Buried With Him
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who’ve died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Father, we ask for Your wisdom. We pray that You would give us insight as we look into this passage of scripture, continue to instruct and teach us, Lord. Teach us, as we just sang, to trust in You more, to put our faith fully in You. What a precious thing to know that You are the one who leads, guides, and directs our lives, Lord. And You want to direct us into righteousness, so God, work in us in such a way that we would reflect Your glory in the world in which we live; Lord, that we’d be able to honor You, bring glory and praise to You, to be pleasing to You. We ask this in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
We come now to perhaps one of the most powerful passages of holy scripture, as we come to Romans, chapters 6 through 8. We have seen already, in Romans, chapters 1 through 5, the reality of our lostness. And we have been challenged to confess our unrighteousness; and to consider that the wrath of God, that it will one day come against all our wayward wickedness. But in our last two studies together, in Romans, chapter 5, we examined the height of God’s grace, of His love, demonstrated towards us in the death of Christ our Lord for our justification. And I suppose that as Paul came to those closing words of the last section, verse 20 specifically, he had to have been filled with absolute delight as he spoke these closing words to his scribe; he had a guy who was writing this down as he dictated it. So as he speaks these words to Tertius, his scribe, he had to be filled with great joy and delight when he said, “the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Those are truly powerful words. The law came in; the law was given by Moses, and when the law came, it causes sin to abound. Not that sin was not already there, but sin becomes exceedingly clear, exceedingly sinful in the light of God’s law. But where sin abounded, the grace of God did much more abound. God’s grace super abounds, and in so doing it overshadows the multitude of offenses that you and I have thought, and spoken, and acted upon. His grace is so much greater than anything that you and I have done. And we know better than any other person here on earth, just how much that is, those wicked things that we have thought, or said, or done. We know; and yet then we begin to see, as God’s grace comes in to clear focus in the erson and work of Jesus Christ, we just see how awesome His grace is. And these words cannot help but be that which we rejoice in. Which is why Paul said in verse 11 of chapter 5, “we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the reconciliation;” that in and through Jesus we have received the atonement; that our sin has been paid for.
But with this as the backdrop, we now, and now being much more acquainted with the way that Paul teaches here in this book, the book of Romans, Paul’s didactic process, if you will, you know that Paul presupposes, he anticipates what the inevitable question will be. And so as he says that “where our sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” he anticipates what we’re going to be thinking, what we’re going to say. So, we read in verse 1 of Romans, chapter 6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” If abounding sin brought forth abundance of grace, then why not continue to walk in sin to see more grace come, is the question that Paul anticipates. In response to God’s super abounding, limitless, inexhaustible grace, which flows richly upon sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ, what shall we respond with; how shall, not just we speak, but how shall we act? How shall we respond in the light of God’s super abounding grace towards our abounding sin? Now as we come to this section of scripture, Romans 6, 7, and 8, we need to make sure that we study it carefully, and that we study it in context. For you see there is a way in which we can look at this section of scripture, especially the victory that Paul speaks of in Romans, chapter 6 and in Romans, chapter 8, where he’s going to say that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us; that victory that he speaks of in Romans 6 and 8, and then in chapter 7, he speaks about extreme defeat, that every single one of us are well acquainted with as Christians. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you understand, at an experiential level, the struggle that Paul speaks of in Romans, chapter 7; where he says, “the good things I want to do, I don’t practice, and the bad things that I don’t want to do, that’s what I do. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” So we have to be careful when we’re studying through this section of scripture, that we do not view the victory of Romans, chapters 6 and 8 through the lens of our own person experience of defeat – O wretched man that I am – to the point that we begin to compensate for our own sinful tendencies in our flesh. Where we begin to say, “Well, you know I guess this is just the way I am. I guess this is just the way that the Christian life is going to be, that I’m defeated.” And you know there’s been a lot of people who have studied and taught this passage of scripture in such a way that it frames it that you can continue to walk in that kind of defeated mindset. But that’s not Paul’s focus here. Paul’s focus is the great victory that we are to experience, and ought to walk in as Christians.
