Home > Bible Study, Romans, S. Lewis Johnson > S. Lewis Johnson’s Romans series: Sanctification Expressed in Four New Types of Union

S. Lewis Johnson’s Romans series: Sanctification Expressed in Four New Types of Union


In my study through Romans, I’ve completed the first five chapters, which deal with justification.  These chapters emphasize our salvation from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and from the presence of sin.

Included in this is the great doctrine of justification by faith, that act by God by which he declares the believer righteous by virtue of the imputation of the merits of Jesus Christ upon faith.  It is something done for us, and done for us by a substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapters 6 through 8 cover sanctification, and 6:1 through 8:17 is considered the biblical normative passage for Christian living.

Here Paul stresses four new things, depicted in different types of union:

  •  Dynamic union: Romans 8:1-17

After the sanctification passage, the latter part of Romans 8, verses 18 – 39, could be called an “Eternal Union”: a subject which Johnson also spoke of in other studies.

The first section, the judicial union, emphasizes Christ’s payment of the (judicial) penalty.  Our Lord has died, has been buried, has been raised again and we are judicially regarded as having been in him.  When he bore the penalty for our sin we are reckoned to have been in him and bearing our penalty in him.  And when he was raised again from the dead we are reckoned to have been raised in him.

The moral union points to the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin, but are now the slaves of Christ and slaves of righteousness.

In the marital union, we were married to the old man.  Now we are married to the new man who has been raised from the dead.  In being married to Christ we are delivered from the old sphere in which the Law of Moses operated.  Johnson further points out some interesting parallels to the marriage idea.  The physical marriage produces fruit (children), and similarly our spiritual marriage, our marriage union to Christ, produces fruit: our Christian lives, what Paul refers to elsewhere (Galatians 5:22) as the fruit of the Spirit.  Also, among the three types of relationships (acquaintances, friends, and marriage), the marriage relationship only allows two; if a third enters it, a serious problem results: adultery.  Likewise, we are married to Christ, and so to have anything else enter into that picture is to commit adultery: idolatry, covetousness (which is idolatry), friendship with the world.  We commit spiritual adultery when something else comes into that marriage union with Christ.

Finally comes the dynamic union, the new power in life.  The true power of the Christian life resides in the Holy Spirit, the wonderful message of Romans 8, which concludes this key passage on sanctification.

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