Sunday, October 15, 2017

Purpose of the Law - To Humble Us & Point Us to the Gospel

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith."
But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 
- Galatians 3:11-12
“Notice that Paul explains his meaning at some length here for us to comprehend why he separates the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith, showing us that they are incompatible and can no more be mixed together than fire and water. Not that there is any contradiction between the law and the gospel (as I have already made clear), for we know that they both proceed from the same God. But we must remember God’s purposes, as we have said all along. By giving us the righteousness of the law, he intended to humble us. Next, we will come before him realising we are condemned; this we would never have done if he had not revealed to us our own poverty. When we read that God promises justification if we serve him aright, he is saying in effect, ‘Poor creatures, what worth or value do you have in and of yourselves? Weigh up my commandments and consider what they involve, and then reflect upon how each of you have lived. This will make you feel as if you could drown in self-despair.’ Yet, though God speaks in this vein, he also grants a remedy —‘Come’, he says, ‘to the teachings of the gospel’. And what are they? Paul quotes the expression of Habakkuk, from chapter two and the fourth verse: ‘The just shall live by his faith’...
“[Paul] always taught that faith leads us to find salvation in God alone. The law, though it may appear to be teaching something very different, actually shows us that there is no life in us at all, if we understand it aright. The law says, ‘Work hard and do what you can to obtain paradise.’ Why does it say this? Not to feed man’s vain confidence in his own merits —certainly not! Rather, to prepare us to receive the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in humility.”
John Calvin. Sermon on Galatians 3:11-12


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Five Solas of the Reformation...

Scripture Alone
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
 Holy Scripture containeth all things
necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Articles of Religion, The Church of England

Grace Alone
Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church, (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19.) Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death, viz., cleansing, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, but "by grace are ye saved," "not of works, lest any man should boast," (Ephesians 2:8, 9.)
John Calvin. Institutes of Religion. 3.14.11

Faith Alone
"For the Reformation, reconciliation precedes sanctification... Calvin insists that reconciliation means that the Christian is connected to the perfect righteousness of Christ by that faith that looks away from itself, which is [the] only… instrument of receiving the work of Christ." Faith is the vessel in which the riches of Christ's work are brought to us - reconciling us to God... Faith alone, which looks to Christ alone, has its works, but its works, its fruits, or its outcome are in no way part of justification.” … To say that one is saved by "grace alone" is not enough. The medieval [Roman Catholic] theologians taught that - that grace alone worked to so transform and sanctify one as to be the basis for final justification. Yet such improved life is still imperfect. What one needs to stand in the judgment is a perfect righteousness!

… ”Paul indeed taught that faith stands alone in receiving justification from the work of Christ (Rom. 3:24-26). Justification is not received or maintained by any kind of working, any kind of moral improvement, or any kind of sanctifying moral improvement."

… Peace with God comes only through faith in Christ alone - His merit, His sacrifice and satisfaction for sin...

As Luther wrote, "A man is justified, not by the works of the law, by by faith alone.
Dr. Robert Godfrey

Christ Alone
If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.
J. Gresham Machen: Christianity and Liberalism

To God Be The Glory Alone
And because all this is brought to pass through the only merits and deservings of our Saviour Christ and not through our merits or through the merit of any virtue that we have within us or of any work that cometh from us, therefore in that respect of merit and deserving we forsake, as it were, altogether again faith, works, and all other virtues. For our own imperfection is so great through the corruption of original sin, that all is imperfect that is within us: faith, charity, hope, dread, thoughts, words, and works, and therefore is not apt to merit and deserve any part of our justification for us. And this form of speaking use we in the humbling of ourselves to God and to give all the glory to our Saviour Christ, who is best worthy to have it…

And the said benefits of God, deeply considered, move us for his sake also to be ever ready to give ourselves to our neighbours and, as much as lieth in us, to study with all our endeavour to do good to every man. These be the fruits of true faith: to do good as much as lieth in us to every man, and above all things and in all things to advance the glory of God, of whom only we have our sanctification, justification, salvation and redemption; to whom be ever glory, praise, and honour, world without end. Amen.
Thomas Cranmer, Sermon on the Salvation of Man

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Apostolic Church

"The church is apostolic not because we can identify living apostles today but because it proclaims the apostolic doctrine in the power of the Spirit."
- Dr. Michael Horton

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thomas Boston: Faith in Christ Leads to Repentance...

What comes first?
"But withal, it is to be remembered, that the true way to deal with a hard heart, to bring it to this temper [i.e. repentance], is to believe the gospel. As ravenous fowls first fly upward, and then come down on their prey; so must we 'first soar aloft in believing, and then we shall come down, in deep humiliation, sincere and free confession, and true repentance, Zech. xii. 10. " They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn. "Therefore the Scripture proposeth the object of faith, in the promise of grace, as a motive to repentance, that by a believing application thereof, the hard heart may be moved and turned, Joel ii. 13. "Turn unto the Lord your God, for he is gracious." One may otherwise toil long with it: but all in vain. "Without faith it is impossible to please God," Ileb. xi. 6. and therefore, impossible to reach true humiliation, right confession, and sincere repentance, which are very pleasing to him, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19, 20. The unbelieving sinner may be brought to roar under law horror; but one will never be a kindly mourner, but under gospel influences. When guilt stares one in the face, unbelief locks up the heart, as a keen frost doth the waters; but faith in the Redeemer's blood, melts it, to flow in tears of godly sorrow. Hard thoughts of God, which unbelief suggests to a soul stung with guilt, alienate that soul more and more from him; they render it like the worm, which, when one offers to tread upon it, presently contracts itself, and puts itself in the best posture of defense that it can: but the believing of the proclaimed pardon, touches the heart of the rebel so, that he casts down himself at the feet of his Sovereign, willingly yielding himself to return to his duty."
Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace.