You see this section of scripture is speaking about the aspect of our salvation that theologians often refer to as sanctification…sanctification. In chapters 1 though 5, but especially chapters 4 and 5, we considered that we have been justified by grace through faith. That God has accounted to us righteousness. The prophet Isaiah says that we’ve been “clothed in a robe of righteousness;” so that God now looks at us who are believers in Him, who are Christians, He looks at us and says, “You are righteous. I’ve declared you righteous. You have a standing with Me that you are right.” So Romans, chapters 1, 2, and 3, they talk about our terrible sin, our utter sinfulness, our lostness, that we are fallen short of God’s glory, that “there’s none who does righteous.” We see that very, very clear in Romans, chapters 1, 2, and 3.
But then in chapters 4 and 5, we get into this concept of God’s grace has come to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ; and we receive that grace for our justification by faith. And then we’re declared righteous. We are positionally righteous because of the work that Jesus did on Calvary’s cross. And Paul said it like this in Romans, chapter 4, verse 25: He, Jesus, “was delivered up for our offenses.” He was delivered up to the cross for our sins, but He “was raised up from the dead for our justification.” So He rose from the dead that you and I could be positiionally righteous. That God, on a throne in heaven, holy God, would look at you and I through the lens of Jesus Christ and what He has done, and say, “You are, in my eyes, right. You’re without spot or blemish. You are righteous.” And so that’s how God sees us. But, and it’s a really big but, we all recognize that we are not practically righteous. If we’re honest, we will confess, we’ll be quick to admit that this week, this last week, we fell short from God’s perfect standard in some way. Would you be honest to say that, “Yes, this last week I fell short of God’s perfect standard; that I sinned?” There’s not as many hands as there were in the first two services, so maybe this is the holy service. [laughter] But we all recognize that we fall short, after becoming believers, followers of Jesus, being born again; even though we can know with certainty that we are saved, and that we will be with God for eternity, as Paul says in Philippians, chapter 3, that we are “citizens of heaven, and we are eagerly waiting for that day when we’ll be in His presence in heaven.” So, we can know with absolute certainty that we will be with the Lord for eternity, and yet we can still sin. So we are positionally righteous, but we are not practically righteous. We are justified by God’s work that He has done on our behalf there on the cross, and yet now being positionally righteous, God’s desire is that we would not stay wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; that we would not continue to walk in unrighteousness. He has declared us righteous, now He wants to make that a reality in our lives. Now in much the same way, parents can grasp and understand that. How many parents here tonight? Lift your hand up high. Okay, parents, specifically moms, ladies, you remember, after you have given birth, the birth pains, the labor pains, it’s done and they take this precious little bundle of joy, we call it – a little baby boy, a little baby girl, 7 pounds, 12 pounds if you’re an Olson – and they take this wonderful little baby, and they lay that little baby on mom’s chest. And they’re perfect, they seem, they’re beautiful, maybe even peaceful. They have done nothing, at that moment, to make them accepted, and yet they’re accepted. They have done nothing to earn your love, or your approval, or your satisfaction, and yet they have all of that, positionally, at that moment, they are just right. Ladies, do you remember that? Just right. But practically speaking. Now fast forward – 10, 15, 20 years – imagine that same child, your child, has the inheritance, has the approval. Twenty years passes, and they precious jewel of yours is still pooping in their diapers, and they are still sucking on a pacifier, and they’re still railing and yelling and screaming and crying to get what they want when they want it. It’s not a pretty picture. And that’s not at all what we want. In fact we want to exorcise those things out of them to the point that they stand, at one point, in the future, 20 years down the road, as one who is honoring their father and mother; that they walk in such a way that is pleasing to you, and you rejoice in, and they honor you. That’s the desire of every parent. And I suggest to you that that is a desire that has been imprinted upon you and I by God, who made us in His image. I say that because we just don’t see that reality in the animal kingdom. Animals are created differently. Man is created in the image and likeness of God, and He has imprinted us with that desire; because it’s a desire that He has. We have it as a reflection of what He has. The animal kingdom’s not like that. I mean, I was thinking about this this week, and I kept thinking about sea turtles. You know, sea turtles, they go up on the beach, they dig a hole, they drop like a hundred eggs, they leave. That’s the last bit that they ever do for their offspring. And though maybe a hundred of them hatch, five years later maybe only ten survive, and the adult doesn’t care, doesn’t give a lick. He says, “You’re on your own.” We don’t do that. We want that they would grow, that they would grow in a way that they show forth that which is honoring to us as parents.
