TO KNOW: The believer’s relation to sin – Romans 6:1-10

 

                We have already learned in our study of the book of Romans the great truths concerning justification by faith. Early on we saw the plight of man in that we are completely and totally depraved. We are sinful inside and out. We have inherited a sin nature. There is no good in us. Therefore, our only hope is in Jesus. Out of God’s great love for us, He gave us Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin. Those who come to Jesus and believe on Him by faith are then justified or declared as righteous even though we are not righteous. In chapter five we found that in Adam we are declared unrighteous but in Christ we are declared righteous. In Adam we have death but in Christ we have life. Once we have been justified, we then enter into a process known as progressive sanctification. The doctrine of sanctification is seen in Paul’s teaching in Romans chapters 6-8. In chapter six we see that in Christ we have victory. In chapter seven we see that in Christ we have liberty. In chapter eight we see that in Christ we have security.

There are three key words that we see in Romans chapter six regarding the victory that we have in Christ. Those key words are: Know, Reckon, and Yield. To ‘know’ is extremely crucial to our progressive sanctification. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The repetition of the word “know” in Romans 6:1, 6, and 9 indicates that Paul wanted us to understand a basic doctrine. Christian living depends on Christian learning; duty is always founded on doctrine. If Satan can keep a Christian ignorant, he can keep him impotent.”[1] The basic doctrine that Paul wants his readers to know is the believer’s identification with Christ. Romans five taught us that we identify with Adam in sin and death. However, those who are justified by faith are identified with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. We identify with Christ in justification and righteousness. “In other words, justification by faith is not simply a legal matter between me and God; it is a living relationship. It is “a justification which brings life” (Rom. 5:18, literal translation). I am in Christ and identified with Him. Therefore, whatever happened to Christ has happened to me. When He died, I died. When He arose, I arose in Him. I am now seated with Him in the heavenlies! (see Eph. 2:1–10; Col. 3:1–3) Because of this living union with Christ, the believer has a totally new relationship to sin.”[2] Paul outlines for us in these verse the believers new relationship to sin.

The believer is dead to sin. Notice what it says in verses 1-5. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”[3] Paul uses the illustration of baptism to help us understand the believer’s death to sin. There is both a literal and figurative meaning here. I believe that Paul did have a literal baptism by immersion in view here. However, the literal baptism has a figurative meaning. The figurative meaning has to do with our identification with Christ. The experience of water baptism is a reminder of the believer’s spiritual baptism in the Holy Ghost which occurs at the moment of salvation. When a sinner trust Christ as Savior he or she is immediately ‘baptized’ into the family of God by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost indwells the believer at the very moment of salvation, thus, sealing their salvation and identifying them with Christ and His family. “Historians agree that the mode of baptism in the early church was immersion. The believer was “buried” in the water and brought up again as a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism by immersion (which is the illustration Paul is using in Rom. 6) pictures the believer’s identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is an outward symbol of an inward experience. Paul is not saying that their immersion in water put them ‘into Jesus Christ,’ for that was accomplished by the Spirit when they believed. Their immersion was a picture of what the Spirit did: the Holy Spirit identified them with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.”[4] Since we are now ‘in Christ’ we are also dead to sin. Our old life of sin was put to death when we were identified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”[5] A drunk man or an immoral man cannot be tempted with alcohol or fleshly desires once he has died. In Christ, we have died; therefore, we no longer have the desire to continue in sin. Not only are we dead to sin, but we are alive in Christ. We have a new life. Therefore, I am no longer living. It is Jesus that is living in and through me. Think about it. A dead man cannot think for himself. A dead man cannot do what pleases him. A dead man cannot reason. A dead man cannot have control. Therefore, as believer in Christ we have no rights. We have no right to live our lives the way we want to live them because we are no longer living. A believer cannot go anywhere he or she wants to go. A believer cannot spend their money any way they want to spend it. A believer cannot do anything they want to do. A true believer in Christ is dead to all of that. Because we are dead, we no longer have control. However, we are alive in Christ. Therefore, everything we do, say, or think is all for Him. It is Christ living in us. Sadly, most Christians do not understand this truth. They keep wanting to put the grave clothes of the old life back on. They keep wanting to go back to Egypt rather than living in the freedom of the promise land. “Too many Christians are “betweeners”: they live between Egypt and Canaan, saved but never satisfied; or they live between Good Friday and Easter, believing in the Cross but not entering into the power and glory of the Resurrection. Romans 6:5 indicates that our union with Christ assures our future resurrection should we die. But Romans 6:4 teaches that we share His resurrection power today. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above … For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1, 3, niv). It is clear, then, that the believer cannot deliberately live in sin since he has a new relationship to sin because of his identification with Christ. The believer has died to the old life; he has been raised to enjoy a new life. The believer does not want to go back into sin any more than Lazarus wanted to go back into the tomb dressed again in his graveclothes!”[6] Why would you want to go back into bondage? Why would you want to live in the chains of sin? As a believer, you do not have to sin. You have been set free from sin. You are a new creation in Christ. You are dead to sin.

The believer should not serve sin. The fact that a believer should not serve sin is found in verses 6-10. “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. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” [7] Knowing the truth of this great doctrine reveals to us that we are set free from sin. We are no longer in bondage to sin. There is a controlling nature to sin. It is vicious and relentless. The human body is neutral. In other words, it can be either controlled by sin or controlled by the Spirit of God. The nature of man is one thing that is not changed at the moment of salvation. Even though we are justified, we still have a sin nature. As long as we are in this body, we are prone to sin. However, the old man of sin was crucified with Christ. Therefore, we do not have to be controlled by sin. We do not have to serve sin. In every believer there exist two natures. You have your new nature or your new life in Christ. You also have your old nature. The old nature is that old self that is prone to sin. It is the sinful nature. There is a constant battle that goes on between these two natures. Each one desires to be in control. However, Paul is reminding us that we do not have to allow our old nature to take control because the old nature is dead. It has no power in and of its self. The only power that the old nature has is the power we give to it. The nature that you feed is the nature that takes control. In other words, when you feed the old nature with the things of this world and the desires of the flesh, that old nature will raise its ugly head and take control. However, when you feed the new nature through the Word of God, that new nature which glorifies God takes control. Basically, we choose, as believers, on a daily basis which nature is going to rule. The word ‘destroyed’ in verse six does not mean that the old nature no longer exists. It simply means that the old nature is rendered ineffective. It is powerless, unless we give it power; unless we feed it. Therefore, if you struggle with the old nature, you must constantly examine yourself and make sure that you are not feeding that old nature and giving it power. Sin and death have no dominion over Christ, therefore, sin and death has no dominion over those who are in Christ.

Paul, in these verses is basically stating a fact. Christ died for our sins. When we come to Him by faith; we are indentified with Christ in His death in that we die to our self. Christ rose from the grave. Therefore, when we come to faith in Christ, we are indentified with Christ in life. Since sin and death does not have dominion over Christ, sin and death does not have dominion over the believer. The old nature is rendered as ineffective. It has no power unless we give it power. These are the facts. But, how does this work in our daily lives? How do we apply these facts practically? Paul will show us in verse 11 how these truths work in our daily experience.

What about you? Have you been identified with Christ? Have you been crucified with Christ? Are you alive in Christ?

 


[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 530). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2]Ibid. Wiersbe.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 6:1–5). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 531). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ga 2:20). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 531–532). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 6:6–10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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