“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
for he who has suffered in the flesh
By arming ourselves with the mind of Christ we will no doubt suffer the same suffering Jesus suffered. Jesus suffered in the body and so will the Christian. If we suffer as Jesus suffered, we cease from sin. When we identify with Christ’s suffering, we free ourselves from sin. God expects us to make a clean cut break with habitual sinning.
has ceased from sin
“Ceased” means to stop, to make an end. When we think like Jesus thought, our sinful thinking comes to an end. This verse does not say that the Christian has ceased completely from sinning for that would be sinless perfection. No Christian can reach a stage of sinless perfection but can come to a place of victory over sin.
This verse says that the Christian has ceased at a point in the past with the results going on (perfect tense). God gave us release from sin when we received Christ as Savior. God broke the power of sin at Christ’s death. We can translate “cease” as “has been made to cease.” We have been made to cease from sin in the death of Christ.
We do not fight for victory over sin because Christ has already won the victory. We fight a victory already won (Ro 6:6-11, esp. v7). God gave us release from sin by Christ’s final suffering for sin. We react to undeserved suffering as a saint, not a sinner. It is God who released us from sin. God broke the power of sin by Christ’s death.
Also, God did not free from sins (plural) but from “sin” (singular). Sin in the singular is the depraved capacity for sin that we received when born into this world. The potential for sin is always present in that nature because it never improves, never alters, or changes. It cannot improve by education or refinement.
Dead men do not sin.
We lose our tenderness toward Christ if we do not deal decisively with sin. He died to deal with sin and he dealt with it decisively on the cross. If we do not deal with it ourselves, sin will invade our daily relationship with him.
We deal with sin first in our mind, not by outward rite of religion. Our natural mind is dark and alienated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18). That makes us disingenuous with God. We are blind to our own wicked motivations until we deal with sin.
Some of us are so dull spiritually that we do not even recognize what springs from our sin capacity. Spiritual callousness sets in our soul, and we become immune to deal with deadly sin in our lives.
We cannot know the will of God while in this shape. We remain under the jurisdiction of the old taskmaster of the sin capacity. A Christian who gets out from under this taskmaster makes a clean cut break with the momentum of sin. To take orders from the old slave master is to act out of character like wearing a Halloween mask.
Identification with Christ’s finished suffering sets up compatibility with Christ, making it difficult for us to sin. A man just released from the army has his discharge papers. He is now a civilian and free from the authority of the military. As he walks out of the gate of the military base, he meets his sergeant who snarls: “Get in the kitchen and do the dishes.” Out of force of habit, we may tend to obey, but then he remembers that he has his discharge papers, so he says, “Oh no, you have no more authority over me. I have my discharge papers.”
When the sin capacity orders us to do something, we need to realize that we have a new boss. His name is Jesus. Whenever we sin, we act out of character. Alas, we do act out of character. When we do this, we fail to appropriate the finished work of Christ to the sin master of our lives.