In Light of our Destination

Living in Light of our Destination

Colossians 3:1-11; compared to Genesis 24

© C. O. Bishop 10/18/18 Cornell Estates 10/21/18


We have been working our way through the book of Colossians, and we have arrived in a precious passage where Paul is encouraging the believers to allow God to change their lives. He has already established their position in Christ, so he poses the logical result: living in light of our position, and our destination.

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

All of what we are to experience and put into practice, now, is predicated upon the truth of this passage: either we really are dead with Christ, and risen with Him, and our real life truly is now hidden with Christ in God, or we are not dead with Christ, not risen with Him, and we are still in our sins.

We cannot have it both ways: either my sins were purged at the Cross, by the Blood of Jesus, and I am already seated with Christ in the heavenlies, or His blood did not purge my sins, and I am still guilty before God, and lost.

On the strength of that truth, we are told to set our affections upon the things of Christ—the things above, not the passing things of this world. Jesus said a fair amount about laying up treasures in Heaven: he also said that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also—not the other way around. If we are really dead to sin, and dead to the World, then our affections should be upon the things above. We are to set our priorities according to this truth. And the more we see our treasures as being with God, the more we will see our hearts directed that way as well. Remember that Daniel yearned toward Jerusalem, and several times a day, he opened his windows toward Jerusalem, and prayed toward the demolished temple there. That is where his treasure was, and that is where his heart was. His actions demonstrated the fact.

We are to place our trust in the finished work of Jesus at the Cross, and recognize that everything of eternal value is there, with Him, in Heaven.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We can’t see these things, now. We walk by faith: we are trusting in that which is to come. We are not even told what the rewards are like: in fact, he clearly states that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things the Father hath in store for them that love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9) That certainly calls into question the truth of the many books available today where the authors expound on all the details of heaven. We are actually given very little to go on, and it is fitting that it should be so: God says it is completely beyond our comprehension, and beyond our imagination. Don’t believe the false prophets! They really have not seen heaven, nor can they tell you what eternity holds!

Compare an Old Testament bride to the New Testament Bride

Remember, back in Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his servant back to Ur of the Chaldees, to find a wife for Isaac. When Rebekah left home with her female servants, all of them were in the care of Abraham’s servants, and she herself was betrothed to become the Bride of Isaac. But, once her home town was out of sight, behind them, she and her companions were utterly committed to the mercy and the faithfulness of the One keeping them for the end of that journey. They could not run away and go back, even if they wanted to: the desert was utterly merciless to inexperienced or unprepared travelers. They would never again see their old home.

The main comfort they could hold to, in their hearts, was the fact that a huge price had already been paid for the Bride (Rebekah), and there was nothing that could ever persuade the Servant of the Father, to fail to bring home the Bride, to the glory of the Father and of the Son.

Give that some thought: That is what we have, too! The unimaginable price paid for our sins, and for the sins of the entire World, has already been paid on our behalf, at the Cross; and, when we completed the transaction by faith, we were sealed for the glory of the Son: we are part of the Bride. We were sealed in Him until the redemption of the purchased possession. (Ephesians 1:13, 14) Our life is hid with Christ in God! So, now: what are we supposed to do about it?

Consider the Old life truly Dead

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

Some things need to completely drop away: they are part of the old dead self that still plagues us, but to whom we owe no further obedience. My old sin nature is still there, but I am to treat it as if it is dead: permanently separated from the “real me,” because the real “Me” is already seated with Christ, in the heavenlies!  (How’s that for mind-boggling?)

Remember, too, that regardless of how Rebekah behaved on the trip to meet the Bridegroom, she was sealed for Him, and she was the Bride! If she behaved in a “proper” fashion as the Bride, it was to her honor, and to the Father’s glory; but that is not what made her the Bride. Two facts bound her to Isaac as his Bride:

  1. The fact that the Bride-price was paid, and
  2. The fact that she agreed to go.

Those were what betrothed her to Isaac, though she had never met him. She behaved as the Bride should, because she was the Bride, not the other way around. She was genuinely looking forward to meeting her groom. I would surmise that, along the way, the Servant had been telling her all about Isaac: his miraculous birth, his utter faithfulness and perfect relationship to his Father, Abraham.

