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Romans 6

September 18th, 2011 by Vic

 

September 18, 2011

“Live to Die or Die to Live”

Romans 6

 

You do not have to sin.  That is the message of Romans 6.  Grace works and good works are accomplished through grace.

 

In Romans 5 we were told that as Christians we now have peace in the presence of God.  As Christians we praise God for our blessings and for our troubles because we have learned that God loves us.  He has our best interest in mind.  Sin is not good for us so He has warned us against sin.

 

The grace of God demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus super abounded over the sin that man inherited from Adam.  Adam’s refusal to acknowledge God as God and his own creatureliness had severe consequences.  Christ’s act of obedience more than outweighed the consequences of sin.

 

Now in chapter 6, Paul answers another imaginary critic.  Paul knows his writing is controversial so he carefully develops his explanation of how we should be responding to God’s grace.

People claiming to be Christian in every generation have distorted the Scripture for their personal benefit.  A notable example is a Russian monk, Gregory Rasputin.  Rasputin was the evil genius behind the Romanov family in its last years of power.  This monk said that to grow as a Christian you need to continually sin and repent.  He said those who sin the most receive the most forgiveness.  They enjoy more of God’s grace than the ordinary sinner who does not have to repent so frequently.

 

Paul emphatically rejects that kind of thinking.  6:3  “Don’t you know”  6:11  “Reckon yourselves”

6:13  “Yield your body”  (feet, hands, mouth, ears, etc.)

 

6:1  The imaginary critic argues, if God’s grace is greater than my sin, then the more I sin, the more of God’s grace is given to us.  Paul says that is impossible.

 

6:2  Dead people can’t sin.  A death has occurred and sin’s rule is past.  Christians have changed masters and kingdoms.  Donald Grey Barnhouse told of a crew whose captain went mad and was replaced in mid-voyage by the first mate.  Now the old captain had no authority; the new captain was the one to be obeyed.  Yet the crew might very well find itself jumping to obey when the old captain shouted out his orders.  What the crew had to do was to constantly remember that the old captain had no power, and learn to respond to the voice of the new captain.

 

6:3  Paul says when you were baptized into Christ Jesus, you were publically demonstrating that God had done something in you.  Your old self died; a new life began.  You are a different person in Christ.  Jesus spoke of His physical death as a baptism (Mk 10:38).  You did not have a physical death and resurrection as Christ did, but you died to sin and changed allegiance.

 

6:4  Baptism was not always an initiation rite for Jews or Greeks, but it was often used to symbolize a change in religion for new proselytes.  We die but we don’t stay under the water.  We have a physical life beyond sin and death.  A new epoch has begun.  There is a new kingdom life in Christ beyond death.  A decisive transition has occurred.

 

We were born the first time to share in Adam’s death.  We are born again to share in Christ’s death.

Jesus is the first who passed through the doorway of death to the era of grace.  He invites us to follow Him, not into some profound mystical experience, but a daily walk in God’s garden of grace.

 

Paul does not say that coming out of the water symbolizes a resurrection out of Christ but a new life in Christ.  We identify with Christ’s death differently than we do His resurrection.

 

6:5  Whether you were Jew or Greek you would understand that baptism signaled a decisive transition to a new religion.  The perfect tense of the first verb ‘united’ suggests that we remain united with Christ in His death.  The second ‘united’ is future tense.  Christians also will become united with Christ.  That word συμφυτoι (united) was a garden term that meant to plant together or a medical term suggesting the growing together of the edges of a wound or the fusing together of the broken ends of a bone.  The believer has been knit together with Christ’s epoch-ending, sin-dominion-breaking death in the here and now and will be united with Christ in a future resurrection.

 

We can right now unite with the death of Christ which ended the rule and power of sin.  The Christian has been and still remains united with the effects of Christ’s death.  We wait for the resurrection.

 

6:6  Dying is cutting the links with this world.  When you are dead you do not respond to any stimuli of this world.  Our old man that was under the old covenant belonging to the age of Adam and dominated by sin and death has been crucified.  συvεσταυρωθη can mean to fence off as well as crucify.  The person I now am in Christ has been fenced off by the cross from the person I formerly was in Adam.  I’m living on a different farm in a field of grace.

 

In order that the body of sin might be destroyed.  This word καταργηθη can mean abolish, destroy, bring to an end, or render powerless.  A dead body is no longer answerable to sin.  Those who have died with Christ have their sins forgiven and are ready to begin their new life with Christ freed from the power of the past.

 

The caretaker of the cemetery often uses a shovel to dig new graves, but he does not dig up old graves to make sure the people are still dead.  Death is pretty final.  It is once and for all.

 

Like the sea captain, our old natures will keep shouting out orders.  But they have been stripped of all authority over us.  We can obey them, but we do not have to.  What we must do is to listen for the voice of our new Captain, Jesus, and choose to obey Him.  He and He alone is to be obeyed, for the sin nature no longer has authority over our lives.

 

My dad had a large heavy ½ inch drill.  It had a metal housing, very sturdy handle on one side with threads on the other side for a ¾ inch pipe.  But it did not have a grounded plug.  When you use it, you can get a pretty good shock.   Lynn kept it till he got a good shock.  We have new drills that have replaced it.  If we went back to that drill we would suffer consequences.  But it was powerful.  It has some attraction.  It has memories.

 

We have died to the old so we would no longer play with a death trap.  It would be stupid.  The old is dangerous.  But we have trouble giving up the old familiar.  Look at our closets, garages, storage units, and church closets.  Look at our bad habits.

 

6:7  Sin is a power like a mentally retarded captain.  Death marks the end of sin’s rule.  We are free from the power of sin and death.

