Jos | Dead Reckoning

Text: Joshua

Many Christians are like a man who comes home and finds his house flooded because he forgot to turn off the bathtub faucet. Frantically he grabs a mop and begins sweeping out the water–but the bathtub faucet is still running wide open. After a few frenzied swipes, he sees he’s making no headway against the water, so he gets a bigger mop. Still no success. Determined to live in a victoriously dry house, he enrolls in a seminar on Effective Mopping Techniques, receives a diploma with a gold seal, and once again wades into the battle. But still the water pours out faster than he can mop it up. He invites a professional mopper to come for a week of intensive mopping. At the end of the week, success is measured by the number of gallons swept out–but more have rushed in to take their place. As the situation worsens, he rededicates himself to better mopping, vows he’ll never again leave the faucet on, and once more takes up; the mop. The bathtub faucet is still running.

Weary and waterlogged, he finally concludes that God never intended him to live in a dry house, so he buys a pair of galoshes and a waterbed and settles down to live the rest of his life in a flooded house.

Now I’m not against mopping–but if the faucet is still running, it is a waste of time. The solution is ridiculously simple, isn’t it? Stop the flow at its source: turn off the faucet.

Application: The water on the floor is our daily sins. The open faucet is the sin nature–self–the source of the sins. And the sin nature can produce sins faster than we can mop them up. The secret of victory over sins is victory over self. We’ve been mopping sins when we should have been mortifying self.

A great many believers have thrown in the towel, or rather, the mop, and have settled down to live the best they can in a flooded house., but God has made provision for a life of daily victory. It is the birthright of every Christian. Don’t settle for anything less.

What is God’s way to victory? It is not the way we imagine. Man’s way is by mopping–training, dedicating, rededicating. But that is not God’s way. God has only one way of dealing with sin and that is the way of death.

Israel is poised at the Jordan River, the last barrier standing between them and the Promised Land. Forty years earlier the older generation had escaped Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. Now the new generation must enter Canaan by crossing the Jordan River. The parting of the Sea was the way out of the slavery of Egypt; the parting of the Jordan is the way in to the promised inheritance. The first crossing was an exit from bondage; this second crossing is an entrance to blessing. In the first experience the people were saved from something; in the second they are to be saved to something. The years of wandering defeat in the desert are at a end. They are about to enter into the fullness of blessings God had in mind for them when He brought them out of Egypt.

What spiritual significance does the crossing of the Jordan have for us today? It marks the end of the self-life and the beginning of the Christ-life. As the Red Sea was a judgment on sin, so the Jordan River is a judgment on self. In the language of the New Testament, crossing the Jordan is entering into the truth that “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). According to Hebrews 4, we must cease from our own works–the struggles of the flesh–and enter into his rest.

I struggled and wrestled to win it,

The blessing that setteth me free;

But when I had ceased from my struggles,

His peace Jesus gave unto me.

A significant difference in the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan River is brought out in Psalm 114:3, 5: “The sea saw it, and fled; the Jordan was driven hack What ailed thee, 0 thou sea, that thou fleedest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven hack? (KJ, emphasis added). The Red Seal fled before Israel, but the Jordan had to be driven–or turned–back. Evidently there was strong opposition to the to the crossing of Jordan not present at the red Sea. It was far easier for God to get His people out of Egypt than to get them into Canaan.

It is always easier to get a sinner out of Egypt than to get a Christian into Canaan. In a sense evangelism is easier than edification, salvation simpler than sanctification. It is one thing to bring a child into the world, but quite another to bring that child up in the world. rearing children is a longer and more difficult process than bearing children. Paul hints at this when he says to the Galatians, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).

I remember vividly the birth of our first child. My wife had had a difficult pregnancy, but it was nothing compared to the day-long labor and complicated delivery. I have never felt more helpless, more frustrated, more anxious. Travail is the right word to describe what a mother goes through to give birth. But the travail doesn’t stop there. While the travail of motherhood lasts only a day, the travail of parenthood lasts a lifetime.