Friday, September 22, 2017

a Christ for You and for Me...

"Now preaching ought to have the object of promoting faith in Him, so that He may not only be Christ, but a Christ for you and for me, and that what is said of Him, and what He is called, may work in us. And this faith is produced and is maintained by preaching why Christ came, what He has brought us and given to us, and to what profit and advantage He is to be received."
Martin Luther, Concerning Christian Liberty

Monday, September 4, 2017

Michael Horton on Union with Christ...

"Union with Christ is not to be understood as a “moment” in the application of salvation to believers. Rather, it is a way of speaking about the way in which believers share in Christ in eternity (by election), in past history (by redemption), in the present (by effectual calling, justification, and sanctification), and in the future (by glorification). Nevertheless, our subjective inclusion in Christ occurs when the Spirit calls us effectually to Christ and gives us the faith to cling to him for all of his riches...
"The motif of mystical union has often been presented as an alternative to the forensic (legal) motifs of redemption, especially vicarious substitution and justification. Since Albert Schweitzer, the thesis has repeatedly been advanced, refuted, and then advanced again that justification is a “subsidiary crater” in Paul, while the real central dogma is mystical union. Reginald Fuller notes, “Attempts have been made to pinpoint some other center or focus for Pauline theology, such as ‘being in Christ’ (Schweitzer) or salvation history (Johannes Munck).” However, “Romans, the most systematic exposition of Paul’s thought, clearly makes justification the center.” Not only in Paul but in the pre-Pauline creedal hymns we find this affirmation (2Ti 1: 9 and Tit 3: 4– 5)...
"Like Schweitzer, a variety of contemporary trends in Pauline studies as well as Reformation scholarship are driven by the presupposition that mystical participation in Christ stands over against a forensic emphasis on Christ’s alien righteousness imputed to believers. 3 Through the interpretive lens of union with Christ we can move beyond the false choice of a legal, judicial, and passive salvation on one hand and a relational, mystical, and transformative participation in Christ on the other. Nevertheless, as I argued in relation to Christ’s atoning work, the integral unity of these motifs is possible only because the latter is grounded in the former. As Geerhardus Vos expressed it,
In our opinion Paul consciously and consistently subordinated the mystical aspect of the relation to Christ to the forensic one. Paul’s mind was to such an extent forensically oriented that he regarded the entire complex of subjective spiritual changes that take place in the believer and of subjective spiritual blessings enjoyed by the believer as the direct outcome of the forensic work of Christ applied in justification. The mystical is based on the forensic, not the forensic on the mystical.
"In Romans 5, the covenantal union of humanity in Adam is contrasted with Christ’s covenantal headship, and then in chapter 6 we encounter his most explicit description of union with Christ in his death and resurrection (Ro 6: 1– 23; cf. 1: 3– 4; 4: 25; 1Co 15: 35– 58). Though they have been “in Christ” in God’s electing grace from all eternity (Eph 1: 4, 11; 2Ti 1: 9), their actual union with Christ occurs in time through the work of the Spirit. Throughout the Pauline corpus we encounter this emphasis on union with Christ."
[bold emphasis added]

Horton, Michael S. (2011-01-04). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Kindle Locations 14544-14565). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thoughts on Sanctification continued...

WSC Q. 35. What is sanctification? Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
WCF 13.1 Of Sanctification They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Random thoughts on the above: 
By the indwelling of the Word and Holy Spirit, through the virtue of the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection, believer's are really and personally further sanctified, i.e. renewed to the image of Christ and set apart unto righteousness; the result of regeneration which has created in us a new heart and new spirit (or as the English reformer Thomas Cranmer wrote - a new heart and "new right-will"). The dominion of sin is broken because the body of sin (all our guilt and sins) that stood against us has been nullified by Christ's payment for sin on our behalf. Condemnation and Death because of Sin no longer have any claim on those who are Christ's. By His Word and Spirit we are then enabled to grow in this free saving grace (the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection) and, yes, the domininion of sin is overthrown and its power weakened by Christ's death and resurrection through faith alone in him, his mediation. The "more and more" of WCF 13.1 is qualified by the second and third article of WCF 13:
This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh... In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail.
Christ's death on our behalf, paying our penalty due to our sin, is completely and eternally effectual for us. We died in his death to sin. Therefore we paid the penalty for our sin through Christ, our Surety's death for us. 
Rom. 6:6 - knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin.
The legal body of condemning evidence against the elect is done away! Sin can no longer be held up by the Law before God to condemn us. The Law's charge of guilty rightly due to our sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west through our "death" in Christ on the cross. 
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:13-14).  
When condemnation does creep into my conscience the only safe harbor, then, is not in perfecting my works, but in the Gospel of Christ, the good news encapsulated in Jesus's last words on the cross, "It is finished."

We never (in this life or the next) cease to be the recipients of a fully gracious, God initiated and fully enacted salvation.  

The Bottom Line: Our Father in heaven is not looking for a remedy for the sins of the elect, the impurity of their fallen nature, or the remnant of sin which remains in their every thought, word, and deed other than that wrought by Christ. Hello... Good News... without qualification! 

If God's loving, gracious, and merciful salvation of sinners completed in Christ Jesus needs to be fortified by a purity born of our efforts against sin or pursuing godly works then this Good News of God will soon be replaced by either Despair or Self-Righteousness.

And to aid us in rightly responding to this abundant grace of God we find given to us by the Holy Spirit a new inward and godly desire, born of above, to present ourselves no longer as slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. And this is why our remaining sin so continues to vex us (Rom. 7 and Gal. 5}! 

So, having then been saved in order that we might be conformed to Christ's image, we're admonished and encouraged by the apostle Paul:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:12-14)
Then, as the apostle Paul wrote, let us yield ourselves to the rule of Christ with faith and gratefulness and walk in the path of his righteousness, doing that which is good and acceptable in his sight, not angsting over the weight of our sins nor measuring the merit of our  good works.  Our overbearing load of debt is paid... The righteousness required before God is secured... By Christ alone!

We remain and always will remain the recipients of a fully gracious, God-initiated sanctification and salvation (Eph. 2:8-10)!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thomas Boston: "Behold Him... Who Has Repaired the Breach..."

"Lastly, Here is a demonstration of the absolute necessity of being united to the Second Adam, who kept the second covenant, and thereby fulfilled the demands of the first covenant. See your absolute need of him; prize him, and flee to him by faith. Behold him with an eye of faith, who has repaired the breach. 

"The first Adam broke the first covenant, by eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree; Christ has repaired the breach, by hanging on a tree, and bearing the curse, for his people. Adam's preposterous love to his wife made him sin: * Christ's love to his spouse made him suffer and satisfy. In a gadrden Adam sinned, and therefore in a garden Christ was buried. Eating ruined man, and by eating he is saved again. By eating the forbidden fruit all died; and by eating Christ's flesh and drinking his blood by faith, the soul gets life again, John vi. 57. 

"O then have recourse to Christ; and thus shall you be saved from the ruins of the fall, and have an interest in the covenant made with Christ, the condition of which being already fulfilled by him, can never be broken, or they who are once in it ever fall out of it again."
Whether Adam sinned out of love to his wife, is a question that has been agitated  among divines. A satisfactory solution of it may be seen in Witsius*s Economy, 8cc. book i. chap. viii. - 9.
Thomas Boston. A View of the Covenant of Works, p. 88 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Believer's Obedience Resides Under the Mercy Seat...

Were one to have stood in the Holy of Holies and looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, one would have seen that the Mercy seat sits above, covering the Ark in which sit the Ten Commandments of the Law. This divine design is a type (Lev. 16:14) that points to several New Covenant realities of Christ's finished work. One of which is that the good works of those justified by Christ's blood, though still stained with the remnant of sin as measured by God's holy requirement of the Law, are yet accepted fully and mercifully by God for the alone sake of Jesus Christ's perfect obedience and atonement imputed to them.

Regarding our works of obedience to God and Christ the Mercy Seat, Westminster Confession of Faith 16.6 explains the anti-type...
Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God's sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Calvin: To Admit Sinner into Union with God is to Justify Him...

"Hence the Apostle shows that man is at enmity with God until he is restored to favor by Christ, (Romans 5:8- l 0.) When the Lord, therefore, admits him to union, he is said to justify him, because he can neither receive him into favor, nor unite him to himself, without changing his condition from that of a sinner into that of a righteous man. He adds that this is done by remission of sins. For if those whom the Lord has reconciled to himself are estimated by works, they will still prove to be in reality sinners, while they ought to be pure and free from sin. It is evident therefore, that the only way in which those whom God embraces are made righteous, is by having their pollutions wiped away by the remission of sins, so that this justification may be termed in one word the remission of sins." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Institutes: Christian Religion Book 3.9.22

Calvin: Gift of Adoption by which God Admits Us into a Union with Christ...

"though we may be pressed down by adversity, yet we are not excluded from the number of God's children, since we see him going before us who was by nature his only Son; for that we are counted his children is owing only to the gift of adoption by which he admits us into a union with him, who alone lays claim to this honor in his own right." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries, Hebrews 5:7

Calvin: Until Imputation of Righteouseness "Union with God Cannot Be Hoped For"

"We yesterday compared this passage of Habakkuk with the interpretation of Paul, who draws this inference, that we are justified by faith without the works of the law, because the Prophet teaches us that we are to live by faith, for the way of life and of righteousness is the same, inasmuch as life is not to be otherwise sought by us than through the paternal favor of God. This then is our life--to be united to God; but this union with God cannot be hoped for by us while he imputes sins to us; for as he is just and cannot deny himself, iniquity must be ever hated by him. Then as long as he regards us as sinners, he must necessarily hold us as hateful to him. Where the hatred of God is, there is death and ruin. It then follows, that we can have no hope of life until we be reconciled to God, and there is no other way by which God can restore us to favor, but by regarding and counting us as just. It hence follows, that Paul reasons correctly, when he leads us from life to righteousness; for they are two things which are connected and inseparable." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries - Habakkuk.

Calvin: Justified, Believer Becomes One with Christ...

"To sum up the whole, this passage, first, teaches us to behold Christ with the eyes of faith; and, secondly, it informs us, that every one who is regenerated by the Spirit, and gives himself up entirely to God for true justification, is thus admitted to the closest union with Christ, and becomes one with him."
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries - Matthew 12:48

Monday, July 31, 2017

Two Points Essential to Your Salvation

"The most effectual knowledge for your salvation is to understand these two points: the desperate sinfulness and misery of your own natural condition, and the alone sufficiency of the grace of God in Christ for your salvation, that you may be abased as to the flesh and exalted in Christ alone. And, for the better understanding these two main points, you should learn how the first Adam was the figure of the second (Rom. 5: 14); how sin and death came upon all the natural seed of the first Adam by his disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, and how righteousness and everlasting life come upon all the spiritual seed of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, by His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. You also should learn the true difference between the two covenants, the old and the new, or the law and the gospel: that the former shuts us up under the guilt and power of sin, and the wrath of God and His curse, by its rigorous terms: 'Do all the commandments, and live; and, cursed are you if you do not do them, and fail in the least point'; the latter opens the gates of righteousness and life to all believers (i.e. the new covenant) by its gracious terms: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and live,' that is, all your sins shall be forgiven, and holiness and glory shall be given to you freely by His merit and Spirit.

