What does Paul mean when he says we are to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11)?
The Greek word translated as count
is key to unlocking the meaning and practical significance of these words. The word count means “to reckon, to consider, to recognize, to take into account.” It is a mental operation, rooted in our thinking. We have to think biblically about ourselves before the Lord. We are to take into account what the Lord has already done in our lives. Since we are in Christ, when He died on the cross, we died with Him. When He rose from among the dead, we rose with Him. We are identified with Him in His death and resurrection.
The verb count
is an imperative in this text. The Lord commands us to think biblically about ourselves. The verb is also in the present tense. Thinking biblically about ourselves should be constant, ongoing, and habitual. The first practical step in overcoming our sinful selves and our intransigent and entrenched sinful impulses is vigorous biblical thinking about who we are in Christ. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (see Rom. 12:2).
By Dr. Winfred O. Neely, Professor of Pastoral Studies