Crucified With Christ
Reckon Yourself Dead

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 25b of 83

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).

[The theme of Romans is justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This doctrine teaches us that Christians are accepted by God not because of their righteousness but because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. But if this is true, then does it mean that Christians are free to sin? Paul addresses this question in chapter 6, beginning with the rhetoric query: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Rom 6:1).  It is absolutely unthinkable and incongruous that those who are dead to sin should continue to live in sin. But as with most doctrinal assertion, what ought to be obvious is often not so obvious to everyone. So Paul goes on to explain and develop what he is saying. His explanation revolves around three things he wants us to do: (1) in verses 3-10, he wants us to know that we are dead to sin; (2) in verse 11, he wants us to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin; and (3) in verse 12-14, he wants us to yield ourselves unto God rather than unto sin.

We have already considered the first point previously. In this second part, we continue with Paul’s call to reckon ourselves dead unto sin. —JJL]

2.  Reckon

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

Paul wants us to reckon. What does he want us to reckon? He wants us to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin.

a. It is a fact that as believers, we are dead indeed to sin, and alive unto God through Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a fact because of our union with Christ. Our baptism is a symbol of this union with Christ.

But do you know these things, in your experience, dear reader? Can you say that you are dead to sin? Can you say that you are alive unto God? Can you say that you have experienced the power of the resurrection?

I don’t know about you, but I must confess that there are times when what Paul is saying comes across as something very distant and academic. I know that a Christian is dead to sin and alive unto God. But I find it difficult to reconcile with my own life.

I look at myself and I see sin within. I see my lack of love for God and His Word. I see my prayerlessness. I see my faithlessness. I see how easily I get angry with my wife and my children. I see my lack of gratitude, my laziness, my pride, my selfishness, my hypocrisy. When I see all these things in my heart and life, then what the apostle Paul says,—about the Christian being dead to sin and alive unto God,—become very distant.

When I think of this, I sometimes feel depressed; and I wonder if I am a true child of God. If Christians are dead to sin and alive unto God; then perhaps I am not a Christian because I see my sin so glaringly.

Is this not your experience too, dear Christian? I believe this is the experience of most true believers. I believe it was the experience of the apostle Paul. He will speak about it in chapter 7; and he calls himself “chief of sinners” not without reasons. I believe that this struggle in our hearts is a normal Christian experience.

Why is it so? It is so because it pleases God to leave a remnant of corruption in us. Throughout our Christian life, we will have to fight against sin. The more we grow in our Christian life, the more we will be aware of our sin.

b. Yes, the more sin abounds, the more grace super-abounds. But it remains a fact that because of our experience with sin, we find it hard to say “Amen” to what Paul is saying. We find it hard to confess wholeheartedly that a believer is dead to sin and alive to God. And we find it hard to apply what He is saying unto ourselves. What shall we do then? We must do what Paul teaches us to do.

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

To reckon is to count. We are to count ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God. Now, you must be careful to understand that Paul is not telling us to psyche (or as we commonly say in Singapore, to psycho) ourselves into thinking that we are dead unto sin and alive unto God though we are not. No, no; Paul is not teaching us to bluff ourselves!

He is telling us that we are already dead unto sin and alive unto God. In Christ our Lord we are already dead unto sin and alive unto God. It is a truth. It is a fact. It is a reality. Whether or not you feel it, it is a fact and it is reality. If you are united to Christ,—and your baptism points to your union with Christ,—then you must not doubt that you are dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ.

We must not allow our experience to tempt us to think otherwise. Our old man has been crucified. He is as good as dead. In your experience, he seems to be still alive. But he is as good as dead. He is not even gasping for breath. He is letting out his final sigh. He has no power over you.

c. We must not allow experience to rule. We must reckon that we are indeed dead to sin, but alive to God. If our experience suggest otherwise, it does not mean that the truth is wrong. It means we are not thinking correctly. Or it means that you are placing too much emphasis on sight rather than on faith. If you are a child of God, you are already dead to sin and alive unto God! Therefore reckon yourself to be dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ!

Let me illustrate what I am saying. Think of the days of Esther. Because of the wicked Haman, the Persian king issued a decree to exterminate the Jews. On a certain day, all the people throughout the empire were given permission to destroy the Jews. No one was allowed to help the Jews. But later Esther persuaded the king to reverse his decree. Now the king could not reverse his decree. Instead he issued another decree which essentially said that the Jews were allowed to defend themselves and to destroy and plunder anyone who dares to touch them.

Now you know what happened subsequently. Where ever the second letter reached, the Jews had a day of victory over their enemies.

But now suppose there is a village in which the Jews did not think that the second decree was authentic. What do you think would happen? They would live in fear and defeat wouldn’t they? While the rest of the Jews had victory over their enemies, they would be cringing in fear. They would feel powerless to fight back. They may even just give up. It need not have been the case, for victory was already theirs, but they did not believe and so they lived in fear and defeat.

Now, dear child of God, is that the case with you? You are dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ! But are you living according to this knowledge, or are you allowing your experience to rule your life—so that you have no victory over sin, and confidence and assurance of salvation? Is your experience greater than the Word of God? No, no, beloved child of God, “reckon ye… yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

But do not only reckon. You must also learn to yield.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim