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"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

...the framers of the Confession were trying to communicate a different Covenant Theology than that of their Westminster and Savoy brethren. Let not the reader suppose that I will exhaustively deal with every point or seek to rebut oppositions and answer objections. My objective here is to lay an understanding of Covenant Theology as I see it in the Scripture and as I was helped by the books and men mentioned below. This is not meant to be lengthy (although I guess it will kinda be), but concise. [22/09/2015 – It did become lengthy]


§1 The Covenant Of Works

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.1
    1. Job 35:7-8; Ps. 113:5-6; Isa. 40:13-16; Luke 17:5-10; Acts 17:24-25[1]

This distance between God and the creature is not spatial distance, but the Creator-creature distinction. God is different in His being than man. Even before the Fall, this distance was so great. Paragraph 1 does not only speak of covenants in general, but also specifically of the first covenant—the Covenant Of Works with Adam. All reasonable creatures owe obedience to Him because He is their creator (Luke 10:17; Rom. 1:23-25). They must honor and worship Him because He created them and caused them to be (see chapter 2:2). They owe Him obedience and worship, but even in their innocence, they could never have attained the reward of life. This is in reference to the Adamic Covenant Of Works which promised life upon perfect obedience. Even in the original Covenant Of Works, God promised this reward of life by some voluntary condescension. This voluntary condescension to communicate with man and promise Him rewards God has expressed by way of covenant. In other words, a covenant made by God is His way of communicating with us, giving us rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience. We, by nature, owe Him obedience, therefore, there is no reason for Him to reward our obedience. If He rewards our obedience then it must be upon another ground. This another basis is a covenant.


Introduction to Covenant Theology

Covenant theology (also known as Covenantalism, Federal theology, or Federalism) is a Calvinist conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard description of covenant theology views the history of God's dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of the three overarching theological covenants of redemption, works, and grace.[2]

Covenant Theology helps us see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology helps us see the importance given to covenants in the Bible. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism, which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants. In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I've been greatly helped by the following books and men:


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...hat. They are to follow in His footsteps in their work and rest. Francis Nigel Lee observes the following on the creative reason for the Sabbath as it is found in the Fourth Commandment:

The creative reason (Ex. 20:11): "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it". This conclusively proves the supralapsarian [prior to the Fall] Edenic institution of the sabbath for all men, whether believers or not. All are obliged to observe it as a result of their involvement in the universal Adamic Covenant Of Works, Mark 2:27.[54] 

Mark 2:27-28

This truth is not confined to the Old Testament but finds support also on the lips of our Lord Jesus. In fact, this passage primarily is what convinced me that the Sabbath could not have been abrogated!

Mark 2:27-28 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath is Christ’s. It belongs to Him. He exercises lordship over it. By this statement, the Lord makes a claim for deity. For Who is the Lord of the Sabbath but Yahweh? But we will not concern ourselves here with the deity of our blessed Lord, but as to what it means that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The meaning I believe is, “that as he appointed the Sabbath, so he best knew how to interpret his own law.”[43] It is His day. The Pharisees were accusing Him and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath. But the Lord here asserts lordship over that day and vindicates what His disciples were doing. They were accusing Him and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath, but over against their accusation, the Lord Jesus asserts His lordship over the day which they claim to venerate. The Lord Jesus here says nothing negative about the Sabbath. In fact, in all of His holy ministry, there is not a hint of any negativity about the Sabbath. As J.C. Ryle observes:

I find Him speaking eleven times on the subject of the Sabbath, but it is always to correct the superstitious additions which the Pharisees had made to the Law of Moses about observing it, and never to deny the holiness of the day.

He adds, against those would say that the Lord Jesus abolishes the Sabbath that, “He no more abolishes the Sabbath, than a man destroys a house when he cleans off the moss or weeds from its roof.”[55]

But now let us back up a verse. Let’s take a look at v. 27, which is the issue at hand. The Seventh Adventist Skip MacCarty writes:

When Mark recorded Jesus’ words, “the Sabbath was made for man” (2:27), he chose Greek terms that would communicate the universal and permanent character of the Sabbath—egeneto “made” (literally, “came into existence),” and anthropos, “man.” The Greek word egeneto linked the Sabbath with creation; it is used 20 times in the Septuagint in the Genesis 1 creation story, once in Heb 11:3 in reference to God’s creation of our world out of nothing, and three times in John 1:3, which establishes Jesus as the one through whom all things were “made” (created).[56]

