Far too many in the church today are locked behind the bars of countless self-constructed prisons because of one simple reason: they have forgotten the truth of their current position. When you forget who you are positionally (a child of the Most High God), it becomes impossible to live out your faith practically.
Brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 4:31-5:1)
The apostle Paul said that we have been released from prison: “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Our Lord Himself said that he had been sent from heaven “[T]o proclaim liberty to the captives . . . to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
Jesus has set us free from the law as a means for salvation. In other words, we no longer have to go on trying to save ourselves. Jesus has already accomplished this for us in His perfect obedience to the will of the Father in both life and death. Our relationship (position) with Jesus has unlocked the prison doors leading to a life of freedom, faithfulness, and joy . . . if we would but walk through the open door!
Because Jesus performed perfectly on our behalf, we no longer have to spend our lives running on the performance treadmill, seeking God’s approval, affection, and blessing. We already have these because of our position in Jesus. Understanding our positional truth frees us from our performance prisons.
Now imagine a slave who has been set free after having spent his entire life behind bars. Freedom would be uncomfortable. Freedom would be unnatural. Freedom would be unnerving. Freedom would be, well, unbelievable. When the prisoners are set free, they need to develop the capacity for their freedom and that is only accomplished by believing, NOT by doing.
In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In this context the word count does not imply something to do, but rather, something to believe. Paul says what we believe is more important than what we do. We need to believe the truth of our position in Christ—that we are dead to both the power and the penalty of sin. You see, the harder we work at making ourselves free—DO, DO, DO!—the more bound we become.
Our position in Christ means we are no longer slaves to the ruling power of indwelling sin. Because of what Jesus had done for us, sin is no longer our master . . . Jesus is! And with Jesus as our new Master, we have been given the power to live out practically what we are positionally (Romans 8:13). William Romaine said it well: “No sin can be crucified either in heart or life, unless it be first pardoned in conscience, because there will be want of faith to receive the strength of Jesus, by whom alone it can be crucified. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.”
If you don’t believe you are dead to sin’s guilt, you cannot trust Christ for the strength to subdue its power in your life! And if you cannot trust Christ for the strength to subdue sin’s power in your life, you will forever remain locked behind prison bars, chained by guilt and gripped by sin. Only the Gospel sets captives free to live a life of unimaginable joy for the glory of God and the good of others.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN