Two Problems—Two Solutions
In fighting against sin, Christians encounter two obstacles. One is, that they have committed sins in the past, the other is that they will probably do so in the future. Both problems are disturbing, and have to be solved.
The good news is that God always has a solution. He is infinitely wise and omnipotent, so even if we can’t see it, He always has a solution for everything. He cares about the minutest details of our lives, and He does so even in these matters of such great importance.
The first problem is the sins we’ve committed. Most Christians know the solution for this and use it. For the sins we committed, we need God’s forgiveness, and we can receive it. Because our God will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7.)
So when we go to Him and confess our sins, He will forgive us. (1 John 1:9.) If we walk in the light with which God enlightens us, then the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Jesus’ blood was shed, so that our sins could be forgiven.
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”
God loves us, and He payed a great price so that our past sins should not interfere with our relationship with Him, and would not hinder our progress. This was the first problem that God solved. Most Christians know that when they confess their sins before God, and ask for His forgiveness, then He will forgive them.
For the other problem, however, most Christians did not find the solution which God has prepared. But it is in the Bible, and we will move on to grasp it now.
The problem for most Christians is that they feel they are in a state in which they are quite sure they will commit sins in the future. They feel they are not properly protected against temptations. When the enemy will attack again, when the world will entice again, they will quickly fall, and in shame they have to come to God for forgiveness again and again and again... Most believers did not get out from the slavery of sin. In their state they are doomed to regular and frequent sinning.
But we learn from the Bible about God that He doesn’t only pardon abundantly but with Him is also abundant redemption.
“Let Israel, hope in the Lord: For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities”
For sins committed, the New Testament solution is the blood of Jesus. For the slavery of sin God’s solution is the death of Jesus.
How does this work? When Jesus died, He among other things, died to sin.
“For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God”
How do we profit from this? When we were baptized, we became one with Him.
“As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death... we have been united together in the likeness of His death”
What’s the result of this? It is, that when we were united with Jesus in His death, we also died to sin. This is not so self-evident for us, therefore Paul requests us to consider ourselves dead to sin.
“So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin”
The word “reckon” in Greek is logizomai, which means count, reckon, consider, or we could also say, to draw this logical conclusion.
We died to sin. If we received Jesus, if He is our Savior, if He lives in our hearts by faith, and we were baptized, believing in Him, then the death of Jesus became our death, and we are dead to sin.
As it is not natural for us to think this way, God’s Word calls upon to think, count, reckon ourselves dead to sin.
What does it mean in practice that we are dead to sin? It means that whatever sin does, we do not react. When sin calls for our attention, when it speaks to us, when it entices, we react as a dead man would: with nothing. This is meant by being dead to sin.
This is very good news!
But we can not avoid the following question: If this is so, then why the Christians do not live like that? If we were united with Jesus in His death at our baptism, so He and we are dead to sin, then why do the millions of Christians live in sins?
They answer has to be found on the area of faith. God’s works, all that He prepared for us, all that He promised us, are not ours automatically. Jesus died on the cross, so that we could have salvation. But still there are many people who are not saved. But when we believe in Him and receive Him as our Savior, then He saves us.
The blood of Jesus was shed on Golgotha, so that we would receive forgiveness for our sins. This becomes real to us when we believe Him, and if we’ve sinned, then we confess our sins. There has to be faith. We can enjoy the blessings of remission if we believe that He forgave our sins.
The same applies to our death to sin. It is a Biblical, spiritual truth, that when we were baptized, we were united with Jesus in His death to sin, but this becomes a practical, experiential reality to us only through our faith.
The Bible is full of promises, but these promises will become a part of our everyday lives, when we accept them by faith. As we accept by faith the forgiveness of our sins, and we soon experience that the iniquity of our sins is taken from us, the same way we have to accept that together with Jesus we died to sin. As we stand in this faith, sooner or later we will experience God’s deliverance, and we will begin to walk free from sin in actual experience.
I don’t claim that this is absolutely easy. This is the area, which we may call the good fight of faith. But God is with us, and if we believe Him, when we believe His Word, then we will obtain His promises concerning sanctification.