I surely hope this is sounding familiar to you. This is such a tender picture of the Christian experience, as the Word and the Spirit tell us all about Jesus long before we ever get to meet him face to face. We are already betrothed, and already sealed, and we have only this long and sometimes difficult journey to endure before we meet Him. But we are carried along by the indwelling Holy Spirit, whose only desire is to glorify the Father and the Son, and who, personally, is our guarantee of redemption: the Earnest of our inheritance. He will bring home the Bride! But along that journey, while we travel, we are learning to walk with God, too.

God says that His wrath still burns against the children of disobedience (unregenerate sinners) for the things listed in verse 5 (and elsewhere): But, notice that he says (in verse 7) that you are no longer part of that group: He says that you once were part of that group, but that you have been taken out, and you are dead with Christ (verse 3).

As a result of our being dead with Christ, we are to lay aside the works which were associated with our old position in the World: all the behaviors that once marked us as being just plain, ordinary, “run-of-the-mill sinners” are to be left behind. Think again of Rebekah: except for her maids, and whatever personal belongings she brought with her, everything of her old life was abandoned! She left the old life behind, in favor of the new life with her bridegroom, Isaac!

We, too, need to leave the Old life behind!

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Notice how many of these things have to do either with the heart, or with speech—the mouth! Jesus said that a good man brings out of the good treasure of his heart things that are good; and an evil man brings forth out of the evil treasures of his heart things that are evil; because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh!” The old sin nature is still there, but we need to starve it, and guard against it! Our mouths are supposed to be filled with good things, now…so the change has to begin with a cleansed heart.

God says we can only cleanse our hearts through the application of His Word. He says that through His Word, we are to become partakers of the Divine Nature! When we feed on God’s Word, and meditate upon His promises, we begin to see the character of God working itself out in our lives. The Fragrance of Christ will begin to permeate our lives, so that anyone who knows us can see the changes brought about by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We begin to be a blessing to those around us.

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

We have a new nature: He says it has been renewed in knowledge, in the image of the Creator. What does that mean? Over in Ephesians 4:24, he says that the new man has been created in the likeness of God, in Righteousness and true Holiness. Speaking for myself, if it were not for the knowledge that God has given me that new nature, I could not at all grasp the notion that God has imputed to me the righteousness of Christ. It simply would not fit the natural “reality” that I see in my flesh. Notice that it is all past-tense, too. This is not something that we are to “strive toward:” it is a current reality based upon a completed past event, and it is for us to lay hold of by faith, so as to experience the reality of it, today.

Why does God “spell out” the prohibition against lying? Remember what Jesus said (in John 8:44) about our old spiritual father: He said “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” So it makes sense that one of the things God really wants laid aside is lying. That is the earmark of Satan’s brood. We all began there, whether we know it or not. We all were called the Children of wrath, in Ephesians 2:3.

Lying is the most common human reaction to circumstances we wish were otherwise. People lie on their tax-returns because they don’t want to pay the taxes they owe. People lie to one another for reasons ranging from heartbreaking to ridiculous. And some people just lie for the fun of fooling people. But we are told to stop it, specifically because our “old man” has been set aside. We are separated from it to the degree that we can speak honestly, and we can worship from a clean heart. But we are not free from its influence. We are in an ongoing, daily battle to walk with God, and to not follow our old sin nature. This is true for every Christian, regardless of his or her background. Now we are called to “Speak the truth in Love!”

The Jewish Apostles pointed out in Acts chapter 15, that no Jew had ever been able to follow the Law, so they said it was wrong to burden the Gentile believers with it. Paul said that we have been set free from the Law. What a happy, blessed freedom that gives us all! All believers, Jews and Gentiles, together, were freed by the same sacrifice, and we are now free to fellowship and worship as one body of Christ!

