3 : 8 August 2004

Al Bishop


The Declaration of Independence says:

We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

This was signed as an official document on September 17, 1787. It was written for the citizens of the United States of America.


The Christian also has a declaration of independence, a declaration of spiritual independence. The U. S. Declaration of Independence was written to declare freedom from a tyrannical British government. The Christian declaration of independence was written to inform us of our freedom from the dominion of sin. There are several passages that speak about this subject but one passage is especially helpful to our understanding. That passage is Romans 6:1-14.

Verses 1 through 6:

For if we have been joined with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that sin's dominion over the body may be abolished so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin. For if we have been joined with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that sin's dominion over the body may be abolished so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin.


Just writing and signing the Declaration of Independence in 1787 did not finish the issue. The enemy attacked and the United States had to defend herself. Just because Romans 6 declares a spiritual truth does not mean temptation and struggle will not occur. There are three key words in this Romans passage. If we apply the truth they represent to our lives we can experience a spiritual freedom that will free us from the dominion of sin.

In verse six we read the word "know."

We know that our old self was crucified with Christ so that sin's dominion over us, over the body, might be done away with so that we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

Galatians 2:20 adds:

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is spiritual emancipation.

Verse 7:

"Anyone who has died has been freed from sin's control." Practically that means the devil cannot make me do anything. He can only make suggestions, but he cannot make me do anything.

Verse 9:

We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again and death has no longer mastery or dominion over him.

As Christians, you and I are in on that. I hope you appreciate what Christ has done for you.


The first step in spiritual emancipation from the dominion of sin is knowing the facts related to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ -- "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). But mere head knowledge is not enough. Romans 6 speaks of a special kind of knowing. Our next two words help us to understand this kind of knowledge.

The second word is found in verse 11. The King James version uses the word "reckon" to connote the sense of the passage. I want to use words like "consider" or "look upon" or "realize." I think they are more current.

Down here in the South, you know we have some words that are a little different than others might use. Words like "fixin' to." You know "I'm fixin' to do this," "I'm fixin' to go there." You're not fixin' anything, you're just talkin' about it. Then we say "reckon." "Reckon" means that you guess you might and you're not sure yet, and so the word "reckon" in the King James does not convey the correct idea to many readers. It could better be translated, the original word, by several words such as "count it so," "consider it so," or "believe it to be." It means "rely on it."

It points to a mindset that has a secure trust in something. Based on this type of mindset we are capable of making a willful, thought-through decision to adjust our way of life. Ask yourself today, "Do I realize that what God declares is true for my life?"


Paul is not teaching us that we will always feel that we are dead to sin. Maybe not even understand it. He is saying, "believe it, count it so, know it." It is a promise that we cannot lose sight of if we want to live a life free from sin's control over our actions. We are not talking about spiritual hocus-pocus but a theological reality. You did die in Christ, you were buried with Him and you are now raised with Him. This we believe.

In the future when we have received our heavenly bodies that will be responsive to the things that please God without rebellion we won't have to struggle to do right all the time. Our redeemed spirits and redeemed body will match each other perfectly and both will be responsive to holy and godly living. But that is not the case, yet.

Now, we must often act contrary to our feelings to align our actions with God's will. This we do by counting God's Word as true and His redemptive work sufficient for sin's defeat. Colossians 3:1: "Since you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above." Ephesians 2:1-6 talks about the same idea. "You were dead in your trespasses and sin but now you have been raised up with him." This is Christian doctrine.


We all know enough about sin to know how it works. Right? I saw a story this week. It talks about a lady who went on a new diet and was determined to succeed this time. She changed the way she drove to work because she used to go past a bakery she used to frequently visit, with all kinds of goodies in the display window. One day she forgot and before she knew it, she was driving by and saw all the great stuff she could consume. She looks at that and she reasons, "Well, maybe this is the way God works." So, she prays, "Lord, it's up to you. If you want me to stop and have those delectable goodies that I see in the window, you create a parking spot for me right in front of the entryway."

And would you believe, sure enough, there it was, on the eighth circling around the block was a parking space right in front of the entrance door. She stopped and appeased her conscience by convincing herself that it was God's will for her to have the good things in life, which includes delectable pastries. Doesn't that sound like every one of us? You bet it does. Maybe when we least expect it or we just don't care, a temptation comes along and despite our ability to dismiss such thoughts immediately we chose not to. Instead we indulge ourselves. We know it is wrong. But we nurse the idea. The thought process continues and soon we give in. Sound strange? Not really. That is the way it works.


Read James chapter one. Three facts about sinning can be gained from this chapter. Fact number one is in verse 13. God does not tempt anyone. Fact number two is in verse 14. Each person is tempted when he or she is drawn away and enticed by his or her own natural desires. And finally, fact number three is in verse 15. After desire has conceived it gives in to sin.

