Let's talk about grammar. Grammar was not my best subject in school. In fact, I hated it. In college it took me three tries to pass English 101. Yes, it was that bad. Now you know why so many of my sentences are so poorly constricted! At one point in Jesus' ministry He made a point by calling out a verb tense while confronted by the Sadducees. They didn't believe in the resurrection or eternal life and sought to ridicule Him over these doctrines He held. The tail end of that encounter went like this.
Matthew 22:28-33 "In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her." 29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 'I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
Who wouldn't be; He mastered grammar.
This is a review of the fourth book in The Green Letters series with comments and study questions along the way. Feel free to answer questions or ask your own in the comments to enrich our learning. To go to the start of this series click here.
6: ROMANS SIX RECKONING
When we first encounter the identification truths, the most serious mistake we can make is to try to reckon ourselves to be dead. Surprising as it may be to some, the Word does not teach that we are to reckon thus! Neither does it teach that the world, the flesh, and the devil are to be reckoned dead.
It is quite common for the awakened believer, one who is yearning for the liberation of the cross in his life, to concentrate upon reckoning himself to be dead. He is sincere about fully entering into this first aspect of identification. Although he is still aware of the old life within, he feels that if he just reckons upon his death in Christ intently and consistently he will in time come to the place where there is no longer any response to sin and self.
Others press this matter a step further, claiming that self is dead at the very outset of their reckoning it so. To uphold this claim, any subsequent manifestation of sin or self in the life is to them “just a shadow cast by the enemy”; they do not consider it to be sin. Also, these uprisings of sin within are considered to be simply “old habits seeking to reassert themselves,” which they feel will soon be replaced by the development of new, righteous habits.
But this desired result cannot follow, as the entire principle is erroneous. Sad to say, the problem of faulty reckoning in this instance, due to a wrong interpretation, is mainly caused by an inferior translation in our beloved King James Version. In Romans 6:6 the word “destroyed” is used in reference to “the body of sin” (the law of sin in our members), thereby causing many to take for granted that self is dead and gone once they begin to reckon it so.
In the first place, the content of Romans Six has to do with the tyrannical reign of the principle of sin – not its symptom, sins. The problem of sins has been dealt with at the source by the crucifixion of the cross. The King James Version’s use of “destroyed” in verse 6 is far too strong for that particular Greek word. In the Greek it has reference to enslaving power, setting forth the fact that the old man has not been annihilated, but crucified; its power has been “annulled,” “put down,” “made without effect.”
This same Greek word (katargethe) is used in Hebrews 2:14, where at the cross our Lord is said to have “destroyed” the devil. Rather, it is there that He broke the enemy’s power – he certainly was not annihilated! In Romans 3:3 this word is translated “make without effect”; in 3:31, “make void”; in 7:2, “loosed”; and in 7:6, “delivered.” Self has been crucified at Calvary so that it may be rendered powerless to enslave us; made without effect so that we may be delivered from the reign and tyranny of the indwelling principle of sin, that henceforth we should not have to serve sin.
Our King James Version has a tendency to lead one astray in the area of reckoning because of its failure to set forth our death with Christ in the past tense. In this Version, the present tense is used in connection with these truths: concerning self, “our old man is crucified with him”; and concerning the believer, “he that is dead is freed from sin,” and “if we be dead with Christ” (Rom. 6:6-8).
The American Standard Version (1901), which is more accurate for study purposes, gives us the contrasting correction. In Romans 6:6, “our old man was crucified with him”; verse 7, “he that hath died is justified [released] from [the tyranny of] sin”; and verse 8, “if we died with Christ.” Thus the ASV makes it possible for us to reckon aright. In both versions, Romans 6:11 calls us to reckon ourselves dead unto sin, but alive unto God. The ASV enables us to see and understand that we have died unto sin but are now alive in Christ. We are not dead, but very much alive as new creations.
The usual mistake made in reckoning is to stop at the wrong point. The purpose of reckoning is that we may abide in Christ, who is our life. The first half, “dead unto sin,” is but the stepping stone into the Land. If we stop short there, we are stranded in midstream. True reckoning is to step out firmly, and keep on going. We have died to the old Adamic source, but have been resurrected and are now alive in the new Source. Death was the means, life is the goal.
Although we are not to halt at the first half of our reckoning, neither are we in any way to regard that step as a superficial one. There can be no effective reckoning upon our life in Christ until we are firmly established in the truth of our having died to the old. The steps to maturity cannot be skipped over. Spiritual growth comes by walking in the Spirit, and He establishes us in each successive realm in preparation for the next. We cannot rest in our risen Lord until we know we have been positionally released from Adam through death. Neither can we rest in the process of being experientially released from the domination of the Adamic life until we know and count upon the fact that we are already loosed positionally.
True reckoning has its ultimate emphasis on the life-side of the cross; we count upon our having died unto sin in order to count upon our being alive unto God. Since we are new creations in Christ, death is forever past; we were brought out of it in Him at His resurrection. As for the old man within, we continually reckon that source to have been crucified, so that it may be held daily in the place of death. We reckon; the cross crucifies.
Look carefully at Colossians 3:3 (KJV): “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” However, we are not dead, but alive. Neither is self dead, but judicially crucified. We have forever passed beyond death. The American Standard Version brings out the past tense: “For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” All the difference in the world! Once we see that our death unto sin is in the past tense, completed, we are free to count ourselves alive unto God in Christ Jesus, and to live – in the present tense!
The principle of life out of death is pictured both in our public Baptism and in the Lord’s Supper. Actually, our water baptism is to be a testimony of our reckoning. We count ourselves to have been baptized into (placed in union with) the Lord Jesus by the Spirit, and therefore we died unto sin with Him, were buried with Him, and arose in Him (Rom. 6:3, 4). The testimony of this reckoning is carried out in pictorial form by our being baptized in (placed in) water, which covers us in burial, from which we arise to “walk in newness of life.” We are confessing that we died and were buried, as far as the old source of life is concerned, and now are risen as new creations to walk in the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Water baptism, therefore, holds less than its full meaning to the believer until he has apprehended the identification truths.
Water baptism testifies to our position: we have died to the old life, and are alive in the new. The Lord’s Supper sets forth our experience (condition): we are being conformed to His death, so that His life may be manifested. We do not leave the influence of the cross to live, but we continually receive the benefit of its emancipation for our walk in newness of life. To what are we testifying in receiving and assimilating the broken bread and the fruit of the vine? “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
The testimony of our baptism is a once-for-all picture of our reckoning upon the finished work, and represents our position. The Lord’s Supper is a continuous picture of our being conformed to His death, and has to do with our condition. We confess that we are continually participating in His death, via reckoning, that His resurrection life may be increasingly manifested in and through our mortal bodies.
- When we first encounter the identification truths, the most serious mistake we can make is to try to reckon _________ to be dead. ↑
- Our _________ _________ _________ has a tendency to lead one astray in the area of reckoning because of its failure to set forth our death with Christ in the past tense. ↑
- The King James Version of the Bible puts forth our death in Christ in the _________ tense. ↑
- The American Standard Version of the Bible puts forth our death in Christ in the _________ tense. ↑
- Water baptism testifies to our _________. The Lord’s Supper sets forth our _________ ↑
Click on the "The Reckoning That Counts" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.