Well we are God’s children, His church. He loves us. The Bible declares that we are accepted in Him; that we are approved by Him, because of the work that Jesus did. Read Ephesians, chapter 1, it’s a treasure trove of acceptance, and redemption, and adoption in Christ. That’s our position; we’re positionally righteous, but it’s God’s aim that we would go from there to chapter 2, verse 10 – that we would walk in the good works that God prepared beforehand that we should glorify Him in, Ephesians 2, verse 10. That’s what He wants; that we would grow up. We have an inheritance that does not fade away, with Him in eternity. And it’s God desire to work into us who are positionally righteous, His children, adopted, have the inheritance, to work into us that we would be honoring to Him; that we would be children who honor our Father in heaven. That’s His goal; that’s what He wants to do in us now. And so we’re not practically righteous, but God wants to sanctify us. He has justified us, because of the work that Jesus did on our behalf. So, by grace through faith, we are right with Him. But He wants to sanctify; He intends to make us more and more like His Son. He is fashioning us more and more into the image, the likeness, of His Son. So that is the sanctifying process; as He is making it so that we would be righteous in practice; that we would not only be in a right standing with God, but we would be rightly walking with God. And that’s His goal.
And so in these first eight chapters of Romans, this is the What We Are To Believe section of this discipleship training manual. And in chapters 1 through 5, he’s talking about our justification. And then from chapter 6 through about the middle of chapter 8, he’s talking about our sanctification. And then when we get into the last half of chapter 8, he’s going to be talking about what God’s going to do in glorification; where when we step into His presence, when we see Him, we shall be like Him. This corruption shall put on incorruption; this mortality shall put on immortality. He says in Romans, chapter 8, the last half, he says, “the whole of creation is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God.” We’re looking forward with eager expectation to being transformed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye – glorified.
But right now, right now, God is sanctifying us. And so we know, Romans 5:20 says that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The question that comes up in the mind of a sinful person like you, me, like us, is, “Well, if grace abounded where sin abounded, then why not continue in sin, that grace would continue to abound even more?” It would seem, almost seem logically that we’d have more grace if we had sin, because grace abounded when there was lots of sin; so is that what we should do? So Paul answers, verse 2: “Certainly not!” Certainly not! J.B. Phillips translation renders it – “What a ghastly thought!” What a ghastly thought! The King James Version, it emphatically declares, “God forbid!” The New American Standard says, “May it never be!” which is probably closest to the original, to the Greek; the wording in the Greek, it means, “May it never come into being!” that we would continue in sin that grace would abound. Why? What reason does Paul give for it never coming into being in our lives; that it never become a reality that we continue to walk in sin saying, “Well I’m just doing this so I get more grace?”
Well, what does Paul say, he answers that at the end of verse 2, “How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” Paul answers the question with a question. He’s very Jewish. “How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” In other words, how could it even be possible, is Paul’s question. How could it even be possible to continue to live in perpetual practice of sin when we have died to sin?
Well to Paul’s inquiry it wouldn’t be odd for you to respond by saying, “Well what do you mean we’ve died to sin? How have we died to sin?” Because, you see, Paul has just introduced there in verse 2, he’s introduced a completely new doctrinal teaching. He’s introduced something that’s totally foreign to what his readers are reading. They’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s very much in the same vein as when Jesus spoke with Nicodemus there in John, chapter 3, on the night that Nicodemus came to him. He says to him, “Nick, you must be born again.”
And Nicodemus goes, “What are You talking about – born again? Should I enter in a second time to my mother’s womb and be born?” He couldn’t grasp this; never heard anything like this before.
Jesus says, “Don’t marvel that I say to you, ‘You must be born again.’” But to Nicodemus, a completely foreign concept.
So Paul says here, “How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” A completely foreign concept. So he introduces this new doctrinal teaching, and now he begins in verses 3 through 7 to elaborate, and to explain, and to give understanding as to what is meant by this whole concept of us being dead to sin. Verse 3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” I love this; I love the way that Paul puts this here in verse 3. He’s just introduced a completely foreign concept; his readers have never heard anything like this before, and then he essentially says, “What, you don’t know this?” You don’t know this?
You know Jesus did the same thing with Nicodemus. He says, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.”
Nicodemus goes, “I don’t know what You’re talking about.”
He says, “What, you’re the teacher in Israel and you don’t know this?”
“No, no, actually I don’t. I don’t know this.”
“I’ve never heard this one before, Paul. I’ve never heard that I’ve died to sin.”
Now, there is a debate among Bible scholars, among Bible teachers, as to whether or not Paul, in verses 3 and 4, when he talks about baptism, whether or not he is speaking about the physical sacrament of baptism, the going down into the water experience and coming out of the water, which we’re going to be celebrating the sacrament of baptism next week at the Welch’s house; so, is he talking here about the physical sacrament of baptism, or is he speaking of the spiritual baptism that comes at the new birth? You see Jesus said to Nicodemus in John, chapter 3, speaking of the new birth, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of Spirit is spirit.” So, when you and I, when we put our faith in Christ for salvation, we’re born again, and that born-again experience, there is a spiritual baptism, a spiritual rebirth that takes place. And so there’s discussion among Bible scholars, is Paul here talking about baptism, the physical sacrament of baptism, or is he talking about that spiritual union that takes place? Now the important issue to recognize is that you and I have died to sin in Christ Jesus by grace through faith. That’s the important focus of this section. We’ve died to sin. Now we need to recognize that that death to sin is not dependent upon the physical sacrament of baptism. What I’m saying is you do not have to be baptized to be dead to sin. In other words, you do not have to be baptized to be saved. Now that diminish the importance of baptism, because, as we’ll talk about next week at the baptism, we are baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command. He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” So we are baptized in obedience to the Lord, but baptism does not bring about salvation; baptism does not bring about the new birth, nor does it bring about this death to sin. So this doctrinal teaching that Paul is giving here, that we have died to sin, it comes independent of physical baptism. It comes by a spiritual work that God has wrought in us. But the illusion to baptism here can be somewhat hard to grasp. Because it might seem, and some people have taken this passage of scripture wrongly to say that, “Well you need to be baptized; you must be baptized if you’re going to be dead to sin.” That’s not what is being said here.
So, at the new birth, by the Spirit of God, you and I, Paul says, “have died to sin.” So as many as are Christians here tonight, you are born again by the Spirit of God into the life of Jesus Christ, and you are immersed; that’s what the word baptism means; you are immersed into His death. Well what exactly does that mean? What is the explanation, the implication? Look at verse 4, Paul explains and gives the implication. Verse 4, “Therefore we,” who are Christians, “we were buried with Him,” with Jesus, “through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should,” you might want to circle that word, should, “should walk in newness of life.” Now again, although the physical sacrament of baptism is not essential for this death to sin, I think it should be noted that the act, the sacrament of baptism is a beautiful picture, a great illustration. For as we go down into the water of baptism, we are symbolically being buried with Jesus Christ in death. He died on the cross, He was buried in a tomb; you and I, we have made a profession of faith, believing in His death, burial, and resurrection; we’ve received Him as Lord, and in so doing we are buried with Him, and the baptism experience, it symbolizes that burial with Him, and coming up out of the water, it symbolically speaks of our being raised with Him to newness of life. And that symbolic sacrament of baptism is only a public declaration of what has already happened spiritually. When you’re baptized physically, you are declaring to anybody who’s a witness, or anyone who will hear after that point, that you’ve been baptized, you’re declaring that you already have been spiritually born again by the Spirit of God. And you, in that whole process, have died to sin. And you have also raised with the Lord to walk in, that you should walk in a newness of life.