"Furthermore, you should learn the gospel principles that you are to walk by for the attainment of holiness in Christ. And here I shall mind you particularly that you would be a good proficient in Christian learning, if you get a good understanding of the sixth and seventh chapters of the apostle Paul to the Romans, where the powerful principles of sanctification are purposely treated of, and differenced from those weak and ineffectual principles, which we are most naturally prone to walk by.

"I need not particularly commend any other points of religion to your learning, for if you get the knowledge of these principal points, which I have mentioned, and improve it to a right end, which is, to live and walk by faith in Christ, your own renewed mind will cover the knowledge of all other things that appertain to life and godliness, and if in anything you be otherwise minded than is according to saving truth, God shall reveal even this to you (Phil. 3: 15).

"Yet let me caution you lest, instead of gaining Christ by your knowledge, you rather lose Him by putting your knowledge in the place of Christ, and trusting on it for your salvation.
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp 200-201 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sinai Covenant Added, Driving Israelites to Trust in the Promise/Covenant of Grace

"Hence we may conclude that the end which God aimed at in giving the law to Moses was not that any should ever attain to holiness or salvation by the condition of perfect or sincere obedience to it, though, if there had been any such way of salvation at that time, it must have consisted in the performance of that law, which was then given to the church to be a rule of life, as well as a covenant. There was another covenant made before that time with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a covenant of grace, promising all blessings freely through Christ, the promised seed, by which only they were to be saved. And the covenant of the law was added that they might see their sinfulness and subjection to death and wrath, and the impossibility of attaining to life or holiness by their works, and be forced to trust on the free promise only for all their salvation, and that sin might be restrained by the spirit of bondage until the coming of that promised seed Jesus Christ, and the more plentiful pouring out of the sanctifying Spirit, by Him. This the apostle Paul shows largely (Gal. 3: 15 -24; Rom. 5: 20, 21; 10: 3, 4). None of the Israelites under the Old Testament were ever saved by the Sinai covenant; neither did any of them ever attain to holiness by the terms of it. Some of them did indeed perform the commandments of it sincerely, though imperfectly, but those were first justified, and made partakers of life and holiness, by virtue of that better covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which was the same in substance with the new covenant or testament established by the blood of Christ. Had it not been for that better covenant, the Sinai covenant would have proved to them an occasion of no happiness, but only of sin, despair and destruction. Of itself it was only a killing letter, the ministration of death and condemnation, and therefore it is now abolished (2 Cor. 3: 6, 8, 9, 11). 
"We have cause to praise God for delivering His church, by the blood of Christ, from this yoke of bondage; and we have cause to abhor the device of those that would lay upon us a more grievous and terrible yoke, by turning our very new covenant into a covenant of sincere works, and leaving us no such better covenant, as the Israelites had under their yoke, to relieve us in our extremity."
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp 100-101 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Old Covenant, the Decalogue, and the Rule of Life...

"The covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai is abolished by Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 8: 8, 9, 13). And the Ten Commandments do not bind us as they were words of that covenant (Exod. 34: 28). I mean, they do not bind us as conditions of that covenant, except we seek to be justified by works. For the law, as a covenant, still stands in force enough to curse those that seek salvation by their own works (Gal. 3: 10) and, if abolished, it is only to those that are in Christ by faith (Gal. 2: 16, 20; Acts 3: 22-25; 15: 10, 11). But the Ten Commandments bind us still, as they were then given to a people that were at that time under the covenant of grace made with Abraham, to show them what duties are holy, just and good, well-pleasing to God, and to be a rule for their conversation. The result of all is that we must still practice moral duties as commanded by Moses, but we must not seek to be justified by our practice. If we use them as a rule of life, not as conditions of justification, they can be no ministration of death, or killing letter to us. Their perfection indeed makes them to be harder terms to procure life by, but a better rule to discover all imperfections, and to guide us to that perfection which we should aim at. And it will be our wisdom not to part with the authority of the decalogue of Moses..."
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p 85

Friday, July 21, 2017

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places or - Are We Getting Any Better?

“Even though our outward man is wasting away, the inner man is being renewed day by day”

The yoke of the cross

Do we get better as Christians? Well, yes and no. Scripture does speak of being transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2) and of the inner man being renewed day by day. By grace Christians are more and more sanctified in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit set apart unto godly living in thought, word, and deed.  Yet all too often we seem less than victorious in that sanctification.  Real sin still remains in every part of of our being so that as the apostle Paul writes,  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. A warfare in which it often doesn't seem to ourselves that we are getting all that much better inasmuch as we are eye-witnesses against ourselves. We see our very real role in our very real failings. 

Could part of the disconnect be that we are still looking for evidence in our own works which can somehow stand the scrutiny of God's holy law apart from the free grace of justification in Christ? - for he who has died is justified from sin (Rom 6:7)! 

So, are we looking for love in all the wrong places?

From Calvin's Institutes, book 3:
This cause, then, appears to be threefold. First, God turning his eye away from the works of his servants which merit reproach more than praise, embraces them in Christ, and by the intervention of faith alone reconciles them to himself without the aid of works. Secondly the works not being estimated by their own worth, he, by his fatherly kindness and indulgence, honors so far as to give them some degree of value. Thirdly, he extends his pardon to them [i.e. our works as Christians], not imputing the imperfection by which they are all polluted, and would deserve to be regarded as vices rather than virtues... 
But, meanwhile, they observed not how far the works which they insisted on regarding as meritorious must be from fulfilling the condition of the promises, were they not preceded by a justification founded on faith alone, and on forgiveness of sins — a forgiveness necessary to cleanse even good works from their stains...
In this way we can admit not only that there is a partial righteousness in works (as our adversaries maintain), but that they are approved by God as if they were absolutely perfect. If we remember on what foundation this is rested, every difficulty will be solved. The first time when a work begins to be acceptable is when it is received with pardon. And whence pardon, but just because God looks upon us and all that belongs to us as in Christ? Therefore, as we ourselves when engrafted into Christ appear righteous before God, because our iniquities are covered with his innocence; so our works are, and are deemed righteous, because every thing otherwise defective in them being buried by the purity of Christ is not imputed... 
Thus we may justly say, that not only ourselves, but our works also, are justified by faith alone.
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Believers: Dead to the Guilt of Sin - Alive unto Righteousness...

