Freedom from Sin’s Authority

In this sixth chapter to the Romans the Apostle sets forth the believer’s present position in reference to sin. The Cross of Christ has completely changed his relation to sin.

Christ’s death, which has separated the believer from the consequences of sin as a transgression, has also separated him from the authority of sin as a master–set him free.

The believer sees that Christ, by dying for him, has completely delivered him from the penalty of sin. So it is his privilege to see that because he is identified with Christ in that death, he is also delivered from sin as a ruling principle. Its power is broken. He is in that sense “free from sin” (Rom. 6:18,22).

The purpose of the Apostle, in this sixth chapter, is to show how completely the believer is identified with Christ when “He died unto sin.” To enter fully into the meaning of that death is to see that Christ has emancipated us from any further dealings with our old master sin. The believer is privileged thus to take his place in Christ, who is now “alive unto God.” From that standpoint he is henceforth to regard sin. He is now and forever free from the old service and the old rule. The Cross has terminated the connection once for all, and terminated it abruptly. It has effected a definite and complete rupture with the old master, sin.

“Such is the Divine secret of Christian sanctification, which distinguishes it profoundly from simple natural morality. The latter says to man, Become what you would be. The former says to the believer, Become what you are already (in Christ). It puts a positive fact at the foundation of moral effort, to which the believer can return and have recourse anew at every instant. And this is the reason why his labour is not lost in barren aspiration, and does not end in despair.

“The believer does not get disentangled from sin gradually; he breaks with it in Christ once for all. He is placed by a decisive act of will in the sphere of perfect holiness, and it is within it that the gradual renewing of the personal life goes forward. This second gospel paradox, sanctification by faith, rests on the first, justification by faith.”[1]

The Cross is the efficient cause of this deliverance. Freedom from sin’s ruling power is the immediate privilege of every believer. It is the essential condition or starting point of true service, as well as of real progress. Such service and growth are as possible for the young convert as for the mature believer. Therefore freedom from sin’s dominion is a blessing we may claim by faith, just as we accept pardon. We may claim it as that which Christ has purchased for us, obtained for our immediate acceptance. We may go forth as set free from sin, and as alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord. This is freedom from sin as a ruling principle.[2] E.H.

[The following paragraphs clarify the nature of our freedom from sin’s authority.]

“Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist from a few years back, issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free in short order. Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally after laboring for two hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.”[3]

“Christian, the door to freedom is not locked–it was opened wide when Christ died on the cross and you died with Him. Not only have you been crucified, dead, and buried, but the new creation that is you was raised up with Him (Eph. 2:6). What does it take to walk through that wide open door to freedom? All it takes is for you to believe the truth. “It was for freedom that Christ set you free…” (Gal. 5:1). But if you believe that you have to work and sweat and strain then God will allow you to do that until you collapse in frustration and failure as Harry Houdini did. That is exactly what happened to me.”[4]

[May God illumine us to our potential to walk in freedom. By faith, we can be vessels of God’s love and truth in our relationships.]

[1] Professor Godet, Commentary on Romans ch. 6.

[2] Evan Hopkins, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, from chapter 1. Available online at / Other Goodies / E-books. In print from “From those beginnings until his last Keswick Convention in 1915, Evan Hopkins was one of the leading teachers and exponents of the teaching of the Convention, namely, “holiness by faith in Jesus, not by effort of my own,” to quote Frances Ridley Havergal.” – book’s foreword.

[3] Don McMinn, Spiritual Strongholds, NCM Press, Oklahoma City, OK, 1993.

[4] From the testimony of Mike Quarles.

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