And so Paul further explains this doctrine of death to sin in this passage; we’re buried with Jesus through baptism; it’s a spiritual new birth. And then just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we are raised with Him by the glory of the Father, and we should walk in newness of life. This is, if you will, an essential ethic of the new birth, an essential ethic of the new birth, that we should, we ought to, because of what has happened in us by the work of Jesus Christ, we ought to walk in a new way. We ought to walk as those who are saved. Now this begs the question, “What does it mean to be saved?” What does it mean to be saved, as a Christian? I would suggest to you that if you did one of those Jay Leno, you know, man on the street interviews, and you talk to 100 different people, and you said, “What is a Christian mean when they say they’ve been saved?”
Probably the vast majority of those people would say, “Well I think Christians mean that they’re saved from hell; that they’re saved from eternal punishment.”
Now that is one of the aspects of salvation, but just what is it that we’re saved from? Well turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 1; the gospel of Matthew, chapter 1. A little bit of context here for chapter 1 of Matthew: Matthew, chapter 1 presents a genealogy, a family tree, a family history of Jesus, through His earthly father, Joseph. And you may remember, Joseph was engaged, betrothed to Mary; and as they were betrothed, she was found to be with child, she’s pregnant, and this had nothing to do with any action that Joseph… He didn’t add anything to this at all. And so he finds out that his fiancée is pregnant. He’s a little concerned about this, and under the custom, the Jewish law of the day, she can be put to death. He doesn’t want her put to death because, well, he loves her and he doesn’t want to do that to her. So he’s trying to figure out, “What should I do? Should I put her away secretly?” He’s real conflicted. I think all of us guys would be a little conflicted.
And then God speaks to him by an angel in a dream. Verse 20, Matthew, chapter 1: “But while Joseph thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their…’” What? “‘…their sins.’” He shall save His people from their sins. So, although we are saved, the Bible declares, “unto eternal life with the Lord,” primarily we are saved from our sins. And if you think about it, eternal life is the ultimate saving from our sins; because sin is punishable by eternal death. And so if we’re saved from our sins, then we’re saved unto eternal life. But Jesus came into this world, the angel tells Joseph, “This child,” you’re going to call His name Jesus, “He’s coming into the world to do this one thing – save His people from their sins.” And all of those that put their faith in Him, become His people, and He rescues them, He saves them from their sins.
So Paul continues, back to Romans, chapter 6, verse 5: “For if,” pardon me, “if we have been united together in the likeness of His death,” Jesus’ death, “certainly,” it’s a sure thing, “certainly we also shall be,” and the implication is united together, “in the likeness of His resurrection.” So we’ve been joined with Him, buried with Him in baptism, joined with Him in the likeness of His death. And in the very same way, it is a sure thing that we shall be joined with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. So the doctrinal teaching that Paul has introduced, that we are dead to sin in Jesus Christ, because of that, we now have this conditional reality. You remember conditional statements back in math class, high school – if/then statements. So he says, “If we’ve died with Him, then certainly we’re going to experience some power in resurrection with Him. Now of course the ultimate end of our resurrection is to be raised unto righteousness at the end, in the last day, to be with the Lord, completely and perfectly righteous for eternity. That’s the focus, that’s the end of this resurrection. But here and now, what we find in the scriptures is that the resurrection power of God, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is effective in us, working in us, who have been buried with Him in baptism, buried with Him through the new birth, and now raised to walk now in newness of life by the power of God.