 Even so we also should walk in newness of life., Romans 6:4b
It is the purpose of our rising with Christ, that we also, by the glory or power of the Father, 2 Corinthians 13:4, should walk in newness of life. The resurrection of Christ was the effect of the power of God, not in the ordinary way of nature, but of a supernatural exertion of power. In the same manner, believers are raised to walk in newness of life. It is thus that, when Paul, Ephesians 1:20, exalts the supernatural virtue of grace by which we are converted, he compares it to the exceeding greatness of that power by which Christ was raised from the dead. This shows the force of the Apostle’s answer to the objection he is combating. Believers are dead to the guilt of sin, and if so, the ground of their separation from God being removed His almighty power is engaged and asserted to cause them to walk with their risen Lord in that new life which they derive from Him. It was, then, the purpose of Christ’s death that His people should become dead to sin, and alive unto righteousness. ‘Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness,’1 Peter 2:24. On this same ground, when viewing it simply as a motive, Paul reminds believers that since they are dead with Christ, they should set their affections on things above, and not on things on the earth, assuring them that when He who is their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:4. And again he declares, ‘If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him,’ 2 Timothy 2:11.
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Prayer of John Calvin...

... and a prayer for all Christians...

"Grant, Almighty God, that since we are too secure and torpid in our sins, thy dread majesty may come to our minds, to humble us, and to remove our fear, that we may learn anxiously to seek reconciliation through Christ, and so abhor ourselves for our sins, that thou mayest then be prepared to receive us: and that unbelief may not shut the door against us, enable us to regard thee to be such as thou hast revealed thyself, and to acknowledge that thou art not like us, but the fountain of all mercy, that we may thus be led to entertain a firm hope of salvation, and that, relying on the Mediator, thy only-begotten Son, we may know him as the throne of grace, full of compassion and mercy. O grant, that we may thus come to thee, that through him we may certainly know that thou art our Father, so that the covenant thou hast made with us may never fail through our fault, even this, that we are thy people, because thou hast once adopted us in thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Prayers of John Calvin from his Commentary on Hosea

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Salvation from Sin (4): "O Wretched Man That I Am!" And yet in a little while...


In the last place under this head, Jesus saves his people from the very being of sin.  
Though the true Christian is an heir of complete salvation, yet he is never completely saved from sin while he is in this world. Though he is transformed into the Divine image, by the renewing of his mind, 
there is, notwithstanding, a law in his members which wars against the law of his mind, and often brings him into captivity to the law of sin, so as to make him sometimes exclaim as the holy apostle Paul did, "Oh wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" who shall deliver me from this cruel, this deceitful enemy, which often wounds my soul, disturbs my peace, retards my progress in the spiritual life, darkens my evidences for heaven, and prevents my complete happiness? 
How long shall I go mourning, because of the oppression of this enemy! The Christian shall have reason thus to complain of indwelling sin, while he is in this valley of tears; and the higher the degree of holiness is to which he attains, the more sensibly he will feel it, and the more bitterly will he complain of it. 
The triumphing of this enemy, however, is but short; its destruction is fast approaching. Yet a little while, and Jesus will call the oppressed believer, not only to put off the tabernacle of flesh and blood, but to put off the body of sin and death, so as never to be troubled with it any more forever. 
Then sinning and suffering, sorrowing and sighing, shall cease at once. When spiritual death is entirely swallowed up in victory, "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the rebuke of his people will he take away." — Thus Jesus saves his people from the guilt, the dominion, the defilement, and the very being of sin: He saves them from the guilt of sin, in justification; from the dominion of sin, in conversion; from the defilement of sin, in sanctification; and from the very being of it, in glorification.
 - John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  ( emphasis added) 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Salvation from Sin (3): Christ saves from the defilement of sin

 Gospel sanctification...
3d, Jesus saves his people, not only from the dominion, but from the defilement or pollution of sin. As sin is infinitely opposite to the spotless holiness of God's nature, it cannot but be very impure and loathsome in his sight. Hence we read, that he is of  "purer eyes than to behold evil, and that he cannot look upon iniquity." As sin is in its own nature filthy, sinners in whose heart it reigns, are represented in Scripture as altogether filthy; and therefore as such, they are utterly unqualified to enjoy communion and intercourse with an infinitely holy God. Now, in order to render his people fit to enjoy fellowship with God, since without this it is impossible that they can be either holy or happy, Christ, as the glorious dispenser of grace in the new covenant, sends his Spirit, in the day of effectual calling, as a Spirit of holiness, to cleanse them from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, according to that promise, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." He begins thus to purify his people at their regeneration; for we read that they are "saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." He continues to purify them from remaining depravity, by affording them fresh supplies of the sanctifying Spirit, and by enabling them to improve his death and resurrection for that purpose; until at last he presents them to his Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The fountain that is opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness, is kept continually open to them, in the offers of the Gospel; and the streams of it are appointed to follow them while they travel through this valley of tears, that they may always have an opportunity of washing away their spiritual pollution, until they come to the end of their journey.
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
( emphasis added) 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Salvation from Sin (2): Christ saves from the dominion of sin

In this section, Colquhoun shows the connectedness of justification, which Christ has won for his people, with their deliverance from the dominion of sin and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Sin no longer reigns over believers because the curse of the law as a covenant has been removed at the cross in the death of Jesus, our Surety. To paraphrase Romans 6:7, for he who has died in Christ is justified from sin

As Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus ChristAnd therefore, ...sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law [as a covenant] but under grace [as a covenant] (Romans 6:14). The reign of sin exists only where the law as a broken covenant exists. In Christ that law covenant has been satisfied and thus the curse removed and righteousness won for the elect, rendering sin impotent as a ruler in that it no longer carries with it the condemnation of the law and the penalty of death (Romans 8:1-2). Whereas sin reigned over sinners condemned under the law, Christ now reigns over sinners justified under grace. Thanks be to God indeed!
"2d, Jesus saves his people from the dominion or reigning power of sin." He that committeth sin, is the servant of sin." God had told the first Adam, as the federal head of all his natural posterity, that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he should surely die. No sooner did he eat of it than he was punished with the loss of spiritual life; or, in other words, with the loss of the original righteousness of his nature, in which the spiritual life of the soul consists. Now, the corruption of the whole nature, or the dominion of sin in the soul follows as naturally, upon the want of original righteousness, as darkness follows the setting of the sun. Those, therefore, whom God hath appointed to obtain salvation, as they were involved in the guilt of Adam's first transgression as well as others, and consequently born under the condemning power of the law, which, in this sense, is the strength of sin; so they are all born destitute of original righteousness, and subject to the dominion of sin. The condemning power of the law as a covenant, so long as they continue under it, detains them as prisoners, under the reigning power of depravity. No sooner, however, does the Lord Jesus, whose office it is to say to such prisoners, "Go forth!", come and admit them to communion with himself, in his surety-righteousness, than they are delivered from the condemning power of the law, and consequently, from the reigning power of sin. This infinitely glorious righteousness [i.e. imputed righteousness], as it entitles them to the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, so it removes the curse of the law, which formerly stood in the way of those influences, and obstructed their entrance into the soul. Hence are these words of the apostle Paul: "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace," Rom. vi. 14.
"If believers would make more use of the righteousness of the incarnate Redeemer in their approaches to God than they do, they should find that sin would not prevail against them so much as it does." 
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
(Bracketed comments and emphasis added) 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Salvation from Sin (1): Christ saves from the guilt of sin

This, and the next 3 posts, are excerpted from the sermon, Salvation from Sin by John Colquhoun, in which he explains the nature and extent of the believer's salvation from sin wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. An interesting yet important aside is how Colquhoun's understanding of the logical order of legal and mystical union with Christ as well as the logical order of the imputation of Christ's atonement and the believer's justification are interwoven into his explanation of salvation from the guilt of sin.
And here, in the first place, he saves them from the guilt of sin. — By the guilt of sin, is meant an obligation to suffer eternal punishment on account of sin. They whom Christ undertook to save were, on account of their breach of covenant in the first Adam, and of their other innumerable transgressions of the Divine law, condemned as well as the rest of mankind, to endure such tremendous wrath, both in soul and body, as would have rendered them inexpressibly miserable. While, therefore, they continue under the law as a covenant of works, they are necessarily under this dreadful sentence; and were they to die in that state, it would be executed upon them to the uttermost, through the revolving ages of eternity.
"But since they were not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, he comes in the day of regenerating power, and having united them to his person [legal/federal], admits them to actual communion [mystical/experiential] with himself, in his infinitely precious atonement [notice the logical order]. No sooner is this atonement actually imputed to them, than they are legally absolved from condemnation [notice the logical oder - imputation then justification], according to this Divine promise, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more," Jer. xxxi. 34. 
"They are then delivered from the guilt of sin, or from their obligation to endure punishment on account of sin, and have sufficient security afforded them, that though they may often incur the guilt of fatherly displeasure, they shall never enter into condemnation, or fall under the guilt of eternal wrath.
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
(Bracketed comments and emphasis added)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sinners Justified By Faith Receive the Righteousness of Christ Imputed by God to the Elect

Imputation
Justified sinners are those called by God's grace who, through faith in Christ alone, receive God's imputation to them of the satisfaction of Jesus's atoning death and righteous obedience, which for Christ's sake are accounted - credited - reckoned to them as righteousness for their unqualified pardon and acceptance before God as if really performed by them; not a righteousness infused or worked inherently into them, but imputed to them.

Heidelberg Catechism 60  Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God's commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart. 
Belgic Confession 22 Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.
Westminster Confession of Faith 11.1 Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them. 
Westminster Larger Catechism 71 Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepts the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace. 
Westminster Shorter Catechism 33 Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. 
Article XI Of the Justification of Man We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings; Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Imputation - An Union of Representation...

James Buchanan:
"Take the three cases of Imputation which have been specified, and
compare them with one another. We find, that in two out of the three, a change of moral character is the invariable concomitant or consequent of imputation; for the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, was connected with their loss of original righteousness and the corruption of their whole nature; and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to His people is connected, in like manner, with their renewal and sanctification; but we also find that, in the third case, —which is as real and as complete an instance of imputation as either of the other two, —the imputation of our sins to Christ was not connected with any change in His holy character, or with the infusion of any, even the slightest’ taint of moral evil; whence we infer that imputation, so far from consisting in, is not even invariably connected with, the infusion of moral qualities.
 