Not long ago a sixty-year-old father came to me with his heart breaking over the rebellion of his son. His son was thirty-nine, with his own wife and children, and yet he was still a source of travail to his father. I remember thinking, “Lord, is there never a time when we are free of the responsibilities of parenthood?” You would think that when your children get to be adults, are married, and out on their own you would have nothing more to worry about. But as long as they are your children (and they always are), there is travail.

And in the same way, getting into Canaan is far more difficult than getting out of Jordan. Not that it has to be that way, but we die hard. We want a Canaan with no Jordan. But every Canaan has its Jordan and there is no following of Jesus into his fullness without taking up our cross and saying “no’ to self. Only as we die to self can we live to Christ.

Soul of mine, must 1 surrender

See myself the crucified,

Turn from all earth‘s ambition

That thou may‘st be satisfied?

Yes, that is exactly what we must do, for death has always been God’s method. In the first chapter of human history God dealt with sin by death when He clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of an animal. When Israel murmured against Moses, the Lord sent fiery serpents and dealt with the problem by death. Paul uses the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians to point out that death was God’s exclusive way of treating the sin of His people. He summarizes by saying, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (I Corinthians 10:11).

Even after Israel entered Canaan, God’s method remained the same. When they were shamefully defeated at Ai because of the sin of Achan, he and his entire family were put to death.

Let’s go back for a moment to the fiery serpent episode. Remember God’s strange prescription for snakebite? He commanded Moses to fashion a serpent of brass, fasten it to a pole, and lift it up in the midst of he people. those who looked in faith were saved. Notice the Lord gave no instruction to treat the snakebites. He dealt directly with the snake, not the snakebites.

Hang on to that thought and listen to the words of Jesus in John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus described His crucifixion as a serpent being lifted up! That tells us two things: (1) the brazen serpent in the wilderness was a preview of the cross; and, (2) Jesus’ death was a serpent’s death.

The serpent was made of brass, a symbol of judgment. What were the people dying from? The serpents. And the only way they could be saved was by believing that the very thing that was killing them had been judged and condemned by God. The serpents were not excused or forgiven or defanged. They were crushed under the heel of God’s judgment.

Now what is causing the snakebites of anger and lust and greed in your life? The serpent of self. That’s why Jesus spoke of His cross as a serpent being lined up, because when Jesus died, something else died also. The serpent of self, the sinner himself~ was crucified with Christ.

This is the only way God can fellowship with man. Even though all his sins may be taken away, man remains a sinful being, and God can have no fellowship with him The problem with man is not what he has done, but what he is, his fallen nature. And the nature is irredeemable; it resists every effort to improve it and is immune to all treatment destined to cure it.

It is crucial that we understand this: in salvation God does not change, convert, or cure the old nature–it is a terminal case. The sinful nature of man never changes. There is only one way God can deal with it–put it to death. Only then can he fellowship with man.

Of course, the old nature resists any effort to put it to death. In his little classic The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis speaks of this issue in a confrontation between an angel and a die-hard sinner. Describing the sinner, a ghost, Lewis says:

What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear…. He turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience, “Shut up, I tell you!” It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him

“Off so soon?” said a voice.

“Yes, I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard) “that he’d have to be quiet if he came–which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here; I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.”

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit–an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh–ah–look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here–well, its so embarrassing.”

“May I kill it?”

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”

“There is no time. May I kill it?”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please–really–don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.”

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact, I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it. You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.,”

“Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.”

“Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the thing without asking me–before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.”

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite….

“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t. But supposing it did?”

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

The cross saves the sinner because the cross stays the sinner. With the cross God doesn’t merely take away the sins of the sinner. He takes away the sinner, to remove the sin only would leave the source undealt with, unchanged, and would reduce the cross to nothing more than a “mopping up” operation. Much more than that occurred at Calvary. So I repeat, not only did Jesus die on the cross, bearing away all my sin–but I died there also. Calvary gets rid of both the sin and the sinner.

