The Christian life is
Christ living His life in and through the believer.
It is the life of Christ reproduced in the child of
God by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within
The doctrine of sinless
perfection in this earthly life is not taught in the
Scriptures. But neither is once saved always saved
and now I can live my life any way I so please
because I know all my sins are under the blood of
Jesus. However, the emphasis in the New Testament is
for the believer not to continue in the habitual
practice of sinful behavior. Our strength to not
continue in the habitual practice of sin is found in
this vital union in Christ.
Handly Moule reminds us:
"To the last it will be a sinner that walks with
God. To the last 'will abide in the regenerate' that
strange tendency, that 'mind of the flesh,' which
eternal grace can wonderfully deal with, but which
is tendency still."
"To the last, the soul's
acceptance before the Judge is wholly and only in
the righteousness, the merits, of Christ.
"To the last, if we say
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. . . We yet
need to the last the blood of propitiation, to deal
God's solution to the
problem of sin in the believer's life is based upon
our identification with Christ. God has changed our
identity by forming a new union with Jesus Christ.
Because the believer has
died with Christ he is now freed from the obligation
to obey sin when it issues orders to him.
A. T. Pierson states the
reformed doctrine of justification and
sanctification correctly when he writes, God "first
reckons or counts us holy in Christ, and then
proceeds to make us holy, until at last we are
presented before the presence of His glory, without
rebuke, or spot, or wrinkle, blame or blemish,
unrebukable and perfect."
In this intimate
relationship with Christ we find the sole basis not
only for our justification, but also for our
sanctification. "As Christ does away with the
penalty for sin by His death, so by His life he puts
an end to its power over the true believer." God
"counts the sinner now dead in sin to be dead to sin
and alive to God, counts him as righteous, and then
proceeds to make him what he at first only reckons
him to be (Romans 4:4-8, 17, 21-22)" (Pierson).
We died with Christ in
order that the body of sin, or the sin nature, might
be set aside as the master that controls us. Because
we died to sin and were buried we are no longer
obligated to serve our old master. This death and
burial does not mean that sin or sin nature has been
eradicated. Nor does it mean the believer will no
longer commit sin.
"Our death with Christ
delivers us from compulsory obedience and submission
to the sin nature which once dominated and
controlled us. . . By our resurrection with Christ,
death has no right to lay hands upon us, for we have
been made alive in Christ Jesus" (Dwight Pentecost).
We are not compelled to
submit to temptation. We have been set free from the
obligation to serve the sin nature in the same way
that a wife whose husband dies is set free from the
law of marriage so she can marry another. The
apostle Paul tells us there is only thing that can
break sins' control over us and that is death. Then
he goes on to tell us that we have already died!
When Jesus Christ died, you, as a believer in Jesus
Christ, died with Him, and that death broke sins'
control over you. Now you can walk in the newness of
life through your resurrection with Christ.
believer has died to sin.
The apostle Paul wrote in
Romans 6:11, "Even so consider yourself to be dead
to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." In
Galatians 2:20 he wrote, "I have been crucified with
Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved
me, and delivered Himself up for me."
Paul is not referring to
an experience in these passages. He is referring to
our position into which we have been brought through
our union with Christ in His death. He is not even
referring to some special "blessing" for a select
few of believers. Both of these passages including
Colossians 2:2; 3:3; Galatians 6:14; 5:24 speak of
our union with Christ that is true of all believers.
The "flesh with its affections and lusts" has
positionally been crucified with Christ. It is a
judicial fact in the past and not a spiritual
We are never called upon
to crucify ourselves, but to "mortify" or reckon to
be dead. This is only possible by the enabling power
of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:13, "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." Those who are being led by
the Spirit are the sons of God.
The crucifixion was
accomplished once and for all. In view of this fact
the believer is to "reckon," "yield," "mortify,"
"count as dead," "cut off," "put away," "put on the
whole armor of God," "set your affections on the
things above," "put on the new man," "deny himself,"
"abide in Christ," "fight the good fight," "run the
race," "walk in love," "walk in the Spirit," "walk
in the light," "walk in the newness of life," etc.
This is the believer's responsibility in our abiding
God's goal is that we may
"walk in the newness of life." We have the enabling
power of the Holy Spirit because of our union with
Christ. Because of our relationship with Christ our
bondage to sin has been broken. We have been
liberated and set free to live the Christian life
through the indwelling power of God. Through this
new vital relationship with Christ the Spirit of God
can operate through the new divine nature to produce
His righteousness in us. The important question is
am I walking in the Spirit now?
