So how do you live out the “body truths” of 1 Corinthians 6?
The key is in Romans chapter six, where we can rephrase the question to: what is the practical side of being “dead to sin and alive to God”?
The first and most important point raised by Paul is the not so small matter of the mind – it is indeed mind over matter.
Paul stresses and points out that as we appropriate (which basically means take something for one’s own use) the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection into our lives as evidenced through our baptism, the first thing we ought to do is “count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6: ) just as, or equal to, Christ Jesus actually died to sin and the life he now lives He does so to God. We need to proactively reckon ourselves, factor this truth into our thinking by applying it to ourselves in our minds and thoughts. He says ” reckon yourselves” which means consider, see, count yourselves dead, yes dead, lifeless to and in no way now able to have a relationship with sin. That is how far you need to think of yourself as – lifeless, unresponsive and resistant to sin’s power and dominion.
Instead, you are to now reckon and count your being alive to God, in Christ Jesus. Just as the life that The Lord Jesus Christ lives he now lives to God, so also we, now that we are truly in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30, Colossians 3:1) cannot live to anything or anyone else (and certainly not to sin) but God Himself by virtue of our position in Christ.
Our position in Christ which we have taken on account of our faith in Him, affords us the right to make His death (to sin) and subsequently His resurrection (life lived to God), our own. This is the truth we need to feed our minds and recondition it to think like that – that is what “count or reckon yourselves” actually means.
It is in order to achieve practical alignment with this truth that we are instructed to first condition our minds and our thinking by counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Not the another way round.
We are not being asked to count ourselves dead to sin in order to die to sin or to create some sort of false or fabricated impression of dying to sin but because by being in Christ we have indeed well and truly already died to sin – we now need to condition our minds to accept this truth. Hence the reason for Paul’s exhortation to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It must be noted that it is our position which gives us access to death and affords us the privilege of life. This position is attained by faith alone and nothing else. Indeed this faith is publicly expressed in baptism consolidating our position and placing a monumental landmark, a point of reference both for ourselves and for others to see and remain etched in ours and their memories too.
However. This is not just a mind game that the apostle Paul is inviting us to play in. There is a very practical side to it. Here it is.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. (Romans 6:12)
Now that you have understood, realised and accepted your death to sin, exercise your own will to say “No!” to sin. Now that you have the right and the power to rebut sin since you died to it in Christ, don’t give in it, don’t allow it to take over your body. Exercise your own mind, your willpower to resist and repel it. Don’t go along with it like you used to before without challenging and checking it. In the past you just went along with it but not any more.
And here is where the conditioning (or re-conditioning) of the mind is so evidently required, so that the will can firmly and resolutely resist sin’s “business as usual” advances. With your mind aligned to the truth your will is now empowered to not allow sin to rule in your body.
And do not offer any parts of it (your body) to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Following on from that ensure that none of your body parts are given to or associated with sin. Make sure you restrict and curb the activities and involvements of your body from sinful acts. Do not be inadvertent agents of sin by lending parts of your body for its habitual execution.
This requires proactive and preventative actions and is by no means a passive act. A resolution is required to quit and have no part in any sinful activities that you have been engaged in in the past or activities that can lead to sin – a solemn severance.
Rather, now in its place, as those who are alive to God through Christ Jesus, you are to make yourself and your body available to God as agents of what is right and acceptable before Him. Make yourself (your resources and entire person) available for works and actions accepted, approved and ticked by God as “right”. It is a proactive abandoning of the former acts of unrighteousness and a joyful embracing of new acts of righteousness through our willpower and the making of ourselves available. It is one for the other.
But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. (Romans 6:13)