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Home New Testiment Studies 5# Martyn Lloyd Jones on - `Reckon yourselves dead to Sin' Text

5# Martyn Lloyd Jones on - `Reckon yourselves dead to Sin' Text

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5#  D M Lloyd Jones on 'Reckon yourselves dead to Sin.'

Romans 6:11-14

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Editor's note: The brief introduction, text in colours and endnotes are by Clay Lovegrove. He welcomes discussion by email.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on ‘Reckon’ (logizomai). Also: ‘credit’, ‘count’, ‘consider’, ‘impute’, ‘maintain’.

 

Big Distinction: To ‘count’ (vs 11) does not make something true, it is to realise that something is already true. To count ourselves dead to sin is not a command or duty to die to sin, nor is it saying that we are only dead to sin as long as we are reckoning ourselves as such, or as long as our reckoning is resulting in victory over sin. Rather, it is to realise that we have already died to sin and are alive to God through union with Christ.

 

Romans 6:11-14

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

 

Romans 3:27 - 4:25

28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law…

Ro 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6

D. M. Lloyd-Jones

Copyright © 1972 Lady Catherwood and Mrs Ann Beatt. The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh & Carlisle.

Pg 112-119


Likewise reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11 [1]

 

What does it mean? There are three principles which we must bear in mind before we come to the details of the statement. The first principle the Apostle asserts is that what is true of the Lord Jesus Christ is also in this respect true of us, because we are joined to Him. We have seen how he has been proving that at length. He says, ‘Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?’ We have been crucified with Him, we have died with Him, therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, ‘that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also.. .‘ We are united to Christ. And because we are united to Christ, what is true of Him is true of us. I remind you of the old comparison. We used to be united to Adam; that is why we are what we are by nature. Adam fell, we fell. Adam sinned, we sinned with Adam. That is the argument of chapter 5 verse 12 to the end. Now we are joined to Christ, and therefore what is true of Him is true of us. The two words ‘likewise’ and ‘also’ prove that. ‘Likewise’ — in the like manner, in the same way — ‘reckon ye yourselves also’. Not only true of Him, but also of you! ‘Likewise’ — ‘also’. That is what he is saying, that what is true of Christ is true of us.

The second principle is that the statement in the eleventh verse is entirely non-experimental; it has nothing to do with our experience. The very word ‘reckon’ which he uses proves that clearly. You cannot tell a man to reckon an experience; that would be ridiculous. If he has had the experience there is nothing to reckon. The very word ‘reckon’ settles the matter, as does also the parallel which Paul is drawing between the Lord and ourselves. The experimental aspect of this matter only comes in with the next verse. The main trouble about Christian living is that people will rush to the experimental before they have understood the truth. The experimental is the outcome of an understanding of the doctrine, of the truth. Now this verse is entirely non-experimental. The practical, experimental aspect comes in verse 12 and following.

The third principle is that this verse does not deal directly with the question of our holy living and sanctification; but it does introduce us to a truth that will lead on to that, and which promotes that, in a most wonderful manner. Verse 11 has nothing to do directly with sanctification, but indirectly it is a most important verse with regard to the whole question.

Those are the three principles which we must hold in our minds. They are of crucial importance, and I repeat, non-experimental. What Paul asserts is that what is true of Christ is true of us. His experience does not come in at all. He was always holy, He never had any sin at all. So we must get rid of the whole notion of experience here. It is the comparison that matters, the ‘likewise - also’. What happened to Him has happened to us.

Now we come to the detailed exposition. Let us start with the word ‘reckon’. It really means ‘to regard oneself as something’, or alternatively, it means ‘to consider’. The Apostle is saying, ‘Reckon ye also yourselves’, ‘Consider yourselves to be what you are’. That would be quite a good translation. Or a better one perhaps would be this, ‘Consider, and keep before you’ - that idea is in it. You have to go on ‘reckoning’. ‘Consider, and keep constantly before you, this truth about yourself.’ Another very good translation is ‘conclude’, ‘draw the deduction’. It is interesting to note that the word ‘reckon’ here in this eleventh verse of this chapter is exactly the word the Apostle used in chapter 4 in a whole series of verses. It occurs in verse 3 of that chapter: ‘For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him…‘ You will find the same word also in verses 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23 and 24. Sometimes it is translated ‘counted’, sometimes ‘imputed’, and sometimes ‘reckoned’.

