INTRODUCTIONTHE Bible is the most practical of all books. It is a fact, both curious and significant, that, somewhere, in the Word of GOD, we may find at least once, a full if not an exhaustive discussion of each particular matter, which has close relations to man's salvation and sanctification.
- The value and excellence of the Law of GOD is treated in Psalm 119;
- The fact of Vicarious Atonement, in Isaiah 53;
- The nature of the Kingdom of GOD and its true subjects, in Matthew 5, 6, 7;
- The Beauty of Charity, in I Corinthians 13;
- The Resurrection of the Dead, in I Corinthians 15;
- The Principles of Christian Giving, in II Corinthians 8, 9, etc.
- The person and work of the HOLY SPIRIT, in John 14, 15, 16.
- The present Rest of Faith, in Hebrews 3, 4.
- The mischief of an untamed tongue, in James 3.
And so here, in three chapters, in Romans 6, 7, 8, we have the Duty and Privilege of non-continuance in Sin set before us with a clearness and fulness which make all other discussion of the subject comparatively needless.
We cannot mistake the subject here treated. The sixth chapter opens with the plain question:
"Shall we continue in sin?" - a question substantially repeated in verse 15, "Shall we sin?" and in chapter 7:7, "Is the Law sin?"
In all three cases the answer is a short, energetic, and most emphatic "God forbid!" The very thought is to be put away as a fatal snare to the soul, as when CHRIST said to Satan, "Get thee hence!" Nothing could more clearly teach that continuance in sinning is to be regarded by every true child of GOD as both needless and wrong. The doctrine of sinlessness is not here taught, but of not continuing in sin. Being without sin, and not going on in sin, are two quite different things.
Compare I John 1:8 - 2:1. Also Dr. Handley Moule in a letter quoted in the Homiletic Review, September, 1896, p. 242.
"But I come to speak briefly of the limits.
"I will not dwell upon them, but I must indicate them. I mean, of course, not limits in our aims, for there must be none, nor limits in divine grace itself, for there are none, but limits, however caused, in the actual attainment by us of Christian holiness.
"Here I hold, with absolute conviction, alike from the experience of the church and from the infallible Word, that, in the mystery of things, there will be limits to the last, and very humbling limits, very real failings short. To the last it will be a sinner that walks with GOD. To the last will abide in the regenerate (article 9) that strange tendency that 'mind of the flesh,' which eternal grace can wonderfully deal with, but which is a tendency still.
"To the last, the soul's acceptance before the Judge is wholly and only in the righteousness, the merits, of CHRIST.
"To the last, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. In the pure, warm sunshine of the Father's smile shed upon him, the loving and willing child will yet say, 'Enter not into judgment with thy servant.' Walking in the light as He is in the light, having fellowship with Him, and He with us we yet need to the last the blood of Calvary, the Blood of propitiation, to deal with sin."
Thus does Paul introduce a discussion of this theme which occupies three chapters of this Epistle; for there seems to be no break in the continuity of the argument, until the close of the eighth chapter, where, manifestly, he closes the discussion of this subject and enters upon another. To examine this topic, therefore, and get the whole force of the divine argument, we need to regard these three chapters as a whole, and follow from step to step, till we reach the grand climax.
One great thought runs like a thread of gold through the whole of this process of reasoning, namely: that the disciple's security for non-continuance in sinning is found in his Union with the Lord JESUS CHRIST.
This, which in previous chapters is presented as the sole ground of justification, is now presented also as the sole basis and hope of Sanctification: as CHRIST does away with the penalty for sin by His death, so by His Life He puts an end to its power over the true believer.
As these chapters are carefully examined, this union of the disciple with CHRIST appears to be considered in a sevenfold aspect which, for convenience sake, we may indicate or designate by seven words which, without, perhaps, being scrupulously exact, may serve simply as so many landmarks to outline the grand divisions of the argument: Judicial, Vital, Practical, Actual, Marital, Spiritual, and Eternal.