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Whatever you were before you were born again is of zero importance. In Christ, the old divisions no longer exist. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross. Where the Jews were once separated from the Gentiles, slaves were once shunned by free men, and commoners shunned by noblemen, they all have been “leveled” by the Cross. None of those “differences” are of any significance when compared to the Majesty of the Messiah; nor could any of those “differences” alleviate to any degree the total lostness of the human race, apart from the Cross.

All of us are called to lift up our eyes and see the Savior! We are called to set our affections on Him, and the things He has for us. We are to let our old life drop away as a freed slave lets his chains drop away. We have truly been set free in Christ. We are dead with Him at the Cross, buried with Him, resurrected with Him, and ascended to sit with Him. We believers are all part of the Bride of Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and He will bring home the Bride!

Lord Jesus, allow us to see ourselves clearly, so as to know that we have died with you, so that we may lift up our eyes above this world, and fix our hearts on our treasures with you. Free us to serve you with gladness, in Jesus’ name!

Who Will You Serve?

Who Will You Serve, Now?

© C. O. Bishop 11/28/2015 THCF 11/29/2015

Romans 6:9-23


When I was in Bible School, the outline for this chapter was simple: “Know, Reckon, and Yield”. It seemed a revelation, to me, but it was years before I could see any way to make it work at all, because I still felt myself enslaved to sin. I found my experience to be far closer to that of Paul in Romans chapter seven than I was to the reality of chapter eight.

Romans chapter six does indeed tell us that we do not have to sin. Paul is emphatic about it: he says that “…sin shall not reign in your mortal bodies.” That is pretty strong language. In legal terms, the word “shall” denotes something that is mandatory. So how can I see this become a reality in my life?

In those long-ago classes, the outline form of “Know, Reckon and Yield” was correct, but did not point out that the “reckon” portion of it meant a working faith in the reality of the “know” portion. I has cockily quoted the “Know, Reckon, and Yield” to a pastor friend when I was just a year out of school, and he quietly asked, “But how is it to be done?” I couldn’t answer, and didn’t even really understand the question. I had dropped anchor on “knowledge” so completely that I was missing the “reckoning” part, entirely. His answer? “By faith!”

I had been trying to “yield myself” to God without really believing that I was free from the authority of sin in my life. It was years before I realized this fact, and began to put my faith in it.

Who do you work for? How did it happen that He became your master? Does that mean that your old master no longer exists, or simply that it no longer has authority?

Separated From the Old Master

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Paul says that I am to know (Greek, eido: to know a fact…this is not some sort of ‘experiential knowledge’…it is simply the truth.) that Jesus, having died, and having been resurrected from the dead, cannot die again. Death has no more authority over his body. And, we are to know that we died with Him.

When Jesus died, His spirit and soul were separated from his body, and He spent three days and three nights in Paradise—the “good half” of Sheol, fulfilling his prophecies. When he was resurrected, his body was changed to what is called a “glorified” body. It can eat, but does not suffer hunger. It can walk, but does not have to walk—it could simply be where He willed it to be—into a locked room, for example…and back out. He was completely free of the normal shackles of the earthly life. He was free to live out the reality that He alone is God-in-the-flesh: Immanuel!

So Paul says that because we know that (as a fact), we are to reckon it to be so: not as my “Texas roots” would use the phrase, “well, I reckon it’s so…” (meaning they think it’s so), but rather, “account it to be true!” He says that we are to account ourselves to be also free to live for God, by the same authority; because we are in Christ!

My Old Boss

Almost 30 years ago, I briefly worked for a foreman who once worked in the same railcar manufacturing plant where I worked for 30 years. (He retired years ago.) He despised me, and let me know it, but I did my best to please him and do exactly as he ordered. I was only on loan to his department, so it was with considerable relief that I welcomed the move back to my own department.

Skipping forward about ten years; I had moved around quite a bit in the interim, but was now in an area near his department again, where we did specialty repairs. One day he brought a side-frame for a railcar truck-assembly to us, needing repair welding performed.