The same word is also found in chapter 3 verse 28 of this Epistle; and this is an important use of it. The Apostle has been arguing out the matter of justification by faith, how it is not by ‘the deeds of the law’ and so on. Then, summing up his argument, he says, ‘Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law’. ‘We conclude’ - it is exactly the same word. [It] could well have been translated, ‘Therefore we reckon’. This, he says, is the ‘conclusion’ at which we have ‘arrived’.

That then is the connotation of this word ‘reckon’. I am emphasizing the matter for this reason, that there are people who have regarded, and still regard this eleventh verse as something which can be used in the practice of Couéism[2], in which people endeavour to persuade themselves that something is true of them which is not actually true of them. When ill they are taught to say, ‘Every day and in every way I am getting better and better’. According to Couéism if you keep on saying that to yourself you will begin to feel ‘better and better’. Many have interpreted Romans 6:11 in that way; but it is a complete travesty of it. This is not something of which you persuade yourself psychologically; it is a conclusion, it is a deduction, it is a bit of logic. It is the inevitable result of the truth the Apostle has been laying down. It is indeed the opposite of Couéism, so we must get rid of that false notion.

What it means is that you accept God’s Word and draw the inevitable conclusion from it. Do what Abraham did when God came to him at the age of ninety-nine, Sarah being ninety, and said to him, Sarah is going to conceive and bare a son. It sounded monstrous, it sounded impossible, but ‘Abraham believed God’. Because God said it Abraham believed it, in spite of everything to the contrary. In other words Abraham reckoned[3] that what God said was true. Abraham came to the conclusion. that what God had promised God could also surely perform. He drew the right conclusion, he came to the solemn conclusion. It is not a bit of Couéism, but it is logic that is based upon the veracity of the Word of God. That is the context of this term - acceptance of God’s Word and drawing the inevitable deduction from it. [4]

Then we come to the expression, ‘ye yourselves’. ‘Likewise reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin’. Who is this ‘self’, ‘yourself’? I have already been explaining this. Let me remind you of it. It means your essential personality. We shall have to deal with this in greater detail when we come to chapter 7, but he means ‘you yourself’, this distinct personality that God has given to you, and to me, that makes us all separate and different people, the individuals that we are. I was once a man in Adam. I was once in Adam. I am no longer in Adam but I am Christ. I can talk about the ‘old man’ and the ‘new man’, but I myself can look on at the two men, as it were. It is my being, my entity that he means here. ‘You’ - this being that you are, that came from God, and will go back and stand before God - you, your own individuality and identity, yourself, your personality. ‘Reckon that you yourself are dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

That brings us to the third expression - ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord’. That is how it is found in the Authorized or King James version. It is a pity that it was so translated, for the Authorized version is not only unfortunate here but indeed wrong. What Paul wrote was, ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Not ‘through’ Him, not ‘by’ Him, but ‘in’ Him. What a world of difference there is there! We found precisely the same thing in verse 10 of chapter 5. and we made a big point of it there. In the Authorized Version it reads, ‘If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life’. I was at great pains to show that it is not ‘by’ His life, but ‘in’ His life. There the Apostle started to expound the great doctrine of our being in Christ - joined to Him - that he has followed through the remainder of chapter 5 and in all these first ten verses of chapter 6 - ‘In Christ Jesus’. ‘How much more shall we be saved in his life!’ We have seen at length in working through this sixth chapter that his basic argument all along is that we who are Christians are not merely forgiven because of what Christ has done for us, we have been united to Christ, we are joined to Christ, we are indeed ‘in Christ’ - ‘in Christ Jesus’. He is the Vine, we are the branches; we are in Him, a part of Him. That is the basis of his whole argument; and here, therefore, he says, ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God’. Why? Because you are ‘in Christ Jesus’. That is why you are dead to sin and alive unto God - because you are ‘in Christ Jesus’.

That brings us to the fourth matter, which is the practical one. What are we, then, to realise as being true of us in the Lord Jesus Christ? What is this that I have to conclude and to reckon and to hold always before me? The first thing is this, that we are ‘dead indeed unto sin’. We have seen that Christ is dead indeed unto sin. He died unto sin once, He is no longer in that realm, He is living unto God. As He is dead indeed unto sin, so are you, says Paul, if you are in Him. You must be, if you are in Him, because what is true of Him is true of you. So you are ‘dead indeed unto sin’! Notice that I am emphasizing ‘unto’. You remember that we saw in His case that it was ‘In that he died’, He died not to sin, but ‘He died unto sin’. We must not say that Christ died to sin; He never had any need to die to sin. He died unto sin, He died to His relationship to sin. The same word is used of us. He does not say ‘Reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed to sin’ but ‘Reckon ye also yourselves likewise to be dead indeed unto sin’. As it was ‘unto’ in His case, it is ‘unto’ in our case; That, of course, helps to determine the interpretation.