"We are all of us
conscious of no such actual identification with
Christ in death and burial. We have never yet really
died or been laid in the grave." This is "a judicial
act, something counted or reckoned or imputed to our
account by the sovereign mercy and grace of God"
(Pierson). God reckons the believing sinner to be
one with Christ so that His obedience is imputed to
the sinner as his own. Moreover, Christ's sacrifice
is reckoned as the sinner's own death for the claim
of the penalty for sin.
In this great exchange
"the believer is in Jesus, in the sight of God, and
is so judged and acquitted as clothed with God's
righteousness" (Pierson). His righteousness is
imputed to the believing sinner's account in heaven.
Christians fail in their spiritual walk because they
do not appropriate by faith what it means to be dead
to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. The apostle
Paul declared, "I have been crucified with Christ."
In Romans 8:3 we discover
that Jesus Christ condemned sin in the flesh. "For
what the Law could not do, weak as it was through
the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin,
He condemned sin in the flesh . . ."
The incarnate Son of God
lived a perfect absolute sinless life and by that
life condemned sin in the flesh. No one could point
their finger and convict Him of sin. He was sinless,
pure and holy in the eyes of the Lord God. His pure
sinlessness condemned sin in the flesh. When we as
sinful men stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus
we are condemned. His holy presence brings
conviction and condemnation to our sinful hearts
Carnal Christians rebel
at the idea that God condemns all our sinful fleshly
efforts. To trust in sinful flesh reveals a shallow
understanding of the sinfulness of our hearts. "The
heart is deceitful above all things and desperately
wicked," said Jeremiah (17:9).
Our only hope is to rest
in our position of complete acceptance in the Lord
Jesus. Self-effort produces the works of the flesh.
Paul experienced the same struggle we do. He said,
"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" (Romans 7:18-19).
It is "not I, but
Christ." Paul cried out, "Wretched man that I am!
Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So
then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am
serving the law of God, but on the other, with my
flesh the law of sin" (vv. 24-25).
God has to bring us to
the end of ourselves and reliance upon our fleshly
nature. It is not "wherever there is will there is a
way." It is in Christ alone that we accomplish His
will. We do not understand that lesson until we
learn to die. Sadly, many sincere believers never
seem to learn that truth. Our self-efforts produce
F. F. Bruce reminds us,
"Paul is not thinking of the body of flesh and
blood; the evil was more deeply rooted. 'The body of
this death,' or 'this body of death' (RSV), is, like
the 'body of sin' (6:6), that heritage of human
nature subject to the law of sin and death which he
shares with all sons of Adam, that massa perditionis
in which the whole of the old creation is involved,
and from which, for all his longing and struggling,
he cannot extricate himself by his own endeavors" (Romans,
Paul made a complete
break with the law when he put his faith in Christ.
It was the tutor that led him to Christ. Its demands
upon him were all fulfilled when Christ died for
him. Christ perfectly fulfilled the law in His life
and His death.
"All believers were
identified with Christ in His death, and
resurrection and thus have passed out of the realm
of divine law as its legalistic aspect is
concerned," says Kenneth Wuest. He has died to the
law in order that he might live to God. Paul
stresses that you cannot have both legalism and
Christ. Paul no longer tries to draw near to God by
means of his self-righteous attainments. "The new
life is a Person within a person, living out His
life in that person" (Wuest). Instead of living by
rules and regulations he "now yields to the
indwelling Holy Spirit and cooperates with Him in
the production of a life pleasing to God, energized
by the divine life resident in him through the
regenerating work of the Spirit" (Wuest).
Instead of a totally
depraved sinner trying to please a holy God by
attempting to live by a set of laws "it is now the
saint living his life on a new principle, that of
the indwelling Holy Spirit manifesting forth the
Lord Jesus" (Wuest).
No wonder Paul wrote with
excitement, "The life I now live in the flesh, I
live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me." This is the Christ–life.
It is an exchanged life. It is "not I, but Christ."
It is "Christ in me, the hope of glory." He could
write with security and conviction, "To me to live
is Christ. And to die is gain."
Our old self was
crucified with Christ.
We have become
permanently united, "grown together," in an intimate
union with Christ in His death. Romans 6:5, "For if
we have become united with Him in the likeness of
His death . . . "
What was crucified? Paul
says, "our old self (lit. man) was crucified with
Him, that our body of sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he
who has died is freed from sin" (v. 6). The "body of
sin" is the body belonging to or ruled by the power
of sin. The dead person sins no more. He is
released, legally dead, no guilt, no power, but
stands perfect, justified. He "who has died once for
all is freed (justified) from sin" (v. 17).
