If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:5-14
I have been making my way through Romans again, and have come to one of my favorite parts of the letter. Paul reveals to us that the struggle of sin in the heart of the believer is the crux of our problem, because that is what leads us to continue act and think sinfully. I am thankful to also understand that the struggle is also a great blessing.
You must realize that unbelievers do not struggle with their sin. They may struggle with the immediate consequences of their sin (such as what if I get caught) but they do not have the understanding they are offending a holy God.
As Christians, we see sin for what it is, an offense toward God and so we struggle against it. We understand the gospel, we know who we are in Christ, we know what He has done for us and we recognize there is a desire within us to sin anyway!
We are at war with ourselves and we are torn in two directions. We have a choice to follow our new nature or follow the flesh and every decision we make opens up a new battlefield within us. I said previously that this is a blessing, and the reason I stand behind that statement is because it is the evidence of the Spirit of God within us that we even care. Our struggle is evidence of our salvation.
The cry of the person who continues to struggle with sin despite their stated desire to overcome cries out the way Paul did in Romans 7. They question why they cannot overcome when they try so hard to stop yelling at the kids, or swearing, or stealing.
It is so important that we realize that we will never be out of Romans 7 while we live this life.
This brings us again to the cross. It brings us back to what Christ did for us, our right standing in Him, and our inability to do anything to save or fix ourselves. Because of our failures, because of our ongoing struggles with sin we are to go back to the gospel and reckon ourselves dead to the power sin has over our lives.
When Paul uses "therefore" he is saying that because of all that Christ did, because you and I are dead to sin and alive in Christ, because of justification, because of the cross, we are not to let sin have free reign in our lives.
Our lives becomes a response to God, a thank you God for all You have already done for me. It becomes a refusal to live under the lie that I cannot help myself when I sin.