Railcar truck-assembly side-frames are made of cast steel, and, as there are several different possibilities as to the particular grade of steel in question, there are different weld procedures that must be used. Failure to adhere to these procedures not only voids the warranty, but risks catastrophic failure. We cannot afford such a risk, so we follow such standards faithfully. I was aware of these restrictions, so, when this older foreman brought the side-frame to us, I assured him that I would begin work on it the moment I received the weld-repair procedure from the manufacturer. He angrily demanded that I skip that, and begin work immediately.

It was actually a pleasant experience in a way: I was not at all put out by his insistence: I knew my limitations, and more to the point, I knew his limitations! I no longer worked for him! It simply did not matter what he thought of me, or how angry he became! So I cheerfully reiterated that I would begin the moment I got the information I needed (which would only take 30 minutes or so to get), but that I could not and would not begin without knowing for sure how to proceed.

He angrily stomped out of our office, loudly saying that I would have to answer to his supervisors. I was not at all worried, because I knew they would submit to the authority of the Railroad Welding Code, and the manufacturer’s recommendations, just as surely as I did.

Why was I so cheerful in the face of his anger and threats? Because I was completely resting in the fact that I no longer worked for him, and was in no way accountable to him. I was completely free to do what I knew to be right and good, and safe, rather than having to do what he wanted done, which was none of the above.

So how do we apply this to the Christian life? We are to completely rest in the fact that we are in Christ, and that because He is dead to sin, we also are dead to sin. Sin has no more authority in our lives.

We Have a New Master

Just as I was at complete peace in disobeying my old Boss, we should feel completely free to ignore the haranguing of our old nature, demanding satisfaction for the old sinful desires. We don’t work for it anymore. It has no further authority in our lives.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.


If I had obeyed the demands of my old boss, out of habit or out of fear, I would have been in trouble with my new supervisor. I would have had no defense for my actions, because what the old boss was demanding was completely wrong, and he certainly would not have backed me, admitting that he had ordered me to do wrong. But even if he had done so, I would have been wrong, because he had no authority, and I knew he had no authority. I had no excuse for failure.

In all honesty, I still have no excuse for failure. I cannot say, “Well, my old sin nature came along and made me do this…” That is not true! If I sin, I have to choose to follow my old sinful ways. The old nature has no “power” to force me into service. I have to choose to obey, even if it is an unconscious choice (and usually it is not).

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.


Ironically, your new nature has no power to force you to obey righteousness, either. You still have to choose. A lot of people have gotten the idea that the new nature is the indwelling Spirit of God. That is not true, because God says (Ephesians 4:24) that the new nature is a created entity, and the Holy Spirit is God—the Creator. So, my old nature is the one I received at conception, and which I will lose when I die or am raptured. It is connected with my mortal body, so it will cease to exist when this body dies or is changed to an immortal body.

I received my new nature when I was re-born as a child of God. The new nature is righteous, and has righteous desires, but has no power to force obedience. God wants a righteous choice, and has given me the wherewithal to make it. Before I possessed this new nature, I could not choose righteousness, because my every choice was dominated by my sin. It was the only nature I had. I was completely under its control. When I believed the Gospel, and was born again, I received a new nature, and I now have a real choice. I have been transferred to a new department.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.


When I was moved to that new department, at work, I had a new supervisor who was committed to doing things right. I had had that commitment for years, but was employed by those who did not: I had one foreman, in fact, who, when I protested that a particular weld-joint constituted an “illegal weld” (meaning “prohibited by the code”), he just laughed, and said, “It’s only illegal if you get caught, Chet!”


But now I was under a boss that would support doing things correctly. So I was not to worry about what the old bosses thought, but just go ahead and choose the right way. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? That is because I had already been committed to doing right, and was grieved to be working for those who were not.


But what if it had been different? What if I had been in complete agreement with doing whatever one could “get away with”, and had never had any inclination to do right? Would having a new boss change everything I thought overnight? Would my new position under him be easy to grasp? I really doubt it, because when the rules have changed, over the years, it has sometimes been difficult for me to let go of the old ways, and embrace the new. But that is what Paul is telling me to do, right here.