“I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24).

“If you have died with Christ….”(Colossians 220).

“For you have died “(Colossians 3:3)

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…” (Romans 6:6).

“Now if we have died with Christ…” (Romans 6:8).

This principle of life out of death is taught by Jesus in John 12:24: “Truly, truly, I say’ to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Death is a requisite of discipleship. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

We usually interpret this verse to mean that if we are willing to serve Jesus, we pick up our cross and follow Him. The mind conjures up images of a man teaching a Sunday school class with a cumbersome cross slung over his back; or of a teenager handing out gospel tracts on a street corner while balancing a cross on his shoulders. But a cross isn‘t. for carrying; a cross’ is for crucifying.

Jesus wasn’t bearing a cross when He preached the Sermon on the Mount. There was no cross on His shoulders when He raised Lazarus or cleansed the ten lepers. When did Jesus take up His cross? Only when He was ready to die.

And Jesus says to us, “If you want to follow Me, pick up your cross and let’s go.

Obediently, we lay the cross across our shoulders. “Where are we going, Master? To the seaside to teach? To the sick room to heal? To the cemetery to raise the dead?”

“No,” He answers. “None of those places. We’re going to a hill outside the city–to–die–on that cross you are carrying.”

“Master, we’d rather carry it to the seaside to teach or to the cemetery to raise a dead man–or just anywhere, Lord. But we’d rather not die on it.”

“A cross is good for one thing only,” the Master answers.

“To be crucified upon. If you follow Me, you must follow Me to Calvary, for that is where I am going.”

As we will see later, following Jesus is a matter of daily taking our place of death with Him. this is called reckoning.

One more verse: “{And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself’ (John 12:32). Here Jesus isn’t referring to preaching or evangelistic invitations. He simple says that He will draw all men into His death. He calls men, not to kneel at the cross, but to get on the cross and die with Him.

Now let’s put all this together under two headings.

Our death with Christ was established at the cross and saves us from the penalty of sin.

First, let’s establish the time of death. After a service one evening in Denver a man rushed up to me and said, “You’ve got to help me. I’ve been trying to die to self but just can’t. I’ve asked the Lord to crucify me but nothing happens. How do you die?”

“You don’t”, I answered.

“I don’t understand.”

“Your problem,” I said, “is that you are trying to do something that’s already been done. You’re already dead. You did 2,000 years ago with Christ on the cross. You can’t kill a dead man. You must simply accept the fact of your death.”

Paul established the time of our death in Romans 6:6: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.” The word crucified here is a Greek aorist tense signifying a once-for-all happening, something already accomplished. Our crucifixion is an accomplished fact–we died with him. The little preposition with is the key here. If we died with Christ then we had to die at the same time He died. When did He die? Nearly 2,000 years ago. Weymouth translates Romans 6:5 like this: “We share his tomb.”

God views every person as either in Adam or in Christ. If He sees us in Adam, Lie sees us dead to sin. If He sees us in Christ, He sees us dead to sin. At this very moment, if we are believers, God sees us dead, buried, and risen with Christ.


It is this fact that saves us from the penalty of our sin. Since we are dead we can never be brought to trial to answer for our sins. Suppose that you suddenly hear police sirens screaming down the street and you rush outside to see what has happened. A grocery store has been robbed. Pushing your way through the gathering crowd, you find the officer in charge and ask, “Do you know who did it?”

“Yes”, the police officer answers. “We have evidence that proves George Washington was the robber.”

“George Washington?”

“That’s right.”

“The George Washington? The one who chopped down the cherry tree and threw a silver dollar across the Delaware?”

“That’s the one. We can prove he did it.”:

“Well, excuse me, sir, but you’re wrong. It couldn’t have been him.”

