Notes On Romans 6

Foundational Truths for the Believer
Lecture 4
By Marcus Rainsford

Marcus Rainsford was a well-known British preacher and pastor in the 1800's who partook in the Moody/Sankey evangelistic campaigns in the British Isles. He is the author of "Our Lord Prays for His Own: Thoughts on John 17" which is still published by Kregel Publications. This article is part of a series of 20 lectures given in 1870 to help believers in Jesus Christ to understand and appreciate our positional and practical relationship with our Saviour and Lord. Print it out and read it carefully.

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Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin - Ro. 6:6

We have already had two figures by which the Apostle Paul illustrates the great fact upon which our standing before God, our power for service, our practical consecration, and our future glory depend, viz., Union with Christ. He now employs a third illustration.

We have already dwelt on the being "baptized into Christ." The idea is union. Immersion into, identification with, being as it were swallowed up in the fulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, being "planted together with him." This is an additional idea. It is not a mere repetition, but a further illustration of this great theme. Identification with Christ, association with Christ, fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our destiny to be together, "planted together with him." As the root flourishes, so shall the branches; wherever the root puts forth its power the branches express all the fragrance and the fruitfulness derived from it. Nay, since the Lord has been pleased to assume the position and relation to his people as a root to its branches, there is no other means or way by which this "Tree of Life" can shew forth its fragrance and fruitfulness but through the branches. Separate the branches from the root, and the root has no other means or way of manifesting the preciousness contained in it.

We now proceed to the Apostle's third illustration, "Crucified with Him." You perceive the idea is still union, identification with him, association with him, interest in him, interest in the satisfaction once made for sin upon the cross, and in the everlasting separation between him and his, and all that can by any means oppose them - then and there effected.

Crucified with Christ! See what pains the Holy Spirit takes to teach us clearly and fully the nature and privileges of the standing in which the love of God has placed us. Now, it is in the knowledge and realization of these facts, and in the practical application of them to our hearts and consciences, that "we are renewed after the image of Him that created us," -- stablished, strengthened, settled.

All true believers on the face of the earth, whatever may be their degree of faith or the amount of their attainments in the knowledge of our God, and of his Christ, are equally baptized into Jesus Christ, are equally planted together with Christ, and equally crucified together with Christ, so far as their standing before God is concerned.

There is no truth more fully or distinctly recorded in God's word than this, and none more important or more comforting and assuring for us. The feeblest believer in the family of God is as truly united to Christ as the strongest. He has been as fully baptized into Christ, as truly planted together with him, as effectually crucified together with Christ, as any other individual believer in the family, for all are equally members of the Head. But when we come to speak of the different degrees of knowledge and of the enjoyment which believers have in these great truths, and the consequent practical power they have on our lives and affections, then indeed there are vast degrees of difference; our realization of them, and their practical influence upon our lives will ever be in proportion to our faith. As we draw upon the truth as it is in Jesus, we shall be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. In the same degree in which we enter into, explore, and appropriate by faith the grace that is in Christ Jesus, we shall be able to contend against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and the reason we find so many Christians feeble and sickly, and weak, may be illustrated by the reason why natural men are feeble and sickly, and weak, viz., bad food, a diseased constitution, proper medicine not applied, proper exercise not taken. Those matters neglected, the most robust soon become sickly, weak, and useless; and when we see Christians of this stamp, (for we are speaking of real believers,) depend upon it, the reason is not that they have not been baptized into Christ, planted together with Christ, and crucified with him; but because they have so little faith, they do not live upon the Lord Jesus Christ, they do not realize and feast on and exercise their souls in the fulness given to them in the Lord Jesus Christ; they are faint, and weak, and failing, and suffering because they are unbelieving and distrustful; endeavouring to do in their own strength and from their own resources what can only be done through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ enabling them.

Observe the stress to be laid on "knowing these things." That they are matters of fact, is one thing. It is quite another thing to know them, so as to realize and appropriate them, to dwell and live upon them as great realities, ( and that they are realities, we have God's own word as our warrant for saying,) but unbelief uses these facts but little, ignores them or neglects them: "knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him," and see also v.3, "know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. This repeated emphasis on knowing these things is very striking. When people begin to waver, question, and doubt as to their interest in Christ, and Christ's interest in them, all such reasonings have their source in simple unbelief, and then of course they are shorn of their strength, for they are wanting in joy, which is the secret of strength, "the joy of the Lord is your strength," no wonder if they are weak and feeble; no wonder if they are failing and disheartened, when they are not living on the salvation of God. Again, v.9, "knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more." See also 1 Cor. 6: 3, 15, 19; and observe the stress the apostle lays on knowledge of the truth of God, and of the privileges into which God calls his children. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" "know ye not that we shall judge angels?" "know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ's?" "know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that ye are not your own?" We have no idea how much practical power we lose by our want of a well-grounded knowledge of our high calling in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have a similar teaching in our text, and observe the connection between v. 2, "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" and v. 6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."

