"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. For he that is dead is freed from sin. " Rom. 6:6-7
Fighting sin is a constant struggle for Christians. What does Paul mean when he states that we can be freed from sin?
The first mistake that many Christians make is implied in the above question. Look at that question again: What does Paul mean when he states that we can be freed from sin? Paul does not state that we can be freed from sin! He presents it as an accomplished fact - not "can be" but "is."
Notice, our "old man is crucified" with Christ. This is not something that is going to happen [future], it "is" our current state based on an event in the past [the death of Christ].
Now, since we all struggle with sin, how can it be that we are dead and freed from sin right now? It certainly does not feel that way. The answer to this dilemma is found in discovering what Paul means by the "old man." What is our old man that died with Christ?
If you follow the argument of the preceding chapter you will see that Paul is comparing Adam and Christ. We are all represented in Adam. We have the Adamic or sin nature [original sin] because of our relationship with Adam. When we are in this state, sin is not so much what we do, but who we are. The old man that Paul refers to is our sin nature.
Paul states the glorious fact that when Christ died, our sin nature [as Christians] died with Him. The idea is that sin has no impact on a dead man. The dead man has moved beyond the realm and control of sin. Since our sin nature IS dead, we also have moved beyond the realm and control of sin. If you like, we have permanently moved from the country of Sin to the country of Righteousness. This is an action that has taken place in the past. It is not something that we have to work for or achieve. It is an action done by Christ in which we are entirely passive.
Since that is the case - no doubt about it - why do we struggle with sin? Some Christians imagine the old man resurrecting and fighting with them. Read the passage, it is we who are resurrected with Christ. The old man [sin nature] is dead and stays dead. He cannot be resurrected. So what is happening here?
Understand that the old man is our sin nature, our original sin. That is gone forever. We are pure and holy and seated with Christ in heavenly places. However, our body and mind are not yet transformed completely. They are in the process of being transformed. Therefore, the effects of the sin nature are still alive in them tempting us. If you read in Eph. where is talks about putting off the old man in context, you will see that it is not talking about putting off the sin nature [which is already dead!] but about choosing not to act as if the sin nature were still alive.
The power of choice is only possible because the sin nature is dead. A person who still has the Adamic nature may choose between different types of sin, but can never choose not to sin because sin is who he is. The Christian; however, with the nature of Christ [a dead sin nature] has a real choice. He can choose to act as if the sin nature were alive by sinning, or he can choose to put off the effects of the sin nature by refusing to sin. A Christian is never forced into sin. It is always a choice. The instructions of the New Testament are simple: Sin is no longer who you are - choose not to sin!
We ARE freed from the sin nature. We are in the process of being freed from the effects of the sin nature in our mind and body. It is a real battle as the enemy tries to deceive us into believing we are still under the control of the sin nature...and then condemns us if we believe him and fall into sin! Never doubt you are a Christian because you fell into sin. Get up, get forgiveness, move on. We all look forward to the day when we will no longer feel even the effects and pull of sin. When Christ returns the process will be complete. Until then, we learn to choose to walk in our new nature by faith.
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