A little saying I used to hear years ago describes the situation. "Sin is a monstrous, oh frightful name to be hated. Needs but to be seen yet seen too often. Familiar with its face we first endure, then pity, then embrace."

Human nature is still pretty much the same today as it was in biblical times. We justify ourselves, we are defensive-"Hey, what would you do if you had to live with that woman?" "Do you realize what it's like to stay around to hang around with him?" Or, "I just can't help it, it's the way I'm made."

The Holy Spirit uses Paul to call all of us to realize that we can live as though we have already entered the resurrection life--realize it, realize that what God declares is true for your life. After the future resurrection it will be instinctive. But now, we must "reckon" it to so each time we face temptation.


The third key word is "surrender." It occurs several times in the text. It means "yield." Paul uses this word to tell us the secret to victory over sin. It is a command. "Do not surrender, offer or yield, the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather surrender yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and surrender the parts of your body to God as instruments of righteousness."

Surrender to God completely without reservation. James 1:8 talks about the indecisive man who is unstable in all his ways. The only way to have victory over sin is to want to have victory over sin.

This reminds me of a song I sang as a child.
Be careful little hands what you do, be careful little hands what you do. For your Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little hands what you do. Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little eyes what you see. For your father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little eyes what you see.

And it goes on to repeat with "Be careful little ears what you hear" and "Be careful little tongue what you say."

I want to add a new one -"Be careful little heart what you love." Simply stated but accurate. We need to be careful what we do, think, and say. We need to surrender to do what is right.

The reason we surrender is given in verse 14: "... in order that sin should not have dominion or mastery over you."

The big idea in this passage is independence, freedom, liberty. Verse 14 ends with these words, "you are not under law but under grace." And the eternal fact of the matter is this, you are going to surrender to something or someone. We all do. Paul understood this. "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" And his answer is: "Absolutely not, God forbid it. Don't you know that when you yield or submit yourself to someone, to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey. You are slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness."


Verse 18 tells us we have been set free, free from the control of sin. Until we arrive in heaven, we are going to have temptations coming against us. We are living our lives in what someone calls "earthsuits." But because we have died to sin's power, we have the power to no longer let sin rule over us. We have the Holy Spirit who can defeat sin every time. That is our right as a Christian.

God has issued this declaration of independence from the power of sin for each one of us and the choice is ours whether to appropriate it to our lives. We have a part in this battle.


We can recognize the temptation and chose to reject the offer. Call a spade a spade, as we used to say. Adultery is sin, not emotional therapy. Gambling is greed or lust, not just entertainment. A lie is a lie, not a mental reservation. And Jesus Christ's name is holy, not a release for anger. Recognize the temptation. Confront sinful desires, do not excuse them or deny them. Avoid places of temptation. Practice self-restraint. And then substitute a Christian action for what you are tempted to do. You have a pornography problem? Get some good Christian literature and start reading. Play a game with your family; go to a Bible study. Fill the gaps left by the former things with new things that are both pleasing to God and good for your soul.

Let me give you a good old-fashioned idea from Romans chapter 13. "Make no provision for the flesh. Concentrate on Christ and make no plans to satisfy your sinful desires." Men, don't buy the raunchy magazine, don't hang out in the wrong places, don't sweet talk that attractive girl in your workplace, don't shop for that car that will bust your budget. And ladies, you know when you are dressing to tease men, don't you?

I worked on a construction job before we got married. Her grandfather was a supervisor and got me a job for the summer and every noontime there was a whistle that blew and when the whistle blew, this girl who worked across the street from our construction site came out and paraded herself up and down the street. She did not look to the left or the right but she certainly could hear the catcalls and the hooting and the howling. I guess it was a joy to her. It is a sin to entice (actively pursue) lustful thoughts. There are so many other things we do that we have scriptural commands telling us not to. Gossip. Slander. Envy. Bearing false witness. But we still rationalize (or should I say become irrational) ourselves into doing them.


Paul several times uses athletes as examples for something he is teaching. He admires their self-discipline and how they are able to bring their bodies into subjection to their will, in order to reach their goals. Did you ever watch the World's Strongest Man competitions? Somehow those guys have gotten their bodies under control in a way that I can never imagine. They do that so they can win the contest, whatever it might be. And we as Christians cannot do anything less in order to win victory over sin. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "Bring every thought unto obedience to Christ." When we are tempted we have to yield ourselves to Christ's purposes and goals to defeat sin!

I challenge you to exercise your God-given, purchased-by-Christ right to be liberated from the power and control of sin through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. There is an old song that I like. "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. All of His wonderful passion and purity. Oh, thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine. Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me." I challenge you to think about this and to examine yourself, to be honest with yourself in order that you can do the will of God for His glory.


Al Bishop