Understanding this passage changed my whole outlook about the relevance of the Sabbath in the New Covenant. The Lord Jesus exercises His lordship over the Sabbath, not by abolishing it, but by pointing to its original intent and by cleansing it from Pharisaism. Moreover, this blew the claim that the Sabbath was only given to the Israelites to s...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...rsal obedience, i.e., it concerns everyone. The location of this law was not in stone, but in his heart; it was inward. In addition to this law, he was also given a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). By obedience to the law and the precept he was given, he was bound along with all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedienceEveryone was to obey all of the law, exactly as God required and forever. This law being given in the context of the Covenant Of Works had promises and threats. For a law without a covenant has no rewards or threats. But when it is placed in a covenantal context it has rewards and threats. The reward or promised life was upon the condition of obedience, which is implied if they did not breach the covenant but would eat of the tree of life (Gen. 2:9; 3:22). But death was the punishment for the breach of the commandments and the covenant (Gen. 2:17). Furthermore, God endued Adam with the power and ability to keep all those things which He commanded and gave him. Therefore, Adam was not placed in a disadvantaged state.


The Law Upon The Hearts Of All Men

We believe that when Adam stood in the Garden, he stood as a representative of all his posterity (see here on Adam's federal headship). He did not stand to represent himself alone, but God placed him as the covenant head over the whole human race. His obedience would be our obedience and his disobedience would be our disobedience. Sadly, we know what Adam did. Therefore, we believe that Adam did have the perfect Law of God upon His heart. The moral law, or the natural law, which he knew simply by being a man in God's image, knowing what morality is. Adam certainly knew that he was present in a good creation with a good God. There was a standard before the Fall. The moral law, we believe was summarized in the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (paragraph 2). But how does it make sense then to say that Adam had the moral law upon his heart even when there was no sin and there was no Fall? The objection would be, what does "Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” mean to a creature who is sinless? It is a valid objection, but obviously it is not convincing for it assumes that the only way that the moral law can be expressed is in the negatives (thou shalt not) and not positives (thou shalt). For example, we can state the seventh commandment in the negative just like it is in the text, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14), or we can state it positively as “You shall remain faithful to your spouse.” The same idea is communicated, whether stated negatively or positively, and that idea is that one should be faithful to their spouse. Let's take for example the third commandment. Negatively, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7), or we can also say “You shall honor and glorify the name of the LORD your God.” It is only because of the wicked perversity of man that these commandments had to stated negatively, because disobedience to them is part of our depraved nature.

Adam stood in our place. If he had obeyed God in his time of probation, then we would all have never fallen and received rewards by virtue of his obedience. Not only was the moral law written in his heart, but God gave him one positive precepts, namely, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” and threatened death and misery upon the ...


A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

...tting that there is a difference between Baptist and Presbyterian Covenant Theology. If you would like to learn more about 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology, which is called 1689 Federalism see my attempt to make a case for it when expositing the 7th chapter of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith here.

The Westminster Position

The author spends some time first to explain the Presbyterian/Westminster. The basis of the Westminster position is continuity between the covenants of the Bible.

They understand that the Lord established a Covenant Of Works in the Garden with Adam as the representative of the human race which he broke. Then the Lord established the Covenant of Grace in Genesis 3:15 and onward. This was Covenant of Grace was differently administered under Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. But the essence of these covenants was the same.

The logic is understandable. If infants were admitted into the covenant under Moses and Abraham and the New Covenant is basically and essentially the same, then infants should also be admitted into the New Covenant. The question is, whether if these covenants truly were administrations of the one Covenant of Grace.

The Westminster says the following of the Covenant of Grace in chapter 7 –

Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe. (paragraph 3)

As Calvinists, our Presbyterian brethren along with us believe in salvation by grace and in Christ throughout the ages. This is what is here conveyed in the Confession. The essence of the Covenant of Grace is faith and salvation in Christ, although that had different outer form under the various covenants. Abraham did not have as much clarity about the Messiah as we now by the grace of God have. This is expressed in the fifth paragraph –

This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.

Under the law, by that meaning the whole period of the Old Testament, the Covenant of Grace was seen in the shadows and prophecies (See certain shadows in the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants). But under the New Testament dispensation we have a fuller revelation of God’s purposes and the Covenant of Grace which was fully revealed in the New Covenant.

The Westminister position is summed up in the last sentence in paragraph 6 –

…There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

As Pascal Denault puts it: one covenant, two administrations.

