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Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Sun, Jan 28, 2018

Freedom From Sin

Romans 6:3-14 answer the question, how do those of us who are under grace live without being characterized by sin? Paul answers logically. First, by understanding the nature of our identification with Christ (Romans 6:2-10). For Paul, what a believer understands is terribly important. The key word in Romans 6:3-10 is “know,” which occurs three times (Romans 6:3, 6, 9). Above all, Paul wants us to know or understand the nature of our union with Christ. To help us, he employs the powerful metaphor of baptism. For Paul, a believer’s baptism symbolizes wondrous realities.
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Romans 6:3-14 answer the question, how do those of us who are under grace live without being characterized by sin? Paul answers logically. First, by understanding the nature of our identification with Christ (Romans 6:2-10). For Paul, what a believer understands is terribly important. The key word in Romans 6:3-10 is “know,” which occurs three times (Romans 6:3, 6, 9). Above all, Paul wants us to know or understand the nature of our union with Christ. To help us, he employs the powerful metaphor of baptism. For Paul, a believer’s baptism symbolizes wondrous realities. Baptism is the shadow of what happened to us when we met Christ. Baptism bears with it the idea of identification, especially when it is linked to a person’s name.

So it is with Christ. When we were baptized into him (Matthew 28:19), we achieved a profound identification. The specific emphasis of Romans 6:3-5 is that we are so profoundly identified with Christ’s death and resurrection that we actually did die with him and truly were raised with him, so that we now share in his resurrection life. Whereas before we had only a solidarity with Adam’s sin, now that has been broken and we have a solidarity with Christ, the Second Adam, in his death and resurrection. We need to know and count on this if we are to experience victory over sin.

What that means practically in life is this: as Christ did not serve sin, neither must we. Second, by accepting our identification with Christ as true (Romans 6:11). “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Have you ever taken the time to consider the fact that you participated in the events of the cross, that you died and that you were resurrected with Christ? If not, why not do it right now. This is prevention theology. So much of our time is spent in corrective theology—what to do when we sin, as for example in 1 John 1:9 (“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”).

This is good and necessary. But reflecting upon our identification with Christ is even better because it curbs our sinning. This reckoning to our account is something we are to constantly do, as the present tense of the verb indicates: “Keep on counting yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Third, by yielding to the Christ with whom we are so wonderfully identified (Romans 6:12-13). Romans 6:12 commands: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Exactly what does this mean? Paul is very precise and clear, and his answer falls into two corresponding halves. The first is negative:

“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness” (Romans 6:13). That is, do not keep on making the parts of your body (your tongue, hands, feet) available as tools of unrighteousness. Be on constant guard against doing this. And while you are doing this, take positive actions: “present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13). The tense here demands a decisive once-and-for-all act. All of us must come to a time when we present everything to God for righteousness.

This does not rule out subsequent commitments as well, but this initial time of surrender must come to all of us. God, here I am—alive from the dead! I have died with Christ and have been resurrected with Christ. Praise your name. Now here is my body (my arms, my voice, my eyes). Take them all, that they might be instruments of righteousness and not of sin.

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