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Where did Sin Go?

Article by Bill Petri

Many individuals have a lot of turmoil in their lives because they do not understand what to do with the issue of sin. Oftentimes, they feel they cannot have a close relationship with God because of sin that intrudes upon their consciousness. They feel that they have to make advances to God by bringing sin under control in their lives, not realizing that Christ has already given us the victory over sin by the gospel He has given us. The first element of our gospel is that "Christ died for our sins."

Romans 6:1-2

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

The whole idea about the sin issue is clearly addressed by the Apostle Paul in these two verses. He states; "What shall we say then?" In other words, what is our doctrinal stance about sin? He goes on to state a revolutionary idea - an idea with which most Christians still struggle. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Most in the Church view this passage with the idea that we, as members of the Body of Christ continue in sin, and that God's answer to it is that He would just cover it with grace. Hence, God would then nullify the sin with grace.

The problem is that they forget to read the next part of the verse; "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Hence, sin is taken out of the equation because I'm "dead to sin." How does God's grace accomplish this? That is what I seek to address in this article.

At this juncture, we need to have an understanding what sin is. There is no point to go any further in our study unless we have a very clear understanding what Paul means when he is talking about sin in Romans chapters 1-8. If we do not understand how the Apostle Paul is using this word (sin), we will run into some very big problems which will cause a major stumbling block to Christian growth.

Romans 4:15

Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Hence, we can now make the following equation:

Transgression of Law = wrath

Romans 5:12-14

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [13] (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. [14] Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude (the same law as Adam - a careful reading of Genesis 17:14 and Exodus 4:23-26 will show that there was law before the Mosaic law) of Adam's transgression (Adam disobeyed a command or law), who is the figure of him that was to come.

We see in these verses that by one man sin entered the world. At this point, I would like to give you a flow chart so you can visualize what Paul is saying.

Sin entered - death now results

We can now state some very important facts. Sin and death go hand in hand. In the context that Paul is using sin in these passages, we see that death will also be present. I cannot have one without having the other.

Sin is not imputed when there is no law

Hence, the only way sin cannot be charged to an individual's account is when there is no law!

No law = No transgression = No wrath

Paul views the whole idea of law and transgressing the law as sin. Sin will always bring with it wrath and death. Hence, he agrees with the Apostle John's definition of sin.

1 John 3:4

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (Read again Romans 4:15).

We can thus conclude that there is an interdispensational definition of sin. It can be charted for us as follows:

Transgression + Law = Sin

We need to come to an indisputable knowledge about what happens to sin the minute we become members of the Body of Christ. Is the above equation still how God deals with me concerning sin in my life? First of all, there are numerous passages of scriptures in Paul's epistles that will tell you that something about you has changed. Romans 6:14 clearly tells me that I am not under the law.

Romans 6:14

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

There are two spiritual realms Paul identifies for us in this verse. They are Law and Grace. Romans 6 would diagram this as follows:

Law

unsaved (Gal.3:21-24)

Grace

saved (Eph.2:8-9)

At this point, I would like to put all of these equations down, so that we can see them together.

Transgression + Law = Sin

Law works Wrath

Sin produces Death via the Law

By virtue of the doctrine, we can now begin to see that something in all the equations of sin no longer applies to me. What is removed from our equations is the law. Hence, the equations themselves break down! To make this easier for you to see, let us take a simple math problem.

1+2=3

If I remove the number 2 from the equation it would look like this:

1=3

Obviously, this equation cannot be true, and regardless of how I write it, 1 will never be the same as 3. This takes us back to Romans 4:15.

No Law = No Transgression

Hence, the following can now be said about my sin equation:

Law Transgressed = Sin

This creates a huge problem. It is a problem because we have seen from Paul and John that Transgression of the Law is sin. If there is no law, there is nothing to transgress.

Hence, in these passages in Romans, it is impossible for sin to be present if there is no law present (read Romans 7:1-6).

Romans 6:7

For he that is dead is freed from sin.

We have already looked at Romans 6:1-2 and established the fact that Paul states "I am dead to sin." The above verse tells me that an individual who is dead is freed from sin. To substantiate this point, I want you to look at your hand. For the sake of demonstration, your hand will represent sin. Is your hand part of you? Now pretend that your hand has severe frostbite and must be amputated to save your life. In our demonstration, you have been freed from your hand. Remember, that the hand represented sin. The minute the hand was removed from me, I was freed from sin. It was no longer a part of me.

If I am free from sin, what does that do to the issue of death?

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If the wages of sin is death and I am freed from sin, what is it that I receive in this verse? I receive eternal life. I cannot have life when there is sin. As we have seen, sin can only work death. In order to have life, I have to be made free from sin! Praise God that I was saved and placed into a state of life by simply believing the gospel. The gospel that saves me and frees me from sin is:

1 Cor. 15:3-4

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Simply believing these verses saves me and places me into a living condition! Death is removed because I have received the gift of eternal life.

