Paul says in Romans 12:1–2 that holiness comes to expression through the very same instrument sin used to express itself: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. . . .” A transformed life is expressed in your body: through your eyes and what you see; through your ears and what you hear; through your hands and what you touch; through your tongue and what you say; and through your feet and where you go. All is to become fertile soil for Christ. So we sing: “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. . . . Take my hands . . . my feet . . . my voice . . . my lips . . . my will . . . my heart . . . myself.”
In other words, “Take all I am in the body; all is Yours now, Lord Jesus.” All this depends on “the renewal of your mind.” In other words, “Think!” That is what we need to learn to do. Think of it especially if you have given your body over to sin. Jesus Christ can recover that body through His grace and for His glory. He can transform you, because in Him you are set free from the dominion of sin. That is exactly what Paul is saying: “our old man [self] was crucified with Him [Christ], that the body of sin might be done away with [rendered fruitless], that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (emphasis added). Some who are Christ’s nevertheless feel they are still slaves to sin.
They do not usually share that secret with anyone. They have struggled with strong temptations to particular sins and have fallen back into believing they remain slaves to sin. Be crystal clear about this: Christians are slaves to Jesus Christ, not to sin. We have been set free from slavery to sin. But it is possible to be deluded by the presence of sin in our lives into thinking that we are still under its dominion. Every so often during the second half of the twentieth century, news would come of the discovery of a soldier living in the jungle years after the end of the war in which he had fought. The war was over; these men had long been free; they could have lived out in society without fear of capture, without terror of the enemy. But they did not know the truth about their situation and status.
So it is sometimes with Christians. We can be deluded by the ongoing presence of sin into thinking that we are slaves of sin. We may even be driven to despair. We fail to appreciate that the grace of God in Jesus Christ sets us free from sin’s dominion and therefore enables us to engage in open conflict with sin’s presence and overcome it. So here is the answer to the question, “How have we died to sin?” We have been united to Jesus Christ in His death to sin and His resurrection to new life. We have been raised into a new order of reality altogether—where sin no longer reigns because grace reigns.