THE TWO-FOLD ASPECT OF THE CROSS: JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION
The redemptive work of our Lord at the cross provided two aspects of salvation in relation to sin: (1) Salvation from God’s wrath – justification (See Romans 5:9), and (2) sanctification – the breaking of the power of indwelling sin (See Romans 7:23-25; 8:2).
This was accomplished at the cross but made available to the believer when baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4). The Greek word for “baptize” is baptizo and means “the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment or condition.” And that is its usage in Romans 6. It refers to the act of God introducing a believing sinner into vital union with Jesus Christ, in order that that believer might have the power of his sinful nature broken and the divine nature implanted through his identification with Christ (Wuest Word Studies in Greek, p. 97).
The apostle Peter said that God has given the believer all that is necessary to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3-4). One aspect of this equipment is what the Bible calls “the divine nature,” the divine power of Christ Himself given to believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2; 2 Pet. 1:3). Some refer to this by the term “the New Nature.”
Through hearing hundreds of sermons we have come to understand the word “sin” only as an action, something that we do. From a careful examination of Scripture we see that Romans chapters 5-8 uses the word “sin” only one time as an action (a verb) and forty times as a (noun) that is, a governing principle of power that was personified. That means this governing principle of power represents itself almost as a personage (See Vine’s Greek Lexicon under the heading “Sin”). Since “sin” is personified in these 13 chapters let us refer to it as “Mr. Sin” so we may simplify the understanding of these verses.
The New Nature and Mr. Sin are opposite dispositions toward God (Gal. 5:17). Mr. Sin is a disposition of enmity (hatred) against God (Rom. 8:7 in the Living Bible). The New Nature is a favorable disposition toward God and his law which is now written in the believers heart (Jer. 31:31-34).
When a person confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and is baptized into his death heceases to be an “old man” (an unregenerate man). He loses his position as a slave to Mr. Sin and Mr. Sin loses his position as master over him. This means that he is no longer obligated to obey Mr. Sin. He receives the New Nature (a new, favorable disposition toward God consisting of the law of God written in his heart) and the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). All of these changes provide the believer with a great potential for living a different kind of life than that of his unregenerate days.
Even though Mr. Sin has lost his position as master over the believer, this does not mean that he has left the believer. He dwells in the mortal body and its members (See Romans 7:23; 6:12), yet is not you any more than a gold tooth that dwells in your mouth is you. The reason that Mr. Sin can live in your mortal body is because your body is not yet saved. It is dying and shall be saved and changed (Rom. 8:23-24; 1 Cor. 15:50-51).
Mr. Sin tries to exercise controlling power over the believer in spite of the fact that he no longer has the right to rule. When the believer relies upon himself for the power necessary to overcome Mr. Sin, he is defeated. Mr. Sin takes him captive against his will and prevents him from doing the will of God (Romans 7:14-15). This does not mean that the believer has to be doomed to continuous defeat. It only means he has lost his true focus which is Christ. Christ is the source of power through the indwelling Holy Spirit that is necessary to defeat Mr. Sin (Romans 8:2)
Because Christ (through the Holy Spirit) permanently indwells the believer, His power is constantly available. That power will not operate automatically in the believer’s life unless he personally turns to Christ in trusting faith, believing all that was accomplish in Him through the cross (Gal. 2:20). Moment by moment the believer must trust Christ rather than himself to empower him for victory over Mr. Sin.