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We Shall See Him and be Like Him Part II By H…

March 16, 2007

We Shall See Him and be Like Him

Part II

By His Cross I Can Hate Sin and Taste the Sweetness of the Lord

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Romans 6:4-6

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Psalm 34:8

Charles Spurgeon once said,

Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs — the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate — experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which He has begun; and He shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing.

Spurgeon presents the accomplishment of justification and sanctification as grace, something that is accomplished on our behalf. Then we read in Romans 6:13 specific commands on how to act, “Do not present your members to sin… present your members to God.” You almost want to scream at the Apostle Paul, I’m trying! Yet amidst the passage on sanctification and battle to be found more and more in the image of Christ that Romans 6 speaks of, we read in verse 17, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient to the heart.” And at the end of chapter 7, after reading of the struggle of what the author wants to do, but cannot help to do otherwise (or whomever you believe Paul is describing) in verse 24-25 Paul writes, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You don’t thank someone unless they are personally responsible for what was accomplished.

Therefore, we can say we are saved and sanctified by grace through faith and we will be glorified also in the same manner. Yet, we must stay faithful to texts that compel us to fight for our holiness. Ephesians 6:10-20 displays for us the armor of God. There would be no need for armor if there was no battle. But as in Romans 8:37, “In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We must preserve this paradox between battling and being battled for.

I believe this paradox should be realized in our daily fight with sin and our battle for holiness. We should be fighting daily to defeat sin and temptation with faith knowing that we are being empowered with a greater power, namely the Holy Spirit. So then, in my explanation of how one can hate sin, know that it is within the envelope of grace, meaning there is more to our fight than just our own efforts.

The Emancipation of the Believer

My whole assertion in this series of We Shall See Him and Be Like Him is that the primary weapon that the believer has in the defeat of sin is the meditation on the glories of Jesus Christ. The more we see Christ for who he is revealed in Scripture, the less sin will be compelling and desirable. If you have not read Part I Meditations on Jesus and the Defeat of Sin, and you would like to, you can read it here. The question worth looking into in all this is: By what factor do I exchange my sinful desires for Christ?

The answer that one might be quick to jump to is “the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.” This is absolutely true, but before the Holy Spirit can re-birth someone, that someone needs to be dead. The only death that leads to the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is the cross of Christ with which we participate in. Romans 6:4-6 will help explain this further:

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

I split the passage into two parts, (1) verses 4-5 and (2) verse 6. (1)Verses 4-5 say the same thing only in two different ways; therefore we need to take them as parallel statements. Verse 4 asserts that we were put to death with Christ so that we would be raised with him and have a new life. Verse 5, then, states it in a condition. If we have participated with Christ in his death, then we will participate with Christ in a resurrection. We should not interpret “a resurrection” as in the second coming of Christ and our bodily resurrection. Since verse 5 is parallel with 4, then when verse 4 asserts that we will have a “newness of life” we parallel that with “a resurrection”. Plainly put, our participation with Christ in his death gives us new life that is entirely different from before. The difference is so extreme that Paul compares it to a resurrection.

(2)Verse 6 has an interesting grammatical structure, rendering English translations slightly misleading. The result in the verse is clear: we are no longer slaves to sin. But what is not apparent is the cause of this result. It seems clear from the English translation that our crucifixion with Christ that renders our body of sin to nothing is the cause of freedom from sin. This is true, but it is not what the verse actually says. A clearer translation would be as follows:

“Since we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be brought to nothing, we are to serve sin no longer.”

The verse is not saying what frees us from sin, but what keeps us from acting like we are slaves to sin. The reason we no longer act as slaves is because we have come to the knowledge of our actual freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln and put into effect on January 1, 1863. However, not all slaves stopped working for their masters on January 1. It was not until they were told and they finally attained the knowledge of their freedom did they have the liberty to not act as slaves any longer. So it is with believers. Paul places some importance on the knowing that we are free from sin in order that we may act as freed slaves. The knowing keeps us from acting differently. In verse 11, Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin.” Paul uses the “consider”, meaning to think of yourself as dead. Other translations use the word “reckon”. ‘Reckon yourselves to be dead.’ The slave must learn of his emancipation before he acts as if he is free. If there is ever a Biblical charge to learn of your union with Christ, it is found in Romans 6:6-11.

