How many poor souls are struggling against the power of sin, and yet never get any victory over it! How many are daily led captive by the lusts of the flesh, the love of the world, and the pride of life, and never get any victory over them! How many fight and grapple with tears, vows, and strong resolutions against the besetting sins of temper, levity, or covetousness, who are still entangled and overcome by them again and again! Now, why is this? Because they know not the secret of spiritual strength against, and spiritual victory over them. It is only by virtue of a living union with the Lord Jesus Christ, drinking into his sufferings and death, and receiving out of his fulness, that we can gain any victory over the world, sin, death, or hell. Let me bring this down a little to your own experience.
Say your soul has been, on one particular occasion, very sweetly favoured; a melting sense of the Saviour's precious love and blood has come into your heart, and you could then believe, with a faith of God's own giving, that he was eternally yours; and through this faith, as an open channel of divine communication, his merits and mediation, blood, righteousness, and dying love came sweetly streaming into your soul. What was the effect? To lead you to sin, to presumption, to licentiousness? Nay, just the contrary. To a holy obedience in heart, lip, and life. Sin is never really or effectually subdued in any other way. Saul struck down at the gates of Damascus, and turned from persecution to praying, is a scriptural instance of the death of sin by the power of Christ.
It is not, then, by legal strivings and earnest resolutions, vows, and tears, which are but monkery at best, (a milder form of the hair shirt, the bleeding scourge, and the damp cloister,) the vain struggle of religious flesh to subdue sinful flesh, that can overcome sin; but it is by a believing acquaintance with, and a spiritual entrance into the sufferings and sorrows of the Son of God, having a living faith in him, and receiving out of his fulness supplies of grace and strength—strength made perfect in our weakness.
In this sense the Apostle says to the Colossians, "For ye are dead;" not merely by the law having condemned and slain you, as to all legal hopes, but by virtue of a participation in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of a living union with the suffering Son of God. "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law," where sin reigns with increased dominion, "but under grace," which subdues sin by pardoning it. If you read Romans 6 with an enlightened eye, you will see how the Apostle traces out the death of the believer unto the power and prevalence of sin, by virtue of a spiritual baptism into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.