Why does the Bible tell us to reckon ourselves as dead?

Here is the full passage from Romans 6:10-13:

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

In Romans chapter six, Paul makes some key points that tell us why we have victory over sin and the bad habits of the old life. In some mysterious way, God has linked us with Christ’s death and resurrection. When Christ died on the cross and was buried, then our sinful selves were crucified and buried with Him (Romans 6:4-8). And when Christ rose from the dead, our new selves rose with Him (also in Romans 6:4-8).

The body with its sinfulness, being in the grave, can do nothing to us who are united with Him in the heavenly places. Have you walked through a cemetery lately? The dead could not make you do anything, could they? Even so, death no longer has a hold on Christ or us, Romans 6:9. This is a fact God wants us to believe and acknowledge as true. It is the reason why we can have victory over sin in Christ while other religions can’t give it – they don’t have the power of God with them.

So we are told to “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To reckon means to account it as so. If a banker tells you that one of your passed relatives had deposited a million dollars in your savings account, and you don’t believe it, then you’ll continue in your current (hypothetical) financial problems. You are not taking into account what the banker said, so you are not reaping the benefits. When we reckon the banker’s statement as so, we then make use of the million dollars to get out of debt (and hopefully learn principles of financial stability).

Even so, when we reckon what God did with sin is true, and that we are now risen with Christ above, we are freed from sin’s power and have access to the great riches in Christ. (Just look up the many “in Christ” verses in the New Testament to learn more about those riches.)

The work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to die to our old lives and live to Christ: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). The Spirit points out to the listening believer the fleshly issue to be resolved; the believer then is alert to the issue raised and is watchful against it. These issues are raised one at a time so as not to overwhelm the believer.

The Holy Spirit does not reveal these sins to us to shame us or prompt us to try harder. When you know your sin, you acknowledge it before God as sin to be dealt with. You ask for the blood of Jesus to cleanse it away. You take a stand against it in your will and mind. You review in life what happens to lead you to that sin. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). You reckon yourself to be dead to that sin, and surrender your mind and body to live for Christ. When the temptation to commit that sin comes, you find power to resist the sin or avoid the circumstances that bring temptation.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under [the power or dominion of] law but under [the power or rule of] grace” (Romans 6:14). Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Not just save us from the fiery place of punishment after death, but to deliver us from the power of sin while we live. He will deliver us in a way that gives Him all the praise. When we follow the above steps by faith, Jesus is honored. Faith is the victory (1 John 5:4).

Just as the full faith and power of the United States stands behind the worth of each dollar we spend, even so, the full power of God stands behind us when we deal with sin His way, which is by faith.

Re-read this article and understand it. Romans chapter six is a key chapter of the Bible that most Christians miss. There is wholesale ignorance regarding sin and its effects, in this life and the next at the judgment seat of Christ. Many believers have given up on resisting sin because the battle is too hard. They have accommodated sin and it has badly tainted the witness of Christ to the world. They have not understood that Christ has already won the battle. The issue must be dealt with by faith, not strong or clever, human-originated, means.

Faith assures us the victory because God works through faith. When we act by faith, we look away from our strengths and trust in God alone. Reading the passages above and acting on them is acting in faith; it is believing God; it is turning away from trusting in our own ability. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

When temptation to sin comes, we arrive at a crossroads: to choose either the flesh, or faith in God. You must decide, preferable beforehand, that God will reward you with something immeasurably greater than the body of sin can give. Arm yourself with the solemn knowledge that every choice for the flesh will corrupt you further (read Galatians 6:7-8). Attempting to deal with sin by the flesh will be fruitless, because you wouldn’t be acting in faith to God but trust in yourself. If we believe the verses above and act upon them with the Spirit, we act in faith:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:16-18).

(If you are unsure what the “lusts of the flesh, ” or sins, or “deeds of the body,” or to “live according to the flesh” is or are, read a partial listing in Galatians 5:19-21. You can also review The Ten Commandments to see some ways we sin in Exodus 20.)

You will win some and lose some. You will fall now and then, but do not let the enemy convince you to give up. Do not believe that God has rejected you. Fight the good fight of faith. Confess your sin and move on in God’s grace. Refamiliarize yourself with these truths of God giving triumph over sin by faith. Do not seek any other avenue but faith in Christ for the victory.

The fleshly desires of the body are not to control you. Acknowledge that the feelings and compulsions are strong, but have no power to make you obey. Set your heart and mind to obey Christ, and the Spirit will come alongside to help. This is the work of the Spirit of God, as we have seen earlier, so working with God guarantees victory.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

About Steve Husting

Steve Husting lives in Southern California with his wife and son. He enjoys encouraging others through writing, and likes reading, digital photography, the outdoors, calligraphy, making iPhone apps, and chocolate. He has written several books, iPhone apps, and hundreds of Christian devotionals. Steve is also having a great time illustrating God's Word with calligraphy.
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One Response to Why does the Bible tell us to reckon ourselves as dead?

  1. Tom Howard says:

    Very, very good Steve! I just left off hearing Joseph Prince and his sermon #300 on TV. I think Joseph is great, as he has insight, but I felt he was off on Romans 6:11
    He makes it sound like it is a done deal. As if we do nothing else but trust in the Lord for our righteousness. I believe that, as so do you, but there is a bit more, as you said; “… God works through faith. When we act by faith,”. It is act, doing! This is why John said, “let no one deceive you. The one who ‘does’ righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.” 1 John 3:7. Many think this means, those that share this verse, are saying we work for our salvation, but here is the rub. 1 John 3:10, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed:”
    We can’t have it both ways, we, that believe, must leave sin behind as something dead, and thus rotting. It is interesting that back in Roman times, they would strap the dead carcase of the victim of murder to the back of the murderer, as punishment. Apropos to what Paul is teaching.
    ” Fight the good fight of faith. Confess your sin….” These is not found in many circles of Grace preacher’s. But it is the essential ingredient for salvation, 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you are called and have professed a good profession (Confession) before many witnesses.”
    Another scripture we need familiarize ourselves with is the last part of Galatians 5 verse 25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
    Part of that ‘walk’ (keeping in step) is “mortifying” Romans 8:13 and Colossians 3:5.
    Thanks again for this word. I will read again and tell others to also. Tom Howard

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