Romans Lesson: 6.1-14 - SUPER GRACE
LAST WEEK: In Rom. 5:1-11, we heard Paul describe what we have gained by being justified by faith. While it's true that we've escaped the wrath of God, being declared righteous before God means a whole lot more than avoiding punishment for our sins.
THIS WEEK: In Romans 6:1-14, Paul answers the question of whether Christians should continue to sin. His answer is emphatic: we absolutely should not. First, when we came to God by faith in Jesus, we died to sin. We are not slaves to it any more. Second, what did living for sin ever get us? It led to shame and death. The righteousness given to us for free by God in Christ Jesus leads to becoming like Jesus and to eternal life. We should serve righteousness instead of sin. In these passages, Paul will explain how Christians should think about and respond to sin now that we are in Christ and our sins are forgiven. Paul will reveal new information (did you hear that?) about what happened when we put our faith in Christ. In a spiritual sense, we died with Him, and to our sin. We were then resurrected to a new spiritual life. Now, Paul instructs us to continue remembering that we are no longer slaves to sin. We must not offer our bodies to be used for sin but instead, must offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness.
Read Rom. 6:1-4 - SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN, THAT GRACE MAY INCREASE?
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
v. 1: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" - Paul opens with two rhetorical questions about what some modern theologians call "super grace." Here's another way a rephrasing Paul's questions: If God's grace covers all our sins (and it does), does it really matter whether we sin a little or a lot? Could it even be possible to serve God by sinning, so that God can display the depth and breath of His grace?
v. 2: "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" - Paul's emphatic "no" answer to the question will continue through the rest of the lesson. The question of this verse sets up the theological basis for Paul's argument: very simply, as saved Christians, we now have a new identity. For a saved person, continuing to live in sin is like asking a released convict if he would like to continue occupying his cell or asking an emancipated slave if he would like to keep serving his abusive master. Paul is saying that since we have "died to sin," it makes no sense to continue living in it.
TRUTH 1: There is no such thing as justification without any resulting sanctification. As saved Christians, we now have a completely new identity, and God doesn't declare people as "righteous" without giving them the "newness of life." Since we've "died to sin," it utterly makes no sense that we would continue to live in it, thus, sanctification is the inevitable outcome of justification.
v. 3: "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" - This verse is a little tricky. In v. 2, Paul just said we have "died to sin," and now connects that expression to baptism. Most likely referring to full immersion baptism, Paul is asserting that baptism has more power than mere symbolism. When we are "buried" in baptism, that act identifies us with Christ in His death and burial. When we placed our trust in Christ's death, we received His identity before God, so that our sin, positionally, is "dead" in God's eyes. But please understand that Paul isn't arguing that baptism magically destroys the power of sin our lives-it doesn't, but our identity "in death" with Jesus symbolizes our death to sin.
v. 4: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" - If it was good news that we were buried in death with Christ, it's even better news that we have been raised from the dead with Christ as well. While our freedom from sin is less than total-we are still tempted and we still sin, yes?-we have become new creatures so that "we too might walk in the newness of life." In other words, we now have the power to live in the newness of life. This newness began with our baptism, however, the renewal process continues throughout life as we progressively sanctify our lives in our day-to-day walk-and keep in mind, walking always requires effort.
TRUTH 2: "Walking is ordering our behavior as a course of life that shows our new life in Christ. This walk has to do with our practical day-to-say sanctification. God expects us to live the Christian life as a pattern or course in life. We must remember that Christ shared His resurrection with us so that we can "order" our "walk" in line and on course with the new life He's given us.
