And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
I. FOR THE PRESENT THE INDWELLING OF CHRIST IN BELIEVERS, BY HIS SPIRIT, REMOVES THE POWER OF DEATH FROM THE SPHERE OF THEIR SPIRITUAL NATURE ONLY.
1. From that nature, however, it is removed. For "if Christ be in you,...the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (1 John 5:12). But on account of what "righteousness"? Surely not our own, for apart from Christ we have none. Under law, indeed, being alive, we should have continued to live, if we had maintained a perfect righteousness (Romans 10:5). But under the gospel, being found dead, we must first be made to live, in order to become holy. This "righteousness," therefore, is that "righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22; Romans 5:17, 18). That one thing which of necessity precedes our life in Christ is justification in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:1-13, 22-25), which is hence called a "justification of life" (Romans 5:18).
2. The new life, however, does not as yet extend beyond the spirit. "The body is dead because of sin," and for the furtherance of the great mediatorial purpose. The postponement of the completed "adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body" (ver. 23), is made, not on account of any sin yet remaining in believers (ver. 1), but on account of the sin of the world, in so far as the deferring of their redemption from death promotes the world's salvation. And how needful and wise that it should be so! How obviously inconsistent with a state of probation it would have been for believers to be exempted from death! If only these at the end of their probation were translated to heaven, how completely would the free exercise of the human will, in respect to matters of religion and the free development of human character, be fettered or overborne! Not to insist upon the anguish which would come into every stricken household if death were known to be the precursor of hell; nor to think how dark and dreary this world would become if there were in it no cemeteries in which were to be found the treasured remains of those who sweetly sleep in Jesus, awaiting the call to a deathless life. Let anyone try to imagine what possible advantage there could accrue from such an arrangement. Therefore Christians must continue to die, that they may "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ...for His body's sake, which is the Church" (Colossians 1:24).
II. THE REMOVAL OF THE DOMINION OF DEATH FROM THE BODIES OF BELIEVERS IS BUT DELAYED TILL THE SAVIOUR'S SECOND COMING (Cf. Hebrews 9:28; John 6:39, 40; Romans 8:19-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:42-54). Of this believers have a double earnest.
1. The objective fact that God raised the body of Jesus. So strongly did the apostle feel upon this point as to maintain that the whole fabric of Christianity stands or falls with it (1 Corinthians 15:12-23).
2. The subjective fact of the indwelling of the resurrective Spirit. "If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus...dwell in you."(1) If we are entitled to that Spirit as the life of our souls, we have an equal title to the same Spirit as the life of our bodies.
(2) This assurance is made still stronger by the fact that the indwelling of this Spirit sanctifies and marks out for the Lord these very bodies in which He dwells. The living temple claimed by Him, consecrated by His glorious presence, and made to become, even here and now, the instrument of His purposes, can never be suffered to remain a permanent prey to corruption. This "is the earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14). Therefore, professed Christians, —
1. Abjure the flesh and its debasing service. You are in no sense such debtors to the flesh as to be required to live according to its desires. Either you must slay the sinful flesh, or it will slay you (ver. 18).
2. Remember that the Spirit of Christ is yours. Say not that you are unequal to the work (Philippians 4:13).
3. When called to endure suffering and death, shrink not as though they were tokens of God's displeasure, but rather be comforted that herein you are called to share the sufferings of your Lord, and to further His redeeming work (Philippians 3:10, 11).
4. And bear in mind that the state of suffering on account of sin is but for a time (Romans 6:5 Timothy 11, 12).
Parallel VersesKJV: And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.