I believe Paul is speaking to this when he writes this in Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 19, God wants us to know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power.” God wants you and me to know what is the exceeding greatness of His power. Now I can only imagine that His power is pretty awesome. He wants us to know “what is the greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,” the same power “which He worked,” Ephesians 1, verse 20, “the same power which He worked in Christ when God raised Him from the dead.” So that resurrection power of God is at work in us now.
Well what then is the application of this new doctrinal teaching that Paul has introduced? Romans 6, verse 6: “knowing this…” So now that we understand this, now that we know that we died with Him, we’ve died to sin; we’ve been raised to walk in newness of life; “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him.” So we know this, Paul says in Galatians, chapter 2, verse 20, “I’ve been crucified with Christ; I no longer live.” So “our old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be done away with.” So, we recognize that before we are believers in Christ Jesus, we have this fleshly, carnal, sinful body; we walk in sin. And then we’re buried with Him in baptism, and we still have this body. When you got saved you didn’t, five seconds later, turn around and go, “Wow! I’ve got this whole new body.” No, same body!! Kind of a bummer, maybe; same body. You go, “What?! What happened?!”
And so he says, “We’ve been crucified with Him so that “this body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be,” any longer, “no longer be slaves of sin;” no longer be under the dominion, the power of sin, under sin’s control. No more. How so? Verse 7: “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Now, sitting here, February 17, 2012, we, when we think about the concept of slavery, it is essentially a foreign concept to us because we’re not living in a society right now where we see much in the way of slavery around us. So it’s basically a foreign concept. Now, we can still conceptualize it because there is still slavery in the world, and we understand the history of our own nation. But to us, we experience, we just don’t connect with that. But Paul was writing to a group of people living in the First Century Roman world, wherein more than 60% of the Roman Empire, 60%, were slaves. Some people were born into slavery; they’re born a slave; they live their entire life as a slave; and then they die as a slave. Now, when they die as a slave, having been a slave their entire life, once they die are they still under their master’s control? No. They’re dead. Their master could say to their dead corpse, “Get up and serve me.” But, what are they gonna do? It’s dead. So to be dead means to be freed from that slavery. So prior to being a Christian, being converted, saved by grace through faith, we are all slaves and our master is sin, it rules us, has dominion over us, has power over us. It dictates to us how we will live. And then we died to sin.
Well what’s the result? What’s the implication of dying to sin? Well, you’re freed. You’re freed from your old master; he’s no longer a master over you. But, how many of you know very well, experientially, that maybe you go saved Sunday night, you wake up Monday morning and you still have sinful desires? You wake up, you’re still grouchy, you’re still angry at the world, and you still have the desire to just hit someone? I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. But, we still have sinful desires. So that body of sin seems to still be there, but he says, “it’s done away with, and we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
Well how is this a reality? Verse 8, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, He dies no more. Therefore death no longer has dominion over Him.” So we died with Christ. Now when He died on the cross, He rose from the dead; so we believe that we also shall live with Him. Now when He rose from the dead, He never dies again. See this is what makes the resurrection of Jesus different than those other resurrection sort of experiences that we read about in the Bible. So we will read in the New Testament that Jesus is the first to be raised from the dead. You say, “Well what about Lazarus? He seems like he was raised from the dead. What about Jairus’ daughter, she was raised from the dead? Or what about the widow of Nain, her son was raised from the dead? What about these different people that, in the Bible, that were raised from the dead?” Well, the issue is – Lazarus raised from the dead, but he died again, he died again, he’s not still walking around today. He died. Jairus’ daughter, she was raised from the dead, she probably lived a great life after that, but she died. Jesus raised from the dead, He never dies again; He ascended into heaven. He ever lives. Hebrews 7 says, “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” So He raises to newness of life, and in that He conquers death. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, that Jesus put death to death, and therefore there’s no sting in death any longer. So He raised from the dead, He is the firstfruits from the dead, and He never dies.
