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Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ February 19, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Romans 6:1-14.

Summary: In this passage, Paul addresses an objection that can be raised to his main point at the end of the preceding passage, where he states that sin allowed God’s grace to superabound. In particular, his opponents were using that point to claim that they could be justified while sinning at will, since the depth of their sins would highlight God’s grace in saving such wantonly sinful people. Paul refutes this claim by presenting an important truth regarding justification – that is, those who have been justified share in Christ’s death in that they die to the power of sin. Moreover, their “baptism in the Spirit,” which is signified by the sacrament of baptism, entails their sharing in Christ’s life, which He lives for God’s glory. This illustrates the necessary link between justification and sanctification in the life of the believer. Thus, our union with Christ in His death and resurrection implies that when He was crucified, our sinful nature was crucified with Him; its power over us was broken. Moreover, our union with our living Savior implies that we share in His life both now and forever, since He cannot die again; since Christ lives to please God, we too are living to please God as regenerated people. Paul stresses that we should be mindful of this fact; thus, we should live in a way that is consistent with it. In particular, we should use our physical and mental abilities for God’s glory, and not to please our defeated (yet ever-dangerous) sinful nature. In conclusion, since we are the recipients of God’s grace, we should live in a way that expresses genuine gratitude for His gift of life, and not in a legalistic manner where we feel obligated to fulfill every ordinance in God’s law.

Thoughts: This passage highlights one of the issues that I continue to struggle with as a Christian. In particular, we see that as Christians, our union with Christ in his death and resurrection implies that we are no longer bound to obey sin; along these lines, Hodge notes that:

The very act of faith by which we receive Christ as the propitiation for sin is spiritually a death to sin. It is in its very nature a renunciation of everything which it was the design of Christ’s death to destroy.

Now we also see that as Christians, we continue to struggle with sin and must make every effort to keep from being enslaved by it again; along these lines, Hodge notes that:

Since the believer is in fact united to Christ in his death and life, he should live accordingly…The exhortation is that we should not yield to this dethroned adversary of Christ and the soul, but strenuously strive against its efforts to gain ascendancy over us and to bring us into bondage again.

If we have truly experienced “a death to sin,” how can sin “bring us into bondage again?” If sin no longer has mastery over us by virtue of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection, how can it be our master again? I’m wondering if this is related to free will and predestination; perhaps God turns our hearts towards Him through the work of the Holy Spirit, while we must choose to follow Him. If both free will and predestination are at work here, that would be quite difficult for me to comprehend.

It is not uncommon for Christians to misinterpret the true purpose of the sacrament of baptism. Hodge addresses this issue as follows:

Baptism was the appointed means of professing faith in Christ, of swearing allegiance to him as the Son of God and accepting His Gospel. Therefore those who were baptized are assumed to believe what they professed and to be what they declared themselves to be. They are consequently spoken about as believers, as having embraced the Gospel, as having put on Christ, and as being the children of God since their baptism is an act of faith.

At one point in my walk with God, I thought that since baptism was not required for salvation, I didn’t need to be baptized. I also resisted getting baptized because I felt that if I were to be baptized and subsequently failed to live a perfect life, I would be setting a bad example for others. Eventually I realized that I needed to make a public profession of my faith in Christ so that I could glorify Him publicly and take a step forward in my walk with God. Though I have certainly stumbled many times since my public baptism, I can see that God has worked through me and has molded me into a more faithful servant over the years.

After providing an extensive discussion of justification and its benefits up to this point in Romans, Paul now links justification with sanctification. As we have seen, Paul establishes this crucial link in the life of the believer by referring to our union with Christ, who actually freed Himself from the burden of the sins of mankind by His death and was raised to live for God. Of course, as noted above, I have a difficult time seeing why we need to strive towards sanctification. Now, if sanctification is guaranteed for believers, though, I do find that to be very awesome. In particular, we are now to view ourselves as instruments whereby righteousness can be effected and God can be glorified; this is how we play our roles in God’s kingdom plan.



1. Slaves to Righteousness « Ringing In - February 24, 2011

[…] As noted in my previous post, I struggle to understand the nature of our slavery to righteousness; why do truly regenerated […]

2. Made Alive in Christ « Ringing In - April 8, 2012

[…] and the spiritual resurrection of His people more fully in Romans 6, which I blogged about in this post. Clearly the reality of the resurrection of Christ and the surety of His promises allow Paul to use […]

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