“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” —Romans 6:11
A man is a soul who possesses a nature. We have a nature; we possess natural traits, attributes, and characteristics that have been passed down from generation to generation, beginning with Adam and Eve.
When Adam fell in disobedience, his living soul immediately died. It was separated from the Spirit of God, and his nature became radically corrupt so that death reigned in his mortal soul (Romans 5:12-14). Every area of that nature is stained with sin. Remember, the doctrine of total depravity does not say that man is as bad as he can be; it says that there is nothing truly and purely good that can come from man in his natural state. Why? It is because man’s state is bereft of the Holy Spirit. Adam passed that sinful nature down to every one of his decedents; that is, every one of us.
When a soul, dead in trespasses and sins, is justified by God’s grace through faith, the soul is quickened; made alive: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22; see also Ephesians 2:5). He is made alive to God so that he can love God and not hate Him; to trust God and not shun Him; to desire the truth of God rather than the deceit of the world.
Yet, when a man is saved, there has been no physical change in the man’s body. Remember, every single one of those that Jesus healed, and believed on Him in faith, died when nature ran its course. Their natural bodies still possessed the laws and principals that governed that human anatomy, a body that was tainted with death as a result of the curse of sin entering into the world. If we have been saved by grace, we still have the same body until the Lord’s return. We have the same memories and capacity for thought. We have a nature that, though redeemed from the bondage of sin, still abides by the natural laws and principals that surround us in a universe that has been turned upside down by Adam’s original sin. So what has happened that makes me a living soul and a new creation in Christ?
The Holy Spirit of God happened!
The very Person of God is imparted to us as promised by the Lord Jesus Christ, “for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). This is a simultaneous happening with faith, justification, repentance, regeneration, and initial sanctification. Why does it happen simultaneously? It happens simultaneously and instantaneously because it is an eternal event; it is a heavenly occurrence that takes place supernaturally in the eternal plane. Remember, eternity is not a long time; it is completely outside the space-time domain. Yet, for our understanding, it is given to us in this blessed and divine order by way of this Gospel According to Paul in the letter to the Christians at Rome.
When we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are made partakers of God’s nature. We have available to us the very nature of Jesus Christ. We are told in 2 Peter 1:3-4,
“seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (NASB).
That word, “lust” in the New American Standard Bible is rendered “sinful desire” in the English Standard Version.
The word “the,” which precedes “divine nature” in that verse, is added by nearly all the English translators because it speaks of the very indwelling Spirit of God Himself; however, by being written in Greek without the definite article, it says that we partake, that we actually share, that we actually have as our possession and portion the very nature of God.
AND PLEASE NOTE: This doesn’t make us God or deity in any way, shape or form. Man possessing his fallen nature while simultaneously possessing the nature of God is infinitely different from the two natures of Christ. He was completely human, yet, without sin; and at the same time, was completely Divine, and co-equal and co-eternal with God in every respect.
Nevertheless, that as we have been given a second nature, this reveals to us the promise of God’s indwelling presence, as Jesus told the disciples the night He was betrayed, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
So, though we continue to have this original nature, that is dying according to the laws and principles that are inherent to it, we should reckon it, consider it dead in our estimation because we have been saved by grace, justified by faith, and identified with Christ as we examined earlier in Romans 6:11. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
How can we reckon that nature dead? By the power of the new nature that we now have as an eternal possession; that is, by the very power of the living God that raised Jesus from the dead, as it is written, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Philippians 3:10).
Though this portion in Philippians means much more than what I’m about to write concerning it, I would like to point out that Philippians 3:10 actually provides a kind of outline for Romans 6-8.
“That I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10a). This is IDENTIFICATION with the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:1-5).
“…and the power of His resurrection…” (Philippians 3:10b). This is REGENERATION and NEWNESS OF LIFE (Romans 6:6-11).
“…and the fellowship of His sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10c). This is living and struggling through this SANCTIFIED LIFE in the midst of a world that is still turned upside down by original sin (Romans 6:12-7:25).
“…being made conformable to His death…” (Philippians 3:10d). This is walking in the blessed victory of a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-39).
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Read the previous article in this series, “Experiential Sanctification” (Romans 6:12-23).