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Read Romans 6:1-14
So chapter 6 opens with a question based on the last thought of chapter 5. We rejoice in this truth, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (as in KJV) and that as sin reigned in death, grace will reign through righteousness much more. Paul, in chapter 6, opens with the question and answer method that he has employed before in this book. It is as if there is some imaginary person who Paul is talking to that keeps interrupting him with questions. This was called the diatribe and was frequently employed in ancient literature. What is the question that this imaginary person poses to Paul? “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” In other words, so if grace is going to abound...literally superabound...over our sin, maybe we should just sin more so that there will be more grace! Doesn’t that make sense?
What is Paul’s response to this question? “May it never be!” This was one of the strongest negative words in the Greek language. We might translate it, “No way!” or “Absolutely not!” Then Paul gives an answer to why he is pushing back at this idea so hard. He tells them, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?”
This is the only time in Romans that Paul speaks of baptism. I’m finding out that when you read commentaries on this chapter about this verse and the next one, which also speaks of baptism, that there are about as many ideas of what Paul means as their are commentators. Rather than turn to commentators, we want to turn to scripture itself to help us understand what Paul meant here.
Let’s look at baptism in other places in the NT. First of all, there are several different baptisms mentioned in the Bible. Can you name some? John’s baptism, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, water baptism, are the three most predominate. Let’s talk about John’s baptism briefly. Go with me to Matthew 3. Let’s read beginning with verse 5. (Read Matthew 3:5-6) So John’s baptism was a baptism of confessing sins, or of repentance as it says later in the chapter. His baptism was preparing the way for the one who could actually do something about their sins, who could atone for them. John himself would point to a greater baptism to come. (Read Matthew 3:11) John prophesies here that Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. I don’t think that this is two different baptisms. Rather, I believe that this is two different ways of describing the same experience. (In Mark, he says, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.)
When would this happen? At Pentecost. Read Acts 1:4, 5. So here, Jesus reiterates John’s prophesy adding “not many days from now.” Let’s go to Acts 2. Read 2:1-5. This is the literal fulfillment of John’s prophesy. After this, Peter preaches a powerful message. Let’s pick up at the end of this message. (Read 2:37-42). After Peter himself had been filled with the Holy Spirit, he was able to preach as he had never preached before. And the gospel had an effect on people like it had never had before. They were pierced to the heart, in other words, it went straight through to the depths of their being. Their immediate response was, “what shall we do?” Peter responds that they should repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins. The result would be that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He would go on and exhort them to be saved. But...to be saved from what? From this perverse generation. Three thousand responded. Did they then go on their merry way and return to life as if nothing had happened? Not hardly! Verse 42 says that they “continually devoted themselves, to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread (or communion), and to prayer. Let’s read on. (Read verses 43-44) When you read this, you can’t help but see power. These people’s lives had been totally transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Think about John’s prophecy. He said that this baptism would be like fire. What does fire do when it touches something? It burns out impurities. And it transforms. Nothing touched by fire is ever the same again. These people would never be the same again. The baptism of the Holy Ghost utterly changed their lives forever. Yet, there were outward signs, but they were only a demonstration of what had happened in the heart.
Let’s go to one more scripture before we go back to Romans. Read 1 Peter 3:18-21. Peter says that Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit. He mentions Noah. He and his family were brought through a monumental baptism, weren’t they. Were things different after their baptism in water? You bet they were! When they left the ark, they were entering into a new world. The old world was gone. In verse 21, Peter says that this corresponds to baptism. Here, he is obviously talking of water baptism. It doesn’t literally save us, but it is a figure of our salvation. He says it’s not the removal of dirt from the physical flesh, but “the answer of a good conscience before God.” (KJV) When you are baptized, you are participating in a one-act drama. You are portraying the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You are saying that you believe that Jesus died for your sins, that he was buried for your sins, and that He was raised to intercede for you forever. However, you are also acknowledging that something has happened in you. You have been baptized with the Holy Ghost (which is none other than the Spirit of Christ), that your sins are washed away, that your conscience has been made clean...and that you have been saved from the filth of this world...from this perverse generation that you and I live in. You are not just saved from hell to go to heaven. You are saved from the old life to begin a new life.
(2 Cor. 2:14-17?)
Let’s go back to Romans 6. Let’s re-read verses 3 and 4. How many baptisms were there at Pentecost? 2 . I believe there are two baptisms here in Romans 6 as well. There is the baptism of the Holy Spirit in verse 3 which he described as being baptized into Christ Jesus...being baptized into his death. This was for those at Pentecost a transformative event. For those who have been born of the Spirit or regenerated, it is also a transformative event. In verse 3, Paul says, “therefore (or because of this) we have been buried with Him through baptism into death,” (that’s transformation...the old life is gone now!). As Jesus was raised into a new life of power and purpose, so we now are raised that we might walk into a new life.
