The Logical Outcome of Justification
(b) Alive in Christ
Paul is now dealing with how the justified person ought to live. The process which governs the lifestyle of the justified person is known as sanctification. The Apostle has already explained that sanctification is the logical activity of the Christian because he is
dead to sin in the sense that he is now governed by grace as his ruling principle as opposed to sin and all its unlawful desires. Now Paul proceeds to expound the doctrine of our union with Christ and the effect that has upon our sanctification.
James Montgomery Boice regarding this section of Paul’s epistle wrote, “…the key to a
holy life is not our experiences or emotions, however meaningful or intense these may be, but rather our knowledge of what has happened to us.”
In this passage Paul uses the word “knowing” in v6 and v9 teaching us this very fact; that our knowledge of truth and doctrine is the basis of our sanctification. It is our knowledge
of our union with Christ that Paul is here stressing.
1: Identification with Christ v4-5
We are identified with Christ in his death. Paul uses the word baptism to express the Christian’s burial with Christ. The Holy Spirit is not here referring to water baptism. Baptism in the Scriptures does not always refer to water (1 Corinthians 10:1-2,
Galatians 3:27). When Christ died our sins were buried with him, we were baptised into his death.
We are also identified with Christ in his resurrection. If our guilt and if sin as a ruling principle has been buried with our Lord then it also follows that with his resurrection we also have new life. Our lives ought to be radically different on becoming Christians, for
this very reason, we serve a risen Saviour.
2: Freedom through Christ v6-10
The logic of our union with Christ is that we are now free from the dominion of sin. V7 is key in this instance, “For he that is dead freed from sin.” While we will never be free from the presence of sin, while we are in the world, we should be free from the dominion of sin. It is the dominion of sin which is captured in the words “our old man” and “the body of sin”. Our sinful nature has not been destroyed as a result of our union with Christ because
that nature still troubles us. It is the principle of depravity which governs the course of the world that has been crucified with Christ.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, wrote in the 5th Century that before Adam fell he was “able to sin”. After the fall Adam became “not able not to sin” and this is the tragic position of lost sinners today.
This tyranny of sin has been broken in the life of Christian therefore today according to Augustine we become “able not to sin”. It is not until we are glorified, however,
that we will reach the blessed place where we will become “not able to sin”. For today, however, it is the wonderful freedom of being empowered to have victory over the sinful corruption endemic in a world of vice that Paul is here referring to.
3: Counting on Christ v11
In summing up the life that we possess in Christ the Apostle uses an interesting phrase in v11, “Therefore reckon ye also yourselves…”.
Reckon is translated from the Greek logizomai which was a bookkeeping term stemming from logos meaning word or fact. A ledger if well kept contains only hard facts, it is a
genuine record. The Holy Ghost is here calling us to reckon or consider the facts. If a business is successful the proprietor can count on the record contained in the accounts. We can count on Christ. We have died with Christ in that the body of sin has been
crucified and buried with him. We now possess new life only through the resurrected life of Christ. As we count on Christ and as we realise our glorious position in him we are enabled and empowered in this work of sanctification.
Dr James Montgomery Boice in applying these truths taught that if the Christian is united to Christ then he cannot go back to the world. Dr Boice then the posed the rhetorical question, ‘what if we do go back?’ He responded with three wise answers;
a – It won’t work;
b – God will stop you;
c – If you continue in the old life you are not united to Christ.
He concluded with the challenge:
“…don’t go back! If you have been saved by Jesus, you have been
saved forever. There is nothing before you but to go on growing