Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 28, 2018
As always, let us begin this morning with our January memory verse. Join me as I read it, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
This morning we continue to unpack the beauty that is God’s love towards us, and we find ourselves in Romans 6:1-14. Before we read that text, I want to read to you some statistics so as to set the tone for this morning.
In the blog that I wrote this week, that is included in your bulletin, I quoted Galatians 5:19-21, which is a warning to the Church. It says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who doe such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Later on in this letter to the Romans Paul writes in Romans 13:13, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” These sins, as listed in God’s word, should not exist in the assembly of God's redeemed.
As Peter commands in 1 Peter 1:15, “as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” And as it says in Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Jesus himself in Matthew 7:21-23 says, , “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Sin in the Church is serious business. It is not something to take lightly, it is something to crucify. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. But how are we do crucify the sin that shows up so frequently in our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters?
God has not left us without hope. He has given us the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. He has given us everything we need to overcome. He has given us chapters like Romans 6. So with that said, let us stand as we read our text for this morning.
Two Realm Reality
Chapter 6 begins with a question, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may about?” The reason that Paul poses this question is because of what he just finished unpacking in chapter 5.
If you recall, in chapter 5, Paul narrowed the world down to two groups of people, those who are in Adam and those who are in Jesus. Everyone falls under one of those two men. You are either under the sin of Adam, or you are under the grace of Christ. The verse that best sums this idea up is Romans 5:17, “For if, because of one man’s trespass (Adam), death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” In life there is no third option. Paul is operating in a two realm reality.
And this is how we should think as well. This is what we would call a Biblical world view. This is the lens that we need to see and understand the environment that we live in. That there are those in the realm of Adam and there are those in the realm of Christ.
So the question then becomes, how are we transferred from Adam to Jesus? As we have seen over and over and over again, we are transferred through faith. We saw this in Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We have peace with God through faith. We are justified, or declared not guilty, through faith. We access to grace by faith. If Romans makes anything clear, it is that we are saved through faith alone.
Faith is the means by which we are transferred from one realm to the next. And this can be true for all man, even for those you have sinned a great deal in their lives. The grace of God in Christ is superior to the sin of any one man. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to pay the penalty of all sins, past, present and future.
Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:20-21, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Therefore as the law is applied to your life, the accounting of your sin goes through the roof. It just goes up and up and up. This is the purpose of the law. However, as sin goes up, so does grace. Sin cannot outrun grace.
Which leads to the logical question that we find in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” If we are under grace, through Christ, then why not just keep sinning and sinning and sinning so that grace keeps abounding and abounding and abounding. If what Paul is saying is true, that we are no longer under the law, but are now under grace, then who cares if we kill the unborn, or use the Lord’s name in vain, or commit adultery in our heart, or create divisions within the Church. Why not continue to sin so that grace can abound?
To that question Paul says, “By no means!” The NASB translates this to “My it never be!” the King James translates this to “God forbid.”
John Gill, and eighteenth century Baptist theologian says this about Paul’s response, “he expresses his abhorrence of such a practice, and that this was a consequence which did not follow from the premises, and was far enough from his thoughts, and which he had in the greatest detestation.” For Paul such a thought was horrendous.
Previously in Romans 3:8 the Apostle Paul said something very similar, “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.”
Having said that, many people in the Church, unfortunately, adopt this horrendous and detestable theology, maybe not explicitly, but implicitly. Many people presume upon God’s grace. They believe that they are saved and therefore they can do whatever they please in life, because they have faith in Jesus. They can gossip, the can slander, they can watch pornography, they can get a divorce or two or three, because they have Jesus. Is this what it means to be a Christian? Is that what it means to be a child of a Holy God? By no means!
Dead to Sin
One reason that people may have this twisted view of salvation is that they do not understand what it means to be in Christ, what it means to be living in the realm of Jesus where grace reigns, and this is what Paul begins to unpack in verse 2 with the rhetorical question, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
For the Apostle Paul, it does not make logical sense for a Christian to continue to sin. For when we are transferred from the realm of Adam to the realm of Jesus, we become dead to sin. Something more than just becoming religious happened. That being a Christian is more than just going to Church and posting Scripture to your facebook account. There was a funeral. So what does it mean to be dead to sin?
To answer that question, let us continue to look at the rest of our verses. Verse 3 says that we are “baptized into his death.” Verse 4 says we were “buried with him by baptism into death.” Verse 5 says “we have been united with him in a death like his.” Verse 6 says our “old self was crucified with him.” It appears that that our death to sin, is somehow connected to the death of Christ. So let us think deeply about what occurred at Calvary when Christ died.