So what’s the implication for us? If we die with Him, if we are united with Him in the likeness of His death, and now we rise with Him, we’re united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection; what does that mean? Well death no longer has dominion over Him, it no longer power over Him, He conquered death; therefore we conquer death, and sin which causes death. And so now we live a new life, a life that is both abundant and eternal; and that life begins the instant that we are born again. And so death no longer has dominion, power over Him; it no longer has dominion and power over us. This is a phenomenal truth claim of Christianity. If you’re a Christian, death and sin no longer have power over you. And yet we still find ourselves falling into sin, and we still find ourselves fearful of death; in one sense, rejecting this truth claim of Christianity.
Well how can this be? Verse 10 in Romans, chapter 6: “For the death that He,” Jesus, “died, He died to sin,” note this, “once for all.” It wasn’t just for Himself. You see we’re not living life trying to attain to what Jesus did, that if only we could do what He would do, we would have died to sin also. No. He died once to sin for all!! “But the life that He lives, He now lives to God;” to the glory of the Father. “Likewise,” verse 11, in the same manner “you also,” because of this, because of what’s happened, “we also,” he says, “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but now alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” …reckon, that word means to deem, to determine, purpose, conclude, decide, to choose. So in Christ, having been united together with Him in the likeness of His death, and now united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection, to walk in newness of life. In Christ we have the ability, the opportunity to determine that we’re dead to sin. We died to that. It no longer has dominion or power over us. And so now we can live to God, just as Jesus lived to God the Father’s glory.
Well, what does this mean? What is the application of it? Verse 12: “Therefore,” if we’ve died with Him, if we’ve been raised to newness of life in Him, if we have the opportunity and ability to reckon ourselves dead to sin, how do we apply this? “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body,” in your earthly existence. Don’t allow it to reign or rule over you, “that you should obey the lusts of it.” Don’t allow sin to be master over you, that it dictates to you that you’re going to say this, do this, think that. Don’t allow it to do that, that you should obey its lusts. So sin has desires; there is sin because of our fallen nature; this body is corrupted because of Adam’s sin, as we saw last week in Romans, chapter 5. So, this body is corrupted because of sin, and sin is resident within, and it has sinful passions; it has desires for things that are against God. Nobody in this room’s ever experienced those desires, but it has it, it theoretically has it. Right. So we all have, resident within us, sinful desires because of the fallen flesh. Paul says, “You’ve died to sin; you’re no longer under the rule of it; so you don’t have to let it dictate to you what you are to do, that you would obey what it wants.”
Well then, what should we do? Verse 13: Well “do not present your members,” that is your body; this that God has given to you – your energy, your time, your cognitive ability, your physical strength – “do not present,” what He’s given to you “as an instrument,” as a tool “of unrighteousness.” Unrighteousness is anything that does not accord with God’s character. Don’t allow this to be used in an unrighteous way, “unto sin.” And sin is anything that is against what God commands. So don’t allow this to be used. But, rather, “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members,” this body, “as instruments,” tools “of righteousness to God.” So don’t present this body as a tool of unrighteousness to sin, but rather present this body as a tool of righteousness to God. You see this is often how Paul writes in the scriptures; he says, “Don’t do this, but do this.” He always has a thing that we’re putting away, and something we’re putting in its place. In Ephesians, chapter 4, he says, “Put off the old man, put on the new man, which is created in righteousness. Stop lying! Speak the truth. Stop stealing! Get a job and give.” That’s what it says in Ephesians, chapter 4. So get rid of the old things, and do what’s right. You have the power, the ability in Christ to do those things. Don’t submit this body as an instrument of unrighteousness to sin, but present this body to God, as an instrument of righteousness unto God. Paul’s going to say the same thing, in a very pleading sort of way, in Romans, chapter 12, verse 1; he says, “I beseech you,” I beg you “therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That you may show forth in this world what is right before God. So don’t present your body as an instrument of sin, or as an instrument of unrighteousness to sin, but as an instrument of righteousness to God. You, we have this ability in Christ, because we’ve died to sin, been raised to newness of life.