What does it mean then? What am I to do when I am told that I must reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin? Let us consider first what it does not mean. No verse, perhaps, has been so abused, and so misinterpreted, as this one. Here are some of the things it does not mean.

It does not mean that it is my duty, in view of my profession of faith, and in view of my vows as a Christian, to die unto sin. Some have interpreted this verse in that way, as if the Apostle is saying, ‘You say that you believe that Christ died for your sins, and that you are forgiven by God because He died for your sins, that you are justified by faith. Therefore cannot you see that it is your duty to be dead indeed unto sin?’ Surely the answer to that is that the whole context makes it impossible. The very fact that what is true of me is what is primarily true of Him makes that a sheer impossibility. The interpretation here must conform to what we have seen to be true about Him.

Secondly, this is not a command to me to die to sin, or to become dead to sin. Many have interpreted it as just an injunction commanding Christian people to die to sin because of what Christ has done for them. It does not mean that either.

Thirdly, it does not mean that I am to reckon that sin as a force in me is dead, and that I, because I am a Christian, have altogether finished with sin. Why does it not mean that? Because sin was never a force like that in the life and experience of the Lord Jesus Christ; and what I am told here is that something is ‘likewise’ true of me as it was of Him. What was never true of Him cannot become true of me. Furthermore, if I said that, I would be uttering a lie. If I am told to say to myself that sin as a power is dead in me, that it does not exist, and that as I go on repeating the words I shall not sin and fall, I am trying to cure myself by telling myself a lie. I am saying to myself that something is not there in me which I know very well in experience is there. Indeed if it were not there, there would be no problem.

Neither does the Apostle’s statement mean that sin is dead, or that sin has been eradicated out of me. The simple answer to that proposition is that sin is not dead; it is very much alive. Sin has not been eradicated, rooted right out of our constitution, because we know well that it is still here in our flesh and in our bodies. So this verse does not teach eradication.

Neither is the Apostle saying that we are dead unto sin as long as, or while, we are gaining a victory over sin. That is a popular and common interpretation of it. Some say, ‘Reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin’; as long as you go on doing that you will be having your victory, and as long as you have your victory, sin is really dead as far as you are concerned. It does not mean that, because again the whole analogy with our Lord makes it an utter impossibility; it cannot be true. In any case, to argue thus means that you have already become experimental; and as I have been pointing out, it cannot be experimental because of the parallel with our Lord. But this verse is commonly interpreted and taken in an experimental sense. We are told, ‘The way to get victory is just to go on repeating this verse to yourself. You say to yourself: Sin is not there as far as I am concerned since I have become a Christian, sin is really non-existent for me. You go on saying that, and by doing so you will get your victory.’ That is not what this verse means. It does not deal directly with my experience or with my daily life.

Finally, it is not saying that it is my ‘reckoning’ of this fact that makes me dead unto sin. Many have interpreted it in this way. They say, ‘If you engage in this reckoning you will indeed be dead unto sin’. The Apostle is actually saying the exact opposite.

What precisely is he saying? Positively, this is his exhortation: We are to reckon as true about ourselves not something that we want to be true, but something that is actually true of us. ‘Reckon ye yourselves’, he says, (because of your union with Christ) ‘to be dead indeed unto sin.’ Realize, he says, conclude that you are already dead unto sin because Christ is dead unto sin. The Apostle has taken all this trouble to tell us in detail what is true of the Lord Himself, because he is going to tell us that what is true of Him is true of us. I am to ‘reckon’ therefore, not something that I want to be true, but something that is true. It is not my reckoning that does this for me. No, this has already been done for me by Another. I am to reckon something that is already a fact; and the fact is that because I am united to Christ, and from the moment I became united to Him, I am already dead to sin, to the law, to death itself. So I am to reckon on something that has already happened. And this something that has already happened is not something that I do, it is not my reckoning that brings it into being. This - my death to sin and being alive unto God - is something that has been accomplished for me by the Lord Jesus Christ, who died unto sin once. I have come into this position because of the work of the Holy Spirit who baptizes me into Christ, and as He baptizes me into Christ I am ‘in Christ’, and I reap all these consequences of what happened to Him. So this verse is not telling me to accomplish anything; it just tells me to realize what has been done for me once and for ever by the Lord Jesus Christ. He died unto sin once, therefore I with Him died unto sin once and for ever. That is what I have to keep on holding before myself. So you see that this is not experimental, it does not tell me anything about my experience. What does it tell me? It tells me about my position, my standing, my whole status. It tells me about the realm in which I now am as a Christian. Christ was once in the realm of sin and death, He is no longer there. I was once in the realm of sin and death; everybody who is not a Christian is still in the realm of sin and death, is under the dominion of sin, and of Satan, and of death, belongs to the darkness, belongs to the kingdom of Satan. What the Apostle tells me here is that as Christ once entered into that realm for a while but no longer does so, in exactly the same way I no longer belong to it either; I have been taken out of it with Him because I am in Him.