In John 8:34-36 Jesus says, “I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” What is interesting, is that Paul is speaking the same way about sin in Romans 6 that Jesus is speaking about sin in John 8, that we are slaves of sin. Look at Romans 6:6-7. It says, ”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. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. “ So who sets us free from sin? Jesus. When did he set us free? When he was crucified.
So often we think about Jesus' death only as a payment of our sin, we only think about it in the context of our justification. But the death of Christ is more than just a debt payment. The death of Christ is also a ransom to free a people from the chains and power of sin. The death of Jesus is our liberation from the dominion of sin. And this victory happened at Calvary.
Listen to what Jesus says in John 12:31 about his death, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” The death of Jesus was the decisive, complete, final destruction of the power of Satan over God's elect. No longer was Satan their Master, Christ was.
By Baptism into His Death
But how does this victory, this power, this death to sin, transfer to us? What does our text say? Look at verse 3 and 4, “3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death.” So how does Jesus victory over sin through his death transfer to us according to God's Word? Baptism. “We are buried therefore with him by baptism into his death.”
Now let me ask, how does verse 4 square with everything we have read up to this point in Romans? Specifically that baptism is the means by which the power over sin is transferred to us? It doesn't square at all does it? Up until this point there has been absolutely no mention of baptism in regards to our union with Christ. Up to this point all we have heard is faith. Faith this and faith that. The word faith is used 40 times in the book of Romans, and the word baptism is only used here in verses 3 and 4. This is the only place in Romans that Paul even brings up baptism. Remember, we just read in Romans 5:2, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
So why does Paul say it this way? First, the word baptize is a word that has been transliterated, not translated. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo. Same word. If we actually translated the word, instead of just adopting it into our English language, we would translate baptizo to “immerse.” That is what baptizo means, to immerse. So if we read Romans 6:3-4 with translation it would read, “Do you not know that all of us who have been [immersed] into Christ Jesus were [immersed] into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by [immersion] into death.”
And this picture of immersion seems to work with the flow of the rest of Paul's thinking that we see in verse 5 where it says, “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.” Immersion and united are very similar ideas. In fact, verses 3 and 4 are almost parallels verses to first part of verse 5.
So why use the word baptism? It was because faith cannot be seen, but baptism can be. And for the early Christian, faith followed by immediate baptism were a unified experience at conversion. When someone heard the gospel, repented and placed their faith in Jesus what did they immediately do? They were baptized. The day of Pentecost 3,000 people were baptized. The Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized along the side of the road. Lydia and the Philippian jailer, immediate baptism. Cornelius and his household immediate baptism. To the early church baptism was physical historical marker of their conversion.
So when Paul says that it we were buried with him by baptism, he is saying that at the time of our conversion, something supernatural happens. At that moment of initial salvation, the chains of sin are broken. The power of Satan is cast out, and sin no longer has reign over our mortal bodies. We are at the moment no longer in Adam. We are united in Christ and we have been set free from the power of sin. At that moment of our faith in Christ, our old self dies. We are spiritually dead to sin.
This is not just theology, it is reality. This the truth of what Christ achieved upon your behalf at Calvary. Not only are you justified but you are also liberated. And therefore it makes absolutely no sense that we would continue to sin, just as it would make no sense to return to prison after being released.
Consider Yourself Dead to Sin
And as verse 11 says, this is the way we are to view our relationship with sin. Look at verse 11, “So you also must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” This must be our attitude towards sin, that we are dead to it and it is dead to us. We are to have absolutely no relationship with sin. You cannot live your life dragging around a corpse. You must attack your sin with a clear understanding that you killed your old self when you first believed in Jesus.
And this is how we defeat the nagging sins that cling to us day after day, and this is how we must speak about sin within this Church. We should not tolerate sin, for it has no place in the living Church of God. Dead men are not welcome, only those who have life abundant.
Therefore, the next time sin is crouching at your door, think to your baptism, which is the outward mark, or display, of your union with Jesus. Remind yourself that at the moment you placed your faith in Christ, you died to sin. Remind yourself that you live in the realm of Jesus, not the realm of Satan. That you have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of the Beloved Son. Recognize that sin in your life no longer makes sense. That it is spiritually inconsistent to those who know Jesus Christ.
Do not look to your flesh, or to self-help books to live a holy life. Look to the cross and understand the power of Christ that set you free! As Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Let this be the sword of the Spirit that cuts off the head of sin in your life.