We can thus come up with a new equation:

No Law = No Transgression = No Sin = No Wrath = Eternal Life

By virtue, of what Christ accomplished at Calvary; Law, Sin, Transgression, Death, and Wrath can no longer plague us anymore. Hence, I have a total forgiveness of sin.

Ephes. 1:7

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

This important verse tells me that I have redemption, and that I have forgiveness already! These are things I have, because I am no longer under the Law of Sin and Death. God gave forgiveness the very second I believed. This was all accomplished through His Grace. I had nothing to do with it. Hence, we see that we are not doing anything to get forgiveness from God. Why? Because I've been made free from sin. Therefore, I have in my possession God's total forgiveness. This is all based on my identification in Christ.

Ephes. 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Once more, we see a passage dealing with the fact that we received all forgiveness from God upfront. I do not have to do anything to get it or to earn it all over again because God already "hath forgiven." This is all true because I am dead to sin. If I am dead to something, I can no longer have a relationship with it. If I am freed from something, it is no longer part of me or in my possession. All this was accomplished through the shed blood of Jesus Christ! What victory He wrought for you and me!

Col. 1:14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

"I must have been in the flesh," oftentimes is a statement individuals make when they have acted contrary to the faith. Do we walk in and out of the flesh? Or has God taken care of the flesh, much like the issue of sin?

Romans 7:25-8:1

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. [8:1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This is a passage that many, including those who understand "right division" mistake for a practical text. Therefore, we need to look at what exactly is being said here. The issue Paul is addressing in Romans 7 is the conflict a believer has in his life. The conflict between doing good and evil (v.19), is ever present with the saint. However, we need to remind ourselves that Romans 6 freed us from the law of sin and death, and this principle must be understood before one approaches Romans 7. In Romans 7:24, Paul asks "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Verse 25 is then a revolutionary thought. Paul begins to show that the issue today is the mind, and not the flesh. We do not serve God with the flesh! Instead, we serve God with our minds. Hence, our service is something that one may never see outwardly. It truly becomes a service of faith and not sight. Therefore, God is looking at our minds, not our actions.

2 Cor. 10:3-4

For though we walk in the flesh (the flesh carries about the soul and spirit), we do not war after the flesh: [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

We can now look at the full impact of Romans 7:25. The question asked was; "who shall deliver me from the body..." Paul's answer is that our deliverer is none other than "Jesus Christ our Lord!" Hence, Jesus Christ began to do a work on the inward man that conforms me to the very image of Christ. "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God..." The conclusion of this work on the inward man is that the believer has "no condemnation." Romans 8:1 could be broken down as follows:

No condemnation to those in Christ

Those in Christ walk not after the flesh

Those in Christ walk after the Spirit

Romans 8:2

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Because Romans 7:25 is true, this passage now becomes true. My mind serves the law of God because Jesus Christ has delivered me from the body of death! Hence, I am only ever in the Spirit, I cannot get out of His sealing work. Therefore, I am made "free from the law of sin and death." We can chart this as follows:

Flesh

law of sin and death

condemnation

condition of those not in Christ

Spirit

law of the Spirit of life

no condemnation

condition of those in Christ

Thus, if I am in the flesh, I am not in Christ. Consequently, I would be capable of losing my salvation. We know this cannot be because we are sealed by the holy Spirit, until the day of redemption. Paul will reiterate this point in verses 8-10.

Romans 8:8-10

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

How much clearer could Paul state the great truth that a believer cannot be in the flesh and the Spirit at the same time! This can be charted as follows:

unbeliever

in the flesh

body is dead

not in the Spirit

condemnation

believer

in the Spirit

Spirit is alive

Spirit indwells

no condemnation

Accordingly, it is a reality that indeed I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live! What victory, what joy, what a marvellous work Jesus wrought in us! A work that we can never undo because of the sealing ministry of the Holy Ghost (Eph.1:13-14). Just as we saw in earlier, we have been made free from the "law of sin and death." It is no longer part of us.

I know some of you reading this may say, "What about Galatians 5?" A literal reading of Galatians 5 will confirm what we have addressed in Romans. Galatians 5:17 tells us that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and that they are contrary to one another. Verse 18 tells me that if the Spirit leads me, I am not under the law. Verse 19 then tells me what the flesh works. This discussion goes through verse 21.

Galatians 5:21

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

If I am capable of being in the flesh in Galatians 5, I cannot dismiss the above verse. It simply states that one who does the works of the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom. Paul tells me in verse 24 that a believer has already crucified the flesh. To say that one can function in the flesh in this passage is to say that one can lose their salvation. It is important to note the issue is the kingdom, and not positions in the kingdom. Hence, the issue is one of salvation and not reward.

