptures!
Personal experience, common sense or even a reliable medical text book is not appropriate!
We only have Divine warrant for using scripture to interpret scripture (1Co2:13; 2 Tim2:15; Rom15:4; 2Peter1:19) guided by the Spirit of God (John 16:13; 1Jo2:27)
This death is positional 'in Christ' (Rom6:3, 5, 6, 8)
What is the significance of being “dead to sin”?
Death is the boundary line for the rule of 'king sin' (5:21)
I have been taken out of the realm / rule / reign of sin by the death of Christ
I am no longer under the absolute authority of King Sin
Every Kingdom has a boundary and the boundary of sin is death (Rom5:21)
By virtue of my position in Christ I am “dead to sin”

Man in creation was able to sin
Man after the fall was unable not to sin
Man in redemption is able not to sin
Man in eternity is unable to sin

I don't continue in sin because:
1 - I don't have to sin
2 - because I'm alive to God (6:8-11)

We saw that we were definitely dead in Roms 6:

(a)v2 - “dead”
(b)v3 - “baptised” + “dead”
(c)v4 - “buried” + “baptised” + “dead”

We are definitely dead!
This seemed a rather strange thought until we realised that in fact it was a very familiar truth but viewed from an unusual perspective – from the back!
We noticed a transition in v5: “planted” - that's burial with a future!
To be dead to sin is the other side of being alive to God!
We though that we ought to stretch ourselves a little and try to understand what this meant practically!
Keeping my feet firmly planted on earth what does this actually mean?
We looked at 2 Kings 4 and the son of the Shunammite

I see through His eyes:

This gives the believer a different perspective on others!
Isn't it amazing how callous the unsaved can be about others?
Referring to some as useless, as the dregs of society, as a waste of space and finding individuals to look down their nose at.
We look at others not through the eyes of the critic but through the eyes of Christ!
This would revolutionise fellowship in the local assembly.

I speak with His lips

I work with His hands:

Some things I just do not see, I cannot imagine the hands of Christ turning to:

Dealing drugs
Rolling a joint
Holding a can of beer
Punching someone's lights out
Filling in a lottery form
Flicking through a pornographic magazine

Then we turned to Colossians chp 3 and we saw that it wasn't just vivid imagination on my part that saw in the hands, eyes and mouth of the resurrected lad of 2 Kings 4 a picture of our dependence upon Christ as the source of life for our new life but rather these are the very features of a NT believer whose life is given over to Christ!
I don't continue in sin because:
I don't like to sin.

These 4 reasons for not continuing in sin are not an unconnected 'list' but rather they follow on from one another in a logical spiritual order.
We have seen already the connection between the 1st 2 reasons – they are really just opposite sides of the same reason!
Between the first 2 reasons and the last reasons there is a crossroads: 6:6.
An important verse and perhaps the most difficult verse in the chapter.
If we fail to understand this verse:

i.we will miss the connection between these reasons
ii.we will fail to see the chapter as one integral whole and probably only see a load of disjointed thoughts
iii.we will most likely fail to understand the reason why we ought not to serve sin any longer
iv.we will miss the main reason in Roms 6 behind our sanctification ie. The reason 'WHY' we ought not to sin.
v.we will probably thus find that our own personal holiness will suffer – if we lack a reason for holiness we will lack motivation to holiness!

Romans 6:6 presents a complete view of holiness:

1.Past: “our old man was crucified”
2.Present: “that henceforth we should not serve sin”
3.Future: “that the body of sin might be destroyed”

Notice in this list I have given these tenses in their chronological order, according to time but this is different from the order in the verse!
Herein lies to key to understanding the verse!
Paul gives us 2 great events – past and future, consider what has happened in the past “our old man was crucified” and consider what will happen in the future: “that the body of sin might be destroyed” and now live your life in the light of that!
The believer lives out his life between what has been completed and what will be completed and ought to make intelligent decisions in the light of these 2 great events!

1.“the old man” - What we were before we were saved, our old life as ruled by the flesh drawing us to constantly live a life taken up with satisfying the apetites of the body, lusts of the flesh and the cares of this world (Eph 4:22; Col3:9)

2.“that the body of sin might be destroyed” - is this:

(a)Sin Personified – Sin viewed as a person dieing on the cross? - John Calvin and Hodge, JN Darby all had this view of the verse – that in this verse I am looking back at Calvary, I see Christ hanging on the cross, I see Him dieing for my sins (Col 2:14) and I see their my sins hanging with Him, judged at Calvary.

