In chapter 5 we saw how God has delivered us from the realm and reign of sin through union with Christ in His death. We were slaves to sin and in slavery we committed sins. We developed sinful habits regardless of how “good” we were. But Jesus Christ came into this sinful world and took our place on Calvary. He died to sin and through our union with Him we died to sin also. Now we are freed from sin’s reign; we are no longer its slaves. We are to count on this fact and resist sin so that it does not reign in our mortal bodies.
In chapter 6 we saw how sin still lives within us, waging its “guerrilla warfare” through evil desires and deceiving our minds. It may well seem that whatever hope for holiness was held out in chapter 5 was effectively taken away in chapter 6. “What good does it do,” you may ask, “to be told that the war with sin was won by Christ in His death on the cross if I am still harassed and often defeated by sin in my heart?”
To experience practical, everyday holiness, we must accept the fact that God in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to allow this daily battle with indwelling sin. But God does not leave us to do battle alone. Just as He delivered us from the overall reign of sin, so He has made ample provision for us to win the daily skirmishes against sin.
This brings us to the second point in Romans 6:11 that we are to count on and keep before us. We are not only dead to sin, as we saw in chapter 5; we also are alive to God. We have not only been delivered from the dominion of darkness; we also have been brought into the kingdom of Christ. Paul said we have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18). God does not leave us suspended in a state of neutrality. He delivers us from sin’s reign into the reign of His Son.
What is the significance of being alive unto God? How does it help us in our pursuit of holiness? For one thing, it means we are united with Christ in all His power. It is certainly true we cannot live a holy life in our own strength. Christianity is not a do-it-yourself thing.
Notice the attitude of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11–13. He is talking about how he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances, whether plenty or want, whether well-fed or hungry. He says he can respond this way through Christ, who gives him strength. How does this apply to holiness? Our reactions to circumstances are a part of our walk of holiness. Holiness is not a series of do’s and don’ts, but conformity to the character of God and obedience to the will of God. Accepting with contentment whatever circumstances God allows for me is very much a part of a holy walk.
But notice that Paul said he could respond in contentment because Christ gave the strength to do so. We see this again where Paul said he prayed that the Colossians would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Where do endurance and patience come from? They come as we are strengthened with God’s power.
Bridges, Jerry. 1978. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: Navpress.
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