Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.…
I. PAUL HERE EXHORTS TO THE ACCEPTANCE OF AN IDEAL SCHEME OF LIFE.
1. The facts of Christian experience are to be recognised. The moral antagonism of "flesh" and "spirit," represented by the dispositions of the body and mind, is to be reckoned with (Romans 7:21, 23).
2. They are to be interpreted in agreement with the facts of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
(1) The body being "mortal," we are to regard it as suffering the penalty of sin, even as our Lord's body was crucified.
(2) Morally its promptings and tendencies are not to be accepted as the law of conduct, but to be subordinated to the purer and higher impulses of the spirit, which has already entered upon the resurrection life, being mystically united to Christ Jesus (ver. 13).
II. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF THIS UPON CONDUCT.
1. This is not to be a merely abstract distinction; it is to be acknowledged as the law according to which we are to act, just as elsewhere the apostle exhorts Christians not to consider themselves dead to sin, but to become so (Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5).
2. Nor is this to be understood as a violation of our physical nature, as if the spirit were to be benefited at the expense of the body. Asceticism is not countenanced by Paul or his Master.
3. It is but an assertion of the true order of our nature, in which conscience and the spiritual impulses are de jure the ruling authority and power. Our appetites and affections are not evil in themselves, but become so when allowed to rule.
4. The spirit in which this service is to be rendered is one of —
(1) Liberty; for the tyranny of sin, the worst of masters, is thus broken.
(2) Sacrifice; of ourselves to God through Christ; the sacrifice being possible and acceptable through association with that of His Cross. So it is, in a sense, a crucifixion, through which death voluntarily endured in one sphere, conduces to life in a higher one.
5. All this is not to be regarded as a mere taking for granted or figurative supposition, but is an exercise —
(1) Of faith, identifying us with Christ.
(2) Of free will determining that the ideal shall be realised.
III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO THIS COURSE.
1. A promise. "Sin shall not," etc.
2. The nature of the Divine economy under which we elect to live. As we are incapable of obeying the law, and the law, when unfulfilled, tends to death, we can only rely upon God's grace or favour, which abolishes not only the penalty of sin, but its influence, presence, and attraction.
(St. J. A. Frere.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.