Dead to Sin, Alive to God

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:6–11 ESV)

The Zombie – Alive to God, Alive to Sin?

Paul is addressing the question of whether a Christian can exploit grace as an excuse for sin. Is it possible to be alive to God and remain also alive to sin? Do Christians sin? Yes. Let me make that clear. This is no utopian perfectionism and any honest Christian will tell you in some ways our struggle with sin is worse as Christians because it’s actually a struggle. Before we are saved, there is no tug of war. There is no opponent. Sin always drags us across its line. But as a Christian, now I struggle with it.

Salvation is not the removal of sin from my life, but it is the removal of sin as the necessary master of my life. Why? When Jesus died for my sin, I died to my sin. I’m now alive to God.

What do we say to people who claim to be alive to God, but their lives shout that they are still alive to sin? These are the zombies. They are dead yet claiming somehow to be alive at the same time. We can say, they either are not actually alive to God, or if they are, they seriously misunderstand grace. Grace is not permission to sin, grace is permission and power not to sin. Grace teaches us to say no ungodliness and worldly passions. (Titus 2:12)

What I am saying is that if your life looks like zombie land, you are not experiencing freedom from sin and you are not experiencing new life to God. It’s the worst possible scenario. Perhaps somehow you have been confused as to what it means to be a Christian and to die to sin’s dominance and power. It’s called repentance. Perhaps you’ve never seen anyone living the new life in Christ. Perhaps you are not genuinely converted.

But here’s what Paul is making clear: kind of alive to God and kind of dead to sin is not authentic Christianity. This subtle antinomianism lurks in every church. The gospel is cover for ungodly living. Grace is excuse for sinful lifestyles and choices. I’m saved anyway so what is the big deal? You sometimes hear this in the way people talk about their past. Oh, the parties were insane. Insane! We were wild, like crazy wild. I remember times man I was so wasted…my bros were like, dude. I was like, dude. Crazy! Then I came to Jesus… it’s been boring. I miss the good old days.

Yeah, and Israel missed Egypt. Nobody says it that blatantly, but our posture toward our sinful selves is often a far cry from Jesus’ description of the tax collector who bowed in the temple praying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) When that is my posture toward my sin, now I am living out dead to sin, alive to God. That’s even for Christians. We’re often indecisive in our worldly pursuits. But Christians are dead to sin, and we keep dying to it.

Trusting in Jesus applies union with Christ to not only my status before God, but my life before him as well. I don’t want anyone here to be asked what today’s sermon was about and for you to say, Sin. What was the point? Don’t do it.

Christianity is not moral therapy; it is transformation. Do we consider ourselves dead to sin because I treasure being unified with Jesus on the cross? Do we consider ourselves alive to God because we can’t believe that we were with Jesus spiritually when he stepped out of that grave?

Which are we today? Unbeliever? Zombie? Christian?

“So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.(Romans 6:11)

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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Union with Christ Means New Life

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:1–5, ESV)

Union with Christ – What was True of Jesus is True of Us

What is union with Christ? Here is David Needham’s definition, “What was true for Jesus is true of us.” [1] The first union is Jesus with us. The incarnation was Jesus unifying with humanity by becoming human. So, Jesus united with us in the incarnation. In salvation, we unite with him.

This is salvation glue in which God joins us spiritually to the works of Jesus. When he died to sin, so did we. When he was buried in complete death, we were completely dead with him. When he was resurrected, in the eyes of God, we were resurrected too. Everything that was true of Jesus is true of us.

Is Grace Permission to Sin?

Is Salvation by Grace from Sin Permission to Sin?

This is my summary of the question, “are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1) Paul is not making this question up. It was either the active approach of Christians in the early church or the charge against Paul for preaching salvation by grace through faith. Probably both.

There is a word used to describe people who take the position that the Christian has no responsibility to obedience yet remains under the grace of God.

 Antinomian =  Anti (No) Nomos (Law)

Nobody thinks they are antinomian. There are no antinomian societies. Nobody introduces themselves as an antinomian: Hi, I’m Bob, I’m an antinomian. Everybody presents themselves as champions of grace. Their books have grace in the name. They sing Amazing Grace with gusto. The issue is whether obedience or sanctification are necessary byproducts of genuine saving faith. Does justification change anything in us? Antinomians dismiss any role God’s commands play in salvation by grace.

God’s Grace >> Our Sin

God’s Grace >> Our Sin

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:18-21)

His grace isn’t simply greater than our sin, it is far greater than all our sin and guilt. He neither lacks grace nor the desire to apply it to us. He is not frugal with his grace, he is lavish with his grace. Why?

“So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

How complete a victory does something have to be to be considered a “reign?”

All for One and One for All

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:12-17 ESV)

A type or typology refers to things in the Old Testament which were foreshadows of things to come. They illustrated or gave the sense of something to be fulfilled in the New Covenant in a more spectacular way. So easy ones are what Hebrews describes regarding the temple and the Levitical system. It’s not that hard to see how killing a lamb for sin in the Old Testament was a type of the death of Jesus for all our sins. Or how the high priest in the temple representing Israel to God was a type or picture of Jesus representing us as our priest to God.

So how is Adam a type? Adam was a type of Jesus by representing all of us when he sinned.

Enemy Love

God’s enemy love is a reconciling love

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.(Romans 5:9-11, ESV)

In these verses, Paul employs an argument from the greater to the lesser. You see much more repeated in verses 9, 10, and 11. In each case Paul says,

If God has done ________ in the past, he most certainly will do __________ in the future.

The thing in the past was the harder thing. If God has already done the harder thing in the past, then we can be confident he will do the easier thing in the future. So, let’s see what he has done.

All About Him: Peace Through Jesus

Romans 5:1-2 begins a new section in Romans in which the implications of chapters 1-4 are applied to salvation, living as a Christian, the question of the Jews’ salvation, and practical matters in chapter 12 and following. Chapter 5, verse 1 has one of the most important “therefores” ever.

What is drawing to conclusion? Chapter 1 says all Gentiles are under God’s wrath. Chapter 2 says the Jewish people are under God’s wrath. Chapter 3 shows us that a right standing before God is possible by faith as God declares us righteous via justification. This is not earned, merited, or accomplished by us. It is entirely earned, merited, and accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross in our place for our sins. His righteousness is given to us as a gift which grants us eternal standing before God and eternal glory to Jesus. It is a gift to us and glory to him. In chapter 4, we find that even Abraham, the hero of the Old Testament story, was saved by faith. How can anyone think they are saved by a good life if even Abraham had to be saved by faith? This leads to this wonderful “Therefore.” “Therefore” means, based on all that I have said thus far, it means this.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1–2, ESV)