He goes on with this thought in verse 5. This baptism of the Holy Spirit unites us with Him in the likeness of His death. Because of this, we can be assured that we will be raised in the likeness of His resurrection. But Paul doesn’t stop there. The effect of this is not only that we will ultimately be raised with Christ at the final resurrection, but it has an effect for right now. Look at the order of things in verse 6. First of all, in this baptism, he says that our old man (or old self) was crucified with Him. We died. What is the result of this death? That our body of sin might be done away with? What do you think he meant by that? Do you think he means the physical body? I don’t think so. My physical body is still hanging around! I believe he’s talking about our old life. The way we used to do things in the body. The word translated “done away with” means “to render idle, inactivated, unemployed.” Our old nature is still there, but now it’s unemployed! What is the purpose of this body of sin being inactivated? So that we would no longer be slaves to sin. In other words, that we would now be free from sin. This is the answer to the question in verse 1. Jesus doesn’t just save us from our sins so that we can continue sinning. He saves us from our sins so that we can be freed from sin!
Then in verse 7 Paul continues his thought by saying that “he who has died is freed from sin.” What do you think he means by that? In verse 6, he depicts sin as a master. Before we are “baptized into Christ”, we are held in bondage by that master. We sin because we are sinners. We are sinners because we sin. Without Christ, we are alive to sin but dead to God. With Christ, we are alive to God but dead to sin. This doesn’t mean that we have no capacity to sin anymore. It means that we have lost our love for sin. What tasted good to us doesn’t taste good anymore. We are no longer rebels against God.
In verses 8 through 10, Paul uses Christ as an example of being dead to sin. Jesus, of course, had no sin, yet He became sin for us on the cross. In verse 10, it tells us that He died to sin once for all. That was on the cross. The result of sin was death. Sin did all it could to Christ. Sin killed him. Your sins and my sins killed Jesus. But now, the result of that sin, death, has no more dominion over Him. He died once, never to die again. In Hebrews, it says, He ever lives to make intercession for us. Here it says, “the life that He lives, He lives to God.”
Before we go on, I want to talk some about this baptism into death. Paul takes it for granted that all of his Roman brothers and sisters in Christ understand what he is talking about...that they have all experienced this. I’m afraid today that the average Christian wouldn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. This “death to sin” is the call of Christ to walk with Him. It is the call to leave all and follow Him. Repentance means to turn one way and walk the other way. That is the essence of what we are called to do in Christ. We cannot turn to Christ and His new life without turning from the old life. Yet men today seem to think that they can be in Christ and in sin at the same time.
Bacholorette...Hannah Brown...I refuse to not stand in the sun. I refuse to feel shame. I refuse to believe the lies and evil that flood my comments. I am standing firm in believing that maybe God wants to use a mess like me to point to His goodness and grace….“I have had sex and Jesus still loves me!”
David Wilkerson…”The reason that we continue in sin is because we don’t have the fear of God in us…There is no victory over any besetting sin unless the fear of God has been implanted.”
We live in an era of what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” It is grace that doesn’t change us. It is grace that gives us salvation, but doesn’t call us to renounce sin.
"Cheap grace is the idea that "grace" did it all for me so I do not need to change my lifestyle. The believer who accepts the idea of "cheap grace" thinks he can continue to live like the rest of the world. Instead of following Christ in a radical way, the Christian lost in cheap grace thinks he can simply enjoy the consolations of his grace." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
If a believer could understand the full implication of the cross at the time he is born anew he would be freed wholly from sin on the one side and on the other be in possession of a new life. It is indeed regrettable that many workers fail to present this full salvation to sinners, so that the latter believe just half God's salvation. This leaves them as it were only half-saved: their sins are forgiven, but they lack the strength to cease from sin. Moreover, even on those occasions when salvation is presented completely sinners desire just to have their sins forgiven for they do not sincerely expect deliverance from the power of sin. This equally renders them half-saved.
If a person is “half-saved” as Watchman Nee calls it, are they really saved? I wouldn’t bank on.
In the first 5 chapters of Romans, Paul outlines the wonderful news of salvation by grace through faith. Beginning in chapter 6, Paul gives us “the other side of the coin.” This is what distinguishes “cheap grace” from “costly grace.” Here, we are “bid to come and die.”