That is the great principle which we shall now have to work out in detail. You and I have to ‘reckon’ on this; this fact, this truth about ourselves. It is not experience; but the Word of God comes to us and tells us that if we are Christians at all, then by the action of the Holy Spirit we are in Christ. And because we are in Christ what is true about Him in His relationship to sin and death is equally true about us in our relationship to sin and death. Therefore I am to realize, to believe, to reckon, to hold it constantly before me, that as He died unto sin once and for ever and for all, I also have done so. I am no longer in the realm of sin and death, I belong to this other realm - ‘alive unto God’. This is not my experience but my standing, my position, my status. It is the realm in which I myself now live.

 



[1] On page 111 Lloyd-Jones asks, “Had you realized that this is literally the first word of exhortation in the Epistle to the Romans? Until we reach this eleventh verse of chapter 6 it has been nothing but sheer doctrine. The entire first five chapters and nearly half of the sixth consist of exposition and doctrine. You cannot come to application and to practice, to conduct and behaviour and experience, until you are clear about the doctrine.”

[2] Émile Coué (1857-1926) was a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion.

[3] It is interesting to note that each time the word ‘reckon’ is used in chapter 4, it is always God who is doing the ‘reckoning’ with regard to us. Romans 3:28 , on the other hand, is Paul ‘reckoning’ something in response to God’s word. In chapter 4, even though Abraham is presented as a prime example of this very thing (esp. v18-21), the word ‘reckon’ is not actually applied to him but only to God.

[4] On page 70 Lloyd-Jones says, ‘Unless you have a very good reason for saying that [a word or term] does not mean the same thing in every case, then you must assume that it does mean the same thing in every case’ (see also page 82). With regard to chapter 4 (eg 4:3), Lloyd-Jones says that to ‘reckon’ something to be the case means that someone is ‘putting something into our mouths, or into our position, which is not there at all. The thing is not there but it is put there by somebody else’ (Romans - Atonement and justification page 167). With regard to 3:28 and here on 6:11, he says that to ‘reckon’ something to be the case means ‘to come to a conclusion, form a deduction, apply a bit of logic - as the inevitable result of the truth.’ I was not able to find any explicit reason for using the word in these very different senses, however, it may be related to whether it is God or us who is doing the ‘reckoning’ (refer previous note).

 

[1] On page 111 Lloyd-Jones asks, “Had you realized that this is literally the first word of exhortation in the Epistle to the Romans? Until we reach this eleventh verse of chapter 6 it has been nothing but sheer doctrine. The entire first five chapters and nearly half of the sixth consist of exposition and doctrine. You cannot come to application and to practice, to conduct and behaviour and experience, until you are clear about the doctrine.”

 

[1] Émile Coué (1857-1926) was a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion.

 

[1] It is interesting to note that each time the word ‘reckon’ is used in chapter 4, it is always God who is doing the ‘reckoning’ with regard to us. Romans 3:28 , on the other hand, is Paul ‘reckoning’ something in response to God’s word. In chapter 4, even though Abraham is presented as a prime example of this very thing (esp. v18-21), the word ‘reckon’ is not actually applied to him but only to God.

 

[1] On page 70 Lloyd-Jones says, ‘Unless you have a very good reason for saying that [a word or term] does not mean the same thing in every case, then you must assume that it does mean the same thing in every case’ (see also page 82). With regard to chapter 4 (eg 4:3), Lloyd-Jones says that to ‘reckon’ something to be the case means that someone is ‘putting something into our mouths, or into our position, which is not there at all. The thing is not there but it is put there by somebody else’ (Romans - Atonement and justification page 167). With regard to 3:28 and here on 6:11, he says that to ‘reckon’ something to be the case means ‘to come to a conclusion, form a deduction, apply a bit of logic - as the inevitable result of the truth.’ I was not able to find any explicit reason for using the word in these very different senses, however, it may be related to whether it is God or us who is doing the ‘reckoning’ (refer previous note).

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 February 2014 15:14  

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