How A New Creature Lives A New Life—Romans 6:11-14

INTRODUCTION

 

In 2 Corinthians 5, we find one of those famous, oft-memorized verses:

 

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

Have you ever thought really hard about that verse? It says that a Christian is a new creature (meaning, creation) and all things about him or her have become new. If that’s true, then why do we often seem to live by the old ways so much? What does it mean that a Christian is new? Is it like a used car or a refurbished smart phone? New to you, but still a little old? 

 

Someone has said that the raising of Lazarus from the dead is a good picture of a born-again Christian. Remember how Lazarus came out of the tomb? 

 

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. (John 11:44)

 

There’s Lazarus—who has been dead for four days—with new life coursing through his veins. Cells and neurons had stop functioning…decay had set in. Now he is new and alive. But, he is still wrapped in grave clothes. 

 

That’s the Christian. We are born again. We are new creatures in Christ. But we are still wrapped in the grave clothes from the old life. 

 

Of course, Lazarus was able to get out of his grave clothes right away. The Christian’s grave clothes remain, in part, on them. And not only that, the Christian is continually tempted to put them back on. So we are made into a new creature, but we have a problem with wearing the old grave clothes.

 

The best explanation for the conundrum of 2 Corinthians 5:17, however, is found in Romans 6. Paul lays out in more detail the strange case of how a Christian is both made new and still has to struggle with the old self.

 

The context for the verses we will look at begin in Romans 5:20. Paul writes:

 

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (Romans 5:20)

 

That’s an amazing statement about God’s glorious grace being so much greater than all our sin! But unfortunately, it is a statement that can be easily misunderstood and abused. Paul anticipated that and in Romans 6:1 writes,

 

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

 

His answer?

 

Romans 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

 

Is Paul rebuking Christians who have a casual attitude toward sin? Surprisingly, he’s not—he’s saying that it is impossible for the Christian to live in sin! How can that be possible? It’s as stunning as 2 Corinthians 5:17—being a new creature and having the old passed away.

 

Paul goes on to explain that we have both died and risen with Christ:

 

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life

 

Being “baptized” with Christ means that we are in union with Christ—everything that happens to him happens to us: death, burial, and resurrection. Notice the connection with 2 Corinthians 5:17’s “new creature”“walk in newness of life.” 

 

Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:6 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. Romans 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

 

Our “old man” has been crucified and is dead. This does not mean that we don’t have the ability to sin, we certainly do. But the person you once were is dead. A new person has taken his place. You have a new identity.

 

Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. Romans 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

 

The Christian is united with Christ not only in his death, but also his resurrection. Since Christ now lives, so also does the Christian.

 

Paul writes all this as a matter of fact. We are new creatures. We are dead to sin. We are alive with Christ. But we still wonder: how does that play out in our lives? How do we live out the new creature that we are? That’s what our text in Romans 6:11-14 is about. There are two key words in these four verses: reckon and yield.

 

RECKON (6:11-12)

 

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

The Greek word for “reckon” (logizomai) is also translated in the KJV as “reasoned,” “impute,” “accounted,” “think” and “counted.” Another word that we might use would be “consider.” You can see that it is a mental word, it has to do with our thinking. Consider, or count yourselves to be dead unto sin.

 

This doesn’t mean that we play mind games with ourselves. It’s not about positive thinking. We won’t be walking around repeating to ourselves, “I am dead to sin…I am dead to sin…” until we convince ourselves that it’s true.

 

To reckon or count ourselves dead to sin and alive with Christ is simply to believe that it is true and then to act on it. It’s an act of faith in God and in God’s word. We know we are dead to sin because God’s word says we are!

 

When we reckon ourselves dead to sin, we deny sin the opportunity to reign in our bodies—

Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

 

The word for “reign” means to rule as a king or to lord over someone. Sin is like a dethroned king who still wants to reign over his subjects. He doesn’t want to give up the throne.

 

Napoleon was forced to renounce his throne in April 1814. He was declared to be the “sole obstacle to the restoration of peace in Europe.” He was exiled to a small Mediterranean island named Elba. Elba had 12,000 people on 90 square miles. The French and British navies patrolled the waters to make sure Napoleon stayed put.

 

However, they allowed Napoleon to keep his title of Emperor. He had a personal staff of 1,000 that went with him, and they allowed him to have rule over the island! Napoleon made some governmental reforms and proceeded to build a small army and navy. After 300 days of exile, he slipped past his guards and escaped to France, where he regained power and ruled for a hundred days. Eventually, with forces from other nations chasing him down, Napoleon surrendered. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon)

 

This time he was exiled to St. Helena, which was a barren, wind-swept island in the South Atlantic (halfway between Brazil and Africa). This time, only a few people went with him, and one of them wrote in a diary:

 

 

The Emperor Napoleon, who lately possessed such boundless power and disposed of so many crowns, now occupies a wretched hovel, a few feet square, which is perched upon a rock, unprovided with furniture, and without either shutters or curtains to the windows. (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/napoleon.htm)

 

We are told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, therefore we mustn’t let it have the title of “emperor” in our lives. Send it to exile and strip it of the title, “emperor.” We mustn’t allow it to rule, even in a small island of our lives, because it will escape its confinement and attempt to seize control in our lives.

