Romans 6:1-4 ESV
“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.”
The baptism being referred to here is a spiritual baptism. It is us being crucified with Christ in death to sin, and us being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (see also Ephesians 4:17-32). But it is what our water baptism represents. This is why immersion is often the preferred mode of water baptism, for it symbolizes us dying with Christ to sin and us being buried with him and us being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him.
[But I am not going to debate modes of water baptism. And water baptism is not what saves us. God-given faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace is what saves us. So the mode of baptism has nothing to do with our salvation.]
Now, when we believe in Jesus with genuine God-given faith in him, this is what takes place in our hearts and lives. If this is not what takes place, then we do not have genuine faith in Christ. For Jesus said that if anyone is going to come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23-26). And to take up our cross means dying with Christ to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24), which is the reason Jesus gave his life up for us. And to follow Jesus is to obey him.
But this isn’t just about us dying to sin, but it is about us walking (in conduct, in practice) in newness of life in Christ, not like our old lives of living in sin and for self. So our salvation here is not permission to keep on living in sin now that our sins are forgiven and we are “in Christ.” For being in Christ means we walk no longer according to the flesh but we now walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit in righteousness and holiness and in obedience to our Lord and to his commands (see Romans 8:1-14).
Romans 6:6-7 ESV
“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.”
Okay, so here we have an even more detailed picture of what takes place when we believe in Jesus to be our Lord and our Savior, if we believe in him with God-given faith. Our old self, which was sold as a slave to sin, is put to death with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing. Sin is to no longer have mastery over our lives. We are now to no longer live as slaves to sin but as slaves to God and to his righteousness. So we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (v. 11).
This is what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. And this is what should take place in our lives when we believe in him if our faith is from God and not of our own doing (Ephesians 2:8-10). We must no longer walk like the ungodly who are alienated from God due to the hardness of their hearts. For they have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is NOT the way we should have learned Christ, if we were taught the truth in him (Ephesians 4:17-20).
So, the truth that is in Christ Jesus, which we should have been taught, is that by faith in Jesus Christ we are “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (see Ephesians 4:21-24). And this is what is taught us all throughout the New Testament, that faith in Jesus Christ involves putting away our old lives of living in sin and for self and us putting on Christ and his righteousness and holiness.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-27; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Romans 6:12-14 ESV
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Absolutely! This is what the Christian life should look like. For Jesus Christ did not die that horrible death on that cross just to forgive us our sins and to free us from the punishment of sin in hell and to promise us eternal life with him. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24), and he died that we might live for him and no longer for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15,21), and he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Honestly, if anyone actually reads the Scriptures in their context there is no way he can arrive at the conclusion that all our salvation entails is us “getting saved” so that when we die we can go to heaven, and that how we live from now to eternity doesn’t really matter. How we live absolutely does matter! For Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). So we have to obey God to get to heaven or we will hear, “Depart from me! I never knew you!”
So, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, sin is to no longer reign (rule, be in control) in our mortal bodies to make us obey its passions. Yet, this is exactly where so many professing Christians in America are living today with sin still ruling their lives making them obey its passions. Now this does not mean that they have no say in the matter or that they can just blame sin. No! We are all responsible before God for how we choose to live our lives, and we are all going to be called to account one day for how we lived our lives, whether for God or for self (see above verse references).
Romans 6:20-23 ESV
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I recall the first time this passage of Scripture hit home to me. We cannot be slaves to sin and be righteous in God’s sight. If we live in sin, deliberately and habitually sinning against God and other humans, even knowing that we are hurting other people, and that we are defying God, the end of that is death, not life everlasting.
But if we are slaves of God and of his righteousness, instead, the fruit we get leads to sanctification and its end is eternal life. For the payment we will receive from God if we continue to live in sin is death. But if we put sin to death and we live for him, by God’s grace, then we will receive eternal life with God (see Titus 2:11-14).
Living by Faith
Lyrics by James Wells, 1918
v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Music by J. L. Heath, 1918
I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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