Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.…
We are reminded that Christians are —
I. "DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN."
1. This implies more than their avoiding sin. A man from fear of loss, hope of advantage, or from reference to his reputation, may be induced to avoid what he loves: and there are many who are ready to wish that it were lawful to indulge in sin. Lot's wife left Sodom, but her heart was in it still, and if all those were to become pillars of salt who profess to forsake the world, while hankering after it, we should hardly be able to move about.
2. Christians are mortified to sin. The Christian's aversion to sin is natural, and we know that all natural aversions operate universally. It is not to some particular vice to which he may have no constitutional propensity or little temptation. If it were lawful to say to a mother, "Why you may take your child and throw it out of the window," she could not do it. And why? Has she not strength to open the window? Has she not arms to throw it out? Oh! but it would violate every feeling of her nature; it would be impossible and this would be a safer prevention than any argument or threatening against it. So the Christian "doth not commit sin" — that is, as others do, and as he once did — "for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God."
3. You see how the apostle treats this matter: "How shall we, who are dead to sin," by profession, by obligation, by inclination, "live any longer therein?" (ver. 2). As no creature can live out of its own element, so it is impossible for the Christian, now that he is regenerated, to live in sin.
II. "ALIVE UNTO GOD." If there were no instance of immorality in the world, I should want no other proof that man was a fallen creature than his insensibility and indifference towards God. That a subject should be dead to his sovereign, a child to his father, the creature to his Maker, a beneficiary to his benefactor; can you imagine that God made man with such a disposition as this? Now real religion must commence in the destruction of this insensibility. Christians are alive unto —
1. God's favour. While many ask, "Who will show us any good?" he prays, "Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon me." He knows and feels now that "His favour is life," and His "loving kindness better than life." This makes him happy, whatever may be his outward condition.
2. His presence. Is the sanctuary now attractive to him? It is principally because it is "the place where His honour dwelleth." Does he love the retirement of the closet? It is because there he holds communion with his God. He loves the company of the godly because they remind him of God, and considers heaven as the perfection of his happiness because he will be forever with the Lord.
3. His glory. It is this that led the apostle therefore to say, "Whether we eat or drink," etc. Hence he sympathises with the cause of God in all its variations. If professors fall away, and bring a scandal upon it, he is sorrowful. On the other hand, if the Word of the Lord runs and is glorified, and if believers walk in the fear of the Lord, in this he rejoices.
III. "THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD." As —
1. Their Example. In His principles, temper, practice, they see the character which we have described fully embodied. In Him there was no sin; He always did the things that pleased the Father: He was our religion incarnate.
2. Their Teacher. He has set before us those arguments and motives which have the greatest tendency to turn us from sin and to God, so that we may be dead to the one and alive to the other.
3. Their dying Friend. Is it possible for me to love and live in that which crucified the Lord of glory?
4. Their meritorious Saviour. When He died for their sins He at the same time obtained for them grace for trial, duty, and conflict.
IV. "RECKON YOURSELVES" AS SUCH.
1. In order to maintain the conduct that is suitable to such; for your conduct should correspond with your character and your condition. The way to know what you ought to do is always to consider what you are.
2. In order to keep you from wondering at the treatment of such.
3. In order that ye may rejoice in the portion of such. If the world frowns on you, God smiles; if they condemn you, He is near to justify. You may be losers in His service, but you can never be losers by it.
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.