|Romans 6:2 |
2 God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer in it?2 [Paul is speaking to those who are dead to, free from, sin. Look at verse 6:18 below: having been set free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness. He is speaking to very mature Christians, who have suffered on the cross to be done with sin; but they can still fall to temptation if they are not watchful because they have not received the second step of perfection: to be born of God and unable to sin again because the Father protects them. 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18, John 10:29. See the footnote below for more.]
2 God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer in it? Take notice! Paul is speaking to those who are dead to sin. He is speaking to very mature Christians, who have suffered on the cross to be done with sin. He speaks to those whose old man has been crucified on the cross — died, been buried with him, and raised with him — free from sin by the grace of God, to be one with Christ and to have become slaves to God and with holiness. This chapter is read by many, who use it to justify their pretended assumption of being crucified, dead, buried, and raised with him, — free from sin, etc. This is the basis of make-believe Christianity, so prevalent in the world today — but so terribly wrong, and full of disastrous lies!
His exhortations are to not slip back into the deceitfulness of lusts and sin. George Fox wrote of a two-stage perfection through the grace of Christ: 1st) to be raised up to the perfection of Adam and Eve in paradise, but still capable of falling to temptation, and 2nd) to be raised up to union with Christ Jesus, an everlasting perfection, which is incapable of falling to sin or temptation. Stephen Crisp, another eminent early Quaker, writes further of this two-step perfection:
For you know while the vessel is filled with wrath, envy, or with unrighteousness of any kind, such are not yet fit for the glory of God to shine forth in. When that is removed out by judgment; and Zion is set free from oppression, then the creature returns to God a pure vessel in the righteousness that was before the fall. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again, as was Eve. If they do not watch, they may be entangled again; but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so they come to an establishment in Him who never changes.
Isaac Penington partially explains why preparation is necessary before entering the union in his writing, The Holy Truth and People Defended :
"For there is a state of discipleship, by which a man hardly knows a settlement, so much as how to watch with Christ rightly and constantly; but it is a great matter to be able to dwell and abide with Him [Christ]. None can do this, but he that can dwell with devouring fire and everlasting burnings for the pure word of life is a fire, and he that sits down in the heavenly place in him, must sit down in that fire."
For significant more details on the two steps of perfection, see the Footnote to Gal 5:24.