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Home New Testiment Studies #9 - Martyn Lloyd-Jones on ‘Let Not Sin Reign…’

#9 - Martyn Lloyd-Jones on ‘Let Not Sin Reign…’

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#9 - Martyn Lloyd-Jones on   ‘Let Not Sin Reign…’

Clay Lovegrove and D M Lloyd Jones

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Big Distinction: You, and your mortal body. It is impossible that sin should reign in us who are Christians. But it is possible that sin should reign in our mortal body. Don’t let it do so!

Big Warning: Sin is always striving for mastery and control, to dominate our bodies.

Big Encouragement: Sin can never get me back under its dominion; never again can it master me, never again can it ruin my soul. Impossible! It cannot affect my salvation, it cannot affect my final destiny. All it can do is to temporarily worry me - while I am in this mortal body. But the very exhortation to me not to allow it to reign in my body, means that it need not do so.

 

Romans 6:5-14

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

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.

 

Ro 619 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

Ro 718 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [flesh]. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Ro 720 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it

Ro 723 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Ro 823 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Ro 121 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

1Co 613 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

1Co 927 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1Co 1550 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Phil 3 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.


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 150-155


Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Romans 6:12

 

The third principle can be put in the form of a question. What does this section tell us about ourselves as Christians in our relationship to sin? That is an important matter. We have already been looking at it, of course, in verses 1 to 11, but here again it is put in a very explicit and plain manner. This will help us to see whether or not our interpretation has been correct. You notice that the Apostle seems to draw a distinction here between ourselves and our mortal bodies. He says, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’ - you, and your mortal body. There is a distinction, clearly, between the two. I must emphasize that he does not say, ‘Let not sin reign in you’; what he says is, ‘Let not sin reign in your mortal body’. That reminds us of something we noted when we were considering verse 6, ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin’. You remember that we interpreted ‘the body of sin’ as meaning ‘sin as it remains in our bodies’, and distinct from ourselves as personalities. Here it is once more, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’. We must look again at the terms. ‘Body’ really means what it says; it means literally our physical body. It does not mean our sinful nature.

Even the great John Calvin went astray at that point. He interprets it as ‘sinful nature’; but it does not mean that. The Apostle is talking about the body, not about our souls, because he says mortal body. That in itself is sufficient to prove that he really does mean the physical body. He does not mean our total personality, for that is not mortal; he means this body of ours, flesh and bones and blood - what we normally mean when we use the term ‘body’. And what he says is that you must not let sin reign in your body. But then he adds this adjective, ‘mortal’. Why does he call it, significantly, ‘your mortal body’? One thing he means is that it is a dying body. He says that to encourage us. The position we are in as Christians is only a temporary one. We ourselves have been saved, but we are still in this life and in this world, and sin is still left in the body. But it is not going to be so for ever, Paul says; it is only temporary because the body is mortal. You have not got to face this for all eternity. It is only something transient; it is going to be our condition only as long as we are in these ‘mortal bodies’. No Longer! That is a very comforting thought in and of itself.

But there is also a second meaning here. The Apostle is contrasting the mortal body with the body of our glorification that is to come. Take the perfect expression of this which you find in the Epistle to the Philippians, chapter 3 and verse 20. He says, ‘Our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for (expect) the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself’. Here we see the contrast between ‘our vile body’, or ‘the body of our humiliation’, ‘our mortal body’, and what He will yet fashion, namely, a body ‘like unto his glorious body,’ ‘the body of his glorification’. That, I believe, is the very contrast we have here — the ‘mortal body’ is to be contrasted with the ‘glorified body’. This clearly carries the implication that as long as we are in this ‘mortal body’ we shall be bothered by sin. But there is a day corning when we shall not be bothered by sin in any respect at all. We ourselves are already delivered out of its territory and its realm; but it still remains in the body. But there is a day coming when the body will be glorified, and sin will be altogether finished with and left behind once and for ever.

You notice that in all the teaching concerning the body in Scripture, mortality and corruption are always linked together. Take, for instance, 1 Corinthians 15 verses 50-54, where the Apostle argues saying, ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption’. That is why he says that believers who will be alive on the earth, when the Lord returns, shall be changed. They must be changed, they cannot inherit incorruption while they are in a corruptible body. ‘This corruptible’, he says, ‘must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.’ In other words, mortality and corruption always go together. So what the Apostle is teaching here, quite clearly, is that while we are in this mortal body, sin will remain in the body. His whole appeal, therefore, is that we are not to allow it to reign and rule in our mortal body.

You notice that the Apostle does not say that sin must not reign in us. He cannot say that because he has already told us that our ‘old man’ has indeed been crucified with Christ, that he is already dead to sin. It is impossible that sin should reign in us who are Christians, but what is possible is that sin should reign in our mortal body. And his exhortation to us is that sin must not be allowed to reign in our mortal body. When he uses a phrase like this, he does so very deliberately. After all he has been arguing in verses 1 to 11, he cannot turn to us suddenly and say, ‘therefore, in the light of all this, let not sin reign in you’. He could not possibly say that; he says, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’. You yourself have already finished with it — ‘dead indeed unto sin’. Christ died unto sin once. ‘Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord’. Do not go back on that. And clearly the Apostle himself does not go back on it, so he says, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’.