I am to consciously respond to my new Master, choosing to obey Him. The whole truth of Romans 6 is wrapped around this idea. It is a relational truth: my position in Him is secure, but my daily walk with Him—my relationship with Him—is definitely affected by how I live. I am to respond to HIM, not to my old desires, just as I was to respond to my new boss, not my old, at work. Incidentally, all the bosses I have had at work who made for really negative experiences, no longer work there. They have been replaced, mostly by someone better. Do I miss them? Not one bit! I certainly do not want them back!


Why Would You Want the Old Ways?


20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.


In the old days at work, for instance, welders were not required to wear respirators. We were “free” from the restriction of a respirator, but we were slowly being poisoned by the fumes we inhaled as a result of the lack thereof. How profitable was that? The result could have been a fatal lung disease, or a crippling disability…and in many cases, it was.


We did not like the new “rules” which required the respirators, but we gradually became convinced that they were a good idea…and now we look back and shake our heads over our foolish risk-taking in the old days. There was nothing good about it. Our “freedom” from the respirators resulted in disability or death for many workers. The same was true for many other safety precautions we once scorned, but which are now required.


Now we enjoy freedom from the inhaled pollutants, and the debilitating results thereof, and we choose gladly to “serve good sense” and reap relative health. I don’t miss the “bad old days” one bit!


At one time, seat-belts in automobiles were optional, and most people ignored them, because they didn’t like the “restrictive” nature of even the lap belts, let alone shoulder straps (though the Advocates of seat-belts reminded those reluctant ones that “wheelchairs are even more restrictive!”)


When the seat-belts and shoulder straps became a requirement, the death-toll in auto accidents was sharply reduced. We had been “free” from the restraining lap-belts and shoulder straps, but we are now free from the likelihood of being ejected from the car and killed, in an auto accident.


22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.


So, Paul argues, you were free from righteousness, and the results were uniformly bad. Now you are free from the clutches of your old sin nature. You have everlasting life as a result of that choice. Now you are to choose to respond to the personal, moment by moment call of Jesus Christ to live for Him, and allow the Holy Spirit to produce real fruit in your life.


The deaths from being thrown out of cars, and from breathing dangerous fumes were not caused by the danger, but by our proximity to the danger. We have been separated from that proximity to a certain degree, by safety belts and respirators, so the deaths are less common.


We have been separated, positionally from the penalty of sin. How does one distance oneself from the danger of sin? 1st Timothy 6:11 gives us s pretty good start on the answer to that question. He says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things (temptations, that is) and follow after Righteousness, Godliness, Faith, Love, Patience, Meekness.” He says to distance yourself from the temptations, and get closer to the things of Christ.


  1. Vernon McGee shared how a little child fell out of bed one night, and when her mother came into the room to comfort her and get her safely in bed again, the mother asked “How did you fall out of bed?” The child responded, “I think I just stayed too close to where I got in!” That is pretty perceptive, actually, and highly applicable to the Christian life. The further we move away from our old ways, the harder it will be to fall back into them.


Paul closes this passage with a reminder that while the old ways continually earned the results—the “wages”—they deserved, which was separation from God, the eternal life we now have is not to be earned at all. It is a gift. He says,


23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


My position in Christ is the result of pure Grace… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. But if you want to experience that life on a daily basis, you will have to respond to Him as your Lord, as well. He is our new boss, and He is the one to whom we need to answer, not our old sin nature. Meditate on this passage and ask God to make it clear to you. I freely admit that I have not “arrived”, in this matter, and that it is a struggle for me as well.


Lord Jesus, Help us to understand your Word, and to listen to the pleading of the Holy Spirit, so that we can daily respond to you in faith and obey your will in our daily lives.

