In Chapter 5, we saw that Sin and Death was given dominion over creation by the choice of Adam to disobey God. We further learned that Sin and Death were uncontested champions over mankind, where no one could stand and defeat Sin and Death until the day Jesus Christ died and rose again.
Knowing therefore that this is what Christ accomplished, what does it mean for the believer? Often the believer boasts of trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection and seeks to live his/her life trying to improve upon their belief, by setting a personal course to rid their life of sin in a never-ending cat-and-mouse game of trying to keep up with God’s righteousness.
Sadly, many believers end up confused, defeated and some give up on God altogether because they come to understand that no matter how much they desire to reform their flesh, their flesh fails on every turn. What is more unfortunate is that they actually come to realize a truth about their flesh, but fail to realize that truth is to point them to a much greater – a much more relieving truth – that their salvation is not a status to be maintained, but is a life given them to enjoy – the very life of Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may abound? Note, it doesn’t say, “Shall we continue to sin, that grace may abound?” Many view this statement that the more sins we committed, the more grace had to be shown. But, let’s not lose sight of the context. Paul hasn’t been talking about individually committed sinful actions, but rather has been talking about the source, sin itself. If we have been removed from the reign of Sin and Death, Paul wants to know if we should continue IN (that reign of) Sin so that the reality of our LOCATION in Grace could abound? In other words, should we appeal to the OLD Kingdom of Death in order to make the New Kingdom of Grace appear all that more appealing? Paul says, God forbid! – don’t even have that thought in your mind! Why? Because how can anyone who is DEAD to SIN live any longer THEREIN?
If we are NO LONGER LOCATED in the Reign of Death, then how and why would we want to live as if we were still in it? Is God’s grace only good so long as you have Sin to compare it to? Does God’s grace demonstrate itself good and pure on its own, or does it need Sin to compare against it? Certainly His grace is all-sufficient, whether sin existed or not.
How can we be made dead to sin? What if we were submersed into the very death that made Christ dead to sin? Romans 6:3-4 says this very thing. We were baptized into CHRIST and into His DEATH. Baptism is a word that often gets a very narrow label and ‘religious-ized’ into only a water ritual. However, it is very easy to see in scripture where baptism is not limited to a water ritual. This post isn’t designed to demonstrate the purpose of the water ritual, but simply to demonstrate that we shouldn’t make a hasty conclusion that anytime we see the word ‘baptism’ that we immediately think of ‘water.’ Note these various types of baptism mentioned:
Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
1Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
By the way, the baptism unto Moses in the sea was a ‘dry’ baptism, note:
Exodus 14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
Here are at least 5 different ‘agents’ of baptism – water, the Holy Ghost, fire, the cloud, the (divided) sea. Further in Romans 6, however, we have yet other agents of baptism – Jesus Christ and (His) Death. The baptism spoken of in Romans 6, is it a water baptism? is water mentioned at all?. Does being baptized in water make you dead to sin? If it does, then you need water baptism to be justified (which removes the sole necessity of faith that Paul presented in Chapters Three and Four). But, water baptism isn’t in the context here. We were baptized into Christ’s death and as Christ was raised to life, so too we were raised to walk in newness of life.
In Matthew 20, we find Christ referring to His baptism into death, by the way:
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
Therefore, if any man be IN (location) Christ, HE is a NEW creature; OLD THINGS have PASSED AWAY; behold all things are become NEW. The old things of Adam passed away and we became dead to sin, but were raised to walk in the newness of Christ’s resurrection life.
Romans 6:6 – For OUR OLD MAN (collective, singular) is crucified WITH HIM. This is not a “sin nature” or an “old nature” – this is OUR OLD MAN – who we all have in common in the flesh – Adam. Many see the believer as an entity with two natures (one of God, and one of Sin). However, an entity is known by its nature, is it not? Is an entity ever known by another nature that is foreign to it? No, clearly not. The believer does not have one foot in Adam and one foot in Christ. 1Corinthians 15:22 clearly demonstrates that in Adam, all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive. The human entity is either known by its Adamic nature or its Christ nature.
By Adam’s death, he was crucified, and as Paul says in Colossians, he was crucified “with his deeds” – the nature of Adam (of sin and death) was crucified. Our old man (Adam himself) was crucified with Christ and three days later, the Reign of Life took hold and will never be defeated.
I’ve often wondered if the thief on the cross is a type of Adam, being crucified WITH Him. Adam stole property from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was therefore banished from paradise. The thief on the cross sees His redeemer, recognizes Him as his redeemer and in so doing, Adam was told he was allowed back into paradise. He was brought INTO His grace, WHEREIN is the paradise of God.
The body of sin was destroyed when our old man was crucified and therefore, we should not serve sin. Sin is no longer the master because the embodiment of it is destroyed. It is no longer a master that rules over us or has dominion over us or that must be consulted!
For indeed, IT IS FINISHED!
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness. 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore, Paul says, whosoever is dead (having died with Christ) is FREED from sin. So, if you are free from that dominion, why would you present your bodies/members as instruments of that dominion? It is impossible to have one foot in grace and another foot in sin. Impossible. There is a scale in heaven and God sits on one side – and it doesn’t matter what we try to put on the other side, the scale won’t budge.
Paul says to whom we submit ourselves, that is the master we must obey. Now, let’s stop for a moment and clarify – Paul is not talking about our justification. Paul is not talking about doing works in order to obtain or maintain a just standing with God. Paul is talking about BELIEVERS (already justified folk) who have a choice – they can either, AS JUSTIFIED people, present their bodies as instruments to be used in the reign of Life Himself (Christ), OR, they can present their bodies as instruments to be used in the reign of death (non-functioning existence). How does a believer submit himself to the Reign of Death? – By any act, regardless of how religious or pious it seems to ourselves or our fellow man, whereby we believe we are scoring points or maintain points with God will fashion us as wonderful servants in the Kingdom of Death.
Every believer is alive in Christ but not every believer reckons that to be true. Some believers are RESTING in the fact that Christ is ALL SUFFICIENT and HIS GRACE surpasses anything they could offer or ‘work for’, while other believers are WRESTING themselves, trying to keep short accounts with God. Some believers walk after the Spirit: some walk after the Flesh. We’ll get to Romans 8 soon enough, but I’ll draw your attention to Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.
If we present our members as instruments of righteousness, we will essentially yoke up with God, who is already at work, and He will use us in HIS hands, tilling and cultivating HIS ground, and harvesting HIS fruit. However, if we present our members as instruments of self-righteousness (by appealing to Sin, the infirmity of our flesh), then WE will use us in OUR hands, to till and cultivate OUR ground and will harvest OUR fruit – all the while branding it as “God’s work.” However, the proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, it is in the fruit.
Fruits of righteousness will flourish and will reflect the very source of their life – God Himself. Fruit of self-righteousness, however, may appear just as nice and healthy as the other fruit, but inside is nothing more than the worms of death.