In the first five verses of chapter 6, Paul made the statement of the doctrine: retroactive and current positional truth. Then we have the implications of the doctrine. There is no application until the implications are understood. Current positional truth emphasizes the fact that we are different from all other believers in other dispensations. We are Royal Family of God rather than simply “family of God.” The difference is what happens in the Dispensation of Grace at the new birth.
Knowing this implies that Paul’s audience either did not know or did not understand these truths. If they had known or understood these things, Paul wouldn’t be teaching them this particular doctrine. So when he said knowing this, it was talking about something they did not know or something they did not understand. “Ginosko” is the Greek word used here and it is often used as a tongue-in-cheek verb (i.e. it is used on those who have rejected information, but they are finally brought around to accepting the doctrine at a later time). It can be translated “to come to know, to perceive or to learn again.” The verb “ginosko” denotes knowledge of what really is. It never denotes false knowledge. It connotes verification by observation, hence to know from reflection on the facts or, in this case, reflection on true doctrinal principles. So it finally comes to mean to know from reflection on the doctrine of retroactive positional truth plus current positional truth. It implies perception of this doctrine in the past but it emphasizes renewing it, reviewing it and hearing it again and again until suddenly it breaks through and everything falls into place. The believer produces the action of the verb through constantly exposing himself to repetitive doctrinal teaching. The best translation would be, “Be knowing this.” We are commanded to learn.
Retroactive positional truth is that phase of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation which identifies the believer with Christ in His spiritual death on the Cross, physical death on the Cross, burial and resurrection. We are identified with Christ in His spiritual death, which means the positional rejection of evil as Satan’s policy, its function of human good and the function of the sin nature.
In the physical death of Christ and in His burial He was totally separated from human good and Satan’s policy of evil. His body was in the tomb, His soul was in Paradise and His spirit was in the presence of the Father. In the presence of the Father His spirit was separated from evil. In Paradise there was no evil, therefore His soul was separated from evil. In His body there was no sin nature, and therefore He was separated from evil in the body. This is the implication of retroactive positional truth which must be understood for application.
That our old self was crucified with Him gives us the content of what we should “be knowing.” The sin nature has been in existence since the fall of mankind, therefore it is called “old.” The Greek word for self is “anthropos,” referring to the entire human race. The Greek verb for crucified is “sustauroo” [sun = with; staroo = to crucify], which means to be crucified with another. We might translate it “co-crucified.” The sin nature (self), receives the action of the verb — co-crucifixion with Christ.
That our body of sin might be done away with is a purpose clause. Here it denotes purpose — “in order that.” The Greek word for body is “soma” referring to the human body where the sin nature dwells. That’s why the body is called “the body of corruption.” The Greek verb for done away with is “katargeo,” which means to render useless, to render inoperative, to render powerless or to release from an association with something or someone. Here we could translate it “might be rendered inoperative/powerless.” Note that the body is not rendered inoperative but the sin nature which is in the body is rendered powerless. The ruling power of the sin nature is positionally broken, not experientially. Experiential breaking of the power of the sin nature comes in verses 11-13.
The fall of man resulted in two historical changes relative to the human race: 1) Satan became the ruler of the world system replacing Adam in that role 2) the sin nature came into existence as the ruler of human life. The sin nature is located in all the cells of the human body and has three trends: sin, human good and evil.
The imputation of all personal sins of the human race to Christ on the Cross means that the believer through citing his sins is instantly forgiven of sins, cleansed from all unrighteousness, restored to fellowship and filled with the Holy Spirit. The basis of this is found in the fact that all personal sins were judicially imputed to Christ on the Cross and judged. After salvation, when we commit sin we cite these sins and since these sins were already judged on the Cross they are instantly forgiven. At the same time, the unknown sins which have accumulated are likewise forgiven because they were judged on the Cross also. Human good the function of Satan’s policy of evil was not judged on the Cross. Human good is perpetuated by Satan’s world system. Satan, contrary to popular belief, is more interested in promoting human good than he is promoting sin (we do that without his help). Satan is trying to produce the conditions of the Millennium before the Second Coming of Christ (falsely, of course). This is all part of the Angelic Conflict. If Satan could find a way to eliminate sin and saturate the world with human good, as a replacement for salvation and the Christian Way of Life, this would mean defeat for the Lord in the Angelic Conflict. Of course, we know from Scripture that he will not succeed.
