In conjunction with the sermon he preached Sunday, “How the Resurrection Effects Us Now” [Romans 6:1-7, 11] Pastor Jay writes:
The doctrine of union with Christ from Romans 6:1-14 is a glorious truth no doubt. Our union with Christ has liberated us from the enslaving power of sin in our lives. This was just one of the many benefits that Christ has merited for us in his atoning work. But even though we have this wonderful blessing, remaining sin continues to be present in the members of our body. Remember what Paul says even as a mature Christian man.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
– Romans 7:14–24
Here Paul is sharing his struggle with indwelling sin as a mature Christian. He wants to do good but he engaged in an ongoing struggling with his sin (Rom. 7:21). But how does this fit with the glorious truth of Romans 6 that we are dead to sin and alive to God? The answer is found in the fact that both of these things are true and a present reality for the Christian.
Although we are dead to the mastery of sin, we still will find the presence of sin in our lives. We will never arrive at a state of sinless perfection and as long as we are in these mortal bodies we will never keep God’s word perfectly. But thanks be to God that we are trusting in one who did keep the Law perfectly on our behalf and who did die as a propitiation for all of our sins. We are saved by grace and not by works of the law. But although we are resting in the finished work of Christ for our salvation it is time for us to get to the hard work of mortification of our sin. We will always have to fight off our remaining sin until the day of our death.
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
– Romans 8:13–14
Paul says again,
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
– 2 Corinthians 7:1
So this is the tension for the Christian who has union with Christ but is not glorified yet. We wait for the glorious day when we will be given glorified redeemed bodies, but until then the war goes on. So take heed Christian friend, if you find yourself in a struggle and a battle with indwelling sin, be of good courage, it is the normal Christian life.