“Federal Headship” Results

Federal Headship: The Result

© C. O. Bishop 11/5/15 THCF 11/15/15

Romans 6:1-10


We talked briefly about the doctrine of Federal Headship in the past, but since this passage is so heavily involved with that particular doctrine, it seemed good to spend more time with it today. If you remember anything of the previous teaching, you will remember that when Adam sinned, we sinned with him…in him. His fall into sin was accounted as our fall into sin. We have very consistently proven the truth of that historical fact, in that all of us continue in sin, to varying degrees. Adam exercised his authority to make a decision on behalf of the whole human race. He became the head of the entire fallen race of Man. We had no real choice, though it is evident that we would have made exactly the same choice as Adam did.

But the other side of the Federal Headship concept is that of Jesus being the head of a new Man. Jesus exercised His authority to make a decision for all of humanity as well. But in this particular case we are given a choice: we can stay in Adam, where we were born, or we can be transferred into Christ via a new birth. Today, the text is speaking to those who have already made the conscious choice to trust in Jesus’ blood sacrifice, and who have been born again as a member of that new Man of whom Jesus is the Head.

We are conscious, too, that Grace came to answer Man’s sin. Paul first poses the question,

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Should we sin more, to get more grace? Absolutely not! It is unfitting for us to remain in sin, as that is no longer where we live! We are dead to sin. This is the opening statement of fact, and upon its truth and exactitude hangs all the rest of the argument.

How can Paul say that we are dead to sin? I certainly don’t feel dead! On the other hand, I don’t think I would have said that I felt “dead to God” before I was a believer. I felt pretty alive, and wouldn’t have even understood the concept of being “dead to God.”

Think back, though: when Adam fell into sin, he died spiritually the moment he ate the fruit of the tree he had been warned against eating. He was separated from fellowship with God. Of course, 930 years later, his spirit was separated from his body, as well, which we call physical death. But right that moment, his spirit was separated from God. Had God not intervened with Grace, and restored fellowship, Adam would have been lost… permanently separated from God. In the same manner, as an unregenerate man, I was separated from God…dead to God. Had I died in that state I would have been lost. That is the simple truth.

But now, being joined to God through Jesus’ sacrifice and by God’s Grace, I am “separated” from sin as a principle…In God’s sight, I have been separated from my old sin nature, as He gave me a new nature in the new birth. It is possible for God to fellowship with me, and it is possible for me to love Him…because I have a new nature.

As far as God is concerned, the old sin-nature is dead. He does not propose to patch it up, correct all its ills, or restore fellowship to it. If we look ahead to Romans 8:7, we can see that the old sin nature is antagonistic toward God, and cannot be made subject to Him…. God says it can’t be done. So, the only way he can redeem a fallen human is to offer them a new birth. The old sin nature had to be set aside. I have not lost my old sin nature, but I am “separate” from it. God wants fellowship with the new me; He does not seek to change the old me; but rather to let it starve as He feeds the new me.

So, how did I die to sin, then?

Baptized into Death

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

The baptism to which Paul refers, here, is not water baptism. There is no water in this passage. Water baptism is only an object lesson—a picture, or a demonstration— of something real that has already happened. Water baptism (in the New Testament) is reserved for believers, because it is meant to announce that the baptism of the Holy Spirit has already occurred…that the believer has been placed into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. (1st Corinthians 12:13)

So, Water Baptism announces what has already happened: I have been separated from my old sin nature, because Jesus’ death is reckoned as my death: I died with him, just as I died in Adam, and was lost, I have been crucified with Christ, and my sins have been dealt with at the Cross. I am separated from my old sin nature through that death. When did it happen? The moment I trusted His completed work at the Cross as being sufficient payment for my sins; at that moment, the Holy Spirit placed me into the Body of Christ, though I was completely unaware of it.

But there is more! Paul says that death with Christ is not the only thing I gained there. I also gained eternal life!

Baptized into Life.

