To be perfectly scriptural, it must be said that the reckoning of Romans 6:11 has nothing to do with the self-life. We are certainly not to reckon the old man to have “died unto sin,” any more than we are to reckon him to be “alive unto God in Christ.” The reckoning of this key verse applies to the “new creation in Christ Jesus.”
It is as a “new man” in Christ that I am to reckon myself to have died to the principle of sin, and to be alive to God in Christ Jesus. While God knew me as a lost individual in Adam, He also foreknew me as a believer in Christ. At Calvary, He not only identified the Lord Jesus with my sins by making Him “to be sin for us” (2Cor. 5:21), but He also identified me, the sinner, with the Lord Jesus. As Redeemer, he died there in payment for the penalty of my sins; as Life, He died to (out from the jurisdiction of) sin. In my identification with Him, the death of the Cross separated me from the power and tyranny of the principle of sin.
As Life, and having paid the penalty of our sins, the Lord Jesus arose from among the dead. Being identified with Christ, I, as an individual cut off from sinful Adam, was created anew in Him. Romans 6:11 calls on me, as a new creation in Christ, to reckon myself alive to God in Him, having died to sin at Calvary. By faith in these facts, I am to rest in my eternal position—alive in the risen Lord—looking on the death of the Cross as separating me from the influence of sin and self.
I am a new creation in the last Adam. Judicially, the old things of the first Adam have passed away, both as to their penalty and their power. “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. . . . And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1Cor. 15:47, 49). My history in the earthy Adam having been brought to an end at Calvary, I now count on my relationship to the heavenly Adam to conform me to His image.
Our reckoning has to do with our position in Christ, not our condition in the body. Although the Adamic life is not the source of my Christian life, that source is still active in my mortal body. When I fail to reckon on, and abide in, the Lord Jesus as my new life, the old life expresses itself by “the works of the flesh” in my members. Paul’s alternative to this is, “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13). When we yield to sin and the old life, the result is unrighteousness; when we yield our “alive-from-the-dead” life to God, there is righteousness.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . unto God’ (Rom. 12:1).
“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching [identification] to which you were committed and having been freed from [the tyranny of] sin, you became slaves of righteousness. . . . But having been freed from [the power of] sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit [of the Spirit], resulting in sanctification” (Rom. 6:17, 18, 22). In reckoning, we are thereby yielding ourselves to our risen Lord and the fruit of His life is manifested in us by growth in His image. When we fail to count on His life, the old Adamic source exercises its sinful influence and power throughout our being, making us carnal, self-centered believers.
Romans 6:6 affirms that the Adamic source of life within was crucified on the Cross: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.” We may have tried for years in our Romans 7 struggles to overcome and crucify self, but there was only miserable failure. Now we finally stop struggling and begin to trust. We reckon on what was done with that source on Calvary, thereby enabling the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus to free us from the law of sin and death.
When we have sinned, or are about to be overcome by the old man, it is too late then to reckon. No, our reckoning concerning self is to become our heart attitude. We know that the old source was crucified at the Cross and we continually count on that fact—it is to be the set of our mind. We begin the day in that attitude of heart; we do not wait until a need arises. In this way, the influence of the Cross is more consistently applied to self and our resultant emancipation becomes progressively confirmed.
“Christ suffered in the flesh—for us, was crucified for our sin. Therefore arm yourselves with the same purpose (suffer rather that to sin), for he whose mortal nature has suffered has obtained a ceasing from (the domination of) sin. So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by (his) human appetites and desires, but (he lives) for what God wills” (1Pet. 4:1, 2). In reckoning, our attitude becomes one of a firm stand against self, cost what it may. The price of birth is His death for us; the price of growth is our death with Him.
It is difficult for us to realize and acquiesce to the fact that suffering is one of the main factors on our spiritual growth. In the first place, we are in union of life with a suffering Savior whose earthly ministry was expressed in our spiritual growth. Secondly, there is the suffering we go through when we fail to abide in Him, but walk in the flesh—the suffering of sin and its inevitable consequences. Thirdly, there is the suffering that results from our day-by-day emancipation from the influence of the self-life by means of crucifixion.
Our hatred of self (old self) is actually developed and strengthened during our miserable years of slavery to it. We never realize the necessity and value of Romans 7 failure while we are in its throes. It is normal and healthy to begin the Christian life victoriously, but in those infant days we know little or nothing about self and little enough of the Lord Jesus. To rectify this deficiency, the Holy Spirit reveals the carnality of self---so we may ultimately grow into the maturity of Christ.
Through this practical revelation of the sinfulness of (old) self we gain the knowledge of the holiness of Christ and our need for counting on Him as our life. Until we thoroughly hate and distrust (our old) self, we are not fully able to love and trust the Lord Jesus. Conversely, the more we grow to love Him, the more clearly do we see (old) self for what it is. All through our earthly life, the Holy Spirit will be allowing us to get into situations where we will discover ever deeper manifestations of the old source. For this reason He develops within us the proper “mind”---the mind to suffer in the flesh, rather than yield to the flesh.
This is the heat attitude we, as believers, need today. Many of us unwillingly reckon on the crucifixion of the old man, only to draw back from the Cross when we feel the bite of the nails (discouragement, disappointment, etc.). It takes a real hatred of the old life, coupled with a deep hunger for the new, to be able to glory in the Cross that crucifies.
But when we stand firm in the Lord Jesus, armed with a mind to suffer rather than sin, then it is we are yielded and willing to be “always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2Cor. 4:11). We realize that the practical crucifixion of the Cross is freeing us from the life hated by both God and us, and all that matters is that the life of the Lord Jesus may be seen in and through us. “So then death works in us, but life in you” (2Cor. 4:12). “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1Pet. 4:19).