The following was an exhortation at the Korean Agape Church in Fredericksburg, VA. The exhortation was presented in English and translated into Korean.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It is a great honor to be able to teach you the Word of God. Thank you for inviting me this morning and I hope that this builds you up and encourages you in Christ.
One of the struggles we all have is how to properly understand what it means to be holy in Christ and how we are made holy by Him. We understand that we are saved by putting our faith in Christ but we often begin to think that our holiness depends upon us. Romans 6 reminds us that those who trust Christ are also made holy by the power of Christ. It is Christ in them that saves them and makes them holy.
Chapter 6 follows a teaching by the Apostle that leads some to lie about the Gospel. He reminds us that it is wrong to think that God wants us to sin so He can show how much He forgives us.
Verse 2 emphasizes this: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Before we were saved we lived in slavery to sin but we are no longer in Adam but in Christ. We have died to sin. We were in the house of Adam, we were in bondage to sin. We have now been set free by Christ and are no longer slaves to sin but have been set free.
Verse 3 then reminds us of the significance of our baptism. Our baptism reminds us that if we hav faith, we are baptized into Christ’s death. This connection we have with Christ does not stop with His death because He rose from the dead with an indestructible life. Again, because we are united with Him, we possess His indestructible life. We begin to see where the power over sin comes from.
Verse 5 confirms what Paul has just said: 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Paul doesn’t say this is a process where we prove to God that we’re worthy to be identified with Christ by our obedience. No. Our obedience is because we have life in Christ. We have been raised from the dead with Him when He rose. The apostle doesn’t write that a believer “might be” united with him but makes it most certain by saying “we shall certainly” be united with Christ. We must be made holy by Christ.
Verse 6 shows how wrong it is to think we can sin as we are still slaves. Christ’s death on a cross destroyed the power of sin. The old man was crucified with Christ on the Cross. Union with Christ in the crucifixion delivers us from the prison of Sin. This does not mean that we no longer sin but victory in the battle over sin is assured in the nailing of enslaving authority to the Cross. We are no longer controlled by a sin nature but by our slavery to Christ.
It is common for us to lose focus and to regard our sin as inevitable. Paul wants to lift us from looking inside of ourselves for power to battle sin and to look outward and up to the Cross where we see Sin nailed to the Cross of Christ. Our Savior has conquered that power on the Cross! The old man no longer has authority.
Earlier in Romans, Paul reminded us that we are declared righteous in Christ. We are not actually righteous, in ourselves, but counted righteous due to Christ’s payment on our behalf and the giving of Christ’s life to us. Verse 7 teaches that the power of sin has already been judged for us. By the act of the Judge, we are sure to be made holy because the power of sin was judged at the Cross for us.
Holiness is not achieved by a power we find within. No, the power comes because Christ has judged Sin itself. We know we can progress in holiness because Sin has been put to death and we know that no condemnation comes from the sin that continues in our members.
Verse 8 encourages us to think of ourselves as being an image of Christ – not only has the old self of sin been crucified but we now posses spiritual life in Christ. When we sin, we forget our union with Christ and deny what Christ has accomplished. When we remember who we are, we are empowered to give battle to sin and to live unto righteousness.
Verse 9 is our assurance of living with Christ. There can be nothing that can break or interrupt our participation in Christ’s life. There can be no reversal of his death to sin and falling back into complete slavery to its power. If this was possible then Christ’s very resurrection could be reversed or repeated over and over. Christ’s resurrection is final and it represents a complete break from the power of Sin. Christ submitted Himself to the power and judgment of sin. Death even ruled over Christ for a short time yet it was impossible that death could hold Him or swallow Him up. By rising from the dead, He defeated death forever.
Verse 10 is one of the most significant statements regarding the full meaning of Christ’s death – Christ died to sin. The Apostle has already noted that Christians are forever freed from the bondage of sin and death and again reminds us we are no longer subjects of its rule. He proves this by reminding why Christ died – He died that He would destroy sin. Christ not only dealt with the guilt of sinners on the cross but also with the power of sin. Death ruled but Christ broke its power.
Verse 11 concludes: “Because Christ triumphed over the power of death, those who are united to Him in death died to the power of sin and become dead to sin. Once again, the motivation and power of a Christian’s struggle with Sin is grounded in what Christ has accomplished.
We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. We are not commanded to become dead to sin and alive to God. Christ has accomplished this already for us. And it is not by considering the facts carefully that they become true. The Apostle’s command is that we are to think upon our union with Christ and fully appreciate what Christ has obtained for us. This provides the motivation and strength for our battles.
Beloved, we are no longer our own and no longer under Sin’s power. Our Sin is on the Cross and we are now bondslaves to Christ and bondslaves to righteousness. Christ’s death is once-for-all and He ever lives and so must we. When we lift our heavy heads away from the filth of indwelling sin and its alluring, idolatrous power, we look up to Christ and in Him we find that our hearts deceived us to Sin’s remaining power. Instead of sorrow over our pitiful state we praise God with the Apostle: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10)