Colossians 3:5-9 gives us
an example of this death to the old man. Paul gives
us a list of sinful behaviors to be ridden of like
taking off old dirty clothes. "You laid aside the
old self (lit. man) with its evil practices and have
put on the new self (lit man) who is being renewed
to a true knowledge according to the image of the
one who created him" (vv. 9-10).
"We have been crucified"
is in the perfect tense indicating it is a completed
action in the past with permanent results.
Our judicial or
positional crucifixion of our sinful flesh took
place when Christ died on the cross. Our death dates
from the death of Christ (Col. 3:3).
When Christ died He died
to sin once and for all (Romans 6:10). Christ paid
in full our penalty for sin. Moreover, He broke the
power of sin over the believer.
When Jesus Christ died, I
died, and I am now set free. That is my present
spiritual status in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because
of Christ's death on my behalf as my substitute I am
identified with Him by faith. God is not going to
condemn me (Romans 8:1). He has just acquitted me!
He has already condemned Christ who died in my
Faith reckons us to be
one with Christ in God's sight. What is literally
true of Christ becomes judicially and
representatively true of us. We died when Christ
died; we were buried when He was buried. God reckons
us to have died and been buried when Christ died and
was buried. This is true judicially because what
happens to our representative is true of all whom He
represents. All that Christ did was representative
of every believer (Colossians 2:10-13; 3:1-4).
In Christ the believing
sinner finds himself dead and buried and left in the
grave. In Christ the believing sinner assumes a new
life with his whole inner life quickened with
resurrection power. In Christ the believer has an
ascension at God's right hand, a life of spiritual
privilege and eternal life.
I am dead to sin through
Christ because in His death I died. I am justified
by grace through faith in Christ.
Wuest translates verse
twenty, "With Christ I have been crucified, and it
is no longer I who live, but there lives in me
Christ. And that life I now live in the sphere of
the flesh, by faith I live it, which faith is in the
Son of God who loved me and gave Himself on my
"I am crucified with
Christ" (Galatians 2:20a). The verb is in the
perfect tense indicating a past-completed action
having present finished results. Paul is saying the
believer is identified with Christ at the cross. It
is a fact to be relied upon and now we experience
spiritual benefits through this identification.
This explains how Paul
died to the law. He died with Christ when He died
for the penalty of sin. Because the law demands for
the death penalty were satisfied it no longer has
any claim on the believing sinner who has put his
faith and trust in Christ's death.
God's answer to the
problem of sin in the believer's life is based on
our identification with Christ. God calls us to
reckon, to believe on an acceptance of an
Paul is referring to our
identification with Christ when he wrote, "I am
crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not
I, but Christ lives in me."
Literally, "I have been
crucified with Christ." Paul tells me I am to
believe in this fact that I am identified with
Christ in His crucifixion.
When Jesus Christ died,
we died together with Him. But my identification
with Christ not only means we died with Christ, but
we were buried with Christ, resurrected with Christ,
ascended and glorified with Christ. We have been so
identified with Him that God reckons us as having
experienced co-crucifixion, co-burial,
co-resurrection, co-ascension and co-glorification.
You ask, how can it be
that Christ lived 2000 years ago and I am crucified
with Him? How is it possible that I have been
resurrected with Christ? How can it be said that I
have ascended and have been glorified with Christ
when I am living here on the earth today?
The apostle Paul tells us
in 1 Corinthians 12:13 the believer in Christ has
been joined to the body of Jesus Christ who is the
living Head so that all that is true of the Head is
true of each member in His body. God has changed our
identity by forming a new union with Jesus Christ.
When the Holy Spirit baptized the believer into one
body, they were baptized into Christ's death,
burial, resurrection ascension and glorification.
All that a sinner needs
has been fully provided for in the death of Jesus
Christ. Christ died to pay the price for our sins.
He has set us free from spiritual death and has made
us alive. The obligation to obey sin has been
cancelled. We have a new lover, a new relationship
with a new master.
This is true because when
Jesus died, I was so identified and united with Him
that I died also. I was crucified with Christ
(Galatians 2:20). When Christ died, we died with
Him. Have you recognized and appropriated your
identification with Christ? "We were identified with
Christ in His death, so that when Christ died, we
died." No, we were not consciously present when it
took place, but it was nonetheless a real death.