  • We find again, that in two out of the three cases, representative, and personal, agency are so clearly distinguished as to make it manifest, that the party to whom anything is imputed is not supposed to have had any active participation in the doing of it: for our sins were really, and in the full sense of the term, imputed to Christ as our substitute, yet He had no share in the commission of them; and His righteousness is, in like manner, imputed to us for our Justification, yet we had no share with Him in ‘finishing the work which the Father had given Him to do.’ 
"—Whence we infer that, in the third case, —that of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, —it is so far from being necessary to suppose our personal participation in his act, that such a supposition would go far to destroy the doctrine of Imputation altogether, by setting aside the fundamental distinction between the agency of the representative, and that of those who were represented by him. 
"We find, again, that in all the three cases, imputation, whether of sin or of righteousness, is founded on a federal relation subsisting between one and many, —for Adam was constituted the head and representative of his race, and Christ the substitute and surety of His people; and that this relation may be fitly described as amounting to a union between them, in virtue of which they are regarded and treated as being, in some respects, one; but that this union is not such as to destroy the distinction between their respective personalities, or to confound their several acts: for it is still true, that the representative was personally different from those whom he represented, and that his obedience, or disobedience, was his own act, and not theirs, although it is imputed to them; for ‘a union of representation is not a union of identity. ‘No imputation of this kind,’ says Dr. Owen, speaking of the imputation of anything that was not ours antecedently, but that becomes ours simply by being imputed, —‘is to account them, unto whom anything is imputed. to have done the things themselves which are imputed unto them… . This is contrary unto the nature of imputation, which proceeds on no such judgment, but on the contrary, (implies) that we ourselves have done nothing of what is imputed unto us, nor Christ anything of what is imputed unto Him.’"
James Buchanan. The Doctrine of Justification

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Christ For Us...

Jesus was obedient unto death - even death on a cross - not to obtain a righteousness for
himself but in order to obtain a righteousness for us.

As the second Adam, Jesus's obedience satisfied the Covenant of Works under which God placed Adam - its penalty sanction and obedience probation - not for himself but in our place for us.

Our obedience to God therefore is not to obtain an acceptable righteousness before God because Christ our Surety already has obtained it for us.

Our obedience therefore is not to satisfy any kind of probationary test of obedience before God because Christ has already passed God's probationary test for us.

Our obedience is not unto or for ourselves in order to satisfy God's Law but offered thankfully unto God and offered to others in love for their benefit, even as Jesus's obedience was not unto himself nor for himself but offered to God in love for us in order to satisfy the requirement of God's holy Law for our benefit.

God's Justification by his free grace through faith in Christ alone removes the necessity of any self-directed or self-enhancing motive of obedience to the purpose of obtaining an acceptance before God for the believer, i.e. to obtain a better or more secure standing before God. Christ alone has completely secured a perfect standing of righteousness before God for us who believe in him. For Christ alone accomplished all of our salvation for us.

Jesus's obedience was not for himself but for others...


Ergo - the disciple not being above the Teacher - our obedience is not offered for the benefit of ourselves in any way but for the benefit of others, offered in thankfulness to God for his free gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

Luke 10:26-28
Romans 5:12-21
Romans 15:1-3
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 10:24-25a

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Of the scape-goat...

"There was likewise a live goat, which the priest was to take; on the
head of which he was to lay his hands, and there to make a public confession to God of all the people's sins; and when so done, the priest was to lay all the sins of the people on the head of the goat;  then was the goat to be sent away into the wilderness, never to return with them more, Lev. xvi. 7—9, 21, 22. This type, as well as the rest, sets forth the won derful grace of God in Christ to sinners, who hath prepared a scape-goat for them, to carry away their sin on his own head; which is Christ, his only Son. Oh! this is wonderful love, saith the Spirit, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Look to Christ, this scape-goat; he bears all the sins of his people; they are confessed over, and translated upon Christ's head, Isa. liii. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 24. And so they are made his sins, not ours, and he hath carried them into the wilderness of forget-fulness, where they shall never come into mind more; "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more," Jer. xxxi. 34. Christ will leave all the sin and guilt, which he took on him, behind him in the wilderness; and let us assure ourselves that whenever Christ comes again, he will come "without sin unto salvation," Heb. ix. 28."
Thomas Worden, The Types Unveiled - chapter 40 (1640s)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Love covers a multitude of sins...

Romans 13

Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. i.e. The path of Sanctification 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Baptism signifies deliverance from guilt of sin... Christ's death - our death (5)

Robert Haldane continues to unpack the gospel as presented by the apostle Paul's as the defense against the false charge that justification by grace will produce the result of more sin in the lives of believers.

Ver. 3. — Know ye not, that so many of was were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? 
In the verse before us, the Apostle proves that Christians are dead to sin, because they died with Christ. The rite of baptism exhibits Christians as dying, as buried, and as risen with Christ. Know ye not. He refers to what he is now declaring as a thing well known to those whom he addresses. Baptized into Jesus Christ. By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism. Baptized into His death. In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins. Thus the satisfaction rendered to the justice of God by Him, is a satisfaction from them, as they are constituent parts of His body. The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam — he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs. By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam... 
Ver. 4. — Therefore we are buried with him baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The death of Christ was the means by which sin was destroyed, and His burial the proof of the reality of His death. Christians are therefore represented as buried with Him by baptism into His death, in token that they really died with Him; and if buried with Him, it is not that they shall remain in the grave, but that, as Christ arose from the dead, they should also rise. Their baptism, then, is the figure of their complete deliverance from the guilt of sin, signifying that God places to their account the death of Christ as their own death: it is also a figure of their purification and resurrection for the service of God. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" (4)

Haldane shows the Apostles reasoning...
"Live any longer therein. To continue in sin, and to live any longer therein, are equivalent expressions, implying that, before their death to sin, the Apostle himself, and all those whom he now addressed, were enslaved by sin, and lived in it. In the same way, in writing to the saints at Ephesus, he says that formerly he and all of them had their conversation among the children of disobedience, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. By denying, then, that believers continue in sin, he does not mean to say that they never commit sin, or fall into it, or, according to Mr. Stuart, have become insensible to its influence, or to Mr. Tholuck, that they ‘obey it in nothing any more;’ for, as has been observed, it is abundantly shown in the seventh chapter, where he gives an account of his own experience (which is also the experience of every Christian), that this is very far from being a fact; but he denies that they continue to live as formerly in sin and ungodliness, which he had shown was impossible. Here it may, however, be remarked, that the full answer which in the following verses is given to the objection brought against the tendency of the doctrine of justification, cannot be understood by the natural man, to whom it must appear foolishness. Hence the same calumny is repeated to the present day against this part of Divine truth."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary 

