Having established that our salvation is apart from works Paul anticipates that some will argue that “If you emphasize grace, people will do whatever they want with regard to practicing sin.” Let’s say that you were steeling large amounts of money from your employer who had always treated you right. He catches you red handed and instead of firing you or throwing you in jail he gives you the option of paying off the debt yourself after you have been fired and done jail time or become his son. Now you choose becoming his son and you experience more blessings than you ever imagined. Do you think that having been so blessed that you would say, “Man, if I’m this blessed receiving what I didn’t deserve might as well continue steeling from him, so he will bless me even more?”
- In chapters 1 through 5 Paul spoke of the positional truth of justification: Which tells us we are dead in sin free from the penalty of sin.
- In chapters 6 through 8 Paul will speak on the practical truth of sanctification: Which tells us we are dead to sin free from the power of sin.
Vs. 1-2 Grace isn’t the problem
Vs. 1-2 “Grace isn’t the problem”, Paul says. “You can’t fight sin and the flesh by just saying NO, NO, NO!” In Rom. 2:4 Paul said, “that the goodness of God leads you to repentance”. It’s knowing the “goodness” of God that enables you to say NO! Too many Christian live between “Good Friday” and “Resurrection Sunday” believing in the cross but never entering into the power of the resurrection, living in the wilderness somewhere between Egypt and the promised land.
The word “continue in sin” speaks not of an infrequent action but a lifestyle of practicing sin like they did prior to knowing Jesus. Apparently there were those who believed that such a lifestyle of sin was not just for personal satisfaction it was for the glory of God. Paul’s immediate answer to this was an emphatic NO WAY! You can only say No because of who you KNOW! In four words he explains why, “We died to sin!” The rest of this chapter is an explanation to those four words. “We died to sin”; doesn’t mean that “sin is dead in me!” As a Christian I have not reached a place (nor will I in this body) where I cannot sin. The word “died” is in the past tense, something that has already been done which means that Paul is not talking about a gradual change whereby we continue to die until we reach a place where we outgrow sin. Our once dead spirit has come alive by faith in Christ, but our souls and bodies have functioned for years under the control of sin. That means our habits; thoughts and actions have all been established under the wrong influence. But now in Christ our spirit is free from sin alive while our souls (the seat of our feeling thoughts and actions), along with its influence over our bodies have been wired incorrectly. Prior to this we had no choice, and we did what sinners do, sin! I watched an interview with “Brock Lesner” the huge MMA fighter who prior to this was a world class wrestler. That’s what it was like fighting against the flesh before being a Christian; even if our heart had wanted to stop sinning it would just force us to do what it wanted. Before, we were dead in sin; now we are dead to sin.
Vs. 3-5 Show them what they’ve won
Vs. 3-5 Paul turns to two visual aids to help us realize this new power over sin, baptism and grafting a plant or a branch saying that every Christians should know this.
Baptism: The idea behind the Greek word for baptized is “to immerse something.” In Baptism we are identifying with Jesus’ death when we go under the water and with His resurrection when we come up out of the water. In baptism as a symbol our former life has been “put under” and what comes up out of the water is “clean” washed in Jesus “brand new”. Baptism doesn’t save us only faith in Jesus does that, baptism is an outward sign that we identify with Jesus in His death and resurrection. In Desert storm chaplains didn’t anticipate such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as many soldiers gave their life to Jesus. Out there in the desert they lacked the ability to conduct baptisms, but one soldier came up with a perfect place to be identified with Jesus, a coffin!
Grafting: The phrase “we have been united together in the likeness of His death” is the process by which a graft becomes united with the life of a tree. Our participation in the death of Jesus makes our participation in His resurrection certain. The “crucified life” is preparation for “resurrection life”. If a drunk dies he can no longer be tempted by alcohol because his body is dead to all physical senses, he can’t see it, smell it, or taste it or experience the feeling it would give him. In Christ we have died to sin so that we no longer want to continue in it. You cannot die with Christ and not be risen with Christ, and you cannot be risen with Christ and not die with Christ. God doesn’t command us to be dead to sin He tells us that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ and encourages us to act upon that truth. The cross of Christ has not only separated us from the consequences of sin; it has separated us from the authority or power of sin over us as lord.