"We were baptized by the
Holy Spirit into Christ Jesus." By that baptism we
were identified with His death. Cf. Colossians
1:21-22; 3:5, 9; Romans 6:3.
In that vital union we
were also identified with Christ in His burial.
Burial is the consequence of death. We who have died
with Christ have also been buried with Christ. No,
we were not conscious of our burial. We had no sense
of the tombstone being rolled against the opening to
seal us in. Yet, our burial is nonetheless real. It
is a fact to be believed and reckoned upon as true.
Cf. Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12.
Our identification with
Christ is so complete that we were identified with
Christ in His resurrection. We, too, have been
raised by God's power. We were identified with
Christ in His resurrection. Every believer has been
resurrected with Christ. Any child of God can
experience the power that brought Jesus up from the
grave. Now tell me why you cannot deal with sin in
your life? Cf. Romans 6:4-5; Ephesians 1:19; 2:1, 5;
Philippians 3:10; Colossians 3:1. Because of this
identification with Christ we are no longer under
the control of our sin nature. We have been
crucified with Christ in order that Christ may live
His life through us. We experience power to overcome
sin when we act upon this truth by faith. We are
identified with Christ's resurrection that we may
walk in a new life with Him.
I appreciate the way
Dwight Pentecost expressed this great truth in
Designed to Be Like Him. "God, in order to terminate
sin's control over you, put you to death with
Christ. In order to remove you from that old sphere
in which you operated, God put you into a grave with
Christ. And in order to bring you into a new kind of
life, God brought you in resurrection power, out of
the grave with Christ, and raised you to glory with
Christ. We have this identification with Christ in
order that we might walk in newness of life; in
order that Christ who lives in you, might live His
life out through you."
The apostle Paul
admonished us to "reckon," count upon the fact that
we are dead unto sin and alive unto God through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Believe on that fact. Act on
that fact that you are liberated from the obligation
to serve sin.
identification with Christ in His death also meant
death to self. Is this not the whole crux to our sin
problem? We are basically selfish. We see things my
way. We must do thing my way. We must have it my
way. We lookout for I, me and mine.
Saul looked at his old
life up to the moment he put his faith in Christ and
saw that it was buried, the dominating control of
his old nature under the control of Adam was now
broken. The self-righteous Pharisee died that day
(Philippians 3:8–8). Now his life is dominated and
centered in Christ. It is a Christ–centered life.
His new life is in a Person. The Lord Jesus Christ
lived in Paul just like He lives in Wil Pounds.
In Romans 8:13 the verb
is in the present tense. We die to sin daily. Luke
9:23, Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after
Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross
daily and follow Me."
Am I willing to accept
all that the death of Christ demands in my life
today? Am I willing to be crucified today? Am I
willing to die to sin, self-interests, selfish
pleasures, self-rule, etc.?
Christ bids us come and
die to our reputation, to our rights, to our riches,
How do I crucify
I can't. The cross is
never self-inflicted. We die to self by submitting
to the Holy Spirit who applies the power of the
cross to our sinful self. We rely upon the Holy
Spirit to "put to death the deeds of the body"
(Romans 8:13). Cf. Romans 6:14; Philippians 3:3.
The apostle Paul is
saying we are legally and judicially declared dead
the moment we identify ourselves by saving faith
with our Savior and Lord.
However, Martin Luther
put it well when he lamented, "The old man dies
hard." It is a daily battle to put the old man to
death and rely on the indwelling Spirit to enable us
to reckon on the all sufficiency of Christ.
Who or what circumstances
reminds you of the nails of the cross? It is a
constant reminder that I can do nothing in the flesh
that pleases God.
We must reckon on our
oneness with Christ in death to sin. "How shall we
who died to sin live any longer in it?" Romans 6:11
tells us to reckon on the fact that we have died to
our sinful self. We must reckon on the fact of our
identification with Christ (6:11-13).
When we reckon upon the
fact of our oneness with Christ in His death to
sinful flesh we can act upon the reality that we are
dead to every temptation to sin. We have a choice
and now the power to go ahead and choose to sin or
refuse to yield to temptation and to yield to the
power of the indwelling Spirit who resides within
us. We can now repudiate every beckoning of sin to
seduce us. "How shall we who died to sin live any
longer in it?" (Romans 6:2). We now have a choice.
We are no longer spiritually dead. Christ lives in
us and he is our new master. He has given us
spiritual life and power to face temptation and
conquer sin. Since we are dead to it we no longer
have to respond to it. We can now refuse to make any
provision for the flesh and yield to its temptations
practice and plans for sinning.