Rom. 6:5-7 - UNITED WITH HIM IN DEATH
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
v. 5a: "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death" - Pau's conditional "if" can read "Since we've been united with Him in the likeness of death." The Greek word for "united" (sumphutoi) means "grow together," in the sense of broken bones being knitted together. That we now (present tense) resemble Jesus in death tells us that we've transitioned from our former position with Adam (cursed) to our new position (or likeness) with Christ.
v. 5b: "certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection" - This is expressed in the future tense. What we experience isn't actual resurrection in the here and now (that's later) but the resurrection life-a spiritual resurrection, which frees us from the sin bondage of Adam and enables us to live a new type of life, one than can resist the power of sin.
v. 6: "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin" - When Paul says "knowing this," he's saying that based upon what we've learned in vv. 1-5: (v. 1 - are we to continue to sin, v. 2 - no, we have died to sin, v. 3 - we've been baptized in Christ's death, v. 4 - we've been raised from the dead so we can walk in the newness of life, and v. 5 - we're now united with Christ in His death and resurrection). To this, Paul adds that our "old self" has also been (past tense) been "crucified" with Christ. This means that our old self, the one connected to Adam, is dead, and has been replaced by a new identity with Christ. While our ability to sin wasn't crucified with Christ, our predisposition to sin has been removed-we've been freed from its power over us
v. 7: "for he who has died is freed from sin" - Since our "old self" has been put to death, it's no longer necessary for the Christian to continue in bondage to sin. While we aren't freed from the presence of sin, we need to grasp and apply to ourselves the truth that our new resurrected self has freed us from its power. Christ has set us free so that we no longer feel "at home" with sin, do we?
TRUTH 3: Since the "old self" was put to death, it's new longer necessary for the Christian to continue in bondage to sin. Christ has effectively set us free of this former life. Because of it, we should never again feel "at home" with sin-because it very simply violates the reason that Jesus Christ died for us-to set us free. Using grace as an excuse to sin doesn't represent the new life.
Read Rom. 6:8-11 - WE HAVE DIED WITH HIM AND ALSO LIVE WITH HIM
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
v. 8a: "Now if we have died with Christ" - The expression, "died with Christ," implies that the believer died at the same time Christ died. How is that possible? Well, think back to last Sept., in Eph. 1:4, when Paul said, "He [God] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world," which means we were predestined and that we died by virtue of the truth that Jesus died for us. Do you see that?
v. 8b: "we believe that we shall also live with Him" - Here, Paul moves the emphasis from dying to Christ to living with Him. Since it is an accomplished fact that we died with Christ (yes?), then it follows that we will live with him, and "also" points not only to living the resurrection life in this time but living with Jesus in eternity. Resurrection begins with salvation and continues into eternity.
v. 9: "knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again" - When Paul says, "knowing," he's expressing a self-evident truth. The truth is this: That once Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, He will never die again. Amen? The Christian life isn't a philosophy but is based upon fact, and we must have knowledge before we can live the Christian life. The phrase, "never to die again," means no more death, both for Him and for those who believe in Him. The event of His resurrection and our association with it is irreversible-can never be undone.
v. 9b: "death is no longer is master over Him" - Death rules human beings, but it did not rule Jesus; He defeated death's power by His resurrection. In short, Jesus supremely put death to death.
v. 10a: "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all" - This verse comprises a summary of Paul's argument in Chapter 6 to this point; namely that the power of death ended with Jesus' work on the cross once and for all. The phrase, "For the death He died," refers to Jesus' physical death and the phrase, "He died to sin once for all," refers to a one-time event in the past. The word "once" indicates that Jesus' death for sin is never to be repeated. He paid the entire penalty for sin "once" and therefore, no longer needs to pay any further price for the sin of mankind.
v. 10b: "but the life that He lives, He lives to God" - By contrast to His one-time death, Jesus keeps on living (present tense) by resurrection life in time and eternity. Since death no longer has any power over Him, the "life that He lives" is eternal both in quality and quantity-everlasting in length.
v. 11: "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" - The Greek word Paul uses for "consider" (logizethe) is a bookkeeping term, thus, even though we're still subject to human frailty, God has made a notation in His eternal ledger that renders us "dead to sin." This is something we all need to take to heart: that the mastery of sin in our lives has been broken. That we are "alive to God in Christ Jesus," says there's another dimension to our association with Christ: The believer has the newness of the resurrection life, and this truth is yet another notation-a fact-in God's ledger: we are recorded as being "alive" to God because we share the resurrection of Christ in our spiritual life. This is a resurrection of the present life which we must account as true in the way we live from day to day. We must, in humility and grace, accept the reality that we are dead to sin but alive to God and use this knowledge to share with others the joy of what Christ has done for us.