"For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin" (3)

Haldane completes his understanding as to what it means for the Christian to be "dead to sin" in Romans 6:2.
"In proof of the correctness of this view of the subject, let it be remembered that the Apostle’s refutation, in the following verses, of the supposed objection, does not rest on the supposition that sin is mortified in himself and those whom he is addressing, or that they are released from any propensity to it, but on the fact of their being one with Jesus Christ. They are united to Him in His death, and consequently in His life, which was communicated to them by Him who is a ‘quickening Spirit;’ and thus their walking with Him in newness of life, as well as their resurrection with Him, are secured. These ideas are exhibited in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses. In the 7th verse, the reason of the whole is summed up, — ’For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin;’ and in the 8th verse, that which will afterwards follow our being justified from sin is stated, — ’If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.’ Finally, in the 9th and 10th verses, the Apostle declares the consequence of Christ’s dying to sin to be, that He liveth unto God. The same effect in respect to the members must follow as to the Head with whom believers are one; and therefore he immediately proceeds to assure them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them. The result, then, of the doctrine of justification by grace is the very reverse of giving not merely license, but even place, to continue in sin. On the contrary, according to that doctrine, the power of God is engaged to secure to those who are dead to sin i.e., justified — a life of holiness, corresponding with that state into which, by their union with His Son, He has brought them.
"The full import and consequence of being dead to sin will be found, ch. 4:7, 8: — ’Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’ They who are dead to sin, are those from whom, in its guilt or condemning power, it is in Christ Jesus entirely removed. Such persons, whose sins are thus covered, are pronounced ‘blessed.’ They enjoy the favor and blessing of God. The necessary effect of this blessing is declared in the new covenant, according to which, when God is merciful to the unrighteousness of His people, and remembers their sins and iniquities no more, He puts His laws into their mind, and writes them in their hearts, and promises that He will be to them a God, and they shall be to Him a people. In one word, they who are dead to Sin are limited to Him who is the Fountain of life and holiness, and are thus delivered from the curse pronounced upon those who, being under the law, continue not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. The guilt of their sins, which separated between them and God, having now been canceled, they enjoy His favor, and all its blessed effects. It is upon these great truths that the Apostle rests his absolute denial that the doctrine of justification by grace, which he had been unfolding, is compatible with continuing to live in sin."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary 

"We that are dead to sin" (2) - Refers not to their character or conduct but their state before God


Robert Haldane continues to unpack the apostle Paul's words in Romans 6:2...
"It should also be observed that, when the Apostle characterizes believers as dead to sin, he is not introducing something new, as would be the case were either Dr. Macknight’s, or Mr. Stuart’s, or Mr. Tholuck’s explanation of the term correct. He is indicating the state of those to whom the objection applies, in order to its refutation. That it does not lead them to continue in sin, he had in effect shown already, in verses 3rd and 4th of the foregoing chapter, where he had declared the accompaniments of their justification. But as this objection is constantly insisted on, and is so congenial to human nature, and, besides, might appear plausible from the fact that they are the ungodly who are justified, ch. 4:5, he still considered it proper to meet it fully and directly. Paul therefore proceeds formally to repel such a calumny against his doctrine, by exhibiting in further detail, in the following verses, the grounds of justification to which he had referred, ch. 4:24, 25, — namely, the interest of believers both in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The expression, then, dead to sin, does not in any degree relate to their character or conduct but exclusively to their state before God. Their character or conduct with regard to abstinence from the commission of sin, is referred to in the question that follows, demanding, How those who are dead to sin shall ‘live any longer therein?’ But to explain the expression, ‘dead to sin,’ as meaning dead to the influence and love of sin, is entirely erroneous, and what the Apostle by no means asserts. Death to the influence and love of sin must involve their annihilation in the person of whom this could be affirmed; for death annihilates to its subject all things whatsoever; and in this case it might well be said, with Mr. Stuart, that a man who is dead to sin has ‘become insensible to its exciting power or influence, as a dead person is incapable of sensibility.’ How Mr. Stuart could make such statements, thrice repeated, yet totally unfounded, and flatly contradicted by every man’s experience, is indeed astonishing.
"Utterly erroneous, too, is the explanation of other commentators, who say that the meaning is, dead to ‘the guilt and power’ of sin, — thus joining death to the power to death to the guilt, of sin. This indicates a condition with respect to sin which was never realized in any of the children of Adam while in this world. No believer is dead to the power of sin, as Paul has abundantly short in the seventh chapter of this Epistle. On the contrary, he there affirms that there was a law in his members which warred against the law of his mind; that he did the things he would not; and that when he would do good, evil (and what is this but the power of sin?) was present with him. The same truth is clearly exhibited in all the other Epistles, in which believers are so often reproved for giving way to the power of sin, and earnestly exhorted and warned against doing so. But when the expression is understood as exclusively signifying dead to the GUILT of sin, it may and must be taken in the full sense of what death imparts, being nothing less than absolute, total, and final deliverance from its guilt. To suppose, then, that in these words there is the smallest reference to the character or conduct of believers — to their freedom from the love or power of sin — to conjoin these in any respect or in any degree with their freedom from its guilt, — in other words, with their justified state, — is not merely to misapprehend the meaning of the Apostle, but to represent him as stating that to be a fact which has no existence; while it deprives the passage of the consolation to believers which, when properly understood, it is so eminently calculated to impart."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary