TEXT: Romans 6:1-14SERVICE VIDEO (link)
Since Easter we’ve been talking about why the Resurrection of Jesus matters. Today we are going to look at Romans 6 and talk about the “New Life,” trying to understand better what that new life in Christ means, what it looks like, and how we can more fully live in it. I am hoping we can better understand the implications that Jesus was raised from the dead FOR US. What are the implications of the “for us?”
Life Looks Different: a new reality
The first thing to say is that because of Jesus Christ life looks different! He makes a difference in one’s life. If life with Christ and life without Christ look no different, then we have missed something crucial about who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he is doing even now. We could talk about that in a number of ways, but the place Paul picks up in chapter six of his letter to the Romans has to do with sin. One answer we still sometimes hear today is that sin doesn’t matter because God’s grace abounds! God has forgiven it all and we shouldn’t get wrapped up in naming sin, judging sin, or paying much attention to sin, because God will forgive it. But Paul nips that in the bud, asking “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Paul’s response is: “May it never be!” While we do continue to sin, we should also struggle against it. And what follows is an explanation of how we are to live in Christ, particularly with regard to sin.
After Paul’s “May it never be!” he goes on to ask two more questions that will set up what follows. The first question is: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” The second is related to it: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Both are rhetorical, meaning the point is not just coming up with the answer, but understanding the answer and why Paul asked the question. What Paul is trying to remind us of with these questions is our new reality because of Good Friday and Easter. Jesus did not need to die and be raised for his own sake; it was FOR US.
Paul describes those who trust in Jesus Christ as those who have “died to sin” and are “baptized into Jesus’ death.” Those are not conditions of Jesus’s work; you don’t have to stop sinning for Jesus to die for you. No, these are the RESULTS of Jesus’ work. Because Jesus died, we have died to sin. That is one of things baptism signifies; that we are marked by his action. That’s what Paul wants you to understand with his two questions. You have died to sin because you belong to Jesus and he died to sin… don’t you know it? Paul then offers a series of illustrations to help us understand resurrection life.
First Picture: United in Baptism (vv. 4-7)
Paul’s first illustration or picture is that in baptism we have been buried into death and raised to newness of life. (v. 4) Clearly, this is not literal, as we have not been physically buried. But we are joined to Christ in faith, signified through baptism, by God’s gracious love toward us. And so when Christ was crucified, our debt was joined to him; our “body of sin” was joined to him and put to death (v. 6). And when he was buried, our debt and the consequence of sin was complete. When God raised Jesus from the dead in victory OVER sin and death, we too were raised (still joined to him), but no longer under the curse of sin and death.
Let me try to illustrate. I completed the tax forms for our family a few months ago. If the IRS were to send Heather a tax bill next week that said she owes taxes on our family income, she could respond legitimately by saying, “How shall I who have paid my taxes still owe taxes?” Now she did not do the Austell family taxes or send them anything, but listen to this second question while you are looking at verse 3. “Do you not know that all of us who wear this wedding ring can file jointly?” Now I reali