Free Bible Study Magazine
When a circus elephant is just a baby its leg is tied to a leash which is attached to a peg or stake and hammered into the ground. As it tries to pull on the leash, the chain cuts into its leg causing soreness and bleeding. Over time, the wound becomes so sensitive that even the slightest pull on the chain is painful, and so eventually the elephant stops trying to free itself.
Amazingly, when it is full grown, the same chain and stake keep it bound to one location even though the adult elephant could easily pull the stake out of the ground. Why is that? The memories of the animal’s painful attempts to free itself in the past have become embedded in its mind. It has been programmed to believe that it is as powerless in the present as it was in the past. It is now held captive, not by the chain and peg, but by wrong thinking.
Before we were born again we were in the kingdom of darkness and under the dominion of Satan and the power of sin. But now we have been delivered ‘from the power of Satan to God’ (Acts 26:18). Paul says, ‘He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love’ (Col.1:13).
This has happened to us as a result of our union with Christ. In Romans 6:10 Paul explains, ‘For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.’ What does this mean?
In other places the apostle tells us that Christ died for sin. But here he says He died to sin. It is obvious that he is not suggesting that Jesus stopped sinning, because He never sinned. What he means is that whilst Jesus temporarily left heaven and came to live in a realm where sin dominated, i.e. Earth, He no longer lives in that realm. After His death, resurrection and ascension, He left Earth and was raised to the Father’s right hand in heaven. Now He lives unto God. Sin has no place or power in this realm.
In the following verse he says, on the basis of our union with Christ, ‘Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 6:11).
He is not suggesting that we have died to the possibility of temptation or sinning, but that we have died to the sin nature which was the dominant power which reigned in us. In Christ, we are now seated in the heavenly places and alive unto God. We are partakers of the divine nature. Another power, much greater than sin, rules in us now; that is, the power of His grace.
We stand in the grace of God (see Rom.5:2; 1 Pet.5:12). Godliness is at the core of our being. It is the essence of our new nature. In the same way that sin produced the certainty of sinful behaviour, grace produces the certainty of holiness.
As far as our unredeemed bodies are concerned, sin remains and will make its appeal to us from that base. If we are suffering from ‘circus elephant syndrome’ we will think that we are just the same now as when we were in Adam, so we will give in to sin’s demands.
That’s why Paul has taken time in the preceding chapter to explain that we are not in Adam anymore. We are now in Christ. Therefore, sin is not our master. We are empowered by grace to reign: ‘… as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom.5:21).
We must not fall for the lies of some branches of modern psychology which would have us believe that we are victims of our upbringing and therefore doomed to problematic behaviour. That may be true of those in Adam, but not of those in Christ.
It’s not the way that we were raised that matters, but the way that He was raised! He died and was raised out of the realm of sin and death and now lives unto God. We were raised with Him that we might reign in life by the mighty working of His power in us. ‘Those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ’ (Rom.5:17)
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