Well why? Why should we do this? Verse 14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” This is why. Sin shall not rule over you, because you’ve died to it. You no longer have to be subject to its desires. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Why not? Again, verse 14, the end of the verse, “for you are not under law but under grace.” Sin should not have dominion over you Christian. Why? Because you’re no longer under the law, you’re under grace.
“Well what’s that got to do with anything, that I’m not under the law, I’m under grace? How’s that account to anything?”
Well, the law, we opened with this, Romans, chapter 5, verse 20: “The law entered in and it caused sin to abound,” to explode, to become exceedingly clear. The law entered that sin might abound. Where sin abounded, the grace of God came flooding in, and that grace is for salvation, and salvation is from sin. So God’s grace comes in to pull you out of that mire of sin, that abundant cloud of sin. His grace comes in and says, “No, I’m going to take you out of that. I’m rescuing you out of that sin.” So you’ve now been rescued out of sin; so you’re no longer in that sin and under the law, which exposes the abundance of that sin. Now you’re in the grace of God; you’re in His abundant grace, being rescued from sin. And now being under that grace instead of under the law, that produces righteousness, or should produce the opportunity for righteousness. And yet we so often find ourselves just walking back to the bondage of sin. And yet we’re told here with great victorious language, that we now have been freed. “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” That’s what Jesus has done. We were once captives, slaves to sin. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all humanity;” and so all we could do was sin, because we’re captives to sin. “But at just the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And He rescues us from sin. “You shall call His name Jesus,” which means Jehovah is salvation. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” So He rescues us from sin, to no longer be under the dominion and power of sin.
Now the unfortunate reality, what actually might be called a frustrating reality, is that there are many Christians in many churches all over this nation, all over the world who, they may know this theologically, they may know it theoretically; they’ve died to sin, and yet they live in the midst of Romans, chapter 7 – “The good things I want to do, I don’t practice; the bad things I don’t want to do, that’s what I do. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And so Paul is aiming, here in this section, to focus our attention on the sanctifying power of God. That we, in Him, “become more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.” So maybe that’s you tonight. Maybe you find yourself in the throes of Romans, chapter 7: “The good things I want to do, I don’t do; the bad things I don’t want to do, that I practice. I find in myself dwells no good thing.” How, how can I be delivered? Well, we’ll talk about that in two weeks. So you have to come back.
Next week we’re going to study together, well we’re going to consider together the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which made this possible, this reality possible.
Let’s stand together; let’s close in prayer.
Father, we thank You; we thank You that You have made a way whereby we can be made right with You who are holy and separate from sinners. You’ve made a way that we can stand before You positionally righteous. You’ve made us accepted; You’ve adopted us, and given us an inheritance that is incorruptible. We know with certainty that we’re going to be with You for eternity. And Lord, You desire that now, here in this life, on this earth, that we would walk in a way that is honoring to You, that glorifies You, that exalts Your greatness. So God work in us, by Your Spirit, that we would do just that, that we would honor and glorify You by the way that we live; that we would see true victory in our lives; that we would understand what it means to be more than conquerors in You who loved us. And Lord, when we fall, because we’re not talking here about perfect sinless perfection, Lord, but when we fall short of Your glory, and we will because of the fallenness of our nature, Lord help us to be quick to confess it, to repent, to cry out to You for Your great glory and grace; that we’d walk on, following hard after You, declaring Your wonder in this world. God, make this a part of my reality, and that of my brothers and sisters here, for Your glory, for our joy. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.