Sign of the Covenant

Our Presbyterian brethren argue that the sign of the covenant of grace prior to the New Covenant w...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof - Commentary

...n about God through the Gospel and Scripture for salvation. The Confession acknowledges the strength of natural revelation, but natural revelation is not enough for salvation, yet it is enough for condemnation. The Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit are necessary for salvation. This chapter concerns itself less with “what” the Gospel is than to confess the necessity of special revelation over against those who would reject special revelation and claim that they can come to salvation merely through natural revelation. 


§1 God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ

  1. The Covenant Of Works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. 1
    1. Gen. 3:15 with Eph. 2:12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Rom. 4:13-16; Gal. 3:15-22; Rev 13:8[2]

The Covenant Of Works given to Adam was broken by sin and thereby made unprofitable unto life (see also chapter 6:1). Now it only administers its curse—death. Therefore, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:12) as He had purposed to save the elect by Christ from eternity. In this promise of Christ, the gospel was revealed as the means of calling the elect (Gal. 3:8; Luke 2:25, 38). As the gospel was revealed in this promise, God worked to beget in the elect faith and repentance so that they would embrace this promise, which was effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners (Gal. 3:15-22 ). This promise of Christ was essentially or in substance the promise of the gospel and salvation, which is what Christ accomplished on behalf of the elect. 


Salvation was always through Christ, whether people were consciously aware of that or not. They were also saved by faith alone and by not works. By reading the Old Testament and seeing the absence of the cross, we may have thought that salvation was by works and not grace under the Old Testament, but now, in the New Testament era, it is by grace. This is completely false and a grave mistake. Salvation has always been by grace. The reason that this is so is because the Adamic Covenant (see here), which could have provided eternal life if Adam obeyed, was broken. When that covenant was broken, the promise of eternal life by obedience was likewise broken and became unprofitable for Adam's fallen and sin-cursed descendant. The Covenant Of Works made with Adam in Eden lost the ability to give the promise of eternal life because now it was broken. That covenant did not contain provisions for atonement and now it could only administer the curse of that covenant—death. We see in Genesis 3 that just after God, the covenant Lord, confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, He likewise gives the promise of the Savior:

Gen. 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is indisputably a promise of the Savior, the first one and that is why it is called the Proto-Evangelium, meaning, the first gospel. God promises a Seed, an Offspring who would conquer the serpent, who is the Devil. At this point of time it seems pretty vague, but as time goes by we come to know more a...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...ly in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
  1. Matt. 19:16-22; Rom. 2:14-15; 3:19-20; 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 7:19 with Gal. 5:6; 6:15; Eph. 4:25-6:4; James 2:11-12
  2. James 2:10-11
  3. Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 1 Cor. 9:21; James 2:8
  1. Although true believers be not under the law as a Covenant Of Works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a Covenant Of Works; so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
    1. Acts 13:39; Rom. 6:14; 8:1; 10:4; Gal. 2:16; 4:4, 5
    2. Rom. 7:12, 22, 25; Ps. 119:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:19
    3. Rom. 3:20; 7:7, 9,14, 24; 8:3; James 1:23-25
    4. James 2:11; Ps. 119:101, 104, 128
    5. Eph 6:2-3; Ps. 37:11; Matt. 5:6; Ps. 19:11
    6. Luke 17:10
    7. Matt. 3:7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:40; Heb. 11:26; 1 Peter 3:8-13.
  1. Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done. 
    1. Gal. 3:21; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:27; Rom. 8:4; Titus 2:14

Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof [Return] [Commentary]

  1. The Covenant Of Works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
    1. Gen. 3:15 with Eph. 2:12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Rom. 4:13-16; Gal. 3:15-22; Rev 13:8
  1. This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.
    1. Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:13-15
    2. Ps. 19; Rom. 1:18-23
    3. Rom. 2:12a; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47 with Acts 17:29-30; Rom. 3:9-20; Prov 29:18; ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - Commentary

...knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Here, this command is directly given to Adam before the creation of Eve. Whether Eve knew of this command directly from God or not, I am unsure. But I have no doubt that she knew that she should not eat of the tree. Adam had one requirement, if he obeyed he would earn eternal life for himself and his posterity, if not he and his descendants after him will be born sinful and be condemned–they will die (see chapter 7 on the Covenant Of Works). Adam, in the Garden of Eden, stood in the stead of all people that would come from him. See paragraph 3 for federal headship. Most importantly, the Fall is recognized to not be outside of God's sovereign decree, but in it. It pleased God to “permit” it, why? Because He had “purposed to order it to his own glory.” In what way? By displaying a wider range of His attributes: by putting His wrath on display and by putting His grace on display; by conquering evil and getting glory over it; by saving His elect from the world; by becoming man in the process of saving the world. All these glorious things could not have happened if God had not decreed the Fall. 