Let us dwell for a short time on the terms used by the apostle in this remarkable statement, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Christ;" we ought to know it.

First. What does the apostle mean by our old man? It is simply our natural self, with all its principles and motives, its outgoings, actions, corruptions, and belongings; this natural self which we find to be such a burden, this weary body of sin and death we carry about with us, always hindering us, always tempting us to lend a ready ear to its indulgences. The word of God states that our old man is crucified with Christ. The whole system , root and branch of our natural self, not as God made it, for God made it in his own image perfect, spotless, stainless, but our natural self, as sin, and Satan, and self have marred it, is crucified with Christ. See what that natural self is as described in scripture, (Isa. 1:5-6) "The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment." Some of us, by the grace of God, have learned that this is a true description of our natural selves, but some have not yet learned it. It is a blessed thing to know, on God's authority, that this self is crucified with Christ, and although it may be our present worry, it can never be our final condemnation, for it is "crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed."

Look at Ps. 14: 2-3 which is quoted in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul to show that things have not changed since the time that David wrote. The old Adam never changes; no medicine can heal the disease, no ointment can mollify the corruption; it can only be got rid of by death. "Knowing that our old man is crucified with him." What liberty the soul enjoys when once it realizes (and we have God's authority for saying it) that self was and is crucified on the cross. This is the great triumph of faith; and it is a fact that can only be realized by faith, for it is against our sense and against our everyday personal experience. But we walk by faith, and we have God's word and warrant for it, and on that we may build to any amount.......But to return to Ps. 14: 1-3, "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one." Here is God's view of our sad case. You perceive there is no exception. There may be many degrees of outward development of evil, but the all-searching eye of God sees no degrees in the principle of evil, and the truth of God proclaims the same sentence on all. All are corrupt, all are abominable. In Rom. 3 the apostle quotes this passage to prove the universal depravity of human nature, and the necessity for the gospel which was his privilege to proclaim (v.9): - "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin," -- covered with sin, charged with sin, sin pervading their inner principles, and manifested in their outward acts and conversation. This is a photograph of human nature, of the old Adam.

Now, beloved friends, very many persons' best hope of being saved is, that they are not so bad as this. They thank God they are not like this description. But surely they are, or God's statement is not true; and the fact they do not know it and see it, makes it all the more sad. When we do know it and see it by the grace of God, we will set to our seal that God is true. If I were to stand before him in judgment this moment, I have not a single thing to say of myself better than this. But to read in this blessed word of God that our old man is crucified with Christ,--to know it as a fact, because God has said it, this is liberty! This is peace! And this is life and joy! Here is indeed the root of practical consecration, --this "love of God shed abroad in our hearts;" this revelation to the soul, "ye are not your own." I belong, then, to him! The resolution must surely follow, by the grace of the same Spirit that has revealed the privileges, "I will live for God, I will be for God, I will follow God."

Second. What does it mean to be "crucified with him?" Our old man crucified with him,--heart and members. Look at Gal. 2:19: "I through the law am dead to the law;" it has no claim upon me. Why? The claim has already been demanded and met. (v.20) "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live." It is a potent principle; it is a blessed thing.

This expression, "crucified with him," implies three things.

1. That we have suffered in Christ a penal death; (See Gal. 3:13) It was Christ's death of the cross. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," (or instead of us) for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." I have been crucified with Christ; I have already suffered the penalty which the law demands and the sin of the old Adam deserves. This corrupt self was executed under the sentence of law on the cross of Calvary. I put these things before you, as God's word declares them. Do you realize them? Ask yourself the question. Do you believe them?

