What does it mean to be dead to sin?

Romans 6 (NIV)

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.

Now, if we are dead to our “human failure to measure up”, we cannot then live as “human failures” (the word translated as sin means missing the mark, failure, frailty). Neither can we decide to do it on purpose. There is no guilt to being human, and in error. Unfortunately the old English word, sin, does have that meaning.

But, you say, sin is sin. If you do it on purposed, you have become a slave to it, like Paul says.

Well, Paul is not saying that. He is showing how we were before Jesus died to sin.

We who believe in Jesus are also dead to sin – because we died with Him. And as He is alive, we are alive in Him.

Now, we are free from sin. If we are dead to it, we have no relation to it, just as a dead man can neither run nor observe a stop sign.

So, what about when we do something we think is bad or wrong?

First of all, we do not know sin except by the law, and we are also dead to it.

In fact, the law was for the Jews, not the Gentiles. Most believers have never been Jewish. Those who are Jewish are still not under law, because Jesus did away with it, establishing a new covenant.

So, again, how do we know something is bad or wrong? What is the standard? There would seem to be none. We have conscience, but can’t the conscience be seared, and let us do things that are against it?

Grace teaches us godliness. It is our new “conscience”, for it is the influence of God on our hearts.

Now we have the tree of life, which is Jesus, and we have a new kind of guidance system. It does not operate from a list of rules, or what we just feel is good or bad.

Grace operates through the Holy Spirit, in which we walk. We, who are Christ’s, walk in the spirit. He is the new “default” setting. Did you know that the fruit of the spirit looks a lot like the many facets of grace?

Anytime we look at what someone does wrong, we are looking at law.

When we look at law, that is all we see, and it condemns us. It is a downward spiral. We cannot win. However, Jesus has won the battle, and He has lifted us up with Him out of condemnation. We are free!

Look with His eyes, which never condemn and always lift up. He looks at our hearts and works in our hearts. It’s intensely personal and subjectively varied. If you think someone is in “sin”, it is not for you to judge.

If you think you are in “sin” you have forgotten you were forgiven, once and for all time.

For the believer there is no such thing as living in “sin” or continuing in it. You can’t have it both ways. You are either dead to sin or you are not.

And you are dead to sin. You do walk in the spirit.

To repeat, if you judge someone as being in sin, you have just put yourself under the standard of sin and have lost the benefit of grace. Personally, I have tried to drop the word “sin” from my vocabulary, which proves to be difficult. It’s very ingrained into our minds and culture.

Operate out of grace. That is ministering life.