The officer gives me a puzzled look. “Oh, and why is that?”

“Because George Washington died in 1799, 199 years before this crime was committed.”

Do you realize that in Christ you actually died before you committed any of your sins? When the devil, the accuser, approaches God and charges me with sin, God merely looks up my record and says, “No, it couldn’t have been him. He died 2,000 years ago.


Our death with Christ also makes possible Paul’s statement in Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” Death terminates relationships. It removes a person from the realm of his former activity. Here is a slave, under the absolute dominion of his master. His master tells him when to go to bed, when to get up, when to eat and what to eat; he tells him when to marry and whom to marry. The power of life and death lie in the hand of the master. He must obey; he has no choice. But one day the slave dies. Now let his master should commands–the slave will not respond. Death has freed him from the slavery of his former master.

The Christian is free, not free to sin, but free not to sin. The one point of contact sin had with the Christian, the flesh, has been nailed to a cross; the one door of entry has been barred; the one accessible harbor has been blockaded.

“But,” you say,” if all this is true, why am I still living as though I had never died? The unhappy fact is, sin still has dominion over me.

This brings us to the next and most important point. You see, we start in heaven and end up on earth This truth is first positional, then practical. First we state the truth, then we relate the truth. Every doctrine of Scripture must be squeezed into shoe leather and brought onto the state of daily living.

This is illustrated in Colossians 3, where in verse 3, Paul tells us we are dead; then in verse 5 he tells us to consider ourselves dead. Does that sound like doubletalk? The explanation is simple if we understand the principle of appropriation. In verse 3 Paul states a theological fact, the viewpoint of heaven–we are dead. Then in verse 5, Paul tells us to live like it. Our death is absolute, but it must be appropriated. Our death with Christ must not only be recognized as a fact, it must he reckoned by faith, which brings us to our second heading.

Our death with Christ is experienced by reckoning, and this saves us from the power of sin.

In the first ten verses of Romans 6, Paul has established the fact of our death with Christ. Then in the eleventh verse he makes the practical application, telling us how to make this theological fact a real experience, getting it out of heaven and into earth.

“Likewise, reckon ye also ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

The key word is reckoning, a bookkeeping term for keeping accounts, and means literally “to consider, to account.” Bookkeeping is based on facts, not fables or feelings. The fact is, you are dead. Now consider it so. Let me emphasize again our death is a fact. Many believers have difficulty at this point because they think they are supposed to “believe themselves into death.” and that their dying depends upon their believing. Christian, you are dead, whether you believe it or not, whether you reckon it so or not. The bible isn’t asking you to close your eyes to facts and act like something is so when it isn’t so. You are dead. That is a fact.

“But I don’t know how to reckon,” someone says. Yes, you do–you just don’t know you do. In the first place you had to reckon in order to become a Christian. One day you read in the bible that Jesus died for your sins and you believed it. Were you there when Jesus died? Were you an eyewitness to the crucifixion? Of course not; you simply believed it. You considered it so, counted on it, believed the fact, and were saved. That’s reckoning.

And the same Bible that tells you Jesus died, even though you weren’t there to witness it, tells you you died with Him. Consider it so, count on it and believe the fact. That’s reckoning.

You had to reckon on Christ’s death to be saved from your sins; and you must reckon on your death to be saved from self You’ve been dead for 2,000 years and it’s high time you had your funeral.


Romans 6:11 reveals a twofold reckoning, a negative and a positive. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin That’s negative reckoning. “ but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That’s positive reckoning.

We’ll take negative reckoning his cross daily, and first. Luke 9:23 tells us how to do it. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up follow Me.”

First, we must choose against ourselves. The Williams translation is helpful here: “He must say, ‘No’ to self” Our self is always talking to us, insisting we look out for ourselves, demand our rights, that we live our lives the way we please. Self wants only one things out of life–its own way. And the first step to appropriating the victory of Calvary is to say “no” to self Meet every suggestion from self with, “Not I, but Christ.”