2. There is a second idea involved in our being crucified with Christ; crucifixion is a lingering, painful death. The knowledge that I am crucified with Christ, so that the law has no further claim on me, and God's justice no further demands, seeing I have already suffered when my Head, my Substitute, and my Saviour suffered, will evermore lead me to put self, which is my burden (but which cannot be my condemnation) to a lingering and painful death; it will be a constraining motive for mortifying my members which are on the earth, and makes me try to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. See Gal. 5:24 --"They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." They know they are crucified with Christ; they know that the old man is crucified with him, out of God's sight; and while it is their burden, it can never be their condemnation, and they do not serve the flesh with its affections and lusts, they cannot serve them. How could a man who knows he is crucified with Christ live in the indulgence of the sins which nailed Christ on the cross?

3. The third idea contained in the being "crucified with Christ," is, that it is a voluntary death. Christ was crucified as a voluntary agent, and the soul that realizes that the old Adam is crucified with Christ; voluntarily identifies its lot with the crucified One. See Gal. 6:14, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world."

See, then, the importance of the statement in our text, "Crucified with Christ."

i. An act of sovereign grace! for God gives us union with Christ when he was crucified for sin, when he hung upon the cross, cast out of God's sight.

ii. The realization of this union! In this way Christ lives in me and I in him. This is not theory, but reality. Christ lives in the man who has union with Christ, and the man who has union with Christ lives in Christ, and here lies the power for the practical crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts.

iii. It is the knowledge of this union which constrains us to go out with him beyond the camp, outside the gate, bearing the cross, despising the shame, waiting the time when we shall sit down with him in glory; when Christ shall be all and in all.

But our text instructs us further as to the object and the effect of this crucifixion of the old man with Christ.

The object is "that the body of sin might be destroyed." The effect is "that henceforth we should not serve sin."

1. The object. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed."

What very strong language! "The body of sin" is another form of expression for the "old man." It is not the human nature defiled by sin, nor the human body burdened by sin, that is to be destroyed, for we read in Phil. 3:21, God "shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;" but it is the sin that defiled it, the sin that possessed it, which is here called the body of sin, because it pervades the whole body, with all its powers and parts, the head, the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the feelings, all are poisoned by sin.

And because sin has so poisoned the whole body, it is called the body of sin, and the body of sin has been destroyed.

The word destroyed is the strongest possible word. It is the same word as that used in 1 Cor. 15:26, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." so the body of sin and death that we now carry about with us, and which is our worry, is in the sight of God actually crucified with Christ, and by virtue if his crucifixion, it is as much destroyed out of God's sight, as death will be destroyed when death is swallowed up in victory. Is this true? We hear these things, but we have a sad habit of merely hearing the message so wondrously, so gloriously precious, but it soon passes away. We do not take it in. Is it true that the body of sin is destroyed?

There is another passage where the same word is used; 1 Cor. 1:28, "bring to naught" is the same word; the body of sin brought to naught. Again, 1 Cor. 15:24, "When he shall have put down all rule;" put down is the same word; the body of sin put down....The same word is translated in 2 Tim. 1:10, abolished. "Who hath abolished death." The body of sin is abolished. We have it translated in Gal. 3:17, "made of none effect", so the body of sin is made of none effect; again, 2 Cor. 3:14, "The vail is done away." "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him," that the body of sin might be "done away," "abolished," "made of none effect," "put down," 'brought to naught," "destroyed." Do we indeed believe this?

Christ would never have risen from the dead if all had not been accomplished. His resurrection is the pledge that the body of sin is destroyed, its power gone, and its existence in God's sight virtually extinct; it cannot condemn the believer; it cannot separate him from the love of God; it cannot hinder his final ascension to where Christ is all and in all; it cannot destroy the union on which his comfort is founded. Do you believe this?

2. The effect is the next thing the apostle brings before us, (v.6) "Knowing that this our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." How can we serve, or be slaves to that which is extinct? How can we be slaves to a power that is abolished? How can we be slaves to a principle that is set at nought, made nothing of, put down? Impossible!

See then, what poor inconsistent and infatuated creatures we are when we serve, or minister in anywise to sin. We endeavour to resuscitate the principle which was crucified with Christ, but thanks be to God, we cannot do it; only God can raise the dead, or surely in our folly we had long since given resurrection power to a principle which it took the death of Christ to save us from the effects of.

"That henceforth we should not serve sin." The fact that Christ has abolished the power of sin is a glorious fact, the knowledge and realization that he has done so is liberty, and life, and peace, and power. The Lord increase our faith. This is what we want. The Lord enlighten our understanding that we may know these things, and as our understandings are enlightened, we will stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. This is the truth that makes us free, free legally as a fact, free practically, as we realize and enjoy that fact by faith.

The Lord grant to you, to me, that knowing our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, we may henceforth not serve sin.

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