The first sin may be the most difficult question to answer as to how could it have been that a perfectly good being like Adam or Satan could rebel and fall. What would cause them to do that? Free will has no explanatory power. We do not believe that it sufficiently answers the question. That's why the Fall and every sin needs to be recognized as ordained by God of old and is purposed to display His glory. Sin is never outside of God's control. It is indeed mysterious why would or how would a “very good” (Gen. 1:31) creature rebel against God. I reject the notion that there is no freedom without the opposite, that is, man must have the ability to obey and disobey to be truly free (see chapter 9 on free will). The Persons of the Blessed Trinity have always obeyed each other and never done anything contrary, yet God is most free and sovereign. The Lord Jesus has only done what the Father pleases, but that does not mean that He is not free because He cannot but love and obey His Father. 

When God created, He consciously created Adam as a type of Christ. Adam did not become a type after the Fall, or when Paul wrote Romans, but he was, in fact, created as a type, he did not become one.

Rom. 5:14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

This would mean that Adam was created to point to Christ and display Christ. But this also means that Christ came to do that which Adam was supposed to do. When we look at what Christ accomplished we can also look back to Adam and see what he was supposed to accomplish had he obeyed God in his time of probation. We can learn about the type from the antitype and vice-versa.

The fact that God predestines us to be holy and blameless presupposes that we would not be holy and blameless and that God had purposed to permit the Fall. Therefore, God, before the creation of the world, predestined people to be sinless:

Eph. 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us...


Quotes from A. W. Pink's The Divine Covenants

...ng to what was previously known, so that the path of the just was as the shining light, which shone more and more unto the perfect day, when the shadows were displaced by the substance itself.[1]

Therefore, Pink probably does not give “renewal” the same definition as our Westminster Federalism brothers, which is to establish or administer (in the sense of WCF 7:5-6) the one Covenant of Grace. But the most difficult statement for me to understand is the following:

A period of sixteen centuries intervened between the Covenant Of Works which God entered into with Adam and the covenant of grace which He made with Noah.[2]

It was therefore requisite that the Covenant Of Works with Adam should precede the covenant of grace with Noah.[3]

Just as Genesis 3:15 was given immediately after the Fall, so we find that immediately following the flood God solemnly renewed the covenant of grace with Noah.[4]

Even some Presbyterians are hesitant to say that the Noahic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace, but Pink says that the Covenant of Grace, which I assume is the “everlasting covenant of grace”, was “made” with Noah and not simply a gracious covenant. In light of everything else that he says it seems to me that he may have the idea of “renewal” in mind, or maybe a gracious covenant and not the Covenant of Grace absolutely being made with Noah. But I'm unsure.

While I may have my doubts about certain points in Pink's covenant theology, it very clear to me that his model is very different from Westminster Federalism. In fact, it seems very clear to me that he was a Baptist and provided counter-exegesis to passages as Genesis 17:7; Romans 4:11; Colossians 2:11-12 which are often used in support of infant baptism, although he did not desire to pick up the topic of baptism specifically.

If you can't see the iFrame below, take a look here.

Footnotes

  1. a, b Arthur W. Pink. The Divine Covenants. (Memphis, TN: Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2011). p. 48.
  2. ^ ibid. p. 44.
  3. ^ Ibid. p. 52.
  4. ^ Ibid. p. 9.
...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience - Commentary

...rath of God (John 3:36), but once they repent and believe, they will no longer be “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), but will be called “sons of the Most High” (Rom. 9:26).

3. The rigor and curse of the law

We no longer obey the Law to gain righteousness by it, nor are we condemned and cursed because we do not perfectly obey it. The Mosaic Covenant demanded perfect obedience, but no mere man can render that. Therefore, any least transgression of the law brought the curse of the law (Gal. 3:10). But Christ, for His people, took the curse of the law upon Himself (Gal. 3:13-14) so that we would be justified by faith. The old Mosaic Covenant was a Covenant Of Works (or a mixed covenant, but not a covenant of pure grace), which demanded obedience for blessings (although God always graciously blessed the people) and gave curses for disobedience. Christians, under the New Covenant, are free from both the strictness and curse of the law. That does not mean that we do not have to obey God or do not have obey the Ten Commandments, but it means when we disobey (because we are not perfect) we are not cursed and have a way of receiving forgiveness through Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes:

Rom. 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

We are under grace, not under the law as a Covenant Of Works, and therefore the curses of the law as a Covenant Of Works do no longer apply to us. For more on this see 1689 19:6. 

