Jesus' Death and Resurrection And Us
Text: Romans 6:1-14
What does the death and resurrection of Jesus mean? In practical terms what did it do? To the Jewish leaders of His day it meant failure, although at first it surely appeared to mean success. To Satan it meant absolute defeat. To the lost sinner it meant grace and salvation. But is that all. Our text gives us greater meaning to these earth-shaking events.
The death and resurrection of Christ were practical events. The facts: Jesus died and He rose again. These events accomplished their heavenly purposes. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise: This is the gospel! The death and resurrection of Jesus is the good news for this lost and dying world. This was the greatest demonstration of grace. Jesus died for our sins. He died to remove the guilt and condemnation of sin. We are forgiven by the grace of God. The more sin, the more grace. That was Paul's point in Romans 5, "But where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (verse 20b).
But let's think about this. The more sin, the more grace. I like grace! Why don't I sin as much as I can, so I can get even more grace? Isn't this free gift a license to sin? And sin a lot. To these misconceptions Paul addresses Romans 6:1-14. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?" (verse 1). If the Christian is to be saved by the grace of God, why not just continue to sin and then ask for forgiveness? "By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:2).
What has the death and resurrection of Christ done for us? It has separated us from sin. If we have been baptized into Jesus Christ, we have died to sin. This is Paul's point in our text. Could it be that we have missed this point? Could it be that we have only used this passage to prove the necessity and mode of baptism, and in so doing missed its primary point? Paul was not writing to convince someone to be baptized. His audience had already submitted to Scriptural baptism. He was not writing to show that Biblical baptism is immersion. These had already been buried with Christ in baptism. Although this passage is a good place to prove these two points, neither is the main point Paul was trying to get across.
Paul was telling these baptized Christians that they had died to sin and therefore should no longer live in it. Just as Christ had died on the cross, just as the Jews had been separated from the Law, these saints had died to sin.
Let us examine our text and follow Paul's reasoning as to why they and we should not practice sin. Take the time to read Romans 6:1-14 now.
In becoming Christ's these people died to sin. They had to. Christ and sin are so incompatible that becoming one with Christ meant separating from sin. Is this separatation from sin an act of God or something that man must do in order to be Christ's? Both positions have been argued. In a sense both are true. God, through His rich grace and mercy have freed us from sin (the guilt and condemnation of our sins). We must cease to live in sin in order to live in Christ.
To paraphrase Paul is saying, "Don't you understand what happened when you were baptized? Don't you grasp the meaning of this glorious act? You died to sin!" Paul is here, as in the whole book, trying to get us to see the true relationship between law and grace, or the real reason for obedience.
Do you see the inconsistency of wanting to live in Christ and live in sin? In order to live in one you must be dead to the other. One in sin is dead to Christ. That is he is separated from Christ and does not follow Him. One in Christ must be dead to sin. That is, he is separated from sin and does not follow after it. It is improper thinking to say that we can live in sin and allow the grace which is in Christ to live in us.
Christ died to atone for sin. When we were baptized into Christ's death we appropriated the atonement for our sins. Our sins were put to death. We died to sin. We arose new creatures alive in Christ. This is the purpose of baptism. We cannot have the death without the new life, both were accomplished in our baptism.
Paul is giving us the reason for our obedience. If we do not obey in order to be justified, then why obey? Why not just sin and then ask for God's forgiveness? Obedience is a part of our life in Christ. If we are to live in Christ, we must live like Christ. That can only be accomplished by our obedience. The law is a manifestation of God. It tells us who God is. It speaks of His holiness. When we obey the law we are fashioning ourselves after the Law-Giver. The Old Law could not accomplish this. Those attempting to keep it failed because they were not cleansed from their sins (cf. Galatians 3:10-11). But under the Law of Christ those who have been forgiven of their sins are to model themselves after Christ (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). How? By obeying the Law of Christ.
This is the new life. The new life can only be accomplished after our death to sin. We died to sin that we might live to Christ. Our baptism involves both a burial and a resurrection. If we stress the burial and neglect the resurrection, we have missed the point.
Let me see if I can illustrate the point. In trying to shape the behavior and actions of our children we often tell our children, "Look, we don't ack like that," or "That's not something that a good boy or girl does." What we are doing is giving them a reason for behaving a certain way or not behaving in a certain way. I may be over-simplifying it but that is what Paul is saying about our Christian behavior. Why not sin? Because we don't act that way. Why not? Because we have died to sin. As he said in another place, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in my. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Let us understand the death and resurrection of Christ for what it truly was: the sacrificial, loving death of our Savior so that we through the grace of God might have life. Let us see our baptism for what it truly was: the death of the old man of sin and the resurrection of a new man in Christ. When the Christian creeps back into sin he not only shows disdain for his baptism but he also brings shame upon the death and resurrection of Christ. He forgets that he has died to sin and is to be a new man.