TRUTH 4: There is a difference between our position-justified by grace-and our condition. What Jesus did for us in grace never changes. Our standing before God is eternal, but the status of our Christian life is a dynamic that can and does change. Christians cannot live a spiritual life without strong faith: If we allow ourselves to revert to the struggle with sin, then there is no hope for victory in this life. The pivotal factor isn't our works but the work of God in us sanctification day-by-day.
Read Rom. 6:12-14 - DO NOT LET SIN REIGN
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
v. 12: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts" - With "Therefore," Paul connects this verse to the reality that as believers, we are now dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus. He points out that our "mortal body" is a virtual sin magnet (physical appetites like hunger, thirst, and sex). This inner battle in every one of us is a spiritual issue that is fought and either won or lost in the daily decisions we make-a process of our spiritual mind over matter. But our spiritual self, which is "immortal" self, can and should rule over or "mortal" self.
v. 13: "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" - First, notice that this is a command, not a alternative. The action words, "do not go on," tell us that this sin is already present in our lives, and we need to stop it-right now!--decisively and finally. The Greek word for "members" (hopla) literally translates to weapons, so we must decide whether to use our various body parts (I don't need to go into detail here) either as weapons of sin or weapons of righteousness. As a case in point, you might remember what James wrote about the power of human tongue-how it can be used to either tear people down or build them up (James 3:5). We decide, don't we? What's controlling us?
TRUTH 5: The command "do not go on" refers to the sin already present in our lives. We must decide-right now!-to fully and finally stop using our "members" (you know what they are) as "weapons" of sin and instead, use them for righteousness. Our tongues-our speech-provide an excellent example: Will you use it to build people up or tear them down? You decide.
14: "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. When you consider Paul's background as staunch Pharisee, it's interesting that he would say that sin no longer dominates us because we're not under the Law. Jews believed that the Law protected them from sin by showing what to do and what not to do; however, there were two problems with this view: (1) When keeping the Law becomes the primary focus, it's entirely possible to lose sight of the intent behind the law, so it becomes just a matter of mechanically going through the motions; and (2) Because it proved impossible to keep the Law perfectly, every person under the Law was destined to fail. Now contrast that to being a believer who is "under grace"-a position in which we cannot fail, because God forgives our sins. We can now live secure in the faith that God's grace is greater than our sins. We aren't under divine probation but saved (past-tense) forever.
TRUTH 6: Grace is so powerful that it breaks the dominion of sin. God's grace is so powerful that goes beyond forgiveness of sin; it involves the transfer of power. For the Christian, this transfer of power removes the oppression-the control-that sin held over us. The Law (v. 14) only brings condemnation to those who are still associated with Adam (v. 6), but for the believer, God has by His grace given us the power to live for Him (now and forever) and in the process, sets us free from both the penalty and the power of sin.
PRAYER: Thank You Dear Lord for allowing us to gather together again to learn from the truth of Your Word. Thank you Father that we can rightly say the we are dead to sin, but alive to You by our salvation in your beloved son, Jesus. But please help us, God, to really take Paul's words this morning to heart: to use the power of Your super grace to break the hold of any sins that are remaining in our lives. Guide us, too, in the weeks to come as we continue to narrow our search for a new shepherd, someone who will help us turn this church into a beacon of light and hope to the lost and weary people outside our doors. And I ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the perfector and finisher of our faith, AMEN.