4-6. This present evil world, from Satan and from sin

These three things listed are interconnected and therefore, I will treat them under one heading. These are:

  1. Freedom from the present evil world
  2. Freedom from bondage to Satan
  3. Freedom from the dominion of sin

To belong to this world means to be a slave of Satan and under the bondage of sin. To live in sin means to be under the bondage of Satan and to belong to his world and so on. These things are interconnected and they concern the power of sin from which believers are delivered. Therefore, when I speak of sin, I always have in mind these three things. Some of the things already said above touch upon these points.

We no longer belong to the dominion of sin and Satan (Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13; Rom. 6:12-14; Acts 26:18), but belong and are slaves to Christ and righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18). Sin can no longer reign in us as it did prior to Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ. Prior to regeneration, we were children of wrath who “once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), but now we are by grace seeking to walk in the good works prepared for us long ago (Eph. 2:10). We are set free from the dominion and power of sin to enjoy our freedom to not sin, but rather do that which is right! We are set free from this evil world so that we would be “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind, that by testing [we] may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

Liberty from the power of sin is a great and gracious gift to the children of God, but it is one which will fully be realized in the eternal state. As long as we live in this fallen world, we will have to struggle against sin and we will see that sin will try to regain its domino over us, but we have to fight! See more on the remaining corruptions in us.

7. The evil afflictions

Afflictions will come to the people of God, they are not de...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

...t we also would die to sin and no longer be slaves of sin (Rom. 6:6). Since the one who has died is freed from sin, that’s why it was necessary that we would be united with our Savior on the cross (Rom. 6:7). Just as we died with Him on the cross, so likewise we live with Him now in newness of life thanks to His resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 8, 11). In the past, when we did not know Christ, sin did reign over us and made us obedient to its passions (Rom. 6:12-13), but now the Apostle commands us not to allow sin to reign in us as it did before we knew Christ. Indeed, sin will no longer have dominion over us because we have been freed from the curse and demands of the law as a Covenant Of Works (Rom. 6:14; see here). When we were under the law, either the one written on stone or the one written on the heart (see the Law of Creation). The law condemned us whenever we sinned and brought us under condemnation. But that power of the law has been destroyed for the believers through Christ. Now the law points us to Christ through Whom we receive forgiveness for every sin (Acts 13:38-39). We are now under grace. We are under the Covenant of Grace whose promises are “confess your sins and you will be clean” (cf. 1John 1:8-9). There is no condemnation for us who are in Christ as He was the One who paid by His precious blood for every sin we would commit (Rom. 8:1). How different than the Covenant Of Works! The one condemns and administers death and condemnation; the other administers righteousness and eternal glory (2Cor. 3:7-11). Thus those who are under sin and “continue in sin” are under the bondage and condemnation of the law, that will only bring death (Rom. 6:16, 23), impurity, lawlessness (Rom. 6:19) and shame (Rom. 6:21). But Paul bursts into thanks to God for His amazing grace:

Rom. 6:16-18 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 

Glory be to the Sovereign Who has freed us from our slavery to sin. We would have never come to Christ through our free will because our will was only free to do what accords with our desires, which at that time was only sin (Rom. 14:23; 2Tim. 2:24-26; Eph. 2:1-3). But it is God who has bought us from the slave market of sin and made us slaves of Himself. We no longer are under the harsh dominion of sin, but are under the dominion of the gracious God Who saved us. It is an axiom that whomever or whatever we obey and love the most, to that we are slaves. So, when we were in the State of Sin, we were obedient to sin and thus were slaves of sin. But now thanks be to God, we have become and are becoming more obedient to God. We have been set free from sin and now we have a new goal: we now, thanks to the new nature, want to be slaves of righteousness and no longer slaves of sin. We want God to rule in our lives. We want to produce fruit in keeping with our repentance and demonstrate our love for God by being obedient slaves to Him and not defy Him through sin. We no longer want to be ashamed of the things that we did before we came to Christ, but we want to be obedient slaves of God and produce fruit which is consistent...