 

6:8-10  In Christ we are dead to the old.  We live in a new kingdom under the reign of grace.  Death was a past event.  The life in this age with Christ is the continuing power without end.

 

6:11  Now if we have died with Christ (6:8), consider yourselves to be dead (6:11).  Reckon yourselves dead to sin.  It is a command.  God has reckoned you as righteous, so you must choose to reckon yourself dead to sin.  It is a choice.  You are a child of the King of kings.  Live like it.

 

Quit dressing in your old jeans.  They do not look good on you now.

 

6:12  Therefore, stop allowing the sinful nature to reign as captain in your mortal body.  The power of sin must be resisted all the time.  Sin can only rule when we obey it.  We can share in the once and for all results of Christ death.  The Spirit within us gives us victory over temptation and sin.

 

Christian freedom can provide many opportunities to sin.  Freedom does not come by satisfying your desire, but by controlling your desire.  It takes discipline to become what you are becoming.  The power of our love for Christ enables us to say no to self-centered urges.  Moral effort is required to grow in grace.  As Christians we have a choice.

 

6:13-14  Refuse to use your life, you time, or your love for wickedness.  Present tense means a daily refusal.  This is an imperative.  Do not give yourself to sin.  Use your body for righteousness and you will have life eternal.  Sin is looking for hands to do its dirty work.  Sin is looking for mouths to blaspheme and deceive.  So it is true with God.  If God wants a word spoken, He has to get a person to speak it.  If God wants a deed done, He has to get a person to do it.  If God wants a person encouraged or helped, He has to get a person to do the lifting.  Both sin and God are looking for hands to use.  Choose you this day whom you will serve.

 

Christians are faced with the tremendous alternative of making themselves the tools of God or the tools of sin.  Sinners do not have that option.  They are slaves of sin.  As we live in the sphere of grace, giving thanks, and honoring God, we can ignore and defeat the enticing voice of self-satisfaction, our old captain.  We can keep giving God control of our lives.

 

The Jew assumed that the law pleases God.  They did not understand God’s grace.  But because we are under grace by faith in Jesus, we have the desire and power not to sin.  Love and grace are the powers of the new age in Christ.

 

6:15  The second question the objector raised was about sinning occasionally.  Is it possible to be a Christian and sin once in a while?

 

6:16-17  To answer this question, Paul uses the illustration of a slave market.  You are a slave to the one you obey.  When a slave passes into the ownership of a new master, he is no longer a slave of the previous master.  Sin was your master, but now you have become the slave of God.

 

After slaves are purchased, a new relationship is established and daily obedience is required.  We choose to be ruled by God or ruled by sin. There is no 3rd alternative.  For a slave, obedience is the only option.

 

The two masters are different, the two forms of service are different, and the wages are different.

 

When we become servants of God, he accepts us and gives us the power to do his will.  Sin gives us neither the pleasure it promises nor the ability to really do what we want to do.

 

What we do is a reflection of who we serve.  When you turn the TV on and when you turn the TV off tells your family who you serve.  You can’t give part time to one master and part time to another.  No man can serve 2 masters.  For the slave, obedience is the only option.  He has no other job description than obedience.  The one you obey is your master.

 

6:18  Freedom is first introduced.  We are freed to be slaves.  This is a reminder that man exists only as a creature, only in a relation of dependency on God.  Freedom for man is an illusion.  You either serve God or you are enslaved to sin.  You either live in man‑centeredness (Adam) or in Christ.  The only real freedom for man is a life lived in recognition of his creaturely dependence on God.

 

6:19  Paul gives a disclaimer because the analogy breaks down.  In your spiritual life there is a balance between human responsibility and God’s control.  A slave cannot choose, but the Christian is a person who can choose who he wants to serve.

 

6:20  A wicked person is not expected to be good.  Sin is not just something you have, but something that has you.  A master is not something you have, but someone who has you.

 

6:21  This verse is a question and an answer.  What benefit did you receive from sinning?  What fruit did you have before you were a Christian?  Turn around, look back.  What was your take home pay?  You have the scars of sin, the memories of sin, and the results of sin of which you are now ashamed because you see now that the outcome of sinning is just death.

 

6:22  You are on God’s track now.  You live in His kingdom.

 

6:23  The only thing you can earn by your own effort is death.

 

It is important that we keep these three steps in order.  We cannot yield to God and get victory over the flesh unless we first reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin and alive in Christ.  But we won’t reckon ourselves dead unless we know our position in Christ.  Satan does not want us to live up to our high position in Jesus Christ, so he tries to confuse us about who we are.  It is not enough to know that Christ died for us; we must also know that we died in Christ.  It is not enough to know that we have new natures within; we must also know that the old nature was dealt with on the cross.  Know—reckon—yield: these three steps lead to daily victory over the flesh.  We enjoy life and true freedom in Him.

 

The choice for every person is the choice of being ruled by God or being ruled by sin.  You do not have to sin.  The only wages that sin can give you is death.  But as a love slave of God we receive eternal life because of God’s grace.  And we do not receive it as a gift that goes from God’s hands to us, but we receive eternal life as God takes us into His arms and we live in His field of grace.

 

You don’t have to sin.  You can be free in Christ.  At the end of sin’s road is a dead end.  Submit yourself to God and remember slaves do not have smart phones.  Reckon yourself dead to sin.  You have switched masters.  God is a good Father.

 

Are you happy with your life as you are living it?  Change masters.  Abdicate your kingship and recognize your dependence on God.  Die to your selfishness so you can live for Christ.  Die to self and live or you will only be living for self to die.  Jesus said, I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.

 

Jesus invites us to come to Him and rest.  He just commands us, “Go and sin no more.”  Peter says, the Christian life can by summed up by, “Fear God and do good.”

 

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