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DEVOTIONS FROM ROMANS

ROMANS -- ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST (14)

The Believers New Point of Departure

Romans 6:1-6 (NKJV)

Dr. Gordon E. Johnson

Rio Grande Bible Institute

Introduction

In Paul's treatment of our union with Christ (Rom. 5:12-21), he has arrived at the true point of departure that leads to real victory in Christ. Of course it is a walk by faith, but it has its starting point, its process and it steps toward a relevant experience with the risen Christ in the daily life of the believer.  On a later occasion he expresses victory in the realistic terms of life and service. "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37). And once again: "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14). This is not smoke and mirrors. There is a victory that is real, practical and available within the reach of every child of God. It may not be immediate, or automatic, but it has a beginning, a growth and in the end truly glorifies our Savior.

Our Standing in the Last Adam – We Died to the Sin Principle  Romans 6:1,2

In the preceding passage of Rom. 5:12-21, Paul has been at pains to affirm that while the First Adam has left us sin nature; but now we stand fully identified with the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15: 45-49).  The really good news is that we share the very death and life of Christ at the superlative level of MUCH MORE (Rom. 5: 9; 10, 15, 17, 20).  This is not a struggle that ends in an unsatisfactory standoff. The Christian life is not an ongoing struggle with no hope in sight. It is not difficult to the believing heart. If there are difficulties, they are of our own making.

A Pertinent Question that Begs an Answer  Romans 6: 1

After he has stated that "grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:21), he asks what does the normal Christian life look like in real life. He poses the question: Shall we keep on sinning so God in his abundant grace continues to forgive us? He answer is stunningly clear: Perish such a thought. But then Paul surprises us with the answer. It is not what we might expect -- No, we should not sin. But rather "How shall we who died to sin lived any longer in it?" That phrase died to sin (past tense) must be the key to what follows. It is the Point of Departure for the walk of faith.

God affirms and who can deny his veracity, that when Christ died to sin (Rom. 6:10, 11) some 2000 years ago, I died in my representative, the new head of the spiritual race.. The parallel is abundantly clear: I sinned in Adam and death resulted; I died in Christ and risen life results (Rom. 5:10). But that statement seems so difficult to grasp. Here is where faith enters. In the same way when we first heard the gospel: Christ died for you, trust him. Now at this juncture of the Christian walk, the same God says: you died in my Son's death to sin. We believed the one, why cannot we believe the second truth?

What Does it Mean ? – We Died to Sin            Romans 6: 1, 2

Allow me to attempt to amplify it. In the last analysis, I cannot explain it because it is depends on your "hearing of faith" (Gal. 3: 2, 5) and the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit. Let me be quick to add; the Holy Spirit will illumine your heart, given your openness to hear. First it does not mean that sin died to you. The innate power of the old life remains in our mortal bodies, but there is a big BUT.  The essence of death is separation, not non-existence or eradication. In Christ's death God separated us from the power, the tyranny of the old life and set us free. This was a once and for all act that took place at the Cross. But the Holy Spirit will make it operative in you on the conditions of simple faith and obedience. The same believing faith that brought salvation in the first place, in grace will bring us victory over that old persistent nature.

We died with respect to the power and control of the old nature. This is a God fact and must be believed on the veracity of his character. He so says it. We may not "feel" it in terms of an experience, but nor did our salvation depend our "feeling saved" at any given point in the past. We have accepted that Christ died for us; now we learn the other side of the divine coin. We died in Christ's death and he lives in us; the two go hand in hand.

This Truth Analyzed and Synthesized   Romans 6: 3-5

Knowing that we cannot readily grasp this basic concept, God breaks it down in three verses:

1.)    we were baptized into his death (6; 3).

2.)    we were buried with him, so as to be raised from the dead to walk in newness of life (6:4).

3.)    "we have been united together in the likeness of his death and we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (6:5).These are all links in the chain of our union with Christ. Not one is a weak link. They stand together and we must believe one and all.

Some observations on the text may help us. The passive voice is used throughout, that is, these things were done to us by God; we were passive, we received them on the strength of his initiative. The tense of the verbs are all Greek aorist/past tense. The actions are done and over with. They cannot be changed or altered. One verb tense, however (6:5), states another time frame. I give a slight paraphrase of the original; since we have become grown together in the likeness of his death, so shall we also be in the likeness of his resurrection.

I see this in terms of John 12:24-26: " . . .unless a  grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Instead of the exclusive reference of our death in Christ at the Cross in the past (6:2-4), Paul adds the process of planting a seed, allowing it to die, waiting for its first shoot and later growth. I see this as the process of the walk of faith, based on the eternal fact of our once and for all death in Christ -- our new Point of Departure.

Powerful Truths to Be Grasped

  1. God states categorically that we died to sin (6:2); therefore we need not sin constantly.  There has been a cosmic blow dealt to the old sin nature.
  2. Death to sin does not mean sin's non-existence or destruction, but rather God has created an effective separation in the realm of sin's power and tyranny over the believer.
  3. God's himself executed these acts that are truths for us to receive and believe.
  4. With this New Point of Departure we can in full faith begin our walk of faith, "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col. 2: 6).
  5. Romans 6:2 states categorically that we died with reference to sin's power. This is God judicial pronouncement, but there is much more to follow in Romans 6-8.

Dr. Gordon E. Johnson
Rio Grande Bible Institute