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Believing and Behaving

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 6:6–13

We cannot live correctly if we do not think correctly. This is a fundamental principle of Scripture. In Romans 6, we find this principle set forth concretely with three key words.


One of my seminary professors used to remind us that we cannot behave what we do not believe—that acting biblically is the result of believing biblically. He often said that most Christians do not behave correctly because they are not thinking correctly.

Now today as we sail back into Romans 6, I want you to ask yourself this question: What does the Lord want me to think about so that I can behave what I believe and bring honor to His name? There are three words Paul gives us here that will provide a path to not only believing correctly but also behaving correctly. These three words are know, consider, and present.

We begin with verses 6-7:

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. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Paul has already used this first key word know back in verse 3, and he is going to use it again in verse 9. Here we find it in verse 6. Throughout this passage, Paul is effectively saying, “Listen, there is something I want you to know—to have in your mind and memory.” Correct thinking produces correct living.

The truth Paul wants us to know is that “our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.” The phrase “brought to nothing” is the Greek verb katargeō, which means “to be done away.” You could translate it, “rendered powerless.”

Paul is not saying that our sin nature is destroyed—that we now can become sinless. You can try, but that is not going to work. For the believer sin becomes a greater struggle after salvation than before salvation. In fact, you now realize that thoughts and deeds you did not use to think of as sinful actually are.

When Paul says that the body of sin is made inoperative, he means it is rendered powerless. Beloved, your “old self” has been put out of business—it has run out of gas, so to speak. So, why do we still have trouble with it?

Years ago, my wife and I were shopping in an area at the top of very long and steep hill. Several times along the way my wife had said, “Honey, we need to stop and get some gas.” Of course, I said, “No, we’re fine; we’re not going to run out of gas.” So, we shopped here and there, got something to eat, and then headed back home. She said again, “Stephen, we’re going to get stranded if you don’t stop and get gas.”

Well, just as we started down that hill, guess what happened. We ran out of gas! My wife looked over at me with that look, and I knew I didn’t have anything to say. I just instinctively put the car into neutral, and we began coasting down that long hill—we actually picked up some speed. As we coasted toward a stoplight, I was afraid we would be stranded right in the middle of that busy intersection. But just before we got to it, the light turned green. We coasted through the intersection, turned into a gas station, and coasted right up to a gas pump! Is God good or what? Let me tell you, he rescues the foolish man from calamity.

Without any gasoline, my car had been rendered inoperative—katargeō. Now suppose my car represented my sinful nature. It does not have any gas—the engine is off—but it still exists, and I am still sitting in it. But the last thing I want to do is make it operate again! I do not want gasoline in it—I am going to leave it on empty. I am not going to feed it something that might spark it into action.

Well, that is the believer today. As a believer, you died in Christ. Your old nature was stripped of its power through Christ’s death on the cross. Now you do not have to sin. As Paul says in verse 7, “One who has died has been set free from sin.” And, verse 8 tells us, “We have died with Christ.” Through our identification with Christ, who has conquered sin and death, the engine of sin’s power has been turned off. So do not turn it on!

This is what we need to know as believers. We know we are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. We are risen to new life in Him; we are dead to sin and no longer bound to disobey.

The second key word is consider. It is not enough to know the truth; we must also consider it true for ourselves.

Paul writes this in verses 10 and 11:

For the death he [Jesus] died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

That means you are not out of the reach of sin and you are still facing the reality of sin, but you are no longer under the reign of sin.[1]

So, Paul is saying here, “Think about this! Consider this truth!” The word “consider” literally means “put it to your account.” Take this personally. Write it into the pages of your life.

And understand this: Considering this true has nothing to do with how you might feel—this has to do with the truth you are going to apply. Your life is now in Christ, and you are not going to merely act as if it is true; you are going to act on it because it is true![2]

Considering this true is not playing some sort of word game; it is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is a matter of conforming our minds to the truth!

We know, we consider, and—now the third key word—we present. Verses 12 and 13:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

The word “present” here translates the Greek word paristēmi. Speaking to Peter in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said that if He wanted to He could ask His heavenly Father to put at His disposal—present (paristēmi)—“more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53).

That is the idea here in Romans 6. We present our bodies to God. We put at His disposal our “members”—that is, all the parts of our bodies—as “instruments for righteousness.”

And beloved, that is where the struggle is. Until we know the truth and consider it true for us, there is no struggle; we just sin without any resistance. But when we come to Christ and identify with Him in His death and resurrection and count it as true, that is when the battle begins—the battle to present ourselves completely, daily, to our King.

And yes, we are going to lose some battles along the way; but even when we sin against God, sin is not our master, Jesus Christ is.

This is what we know to be true; this is what we accept. And this is how we want to live, consistently saying no to our old master and yes to our new Master—putting our lives at His disposal, living in a way that brings glory to Him.

So, here is our challenge for today: believe who we are in Christ, and behave as we should, like Jesus Christ, our Lord.

[1] David Jeremiah, Romans, Volume Two (Walk Through the Bible Publishers, 1999); 73.

[2] Roy L. Laurin, Romans: Where Life Begins (Kregel Publications, 1988), 203.

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