Vs. 6-10 Wrestling with a quadriplegic
Vs. 6-7 In these verses Paul explains what it means to die in Christ: Our old self, the person who was identified with Adam died with Jesus on the cross and as such our being a “natural-born sinner” ended the moment we became believers in Jesus. Now you may be thinking, “Hey if my old nature has been crucified than I’m living a horror flick, I think I got a problem with a Zombie.” That phrase “done away with” doesn’t mean “annihilated” it means “rendered inactive” or “paralyzed”. Our old nature is paralyzed from the neck down, which means it still has the ability to yell and scream telling you that you have to act in anger, you have to lust, lie, gossip etc. That old “Brock Lesner” as menacing as he is, has been made a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. What a glorious revelation to realize that we are wrestling a quadriplegic that can only bluff you into doing what you used to do. Paul explains that Jesus was crucified in order that the sin which was in this body of ours would come to an end of dictating what we have to do. He explains in 2 Cor. 5:21 speaking of Jesus’ work on the cross he says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” It was our sin that caused Jesus’ body to die. We bury a body because it is powerless, inactive and in burying Jesus’ body covered in our sin the sin’s natural reign over us has ended. Paul elaborates in 2 Cor. 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Two thousand years ago something amazing took place long before we came into existence; my old nature died with Jesus that not only the penalty for my actions may be put to death but also the power of the actions themselves. This truth is what John writes about in 1 John 3:9 where he says, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Our flesh now is a quadriplegic trying to convince us to do what we formerly had to do. A dead man can no longer have authority over us, we don’t battle the old man, we simply reckon him as dead.
Vs. 8-10 In these verses Paul explains what it means to be risen with Christ: Not only have we been set free from sin as we recognize ourselves are dead to sin, but we have also been united to Jesus in His resurrection in which we have His power to resist sin. In place of the old man, God gives the believer a new man – (a self that is instinctively obedient and pleasing to God). The first step was to understand that the demands of your flesh are just that “demands” he has been rendered paralyzed. The second part of this is equally important as we understand that we are not wrestling this oversized quadriplegic in our own strength we are doing so in the strength that overcame death! If we let the new man within us influence the mind, the will, and the emotions, then we will find the battle less intense. The new man not only has life; he has eternal life. With the new life, he lives to God.
Vs. 11-14 Not living between “Good Friday” and the “Resurrection”
Vs. 11-14 The word reckon in verse 11 is an accounting term that means to “add it up” and as such Paul is saying “do the math and you will arrive at the answer that you are dead to sin”. If you take a look at this passage you will discover that there are three ways we can master the flesh:
- Association: Going back to verse 6 we read “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him”. You’ve got to decide who you are going to listen too. The story is told of three friends who decided they were going to attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a tight rope. The three friend’s names were Fact, Faith and Feeling. But before they attempted to cross the falls they stretched a line across a swimming pool to practice and they started with Feeling leading the way but every time he did whether Faith or Fact was next they always ended up in the pool. Then they tried to put Feeling in the middle but if Faith was behind him they would again end up wet. Finally, it was decided that Feeling had to go last behind Faith and Fact and that Faith should not ever look behind him to see Feeling or they would again fall but instead keep his eyes fixed on Fact and they would make every time. Friends don’t let your Feelings guide you and don’t look back no matter how “tight and dangerous” the journey. Keep your eyes on the Fact of the Word of God and you will always cross over.
- Appropriation: Vs. 11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The word “Reckon” is a word that comes from an accounting term. God never calls us to “crucify” the old man, but instead to account him as already dead because of our identification with Jesus’ death on the cross. Friends we need to do the math, add up the numbers to come to the irrefutable conclusion of how compete the work of Christ was on the cross on your behalf. Our failure isn’t because there isn’t enough riches it’s because we have failed to appropriate Christ’s riches and grace. We need only to be reminded of the fact that Jesus not only paid for the penalty of sin He has broken its power over us and that squawking and demanding of the flesh comes from a flesh that is paralyzed and we don’t have to do what it is demanding that we do.
- Application: Vs. 13 “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The final step to master the flesh is application Faith has to take a step of action following after Fact without looking at Feelings! You need to realize that satan and the world system formed a habitual pattern in your life that isn’t going to give up easily its hold over you, you are going to have a battle it, moment by moment but all you need to do is constantly remind yourself of this twofold process. “Hey hands, feet and eyes; we aren’t going to listen to the quadriplegic flesh, instead we are going to say NO to him and yes to true living and life in Jesus and have some real fun!” Spurgeon is said, “The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul.”