Albert Martin explains how and why we must differentiate between the indicatives and imperatives found in Scripture.



  • Indicative: a simple fact
  • Imperative: what someone ought to do

In Scripture, indicatives are always followed by imperatives.

"The indicatives, which describe God's provisions for us in Christ, form the basis and framework for the imperatives, which direct us into a life well-pleasing to Christ." — Albert Martin

3 Major Evidences

  1. The content and structure of the book of Romans
    • The first imperative in the book is found in Romans 6:11
    • God wants us to know and understand the indicatives, which form the basis of the imperatives.
  2. The book of Ephesians
    • Not one imperative is found in the first chapter
    • The first imperative is found in Ephesians 2:12
  3. 1 Corinthians 6
    • Indicatives:
      • "the body is not for fornication"
      • "you are united to Christ"
      • "you become joined to a harlot"
      • "you were bought with a price"
    • Imperatives:
      • "flee fornication" (verse 18)
      • "glorify God in your body" (verse 20)

Practical Implications

  1. We must constantly pray for the Holy Spirit's illumination as we read Scripture and hear preaching.
  2. We must discipline ourselves to believe all that God says is true of us—who and what we are in Christ—regardless of how we feel (e.g., a major key to victory over sin is believing and acting in accordance with Romans 6)
    "The indicatives of who I am give me the grace to do what I ought in the battle with sin." — Albert Martin
  3. Acquire a growing love for solid, doctrinal preaching that increasingly displays the riches of your identity and possessions in Christ
  4. Acquire an increasing love for searching preaching—preaching that doesn't deal in generalities—which presses the divine imperatives upon you in such a way as to drive you out of yourself and deeper into Christ, and all that you have in Him.

    God's imperatives are meant to make you despair, that you may go to Christ for aid.

    Without Christ, you can do nothing

    "We need to love preaching that makes us despair of ourselves." — Albert Martin
"It is a grievous thing to me that I see going on in not a few of our sister churches, people leaving by the handfuls; ostensibly, 'they want more modern music, more of this, more of that.' I don't believe it. You know what the root issue is? They are weary of close, searching, applicatory preaching. They have learned how to live a comfortable, easy-going, orthodox Reformed Baptist lifestyle that doesn't have the radical edge of utter resignation to Christ and a rejection of this world as our friend! People want to drink at the world's fountains for their 'Christian liberty and entertainment,' and they don't like it when worldliness is identified—specifically!" — Albert Martin (49:45)