Why do we still sin after dying to sin?

Christ compared his upcoming death on the cross to baptism, and then told his disciples in Mark 10:39 that they would be “baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.” Paul repeats that in Romans 6:5, that we were “united with Christ in his death,” and he too compared that to baptism, verses 2-3 – we were all “baptized into Christ’s death” and “buried with him through baptism into death.” What happened to Jesus, therefore, happened to us – and it was exactly like a baptism. When Jesus went under he took us all down with him.

How much of our old life carried through with us, then? None of it, verse 6 – “our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless.” When Paul says “We died with Christ,” verse 8, he meant exactly that, that our old self is as dead as Jesus was dead, it’s gone, dead and buried, incinerated to a crisp, and it can’t come back to haunt us.

So why do we still sin if, as Paul writes, “We died to sin,” verse 2, and “anyone who has died (to sin) has been freed from sin,” verse 7? Why do we still sin? Because “evil desires,” verse 12, can still have an influence on us.

Jesus had the same problem as a flesh and blood human being too. He did no sin, but that didn’t stop evil coming at him from all directions, nor did it stop evil desires and impulses in his head. He simply never obeyed those evil desires. They never had “mastery over him” (verse 9). But neither does sin have to be OUR master either, says Paul (verse 14).

In other words, we don’t have to sin. We’re not helpless victims, or powerless cretins. We can fend off evil. How? By “counting ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” verse 11. It so much depends on how we view ourselves – as our old, weak, vulnerable selves still, or as completely NEW creations “in Christ Jesus” that “come alive to God” with all HIS resources now at our disposal.

Because that’s exactly Paul’s point in verse 14, that evil never need be our master again, “because you are not under the law, but UNDER GRACE.” We have all the power that grace provides, just as Jesus had. And it’s powerful stuff. It gave Jesus the ability to “live to God” (verse 10), or live entirely for what God desires, and never for what evil desires.

The law can’t do that. Nor can we. But God’s grace can. So the only reason we still sin, then, has to be that we’re not taking advantage of the power we’ve got.

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