Sin was certainly judged at Calvary but we notice:

i.That in vs 1-5 and again in vs 7,8 it is not sin that dies but me!

ii.If sin died or was crucified at Calvary would this be a reason for not allowing it to “reign in your mortal body” (v12) or to no longer “serve sin” (6:6)? Surely if sin was crucified at Calvary there is no longer any sin to serve for it is dead! I would expect the argument in the rest of the section to be: 'don't serve sin because sin is dead' but actually the argument is that I ought not to serve sin because I am dead!

iii.The means of destroying the body of sin was by crucifying “the old man” - would crucifying my old pre-christian life really bring about the death of sin itself? People die of cancer every day but that doesn't bring an end to cancer itself!

(b)Sin Neutralised - The Power of Sin over the Body? - Promoted by Albert Leckie and James Currie.

i.This interpretation immediately runs into a problem with the word “destroyed” because if this interpretation is correct the power of sin has been “destroyed” over the body, this is practically untrue! So these interpretors tend to change the translation of the verse to “anulled” - a valid translation elsewhere of this word when used in a legal sense elsewhere in Romans (Rom 3:3; 3:31; 4:14; 7:2) but perhaps not in a very similar contexts in 1 Corinthians (1 Co6:13). Even if we do translate the word as annulled we still have a problem as to what we mean by annulled. Here the commentators become a bit unstuck: 'Because the old man has been, in the reckoning of God judicially put to death as the result of the death of Christ, sin's power has 'been made of none effect' in relation to the believer. Henceforth he need not, he should not, serve sin...' (James B Currie p101) – actually if Mr Curries interpretation is correct it is hardly a case of 'need not' or 'should not' serve sin it would be really a case of 'cannot' serve sin!

ii.This interpretation seems to take inadequate account of the word “body” - the object of the destruction is not “sin” but the “body of sin”

iii.As already mentioned it is not “sin” that dies in any of the surrounding verses but rather self (6:2-5, 7-8,11).

iv.What is the effect of Calvary on my present human body? This interpretation suggests that Calvary liberates the body and frees it from sin. If this is the case how do we explain Rom 8:10 which seems to suggest that Calvary instead of liberating the convict puts him on death row! There is sin back again, the same sin that supposedly was 'anulled' at Calvary and it has killed the body!

(c)Sin Externalised- The Body as the instrument of sin

i.“body” has its usual meaning – the human body!

ii.At Calvary and by the work of Christ, sin was dealt with, a completed work completely saves (Heb10:14)

iii.In our experience we already see the fruit and consequences of that work, for from conversion we are the recipients of:

(1)A new heart (Ezek 36:26; Heb8:10)
(2)A new spirit (Ezek 36:26; John 3:5)
(3)A new mind (Heb8:10; Rom 12:2)
(4)A new creature (2 Co 5:17)
(5)There remains only one part of my being which has not been renewed by Calvary – my body! All that is left untouched from Adam. This too must one day be changed! A body once used to serve sin will be replaced by one fitted to serve Christ (1Co15:42-50). This new body comes as a consequence of Christ's resurrection, the subject of the previous verse (5:11).
iv.The effect of Adam is seen in tracing sin through Romans. From Rom1:1 to 5:11 there are 9 refs to sin, from 5:12-21 there are 9 refs to sin, in chp 6 there are 17 ref to sin and in chp 7, 15 ref to sin. With the introduction of Adam in 5:12 there is in Romans an explosion of sin!
v.The “body of sin” thus refers to my literal body, used to pursue the desires of the flesh and corrupted by sin. Calvary first condemns this body as it does condemn the whole of the person corrupted by sin: body, heart, mind, soul and spirit (Rom8:10), before the saving work of Calvary then renews the person, one day to complete that renewal with a new body (1Co15:42-50).
vi.Therefore I am currently a 'new creature' in a condemned house. A regenerate person in a degenerate body. This leaves me with a question: how should I live? As though the house was not condemned, pretending that there is life in the old man yet? Pretending that all of those activities I once indulged in with my body actually and finally achieve anything? Or do I live not for the old body now dead because of sin but rather I live for the new self who does have a future, unlike the old body? It is this that forms the crossroads between the 1st 2 and the last 2 reasons of Romans 6 for not continuing in sin.

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