Thus we have seen certain obvious implications of the Apostle’s teaching. Let me now present them to you as principles, and emphasize them, so that we may have them clearly in our minds. The first is, as I have already been saying, that sin still remains and is left in our bodies; not in us, but in our bodies. As persons, as souls, we have already finished with it, but not so the body. This body of sin - this body which sin inhabits and tries to use - still remains.

Secondly, sin not only remains in our bodies; but if it is not checked, if it is not kept under, it will even reign in our bodies, and it will dominate our bodies. We must be clear about this teaching - sin is not in me, but in my body. The Apostle tells us that sin, while we are left in this mortal body, will be always seeking to dominate our body, and to dominate us through the body. The way in which it does so, he says, appears in the words, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof’. That is exactly what sin does; it turns the natural instincts of the body into lusts. The instincts are good in and of themselves; there is nothing sinful in the natural instincts. But sin tries to turn the natural instincts into ‘inordinate affections’, into lusts. So what the Apostle asserts here is that, while we are left in this mortal body, sin will go on trying to bring that about. It will try to trip us, it will try to dominate over the body. And we must not allow it to do so. All along, it will be trying to do so, but we must restrain it, we must resist it, we must fight it.

There is no exposition of verse 11 which is quite so wrong as that which regards it as saying (as it has so often been put) that we are to reckon that sin is dead to us, for that is the exact opposite of what the Apostle is saying. He never says that sin is dead; what he does say is that we are dead to sin. He says that sin is not only not dead, but that it is still in our mortal body; and if we do not realize that, and deal with it, it will soon reign in our mortal body. His very appeal insists upon the interpretation, that sin is not only not dead, but that it is very much alive. Sin is not eradicated out of us, and it never will be as long as we are in this mortal body. We must hold on to this word ‘mortal’ because it is virtually synonymous with ‘corruptible’. Sin is in our bodies, and it is always striving for mastery and for control in the Christian. It can never dominate over him again, but it is always striving to dominate his body. It may indeed dominate his body for a time, and when it does so, it is what we call ‘backsliding’. It is only the believer, the true Christian, who is capable of backsliding. That, then, is another implication of this extraordinary statement, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’. Sin is there; it will always be trying to control and master and reign your body. You have always to remember that, and not allow it to do so.

It is because of this truth that we have so many statements in the Scripture about this body of ours, and the relationship of sin to it. For instance, we shall see in verse 19 of this chapter that the Apostle puts it in this way, ‘I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members’ - ‘members’ meaning ‘parts of the body’ - ‘servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness’. And when we get to chapter 7 the same teaching will be yet more plain. Take verse 18, ‘For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing’. Or take it in verse 20, ‘Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me’. Or again in verse 23, ‘But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members’ - always, you see, in the body. And so verse 24, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ All those statements are in line with this statement in this twelfth verse which we are studying.

Again, you have the same thing in chapter 8 in verse 23, ‘And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body’. That means the literal physical body, and that he was waiting for the glorification of the physical body. You find precisely the same teaching in chapter 12 in the first verse, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service’. The same thing exactly is seen in 1 Corinthians 6:13 , and in 1 Corinthians 9:27 where he says, ‘I keep under my body’ - and he means his body physically - ‘lest having preached to others, I myself should be a castaway’. He says, I buffet my body, I hit my body, I bruise my body, I pummel my body, I keep under my body, because that is the place in which sin is still resident. He does not pummel himself, but his body.

This is in many ways the key to the understanding of this entire teaching, as it is the key to the understanding of the whole doctrine of sanctification. It is because many expositions lack a clear understanding at this point that there is so much confusion over the question of sanctification, and especially in this sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Is it clear to us then? I myself as a new man in Christ am dead indeed unto sin, I have nothing more to do with it, and it has nothing more to do with me. I have finished with it as such - I myself. But it is here still in my mortal body, and it will continue to worry me, and I shall have to deal with it as long as I am in the mortal body. Thank God, I know that it can never get me back under its dominion; never again can it master me, never again can it ruin my soul. Impossible! All it can do is to worry me in the body. It cannot affect my salvation, it cannot affect my final destiny - ‘sin shall not have dominion over you’. ‘Reckon ye yourselves therefore to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.’ Yes! but in the meantime it will go on worrying you. But do not let it master, do not let it reign over your mortal body.

My third deduction therefore is this, that it need not do so; the Apostle’s very exhortation to us not to allow it to do so, means that it need not happen of necessity.

There, then, we finish with our third main principle, which was that this verse tells us all about ourselves as Christians in our relationship to sin.

Please email Clay if you have any questions or comments

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 15:25  

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