 

We must reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and give it no quarter to reign in our mortal bodies. The second key word in these four verses is…

 

YIELD (6:13-14)

 

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

 

The word “yield” (paristēmi) means to offer or present something to someone. For instance, in Romans 12:1, the same Greek word is translated “present.”

 

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

 

This word “yield” means giving the someone else the right to control the members of your body.

 

What are these “members”? The members of your body: hands, feet, tongue and so forth. Our tongues, for example, are one of the most difficult to control members of our bodies, even though it is among the smallest (James 3:5-6).

 

We are not to use our members as “instruments” (hoplon) of sin, but of righteousness. There’s perhaps a military metaphor here—we are not to offer our weapons in service to a tyrant. 

 

Imagine a soldier turning his weapon over to the enemy—what does the enemy do with it? He’s going to shoot other people with it, or perhaps even the soldier himself! Isn’t that exactly what happens when we turn the members of our body over to sin? Others get hurt and we hurt ourselves.

 

Again, just to be clear. As new creatures, believers in Christ cannot be drafted into Satan’s army. His rule over us is broken. But we’re still in enemy territory and we can inadvertently help the enemy when we sin.

 

We must not yield our members to sin. Instead, we need to yield—present, give, offer—our bodies to God’s service and the members of our bodies to righteousness.

 

How do we yield, present, give or offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and our members as instruments of righteousness?

 

We obey the Lord in our daily lives. Yielding ourselves to him is an act of our will that we must make every moment of every day. The only way for sin to have power in a Christian’s life is for it to first pass through our will. 

 

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

 

Is the first phrase in this verse a promise or a command? I think it might be both.  “For sin shall not have dominion over you…” Can you see how it’s a promise? God says, “I promise sin shall not have dominion over you.” Can you see how it’s a command? God the Commander is speaking to his solders, “Sin shall not have dominion over you!” 

 

The promise and the command are grounded in the truth that “ye are not under the law, but under grace.” God’s law no longer condemns you (Romans 8:1). But now the power of sin has been broken by God’s grace and Christ’s sacrificial death. With the cross, we have a new master, the Lord Jesus. Sin is the old master and we must not let it rule in our bodies and by God’s grace, sin will not rule over us.

 

Who are you yielding your new creature body to? To sin or to the Savior?

 

CONCLUSION

 

Now we’ve seen what’s behind 2 Corinthians 5:17—

 

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

When you become a Christian, “all things are become new.” But at the same time, it’s something that we must think about and act on. We need to reckon and yield. 

 

You could think of it like being a prisoner of war in a concentration camp. Somehow, by the grace of God, you break out and are freed from your bondage. But you are deep in enemy territory. It will take some time to get to the borders of the country you call home—Heaven. 

 

In the mean time, you have to engage in a kind of guerrilla warfare as you make your way back. You are not totally alone. You have a walkie-talkie for communication with your Commander back home. He can tell you what direction to go and what to do to avoid the enemy’s traps. And you have other escaped prisoners with you for support—a band of believers—you call yourselves “the church.”

 

But you must act. You are out of bondage—you have a new lease on life—but you are not home yet. You need to count or reckon yourself as free and yield not to the enemy as you fight your way home.

 

How do you escape the prison camp of sin? How do you join the band of believers making their way home? By being reconciled with the Commander. The reason that you were caught by the enemy in the first place is that you had disobeyed the Commander. The Bible calls this sin. And the penalty for our sin is death (Romans 6:23).

 

But God has sent in a reinforcement like no other to help us. His own Son Jesus came and, in a strategic maneuver, paid the ransom for our sins—

 

28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

 

When we trust in Christ and the strategic maneuver he made on the cross for us, it’s like we are prisoners set from from the prison camp. You no longer identify as a prisoner. You are free. You are a soldier of Christ. 

 

But you are not home yet…it will feel sometimes that you are still a prisoner. You may have been a prisoner so long, that you will find yourself still doing the habits of a prisoner, even though you are not any longer. At those times, you need to remember who you belong to. You need to reckon yourself to be a soldier of Christ and not a prisoner of sin.

 

You also need to be careful not to yield your weapons to Satan’s use, but yield them only to our Commander’s use. 

 

God’s command to us is that, by his grace, we will not yield to sin any longer.

God’s promise to us is that, by his grace, we will not yield to sin any longer. Amen.

 

 

Levi Durfey—LDM-45-Romans 6.11-14–20190818FBCAM-SERMON

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