5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
One other understanding we need regarding the nature of sin is that it’s not simply an act (“Oh, I committed a sin.”) but it’s a condition (“I am in sin!”). The acts come from the condition. Again I say, we must never agree with the statement, “It only take sin to become a sinner.” One of the great influencers of our founding fathers was a philosopher named John Locke. Locke said that we were born with a blank slate, and that our experiences and actions put blackness and marks on that slate. You know, many believers believe that as well–but it’s not true.
Our only hope is that, through the person and work of Christ, we are united with him. That’s the most neglected doctrine in Christianity is the doctrine of our union in Christ. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. Michael Horton rightly says,
“All of our righteousness, holiness, redemption, and blessing is found outside of us–in the person and work of Christ. This was the declaration of the Scriptures and, following the sacred text, of the reformers, in the face of a subjective righteousness located in the believer. And yet, as Calvin points out, this “alien righteousness” belonging to someone outside of us would mean nothing if this righteous one remained forever outside of us.”
Horton then uses an illustration from his life: “In my junior year of college, I went to Europe with some friends and ran out of money. Happily, my parents agreed to deposit enough money in my account to cover my expenses. Was that now my money? I had not earned it. I had not worked for it. It was not my money in the sense that I had done something to obtain it. But it was in my account now and I could consider it my own property.”
All that Christ has an accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection are His, but He has put those things to our account. As a result, Christ has killed sin and it no longer has dominion over us.
Now, you say, “Pastor Matt! I’m a Christian, and it sure seems like my sin is in charge of me. I just can’t get past it. I really believe I’m stuck.” I know. I’ve been there. You really do not believe there’s a way out. But I tell you, there is. If we are truly surrendered to Christ, we must remember our position. Our old self was ‘crucified’–our ‘body of sin might be brought to nothing.’ You have the freedom in Christ to escape and obey Him.
In James 1:12-15, we see what the primary struggle is:
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
How does it start? It starts the way it did with Adam and Eve–being lured and enticed by his own desire. Enticement brings desire, desire is conceived and gives birth to sin, sin brings death. But go back to James 1:2: “Testing of faith in trials produces steadfastness; steadfastness produces maturity, maturity produces a lack of nothing. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says:
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Our position as Christians means we are unified with Christ. He has dominion over you, not your sin. You are His. He paid the price of your sin for you. You are in Him, and He is in you! And you will bear fruit. If you came to Christ just to get to heaven, without a desire to surrender to His Lordship now, you may need to search your soul and see if you are saved. If you are one who is thinking about coming to Christ for all the blessings, but really do not want him to tell you what to do, I will pray that he scrapes those barnacles off.