Crucified and Risen With Christ

William C. Brownson Uncategorized

READ : Romans 6:1-23

What does it mean for our daily living that we have died and been raised with Christ?

Welcome, dear friends, to this seventh in our series on the heart of the gospel, studies in Romans chapters 1-8. We’ve been emphasizing the gift of justification by faith. Through simple trust in Jesus Christ who died for us we are totally forgiven and accepted by God. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful assurance of his love for us.

Today we move on from this truth of the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, and our being justified by faith. We look now at how God, through Christ, by the Spirit, frees us from the power of sin. This idea of sin’s power over us is clearly taught in the Bible. Already in Genesis chapter 4:7 God warns Cain how sin is “crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it.” Sin is pictured in the Bible as a personal foe that seeks to dominate us. We have seen here in Romans that Paul says both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, that is, under its power.

Should We Sin More, that God’s Grace May Increase?

Remember how Jesus spoke about the enslaving force of sin (John 8:34), “Whoever commits sin is the slave of sin.” That is, everyone who keeps on committing a sin is a slave to it. Sin binds that person. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were upset at this, saying they had never been tied up by anyone.

Many of our contemporaries here in America would also object to Jesus’ words, saying they were never slaves to anyone, saying. “Impossible! This is a free country, land of the free, home of the brave.” Most people can see that drugs and alcohol have addicting and enslaving power, but they don’t see the total effect. Any evil that we keep on committing gains mastering power over us. It can be harder to break free from even than drug addiction. Jesus says that only he, only knowing the truth that is in him, can make us truly free.

Now listen to what Paul is saying in the sixth chapter of Romans:

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

(vv. 1-4 NRSV)

The Facts We Need to Know

We discover in this marvelous chapter about being crucified and risen with Christ. There are facts that we need to know, a faith we need to exercise, a fight we need to win, and a future we need to choose.

Let me begin with the facts that we need to know. This chapter speaks out about one of the great realities of the New Testament revelation in Jesus Christ. We as believers in Jesus have been united with him in a marvelous union created by the Spirit of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we who believe have been baptized into Christ and into his body (the church) and have become identified with him. We can’t understand the riches of the New Testament until we see this fact. We are in vital union with the living, risen Jesus.

As Paul explains that union, we see that in Jesus, identified with him in his death, burial, and resurrection, we have died to the ruling power of sin. We have died to the devil’s merciless rule over us. We have died to the conforming pressures of this present age. Christ took us down with him to release us from the power of sin. But there’s more! We also have been lifted up with him in his resurrection. Let’s review that. We are united with Jesus in his death so that the power of sin over us can be broken. We should no longer live under it. In fact, it’s unthinkable that we should go on living that way! We have been joined with him in his resurrection so that we may walk in newness of life. Those are the facts.

The Faith We Need to Exercise

Here’s the faith we need to exercise. And then, Paul says, in verse 11 of this chapter, “So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

You know what a person’s self-image is. That’s the way we think about ourselves. It develops in us as we are children largely through what responsible people say to us or about us. If you were a young girl and you heard people around you say, “Isn’t she a beautiful girl?” you internalized that. You began to think of yourself that way. Or perhaps you heard a different message, “She’s rather plain. She’s not the beauty that her sister is.” You took that in too, and it affected the way you looked at yourself.

Maybe it was about your mental ability. Maybe somebody commented on what a bright child you were, and you began to see yourself in that way. Or somebody said that you were rather slow, and that affected your self-image.

Maybe it had to do even more sadly with your character. “She’s such a good girl,” or “What a good boy he is!” Or maybe somebody else said, “He’s a problem child in the way he acts.” All of that bothers you, and those impressions like tape recordings keep on playing throughout your life.

The thing that can change, especially when you’ve had some negative impressions of yourself through the sayings of others, is that you meet someone who sees you in a different way. You didn’t think you were very attractive, but along comes a young man who thinks you’re beautiful. You begin to think of yourself differently. You thought you weren’t much of a student, but one teacher saw potential in you and affirmed it. You began to feel better about your mental abilities. It’s a blessed thing when we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of people who love us and believe in us.

That’s what the apostle is talking about. We need to exercise faith by seeing ourselves from God’s point of view. He sees you today as someone who has been freed by his Son from sin’s power. The Holy Spirit has raised you from death through Jesus’ resurrection. Learning to see yourself from that point of view is a big part of the secret of living the Christian life. What you believe about yourself as a person in Christ can help you to be what he saved (redeemed) you to be.

The Fight We Need to Win

There’s also a fight we need to win. We need to exercise our faith, to act and to struggle. “Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey it in its lusts,” says Paul (v. 12). Sin will try to master you, and the devil will tempt you sorely. But you don’t need to give in any longer because you have died and been raised with Christ. You’re a man or woman “in Christ.” You can say no to those old troubling sins.

But you need to be alert and active in your resistance to sins. Paul says, “Don’t yield your members to sin’s power” (v. 13). Your members are not only your arms and legs but every part of your being. Don’t give your eyes to watching what’s gross and filthy. Don’t give your ears to hearing gossip or slander. Don’t give your sexual being to what is immoral and shameful. Don’t give your time, energy, and money to worthless things.

On the contrary, here’s the great part: “Present yourselves to God and every part of you to be his instruments” (v. 13b). That’s something to be done not just once but over and over again like the burnt offering in the Old Testament that was offered every day. And God’s great promise to uphold you is this: “sin shall not have dominion over you” (v. 14).

So, friends, you’re “in Christ.” Sin can’t defeat and whip you any more. You’re not under the law. You’re not condemned. You’re under God’s grace. You’re forgiven in Christ. You’re on the victory side, never forget that. Win this fight!

The Future We Need to Choose

And then finally there’s a future you need to choose. When you yield yourself to sin, you become more and more its slave. When you yield yourselves to God you become increasingly his loving servant. The service of sin pays the wages of death. The service of God assures the gift of eternal life.

Paul sketches the results of these two choices (v. 16): “Yield yourself and your powers to sin, and you will more and more be sin’s slave. You tell a lie, and then you tell another one and you have to tell still more and you’re caught in a whole web of falsehood.

But when you keep on yielding yourselves and your powers to God, you will more and more become his loving servants (vv. 17-18) . His reign over your life will grow, setting you free more and more from sin’s enslavement. What we choose means one of two different futures for each of us. If you keep on serving sin, yielding yourself to it, you’ll finally receive the wages it pays, and that is death – physical death, spiritual death, eternal death. That’s the broad way of sin which Jesus speaks about. That way leads to destruction.

But when you keep on giving yourselves in worship and surrender to the Lord, you’re on the road to eternal life. And that will not be a wage that you earn; it will be God’s great gift of love in Jesus Christ. So you see, God is setting before you two ways, the way of death or the way of life, the way of sin or of service to the living God. And he says to all of us, as Joshua said long ago to the people of God: “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Best of all, because you are in Christ by faith, you have the Spirit’s power, and you can make the right choice.

So, friends, here are the facts. You have been joined to Jesus in his death and resurrection to life. Here’s the faith you need to exercise, to count yourself to be dead indeed to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ. Here’s the fight you need to fight. Don’t yield yourself to sin. Be yielding yourself and your whole body to God. Choose his wonderful future, not the way of death to which sin leads you. Choose the way of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise God!