Romans 6 does not describe a state which is true of every Christian, whether he knows it or not, and which has to be believed to be realized; but it describes the part with Christ in His death to which we were baptized, and which it is for faith - and therefore the privilege of every Christian - to take and keep upon the warrant of God's own exhortation. Except as so taken, it is not ours or true of us, but as so taken in faith it is our proper and settled portion as Christians.
As the exercise of this faith becomes a habit and characteristic (the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus working as a law), so the settled character of the portion becomes apparent. But "dead to sin" and "alive unto God," in this scripture, are not expressions referring to that which has been accomplished once for all and for good. They involve maintained exercise of faith. The experimental realization is by the Holy Ghost, as the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. If we were actually dead, it would be a thing once for all and for good, without any reckoning about it, but the being dead to sin in Christ's death, and the living to God in Christ Jesus, are experimentally entered into through the reckoning of faith in the power of the Spirit, which, on the authority of this scripture, accepts Christ's death to sin as my death to sin, and His living to God as my true and proper portion also. Our position in Christ Jesus is absolute, but our living unto God - i.e. with God as the object of the soul, instead of sin as its object, as before - involves the exercise of faith in its first initiation, as well as in its maintenance. The warrant for the reckoning is presented in the very chapter in which the exhortation is given.
It is interesting to observe the "we," in verses 4-40 of Romans 6, brought in to help those whom the apostle is addressing. He addresses them directly as "ye" in verse 3, and turns again to them in direct exhortation in verse 11. In between come verses 4-10, containing an account, according to Christian intelligence, of what the bearing of Christ's death is, and of our state as having died with Him according to the reckoning of faith. Death with Christ, and the answering link with Him in life, are thus brought in as having become a reality for our souls, and a real deliverance. We are not actually dead, but according to faith's reckoning we have died with Christ, and thus found deliverance. Except as so reckoning ourselves, the identification here referred to does not exist, neither is the deliverance known.
Having thus told out in the words of Christian knowledge what our state is, as reckoned by faith in relation to Christ's death, the apostle returns, verse 11,to the "ye," exhorting them to plant the foot of faith in like manner - "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves," etc.
In exemplification of what has been said above, in reference to verses 4-10, now take, as an instance, the words "knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him." This is a description of our state according to Christian knowledge, put into the mouth of those who have appropriated the true bearing of Christ's death; it is not a judicial fact or position objectively presented as true of me, whether I know it or not, and which I am called on to believe and realize, but it is an identification with Christ, which has been accepted in faith, and is thus described in the language of faith; and with this identification is essentially bound up the deliverance of the soul. Like the words, "I am crucified with Christ," of Galatians 2:20, it is faith which speaks according to its reckoning. As another puts it - "When we die with Christ, it is 'we.' 'I am crucified,' a real experimental thing, not judicial, though we get liberty in seeing it accomplished in Christ." I do not, of course, refer here to the words "Ye have died," in Colossians 3, for these are spoken (as so often pointed out) from God's side, whereas what we have in Romans 6 is the reckoning from the faith side. The reckoning of faith in Romans 6 is not founded on Colossians 3, but on Christ's death TO which we were baptized. A. M. M.
God would have us not merely holding our heads above water, but going on in the strength of His grace.