The apostle Paul
admonishes, "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts"
If you knew that at
midnight tonight you would die you would stop making
any provisions for your life. A coffin and grave
cloths are all you would need. God would have you
count yourself dead to sin and make no more
provisions for it. He tells us to reckon ourselves
dead, no longer alive to it. Stop making any
provisions for it. Instead, make plans for the power
of God in your life.
"Your expectation has
everything to do with your actual life," warned
Pierson. "If you expect to sin you will sin. . . To
count on sinning is itself a form of sinning; it is
reckoning the flesh, the world, the devil, mightier
than the Spirit of God and the Son of God, whose
very office is to overcome the flesh, deliver us
from this present evil age, and destroy the works of
Don't go through life
prepared to sin. Paul said do not go on making
provision for the flesh, to yield to its temptation.
Because of our vital
union with Christ we can now rely on the power of
our oneness with Christ overcome the sin of the
flesh. We go on putting to death the sins of the
flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives
"Whenever we deliberately
count on our union with Christ in His death, the
Holy Spirit instantly applies the crucifying force
of the cross to the ever-reviving flesh, that makes
the life of victory a reality in our experience,"
writes Stephen Olford.
When the sinful flesh
rises to tempt you nail it to the cross by the power
of the Holy Spirit.
How do I take up my
"If our old self is
condemned and crucified, then we can venture out on
the sound assumption that the 'body of sin' is done
away with, rendered powerless, inoperative, put out
of business (Romans 6:6)" (Olford).
The apostle Paul,
observed Leonard Ravehill in Why Revival Tarries,
p. 172, was a man who "Had no ambitions––and so had
nothing to be jealous about. He had no
reputation–and so had nothing to fight about. He had
no possessions––and therefore nothing to worry
about. He had no "rights"––so therefore, he could
not suffer wrong. He was already broke––so no one
could break him. He was "dead"––so none could kill
him. He was less than the least––so who could humble
him? He had suffered the loss of all things––so none
could defraud him."
The only way we can
mortify the "flesh" is by walking in the Holy
Spirit. Only by abiding in Christ can we put to
death daily the temptations of the "flesh." God has
provided the power in the Spirit to die daily to
Experience proves that if
we live by the flesh everything will wither and die.
However, if we live by the Spirit we will put to
death the deeds of the flesh and we will live to the
glory of God. Pentecost writes clearly:
"The secret of the
Christian life is not repeated crucifixion––putting
to death again and again and again in order to be
delivered from bondage to sin. Rather, God's secret
is found in Romans 6:22, where you read that you are
to reckon or count it to be a fact that you are dead
indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus
Christ our Lord. When you were joined to Jesus
Christ in His death, it was once for all. The
apostle did not write in Galatians 2:20, "I crucify
myself, again and again and again and again, so that
I might be free." But he says, "I have been
crucified with Christ," and the effects of that
crucifixion continue on and on and on. God is asking
you to stand off and look at yourself as one who has
died, and to deem yourself as one over whom sin's
authority has been broken because when Christ died,
you died; when Christ was resurrected, you were
resurrected; and now you have been set free to walk
in newness of life––resurrection life under control
of the Spirit of God.
"This is a fact from the
Word of God. And like every fact, it is to be
accepted and believed. . .
. . . God says you are
crucified, and in God's sight you are a crucified
one. God is not asking you to add to the value of
the death of Christ by crucifying yourself again and
again. God is asking you to accept His judgment on
the sin nature and to reckon the fact to be true
that you were joined to Christ in His death because
God says it is true; also that death with Christ has
broken sin's power over you so you have been
liberated to walk in the newness of life. Such
acceptance will change a man's whole attitude to the
sin nature within him.
We sin because we choose
to. Christ set us free and now we can choose to
follow Him. We choose to sin because we do not
reckon ourselves to have been crucified with Christ
and empowered by His Spirit to allow Him to live His
life through us. The truth is I do not have to serve
sin because I have been set free. God has set us
free to walk in righteousness and true holiness by
the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is not asking us to
break the power of sin because Christ has already
done that for us. Paul is telling us that Christ has
set us free, and this freedom is ours in Christ. It
is a walk of faith. Just as we have been justified
by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
we are to reckon on this great truth of our
sanctification. Sin's power over us has been broken
and we can now walk in newness of life.
Here are some more
studies on justification by faith in Chris: Romans
Series and our Union
2:20a Our Vital Union in Christ's Death
Series: Our Vital Union