Sanctification through union with Christ in His death and Resurrection
Justification and Sanctification are two Aspects of Salvation: In the first five chapters of Romans, we have seen how God deals with the sinner. Sinners are in need of righteousness. God has provided righteousness through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Therefore being justified by faith in Christ we have peace with God (5:1). In justification, God declares a sinner righteous. After we are justified, we discover that we have a sin nature. How does God deal with that? The answer is sanctification which deals with the power of sin in us. Once a sinner is justified, sanctification follows logically and naturally. Some suggest that justification by faith is a dangerous doctrine and it does give us license to sin. The Lord has bought us out from the slave market of sin and set us free, not to go back to serve sin but to serve Him. Therefore the teaching that justification may lead to sinful life style is a gross perversion of divine grace. Paul starts chapter 6 with a question. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In verse 15, there is another question. “What then, shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace”? Paul’s answer is crystal clear. God forbid or by no means. Paul argues that it is impossible for Christians to continue in sin since they are dead to sin (6:2-5). “To die to sin” means to release from the guilt of sin. It happens in justification. So sin can no longer make any claim on believer. In sanctification we are released from the power of sin (6:6-8). The secret of sanctification is found in three words. Know (3); reckon (11); and yield (13).
Secret of living a sanctified life is Knowing: 6:1-10. Just because God freely extends his grace and forgiveness does not mean we can continue in sin that grace may abound. Paul uses baptism to explain his point. Christian baptism is a symbol of our unity with Christ in his death and resurrection to enjoy the blessings of his new life (6:3, 4, 8). Jesus death has broken the stronghold of sin and we are no more enslaved to sin (6:6-8). There are three personal responsibilities in relation to God’s sanctifying work in a believer. He must know the fact of his union and identification with Christ in His death and resurrection (6:3, 9). When we trust Christ this happens. Through Spirit baptism believers are spiritually incorporated to Christ to become members of His body, the Church (1 Cor 12:13). We need to know that our old man is crucified with Him. This simply means our old nature is made inoperative so that we do not have to serve our old master. It does not mean our sin nature is annihilated. It is still there but made powerless by the death and resurrection of Christ. Now we can live in the newness of life in Christ. We still live in the body of sin (6:7). Sin finds its source in our will and uses the body as instrument of sin (James 1:13-15). When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty of our sin in full. Christ is raised from the dead so are the believers. Therefore death hath no more dominion over us. Christ died to sin once for all to defeat sin and now lives for the glory of God. What Christ has accomplished on our behalf at Calvary is the first step of our sanctification.
Reckoning: 6:11, 12. While justification deals with the penalty of sin, sanctification deals with the power of sin. Justification is declarative act of God. Sanctification is a progressive act of God. Some suggest that sanctification can be achieved only through obeying the law and in some sanctimonious way. Others think that it is mystical experience. But the Bible teaches that the secret of sanctification is found in knowing what Christ has done for us and by yielding to His will continuously. After Knowing our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, we should reckon ourselves dead to sin and live for the glory of God (6:11). “Reckon” means to count something to account. This daily reckoning will enable us to say no to temptation and live for the glory of God. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to make it effective out of thankfulness to God for saving us. We are called to live a righteous life as a demonstration of the change Christ has made in our lives.
Yielding: 6:13-14. This is the third and final secret of sanctification. “Yield your body to God as instruments of righteousness” (6:13). Yield simply means to present ourselves once for all as alive from the dead work for God’s Possession and usefulness. Do not present your body as instrument of unrighteousness to sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God as instruments of righteousness. Do not submit your body to sin but present to God to do His will, knowing that you have been brought from death to life. You are free from the power of sin. You are alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:9-11). Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its passions (6:12). Do not preset your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin but to God as instruments of righteousness (6:13). The best defense is a good offense. What better offense against sin than a godly lifestyle? When we accept these three facts, knowing, reckoning and yielding by faith, sin will not have dominion over us. And by divine grace we become instruments of righteousness. It is the grace of God that breaks the power of sin and gives us the victory over sin.
Sanctification and the practice of sin: 6:15-23. Paul again asks the question, “What then? Shall we sin?" Paul says. “God forbid” (6:15). Paul explains that the gospel is supposed to produce a transformed life of obedience. He now deals with occasional sin in Christian life. Is it permissible to sin once in a while, since we are under grace and not under law? Paul answers: “God forbid.” . Paul makes his point by quoting Christ’s own words here. “No man can serve two masters” (Matt 6:24). Paul uses the analogy of a slave market. Believers are dead to sin and made free from sin. Therefore sin is no longer our master. You are a slave of the person to whom you serve. So present yourself to God. Believers have experienced a heart -transformation that enables them to turn from sin to serve God (6:17). We serve a new master, Jesus Christ. This is our active dedication to the Lord and not a behavior modification (12:1, 2). Yielding to sin will brings death but yielding to Christ brings righteousness and life transformation. We have been set from sin and its power (6:18). We no longer fear death but rejoice in the gift of eternal life (6:22). Verse 23 shows the contrast between serving sin and serving God. The outcome of serving sin is death. But the outcome of serving God is the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (6:23). We serve the powerful God and he accomplishes his purposes for our good and his glory.