Col. 2:11-13

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: [12] Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. [13] And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

God's answer to the flesh is the "circumcision made without hands." Circumcision is the idea of the cutting away of a fleshly part for the sake of cleansing. God performed a circumcision on each believer the precise moment he became a believer. He cut away our flesh which was dead and contrary to the new man God made us. Hence, our old man, and therefore, our flesh was buried with Him. "Old things" are indeed passed away, and all things now have become new. Faith reckons the flesh dead, and because he is dead, we have no more dealings with him, as one cannot have a relationship with a dead man. When people talk of the daily surrender of the old man or flesh, they in essence have resurrected a dead man. When they speak of yielding or submitting him to God, they recognize him as alive to be yielded or submitted. When people say they crucify the flesh daily, they recognize the flesh as being alive to be crucified. Simply put, they have placed themselves back under a Performance Based Acceptance system. The issue then becomes ones ability to do something. The problem is that our verses above state that the flesh was put off, crucified and put to death by the one baptism in this age of Grace. We then are risen with Christ, made alive in our Spirit, made a New Man, made free from sin, made free from the law of sin and death. What victory Grace has wrought for you and me! We then are placed into an Identity Based Acceptance system. This has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with my identity in Christ! Hence, our condition is stated by Paul as being a state of completeness, lacking nothing in Christ!

Col. 2:10

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Col. 3:3

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

What an amazing thing Christ has accomplished! We are alive and dead all at the same time. The flesh is dead, and the Spirit is alive.

Galatians 2:20

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

What joy it is to all believers to realize that our lives are lived by the "faith of the Son of God." Hence, we have all put on Christ!

Galatians 3:27

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

What a great deal this Spiritual Circumcision was! I put off the body of death, and put on the completeness of Christ. I put off the law of sin and death, and put on the law of the Spirit of life. We can only conclude with the following:

1 Cor. 15:57

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We indeed are free at last. Free from the hopelessness that sin produces, free from the despair of trying to be good enough, free to be Sons of God through Jesus Christ. Isn't it wonderful to be dead to sin?

Galatians 2:20

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

We have been crucified with Christ, hence, we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin (Rom.6:11). Our Old man was crucified with Him, therefore let us cease our parleying and reckon it done. We do not obey the presence of the old nature, but we utterly refuse to acknowledge it. "Old things" are passed away and all things are become new in Him! Faith reckons him dead and we have no more dealings with a dead man. When Christians speak of a daily surrender of the Old Man, they are recognizing him as being alive to be surrendered. When they speak of yielding or walking in him, they recognize him as "being alive", to "yield" to or "walk in." Romans 6:6 is a marvellous truth and reality.

Romans 6:6

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

The very moment we are placed into the Body of Christ, the "Body of sin" is reckoned (Rom.6:11) destroyed. From that point on (Note the word henceforth), we are dead to sin! Praise God, we are now the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor.5:21). We were buried with Him - thus we are also raised with Him. Hence, we set our affection on things above (Col.3:2). We have been seated in heavenly places in Christ - we have free and unrestricted access to God with boldness and confidence (Eph.3:12).

What Christ did, we did as part of Him. Faith is trusting God's Word rather than our own reasoning or intellect. God says all believers are in Christ. Therefore, they are "dead to sin, but alive unto God". When we actually believe and trust this and make decisions based on the truth of it, we allow the Holy Ghost the freedom to take this truth and liberate us from what we once were. Evil actions and attitudes are replaced with righteousness, and true holiness all in Christ.

When by faith we build into our lives what the scriptures tell us Christ has done for us today, we are filling our lives with the wherewithal that enables us to reflect who we are in Christ. Only as we do what He is doing, and recognizing what He has made us do we build up our daily lives. Anything other than this is tearing down, destroying, rather than edifying. This is why a correct, sound understanding of the rightly divided Word is vital to our spiritual life and health. This is the only means of gaining a viewpoint of life that conforms to God's viewpoint. Grace is what builds and motivates the Christian life.

Acts 20:32

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them, which are sanctified.

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

God's grace is teaching us how God has blessed us in Christ. This is the Holy Ghost's way to get us to respond in love and obedience to God's love for us. As we build into our lives the things that Christ has provided us by grace, we are "built up in Him." The more fully we come to understand and believe to be true all that God has freely provided for us in Christ, the more the Holy Ghost can take those truths and set them free in our daily lives to have their desired impact.

This is what Paul is referring to when he urges: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col.3:16). "To dwell" is to settle down and feel at home. When God's grace to us in Christ becomes so real and familiar that it is at home in our lives, a supernatural transformation takes place: our position becomes our practice. Hence, a quote from a popular Grace preacher summarizes what the true grace motivation is with the following; "When His great love for us begins to abound in our understanding, we can do nothing else but :

Philip. 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."  (To order the Book The Grace Solution please click here)

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