He that is dead is freed from sin - Δεδικαιωται, literally, is justified from sin; or, is freed or delivered from it. Does not this simply mean, that the man who has received Christ Jesus by faith, and has been, through believing, made a partaker of the Holy Spirit, has had his old man, all his evil propensities destroyed; so that he is not only justified freely from all sin, but wholly sanctified unto God? The context shows that this is the meaning. Every instance of violence is done to the whole scope and design of the apostle, by the opinion, that "this text is a proof that believers are not fully saved from sin in this life, because only he that is dead is freed from sin." Then death is his justifier and deliverer! Base and abominable insinuation, highly derogatory to the glory of Christ! Dr. Dodd, in his note on the preceding verse, after some inefficient criticism on the word καταργηθῃ, destroyed, which, he thinks, should be rendered enervated, has the following most unevangelical sentiment: "The body of sin in believers is, indeed, an enfeebled, conquered, and deposed tyrant, and the stroke of death finishes its destruction." So then, the death of Christ and the influences of the Holy Spirit were only sufficient to depose and enfeeble the tyrant sin; but Our death must come in to effect his total destruction! Thus our death is, at least partially, our Savior; and thus, that which was an effect of sin (for sin entered into the world, and death by sin) becomes the means of finally destroying it! That is, the effect of a cause can become so powerful, as to react upon that cause and produce its annihilation! The divinity and philosophy of this sentiment are equally absurd. It is the blood of Christ alone that cleanses from all unrighteousness; and the sanctification of a believer is no more dependent on death than his justification. If it he said, "that believers do not cease from sin till they die;" I have only to say, they are such believers as do not make a proper use of their faith; and what can be said more of the whole herd of transgressors and infidels? They cease to sin, when they cease to breathe. If the Christian religion bring no other privileges than this to its upright followers, well may we ask, wherein doth the wise man differ from the fool, for they have both one end? But the whole Gospel teaches a contrary doctrine.
For he that is dead - This is evidently an expression having a proverbial aspect, designed to illustrate the sentiment just expressed. The Rabbis had an expression similar to this, “When one is dead he is free from commands.” (Grotius.) So says Paul, when a man dies he is exempt from the power and dominion of his master, of him who reigned over him. The Christian had been subject to sin before his conversion. But he has now become dead to it. And as when a servant dies, he ceases to be subject to the control of his master, so the Christian being now dead to sin, on the same principle, is released from the control of his former master, sin. The idea is connected with Romans 6:6, where it is said that we should not be the slaves of sin any more. The reason of this is assigned here, where it is said that we are freed from it as a slave is freed when he dies. Of course, the apostle here is saying nothing of the future world. His whole argument has respect to the state of the Christian here; to his being freed from the bondage of sin. It is evident that he who is not freed from this bondage here, will not be in the future world. But the argument of the apostle has no bearing on that point.
Is freed - Greek, Is justified. The word here is used clearly in the sense of setting at liberty, or destroying the power or dominion. The word is often used in this sense; compare Acts 13:38-39; compare a similar expression in 1 Peter 4:1, “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” The design of the apostle is not to say that the Christian is perfect, but that sin has ceased to have dominion over him, as a master ceases to have power over a slave when he is dead. That dominion may be broken, so that the Christian may not be a slave to sin, and yet he may be conscious of many failings and of much imperfection; see Romans 7.
Wherever the word of God has been faithfully preached, results have followed that attested its divine origin. The Spirit of God accompanied the message of His servants, and the word was with power. Sinners felt their consciences quickened. The “light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” illumined the secret chambers of their souls, and the hidden things of darkness were made manifest. Deep conviction took hold upon their minds and hearts. They were convinced of sin and of righteousness and of judgment to come. They had a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and felt the terror of appearing, in their guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. In anguish they cried out: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” As the cross of Calvary, with its infinite sacrifice for the sins of men, was revealed, they saw that nothing but the merits of Christ could suffice to atone for their transgressions; this alone could reconcile man to God. With faith and humility they accepted the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Through the blood of Jesus they had “remission of sins that are past.” GC 461.1
These souls brought forth fruit meet for repentance. They believed and were baptized, and rose to walk in newness of life—new creatures in Christ Jesus; not to fashion themselves according to the former lusts, but by the faith of the Son of God to follow in His steps, to reflect His character, and to purify themselves even as He is pure. The things they once hated they now loved, and the things they once loved they hated. The proud and self-assertive became meek and lowly of heart. The vain and supercilious became serious and unobtrusive. The profane became reverent, the drunken sober, and the profligate pure. The vain fashions of the world were laid aside. Christians sought not the “outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but ... the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:3, 4. GC 461.2Read in context »
My brother, I do not wish to discourage you, but to lead you to investigate your motives and acts as in the light of eternity. Break away from Satan's snare. Do not, I beg of you, lead any person to think of you in a more elevated light than you can bear, for when this deception shall be removed, and your true self appear as you are, there will be a reaction. You do have convictions of the Spirit of God and feel the force of truth when you listen to it; but these sacred, softening impressions wear away, and you are a forgetful hearer. You are not established, strengthened, and settled in the truth. You have thought it best for your interest to adopt the truth, but you have not yet experienced its sanctifying influence. Now we would entreat of you, be not deceived, God is not mocked. It is not too late for you to become a Christian; but do not move by impulse. Weigh every move well, and deceive not your own soul. 2T 323.1
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