Let’s look at one more scripture before we move on in Romans:
Read Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (NKJV)
God’s grace brings salvation. It is available to all men. But this same grace teaches us that we should deny ungodliness, worldly lusts or desires and that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. If we don’t teach that side of grace, we’ve only taught half of the salvation story. That’s why we get so many “half Christians.” I want to be a whole Christian, don’t you!
Let’s look at verse 11. Up until now, Paul has told us to do only one thing. What is it? Believe. That is one side of the coin. Now, here on the other side of the coin is the call to follow Christ...and die to sin. He says, as Christ died and was raised to die no more, you have died with Him to sin no more. Now...consider yourselves to be dead to sin.
To die to sin does not mean that we can never sin anymore. As we’ve already stated, it is death to the love of sin. Yet even the love of sin can be resurrected in our lives if we don’t actively turn from it. We have died to sin...now we have to act like it. And we have to act like we are alive to God in Christ Jesus...which we are!
Verse 12 goes on to say, “Therefore, or as a result of this, don’t let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its lusts.” Remember what we talked about last week from the last verse of chapter 5? Sin at one time reigned in our lives, but now we are under the reign of grace. Why would we now turn back to our former master?
At the end of the Civil War, all of the slaves in the United States were set free. Yet, not all of them knew that they were free for some time. Some of them, though legally free, were practically in bondage to their old masters. In some cases, even after they found out that they were free, they returned to their old masters because it was what they knew. They were comfortable with being in slavery. This is how it is with so many Christians. They have been set free from sin, but they return to their old way of life. They haven’t considered themselves to be dead to their old master.
Look at verse 13. Paul says don’t go on presenting the members of your body as members of unrighteousness but instead present yourselves to God. The slave that was legally free but still under the will and sway of their old masters were not really free, were they? The word translate “present” means “to stand beside” or “to place at one’s disposal.” How crazy would it be to be free from your old tyrannical master and then present yourself to be at his disposal? Yet, I’m afraid that is what so many do!
In verse 14, Paul gives us the reason that we are not to present ourselves to sin. Before we encountered Christ, sin had dominion over us. It was our master. Yet, now, we have been made free from sin. We are not under the law of sin but under grace.
I’d like to end with the story of a man named William Cowper.
William Cowper was born in England on November 26, l73l. His life was full of personal anguish. At five, his mother died, and Cowper, a timid and sensitive child, was treated with great cruelty by an older boy. Other school experiences were also painful. At eighteen William began to study law, and fell in love with his cousin Theodora Cowper, but her father did not approve of the match. Neither of them ever married.
After completing law studies he made little exertion in the field. Later he was offered a government position for which he would have to be examined. William was so terrified of having to answer questions that he worked himself into a fit of madness. At one point, he became so despondent that he attempted suicide. After time in a private asylum, he recovered his reason. Cowper moved to the country town of Olney, where John Newton, the ex-slaver, was pastor. Soon they were close friends.
In 1771, Newton, became concerned with Cowper's increasing melancholy. Hoping to lift his spirits by keeping him busy, Newton suggested that he and Cowper co-author a book of hymns. Newton himself often wrote hymns to illustrate his Sunday sermons. "Amazing Grace" is one of the 280 hymns he wrote for the Olney Hymns. Cowper wrote 68 of the hymns, including "Oh for a closer walk with God," "God moves in a mysterious way," and "There is a fountain filled with blood."
The Olney Hymns first introduced Cowper to the world. Cowper kept writing poetry and became famous. In 1773, Cowper became engaged to Mary Unwin, but he suffered another attack of madness. He had terrible nightmares, believing that God has rejected him. Cowper would never again enter a church or say a prayer. When he recovered his health, he kept busy by gardening, carpentry, and keeping animals. In spite of periods of acute depression, Cowper's twenty-six years in Olney and later at Weston Underwood were marked by great achievement as poet, hymn-writer, and letter-writer. His first volume of poetry, Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple was published in 1782 to wide acclaim. William Cowper died of dropsy on April 25, 1800. At the time of his death, his Poems had already reached their tenth printing.
One of his most famous hymns is hardly known now, yet I love the sentiment of it. This depressed man, who even though famous, lived a very difficult life, loved the Lord. He hated sin as much as he loved God. So must we…
O for a closer walk with God, A calm and heavenly frame, A light to shine upon the road That leads me to the Lamb!
Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view Of Jesus, and His Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.
Return, O holy Dove, return,Sweet messenger of rest; I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God, Calm and serene my frame; So purer light shall mark the road That leads me to the Lamb.