Romans 6, Part 3
Nov 05, 2010
In Romans 6, Paul discusses death and its purpose as a penalty for sin. Death satisfies the Law's demands against all sinners, and hence, the one who has died is justified from sin. Yet there is a second type of death to judge sin on a level where the earthly lower court falls short. The "fiery Law" is the same, but at the Great White Throne the hearts of men are laid bare and all the facts of every case are brought forth in evidence.
The Old Testament model for these two courts is found in Exodus 18:24-26, where Moses followed the advice of his father-in-law and established judges under him. These were, in essence, lower courts. In Deut. 1:16, 17 Moses instructed them, saying,
(16) Then I charged your judges of that time, saying, "Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. (17) You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it."
Moses was a type of Christ (Acts 3:22), and we know that all judgment was given to Him (John 5:27). He will be the Judge at the Great White Throne. But meanwhile, here on earth, God has established lower court judges to maintain justice on the earth. We are those judges, and Moses' instructions above are therefore to be taken seriously.
Lower court justices can do no more than sentence a man to death, which merely hastens the results of his own mortality. The Higher Court, however, is capable of sentencing a man to the second death. At that time, the second death will render the first death irrelevant, as we read in Rev. 20:14,
(14) And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
At that time, no sinner will die from mortality, because the second death will require him to pay the Law's penalty until the Creation Jubilee finally sets him free in the end of time. This penalty will not be a torture pit, but labor. The Law reckons all sin as a debt to be paid. Because they had not availed themselves of the Sacrifice of Christ on their behalf--either through ignorance or by rejecting Him outright--they will have to labor to pay off their own debt.
Since that debt is obviously unpayable, their debts will be redeemed by the Body of Christ, who in turn were previously redeemed by Jesus Christ Himself. The laws of redemption will then apply, and those judged will serve the redeemers-in-Christ, as we read in Lev. 25:53,
(53) Like a man hired year by year he shall be with him [the redeemer]; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight. (54) Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of Jubilee, he and his sons with him.
All who are so judged will be placed under the authority of the overcomers, who will rule them according to the loving character of Christ and NOT with "severity." The overcomers will be in a position to teach them the paths of righteousness (Is. 26:9) so they know Christ for who He truly is. This is the penalty of the "fiery Law," according to the character and intent of Christ, the Lawgiver.
We know that Paul was familiar with the laws of redemption, and with Lev. 25:53 (above), because he appeals to this passage later in Romans 6:16-22. We will cover this shortly.
Meanwhile, though, this much is sufficient to give a basic outline of the nature of the second death. God will judge mankind by the standard of His own character as expressed in His own Law. The underlying principle is Love, and Love's goal is restoration, not destruction. The Law reflects His character, and God is well able to restore all men to Himself and to fulfill His every desire.
As believers in Christ, we would do well to study the Law so that we know how to act as judges here on earth. Paul scolds the Church in 1 Cor. 6:2 for not being capable of judging their own cases, having to go to the worldly courts of law to settle disputes:
(2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? (3) Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?
While it is true that I have digressed somewhat from Paul's discussion in Romans 6, I believe that it is important for us to know more fully the meaning of verse 7 and how death justifies us from sin. There are enormous implications in Paul's statement, which few have discovered because they know not the Law.
As believers, we have died with Christ and have been raised with Him as well into newness of life. Paul's point is to show us that we are new creatures, no longer descended from Adam, the man of sin, but from Christ, the Righteous One. As new creatures, we are part of the Body of Christ, and having died, we are no longer subject to sin. This is how Paul answers the original question in verse 1, asking, shall we continue in sin? that is, is it now acceptable or good to continue violating the Law?
The answer is obviously NO.
(10) For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (11) Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Some think that if they just reckon themselves to be dead, that this releases them to sin as they please. Paul was saying the opposite, for our actions will measure just how "dead" we really are. How can we say we are dead to sin if we continue to violate the Law, or to advocate unlawful practices such as showing partiality in judgment, usury, fornication, homosexuality, or the prison system?
If we practice such things, it is evidence that the old man is very much alive and doing well in spite of our church attendance. It is the old man that sins. The new man in Christ does not sin. Paul makes this very clear in Romans 7 in his discussion of the two "I's." Our daily walk, then, is an earthly way of measuring the authority of each in our lives.
So how do we consider (reckon) ourselves to be dead to sin? The Greek word is logizomai, the same word used so often in Romans 4. Paul defines it as calling what is not as though it were. In Romans 4, God does this with those who have faith. In Romans 6:11, Paul tells US to do the reckoning. The fact that our "death" has to be "reckoned" shows it to be a legal declaration of something that is not yet a full reality.
Hence, from the Law's perspective, on account of our faith, we have already been pronounced "righteous" and "justified." This is based upon the fact that we are in Christ, who has died for sin and has been raised from the dead as well. Therefore, we are also reckoned to be dead, insofar as the Law is concerned. To put it another way--to the Law, we are dead. That is, the Law views US as dead, not that we view the Law as being dead.
We consider ourselves (that is, our old Adamic man) to be dead and buried, while at the same time there is a new man that has been begotten in us, whose Father is in heaven. That new man is "Christ in you." It is (like Jesus) the product of God and man, having a heavenly Father and an earthly mother. It is both son of God and son of man.
As we reckon this new man to be our "real self," we will be like Christ, do like Christ, think like Christ, and in every way be in agreement with Him as we are led by the Spirit. This new man serves the Law of God (Rom. 7:25).
This is the third part of a series titled "Romans 6." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones