In our unit dealing with peace, we have been studying peace in its biblical sense, rather than the political or military. Yet, there is a connection among them. The angels announced that Jesus would bring a message of peace for the nations. That can come only as individuals become committed to it. For example, as long as fundamentalist Muslims such as Hamas are openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel, peace in the land is impossible. Little can be done by the average person in that regard, but the one thing we can do is be a proponent of Christ’s peace where we are, our arena of personal responsibility. We will highlight contrasting situations which demand choices by us.
First, every one must choose between two kinds of death (vv. 8-10). Jesus died on the cross, and becoming a Christian means we become participates in His death. Notice that we, against the view of the world, begin with death before we can learn to live, rather than beginning with life until one learns how to die to self.
Looking to Jesus our Mediator, death no longer has dominion over Him. Knowing God raised Him from the dead, we are assured of having been made alive, present tense, in Him. The second death is removed as a threat to us.
Second we are called upon to make two lists (vv. 11-14). The word “reckon” can be interpreted in at least two ways. First, it can mean, “count it to be true,” a valuable principle. We count it true we are dead to sin, but alive to Jesus Christ. We may not feel dead to sin, but count it as true that we are.
Following that principle solves a lot of personal problems. For example, I do not question my marriage. The commitment to each other in 1952 is settled, once and for all. Neither do I endlessly review my salvation experience, wondering whether I said or did it correctly. If we confess with our lips and believe in Christ with out hearts, we are saved. Count it to be true, and move on.
The word “reckon” can have a second meaning, reasons for counting it to be true.
We used to sing an old hymn which admonished us to count our many blessings to see what God has done. The list of disadvantages will dry up and blow away in view of what God is doing for us.
Our passage adds to the mandate to “reckon.” Do not let sin take rule of the mortal body. You maintain control by refusing to let physical impulses rule the life. Because we are under grace and not the law, we do not let sin have dominion over us (v. 14). Count it to be true.
Making two lists should remind us of the two dominions (vv. 15-16). To begin, we cannot go on in spiritual defeat by explaining we are under grace, not under the law. We must remember that grace demands much more that the law, a point Jesus addressed in His Sermon on the Mount. Whereas the law forbids murder, Jesus said we are not to experience unjust anger (Matt. 5:22). Similarly, the law forbids adultery whereas Jesus said not even to lust after a woman (5:28). In His approach, the sin is stopped at its point of origin. The difference is this. All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We resist sin in His power. As Dr. Clayton Waddell used to say, “The Holy Spirit is God’s indispensable plus element in living the Christian life.”
We can summarize the Christian responsibility by reminding ourselves of the two ways (vv. 15-18). That life consists of two main ways, the narrow way and the broad way; two different kingdoms, God’s and Satan’s; and two identifying characteristics, righteousness and sin. The Bible calls on us to thank God we have renounced loyalty to sin and established citizenship with Christ in heaven.
“Being there made free from sin, ye become the servants of righteousness” (v. 18). Reckon it to true!
Although we are yet inclined to sin, we now have a new Master. We may be tempted to dwell, perhaps longingly, on the old life, but at the same time it ends in death, the spiritually doomed person who is hell-bound.
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