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The Gospel Part II 

Identification

The first part of our Lord's work for us is known as Substitution (Romans 3:21 - 5:21). Here we see that Christ died for us, that we are now justified before God because He died in our place for our sins. Our sins, the guilt, penalty and offense to God were dealt with at the cross, on behalf of every believer .

The second part of Christ's work for us is our identification with His death. Here He has put our old self where He put our sins, on the cross with Christ. "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6); "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). We see that not only did Christ die for us - substitution - but that we as believers died with Christ - Identification. Knowing that Christ died for sins as our atonement is essential for understanding our justification, likewise the knowledge that we died with Christ is indispensable for understanding our sanctification. If the difference between "Christ dying for us," and "our dying with him," is not recognized and applied to our lives, it is safe to say that our old self is still the dominating force in our lives. "For he who has died is free from sin" (Romans 6:7). Because of this truth Paul can say to the Colossians, "therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). Because of our identification with Christ in His death we see the only possibility for the believer to live a truly holy life. "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5).

The sixth chapter of Romans is the foundational truth that every believer must understand if he is to have victory over sin. God consigns the old fallen Adam-life to the cross and has nothing to say to it. The old self in Adam is fallen and beyond repair. He deals with the believer on the ground that "In Christ you died." Because of our union with Christ sin does not have to have dominion over our lives, even though it is present in us. "Even so consider (reckon) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts" (Romans 6:11 -12). Our reckoning this to be true only makes us begin to realize the fact in experience - it is already a fact through our union with Him. Sin need have no more power over us as believers than we grant it through unbelief. If we are alive unto sin it will be due largely to the fact that we have failed to reckon ourselves dead to sin.

As we learn of our identification with Christ we begin to focus in on our position in Him, the source of our spiritual life. Our position is eternally established, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our condition is what we are in our spiritual lives as Believers. Our position in Christ never changes, but our condition does. As we exercise faith in our walk with the Lord, our condition begins to reflect more and more of what are eternal position is, in other words there will be growth in our lives. In most cases believers are very aware of their condition and know little of their position. This is the reason there is so much struggle with failure in our lives. If we are to grow spiritually and be effective for Christ our faith must be secure in our position in Him. "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13).

Written by Alan Torres


Bibliography For Further Study

Newell, William R. Romans Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1996 (Originally published 1938).
Newell's commentary is a classic for understanding the doctrinal content of Romans, it can hardly be equalled.

Stanford, Miles J. The Green Letters. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1975.

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