Adam’s original sin plunged the human race into a relationship with the satanic policy of evil, its function of human good and introduced the sin nature into the human race. There is a solution to these problems, but they not instant. The solution has to be divided into two parts: the positional part at salvation and the experiential part in the Christian life. The positional part is accomplished for us. God the Holy Spirit enters us into union with Christ in His spiritual death, in His physical death, in His burial and His resurrection. Therefore in Christ’s physical death and burial He was totally separated from human good and Satan’s policy of evil so that positionally we have rejected them both, as well as the power of the sin nature. There must be a positional solution in order to have an experiential one.
That we should no longer be slaves to sin uses the Greek word “duluos” for slaves, which means to serve as a slave and to obey as a slave. As the present reality, we should not be slaves to the sin nature. Human good distracts from the true function of the spiritual life: the daily, consistent perception and application of Bible doctrine, resulting in spiritual growth and maturity adjustment to the justice of God. Between the potential of imputed righteousness and the reality of blessing in time is the missing link — capacity from doctrine resident in the soul. Production of human good does not produce capacity for blessing. This should be obvious from the fact that human good is the function of the policy of Satan as the ruler of this world system. Obviously, neither Satan nor the sin nature wants to lose their rulership. Therefore, the Lord has broken the power of the sin nature with its function of human good through retroactive positional truth. Therefore, positionally, believers can be free from slavery to the sin nature.
For he who has died is freed from sin begins with an amplification of the statement of the previous verse and gives an explanation. This death is synonymous with the co-crucifixion of the previous verse. This verb is also synonymous with becoming intimately united to the likeness of His death. Positionally, because we are in union with Christ in His death, we have rejected human good, the evil policy of Satan. Physical death and burial means separation from human good and evil, and therefore because we are in union with Christ in His death and burial we are positionally separated from it. This is not a literal death - this is retroactive positional truth or being united with Christ. All believers in this dispensation have positionally rejected and have been separated from human good. This means the cancellation of the power and the authority of the sin nature over our lives as believers. A dead person is discharged from the obligations of his former life. It is not a literal death. It is identification with Christ. A dead person cannot pay a debt nor have any relationship with anything in human life. Positionally, the power of the sin nature has been broken. Experientially, the sin nature controls to the extent that we fail to understand and utilize the provision and support of God’s grace.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him is current positional truth. Current positional truth proclaims the reality of retroactive positional truth, namely the baptism of the Spirit at salvation. While retroactive positional truth centers around positional rejection and separation from human good and the function of the sin nature, current positional truth relates the believer to the function of the Royal Family of God. Retroactive positional truth rejects and separates us positionally from human good. Current positional truth implies that the life of the believer as Royal Family of God has meaning, purpose and definition. In the absence of Jesus Christ from the earth during the Church Age and Tribulation, the believer represents Christ as a royal ambassador.
During the Church Age while Christ is absent from earth, spirituality is designed to produce the character of Christ. In other words, spirituality is not an emotional activity but a rational activity of perception and application of Bible doctrine. (Galatians 4:19, 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:1) During the Millennium when Christ rules on earth spirituality will have a different objective, which will be to appreciate Him. There are no ecstatics related to spirituality in the Church Age dispensation. Ecstatics are reserved for the Millennium when Christ is on earth and He is to be appreciated both rationally and emotionally. Of course, the emotions are always under control when there is rational appreciation.
A second objective of current positional truth, and closely related to the first (ambassadorship), is the advance to maturity. We are here not only to represent Christ as ambassadors but we are here to advance to maturity so that we can receive from the justice of God those blessings which glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. This advance to maturity is accomplished only through maximum doctrine resident in the soul.
It becomes obvious, then, that experiential sanctification and ambassadorship for Christ are closely related. In fact, they are inseparably related by the subject of current positional truth. Current positional truth has the power to advance us to spiritual maturity, glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and fulfill our ambassadorship.