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Just as I was fully identified with Adam in his sin and his spiritual death, and, in fact, was born that way, I am now fully identified with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection, to the extent that God expects me to start living in that reality….because I have been re-born that way. In short, He says that because I have already been re-born a literal child of God, I am to begin acting that way. And his reasoning is very clear: he says that I am dead to sin—separated from it. I have a moment by moment choice to make as to which nature (old or new) will be manifest and prominent in my daily life. I am to “walk in the newness of life.” As I mature in my Christian life, that walk will become more consistent.

When I started Bible school, one of the staff members had two children living there in the school, who I assumed were much older than they really were. The older girl seemed to be in her early twenties, but occasionally acted like a 16-year-old. Her younger brother seemed to be perhaps ten or twelve, but occasionally acted like a five-year-old. I found this very irritating and off-putting until I found that she actually was 16 and he actually was five, but just very large for his age, and both usually seemed fairly mature. But both kids occasionally just acted their age!

Sometimes Christians are under the control of the Holy Spirit, and we are very impressed with the grace in their lives. Occasionally they “act their age”, so to speak, and are behaving like “natural” men. That does not make them a hypocrite—it proves that they have two natures, just like you! We need the constant control and guiding of the Holy Spirit in our lives to have any sort of consistent walk with Him.

The next phrase (verse 5) assures me that since I have been buried with him (in him—this is what Federal Headship implies), then I shall be (future tense) also in the likeness of His resurrection.  From the moment I was born again…from the moment I believed the Gospel, and received Christ as my savior, I have been guaranteed a resurrection, to be with him and like Him forever!

In fact, over in Ephesians 2:6, he states that God has already “raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.” There’s that location clause again. This is positional truth. The only conditions are the ones laid down by Jesus himself: (John 5:24) “He that heareth my words and believeth on Him who sent me…” Those who have heard the Gospel and believed it—placed their full trust in the completed work of Jesus at the Cross, are placed in Christ, and they are safe in Him forever. The identification is so complete that God views it as already done. He will never again see me as a lost sinner, because my old self is separated from me—dead—and the new person (created at the new birth, whether I knew it or not) is free forever from the curse of the Law. What an amazing change!  My old position, in Adam, left me absolutely doomed. My new position, in Christ, leaves me absolutely blessed, and fully accepted by God.

What should the Result be?

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.

If I know that I am dead to sin, and dead to the Law, what should the result be? I should begin to place my trust in that fact, and not give in to the desires of sin any more. This is not just self-control; it’s recognition that those desires are no longer “mine”—they are the desires of my old sin nature, and, though it still exists within me, it is an “enemy within the gates”, so to speak. I have to be conscious that it is there, recognize its movements and leanings, and defend my heart against them. Fortunately, I am not alone in this battle. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and He is faithful to warn me, and guide me, so that I can see what to avoid.

Is it easy? Absolutely not…in fact, without the constant empowering and enabling of the Holy Spirit, it is utterly impossible. Unbelievers, through self-control, can appear to be good persons, and do good things, and avoid bad things, etc., but their actions are still controlled by their old sin nature (which, as an unbeliever, is the only one they have.) So, the scripture says, even their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6); and so are mine, if I try to “do good things” in my own fleshly power and motives. This is true of the whole human race. I have nothing to offer God except my new nature, and the work the Holy Spirit can do through me. As an unbeliever, even my thoughts and prayers were corrupted by who I was as a sinner. The only prayer of an unbeliever that God commits Himself to answer is the one that confesses Him as Savior, and places faith in His Grace.

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

God has given us a guarantee that we will live with Him eternally; He asks us to start living in that reality today—now. He says that since Jesus can never die again, and can never be tested again, and has once-for-all paid the price for sin, we should take heart from that fact and step forward into the liberty he offers us as well. We can be free from the ravages of sin in our lives!

We do not have to be torn apart by fear, jealousy, pride, anger, and lust. We can be free from the destructive, conflicting desires of our old nature, because we are part of a new creation…we have been separated from our old nature to the extent that we no longer have to obey it. I can freely tell you that though this is completely true, I certainly have not mastered this concept.

Next time we will discuss how that is supposed to work.

Father, lead us into the truth of your Word. Enable us to walk in the newness of life!