Here, then, is the two parts of our passage: (1) We die with Christ in order that we may live a new life like his resurrection. (2) Since we have the knowledge of our freedom, we should act like we are free.

The Sweet Taste of the Lord

We are now freed from the mastery of sin by Christ, the Emancipator of sinners, to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). From the captivation of sin to the participation in the death of Christ we now have obtained, if you will, new taste buds, new eyes, and a new sense of smell. 1 Corinthians 2:14, 16 explain the difference between the two stages, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned…. But we have the mind of Christ.” The Spirit of God stirs in us good and holy affections for God that the natural man cannot even comprehend. We have a whole new sensory system. We do not simply have a changed mind, but a whole new mind – the mind of Christ. We cannot “taste and see that the Lord is good” with natural eyes and natural taste buds, but only with entirely new sensations, nothing of which was there before.

In Matthew 13, Jesus’ explanation for speaking in parables was because “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (13:13). But he said to those who believed, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” The people heard Jesus’ words yet did not hear with the power of the Holy Spirit, enlightening their hearts. They heard without truly hearing. Jonathan Edwards used his illustration of tasting honey in a number of his writings. It goes like this: I may tell a person that honey is sweet and give him an excellent argument for the sweetness of honey, but if he tastes it and he does not think it is sweet there is nothing I can do further for him. Either he has a taste for the sweetness of honey or he doesn’t. Either someone has the Spirit given taste buds to taste the sweetness of Christ or they don’t. The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:14, describes himself as a means God uses to spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of [God] everywhere.” He describes it as an aroma “from life to life” to those who are saved (2:16b). But those who do not have the new supernatural sensory system it is a “fragrance of death to death (2:16a). By the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit we may see, taste, hear, and know the knowledge of the Lord.

Yet, what is it of the Lord that we need a supernatural sensory system to see, hear, taste, and know? The answer is the goodness, holiness, and the moral perfection of the Person of Christ. Without this knowledge, we do not know him any different than the devils of this world know him. Without this knowledge, we do not know him as our Perfect Mediator. If we do not see and savor the perfection of Jesus and the holiness of the unique Son of God, then the precious blood of Christ has no significance in our lives. We must first love and treasure his holiness for the rest of the affections towards him to follow. We love his majesty because it is a holy majesty. We adore his glory because it is a holy glory. We take delight in his love because it is a holy love. All affections towards God are derived from his holiness. Taste and see, by the sensory giving power of the Spirit, that Christ is holy and relish it.

See Him and Taste Him and be like Him

Christ is set before us to feast on. He makes that clear to us in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” He describes himself in verse 55 as “true food” and “true drink.” Later in chapter 6, after many of Jesus’ disciples had left because his words were difficult to take and caused grumbling among the people, Jesus asked his twelve disciples, “Do you want to go away as well”(v. 67)? Simon Peter’s response shows that the disciples were starting to taste the satisfying goodness of Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (v. 68). While this verse has much meaning, more than we can uncover here, we can see at face value that the disciples were not swayed to leave as the rest because they fed and were satisfied by the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ. And so it is with all believers. If we are fed and satisfied with Christ, specifically in the context of his holiness, things that are contrary in nature will have less and less sway on us. As it has been said, “for he who sees the beauty of holiness must necessarily see the hatefulness of sin, its contrary.” We have redeemed eyes, taste buds, ears, and minds to daily take in from his Word the holiness of Christ and know that there is nothing, no lust, no passion, no desire that is more satisfying than Christ. May the explicit, holy, good, and satisfying glory of Christ be ever before us. How do we fight? Always put God’s Word that contains the holiness of Christ before our eyeballs and become more and more acquainted with the knowledge of it.

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