The Greek present tense of the verb reckon indicates that this is to be a continuing process, a habit of life. A thousand times a day we may have to say “no” to self Choosing against ourselves is having a “Not I, but Christ” attitude about every circumstance of life.

Second, we must consent to our death. “And take up his cross daily”. By an act of our will we must accept our death and willingly take our place on the cross. We are dead, but we don’t want to be buried. We keep postponing our funeral. Having an unburied body lying around can create a pretty unpleasant situation. And most of the unpleasant situations in homes and churches are caused by dead people who haven’t been buried.

It is a daily reckoning, a daily taking of death to ourselves, our plans, our wishes, our will. A friend did it this way. He took a piece of chalk and drew the outline of a casket on the bedroom floor. “Then,” he said, “I took my church, my ministry, my plans and ambitions, my family–everything–and placed them in the casket. Then I actually lay down in the casket and told the Lord I accepted my death with Him. I reckoned myself dead to me and alive to Him. “Of course, it isn’t necessary to do it that way but it helped this brother to put it all together.

But we don’t stop with negative reckoning. We must go on to positive reckoning. Not only are we to reckon ourselves dead to sin, but we are to reckon ourselves alive to God.

This means that the body is to be used for one thing only–to glorify God. It becomes the channel through which the will of God flows. Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:13: “And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present your selves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 it is put this way: “…You are not your own or you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

In positive reckoning we choose in advance God’s will for the rest of life. Our body becomes a display case through which He can manifest Himself

It also means that we count upon the life of Christ within us. In Colossians 3:3, 4, Paul says we are dead and that Christ in our life. Here is a paradox: We’re dead, yet alive. But the life within us is not our own (that’s dead and buried); it is the life of Christ dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit.

As we’ve already noted in Galatians 2:20, Paul says he has been crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lives– “yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” If you knocked at the door of Paul’s heart and asked, “Who lives here?” the answer would come back, “Jesus Christ.” And the same is true of every Christian. When Satan knocks at your door–rather than allowing the old nature to answer–reckon it to be dead, and allow Jesus to go to the door., That ought to scare the old serpent away.

I heard Stephen Olford share a motto that he said helps him face each day with confidence: “There is no demand made upon my life that is not a demand made upon the life of Christ within me.”

And it’s true Every demand made upon our life today, whether trial or temptation is really a demand made, not upon us, but upon the Christ who dwells in our hearts.

Let me illustrate it like this. There are 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch being exerted on each one of us right now from the earth’s atmosphere The amount of pressure is determined of course, by how many square inches we are. At any rate, tons of pressure are pushing against us at this very moment. What keeps us from being crushed to death? There is a corresponding pressure being exerted from within you that neutralizes the outside pressure.

In the same way, no matter how much pressure the world, the flesh, and the devil throw against us we have overcome them because the Overcomer Himself lives within. And His life within is more than sufficient to neutralize the pressure from without., “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”. (I John 4:4).

©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002

One thought on “Jos | Dead Reckoning”

  1. I’ve struggled with this all my Christian life – years – nay – decades!
    I’m presently reading Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The New Man: An Exposition of Romans 6. And I’ve read The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis.
    I’ve continued going back over this “reckon” term in Rom. 6:11. Every time I do, I go back to Rom Ch. 1, thinking I must have missed something! I’ve been “in” the book of Romans for 15+ years! And have finished reading the whole Book only recently. Back again I go to the beginning – must have missed something… I do not “see” this experientially!
    I’ve often thought the technique of “dead reckoning” might help me to understand this spirituality.
    I’ve confessed to the LORD that I am “thick” in my understanding & asked Him for help.
    This morning I searched the Internet for that specifically & ran into your “blog” (?). WOW. It makes so much sense! I marvel at my blindness! Thank you so much for your life-giving words. And I thank & praise my Father in heaven for the gift of understanding.

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