Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:…
With the consciousness of past transgression must ever be associated in man's mind the anticipation of future punishment. Conscience almost forestalls the declaration of Holy Writ, "that he which doeth wrong shall suffer for the wrong." And reason, by itself, would tell us that as we cannot undo the error committed, so neither can we escape the penalty deserved. To be awakened, therefore, only under a dispensation of natural religion, would set before us judgment without mercy; but, happily for us, the awakening is under a dispensation of love that goes back to cancel the record of past sin, and goes forward to insure the constant communication of grace. Accordingly we have a Saviour who died once, and who ever lives.
I. THE REASONS OF CHRIST'S DEATH, stated in part.
1. There are two interpretations of the expression, "He died unto sin," by reason of sin in Himself, or on account of sin in others. The former is utterly untenable, inasmuch as "He knew no sin." Then He must have died on account of others; a view which there are abundance of Scriptures to confirm, as there were, in the former, abundance of Scriptures to contradict. It is on account of the sinless offering for sin that we charge him who rejects it with consummate folly, and that we cheer him who accepts it with unbounded solace. Has Christ died for you? is our demand of the former; then how can you answer it, that you do not live for Christ? Has Christ died for you? is our demand of the latter; then how can you doubt that you shall live with God forever?
2. Christ died —
(1) For the conviction of sin Why was such a victim needed? Why, excepting that, from the immensity of the ransom offered, might be inferred the enormity of the guilt and the imminence of the peril? It is not from human nature, even in its most distorted and degraded aspects, that we learn what an evil thing is sin; our true estimate must be grounded on that which it cost to redeem the sinner.
(2) To remove or cancel sin. His death is adequate to the necessities of all who believe. Not only does the apostle declare that there is "no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," but he asks the question, "Who is he that condemneth?" only that he may answer it by another, Is it not "Christ that died?"
II. THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH HE LIVETH?
1. To guide. "I am the way," etc. He lives to act as a Captain in guiding many sons to glory.
2. To govern. "All power is given unto Me, in heaven and in earth." He is silently, therefore, but effectually, working round all things to the establishment of His own will. All nature is subject to His will, nay, He works even by unwilling instruments; the evil passions and principles of men all are constrained by Him to compass the end designed. He is the Head over all things to the Church; we may, therefore, repair to Him in every difficulty, and commit to Him every consequence.
3. "To make intercession for us."
III. THE PRACTICAL ISSUE OF THE WHOLE MATTER. You are placed here in the position of those for whom the Son of God once died unto sin, and for whom He now lives. Conviction of sin is thus placed before you with an alternative; to be condemned by Christ's death, or to be saved by His life. It is no common responsibility which lies upon such as are now solemnly reminded that for them "Christ died unto sin once." But neither is it a precarious comfort, or a dubious assurance, which arises to them from the consideration, "In that He liveth, He liveth unto God." He lives for the glory of God, for the good of His Church, for the triumph of the gospel, for the salvation of the sinner, for the complete overcoming of death, and of him that has the power thereof, for every conceivable purpose of diffusing happiness and dispelling misery, and it may be for far higher purposes than have ever entered into the imagination of man. But, for whatever else He lives, He lives to guide, and to govern, and to intercede for you.
(T. Dale, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: