THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
A New Life
Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:
Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)
I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)
(1) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? (2) May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (3) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (4) Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, (6) knowing this: that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, (7) for he who has died is freed from sin. (8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (10) For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Starting in Romans 6, Paul begins to examine seriously the relation of the Christian to the Law. He has briefly touched on the Law several times in the first 5 chapters, especially 3:21, 5:13-14, and 5:20-21. Now through chapter 7 Paul focuses his attention on the Law.
In chapter 6 Paul deals with a major Jewish challenge to Christianity: if we are not saved by the Law, then will we lapse into lawlessness? In fact, at the end of chapter 5 Paul claimed that God gave the Law to us in order to increase lawlessness. In light of this claim, the Jews then deduce: "What then, are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? If a little sin increases grace, let's sin wholescale and really let the grace flood in!" (This appears to be the exact same error Luther committed when he claimed in light of his view of salvation by grace through faith: "Sin boldly!") Underlying all these Jewish objections lies the Jewish concern that doing away with the Law actually increases sinful behavior. Paul will be struggling with this issue throughout these next 2 chapters.
DEAD TO SIN
The Fact (6:1-10)
Although this is true, it is a sad fact that some "Christians" have misused grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic work, Cost of Discipleship, accuses the modern church of peddling "cheap grace," grace which costs us nothing. Their attitude is that since we are saved by grace, since greater sin leads to greater grace, we should sin more and more so that God's grace can abound more and more. Christians who misunderstand Paul's theology of grace do tend towards licentiousness, lawlessness, anarchy, the very enemies Christianity is out to defeat.
Paul responds in horror to such an idea. The clause "May it never be!" is as close to cussing as Paul gets in his letters. The very idea is abhorrent to him. Fill in the blanks to see why this idea of licentiousness is illogical: "How shall we who ___________ ____ _________ still live in it?"
In v. 2 Paul is stating a principle which he has not yet laid the groundwork for. He begins to lay the groundwork for this idea in v. 3. Those of us who have been baptized have been baptized into what?
The prepositional phrase "in order that" introduces a purpose clause, that is, it introduces the purpose for the statement just made. In the beginning of v. 4 Paul says that we have been buried with Him through baptism into death. According to the purpose clause introduced by "in order that," for what purpose have we been buried with Him through baptism into death?
What event occurred which gave us this new life (end of v. 4)?
Paul assumes that we understand the significance of Christ's death and resurrection for you and me. We have reduced the death of Christ to being nothing more than His payment for our sins or the removal of God's wrath upon the Christian. Paul claims though that when we became Christians, we became united with Christ. In Ephesians Paul pours all this theology of united with Christ into the simple phrase, "in Him," or "in Christ." We have become so united with Him that whenever the Christian enters into an illicit sexual relationship with a prostitute, he actually drags Jesus into that relationship (1 Cor. 6:12-19). In this present passage we see that we are so identified or united with Him that when He died on the cross, we likewise died. In the same way when He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, we likewise rose from the dead. His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection. At the present time we experience His death and resurrection only spiritually. A day will come when we will also experience it physically.
This passage supports the reason we practice at least a form of immersion as being the scriptural form of baptism. Baptism according to this passage represents 2 things: first, the earthly life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and second, the earthly life, death, burial, and resurrection of the believer. Immersion portrays the death,burial, and resurrection of both Christ and the believer. For this reason, the priest performs a type of immersion when he baptizes the baby.
Some will object though that the baby does not have faith. Luther, the very founder of Protestantism, claimed that faith was latent in the baby; he likewise emphasized infant baptism. Fr. Jason informed me that priests are to baptize children only when they come from a family of faith.
Verse 7 tells us why we are no longer slaves to sin. What reason does Paul give?
Whereas verses 6-7 focused on Christ's death, verses 8-11 focus on Christ's resurrection. According to v. 9 what will never happen to Jesus since He has been raised from the dead? Also, what no longer will be master over Him since He has been raised from the dead?
The Ethical Implication (6:11-13)
(11) Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts (13) and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (14) For sin shall not be master over you; for you are not under law but under grace.
Notice that in the first 10 verses, Paul does not utter a single command; not once does he use the imperative mood. Rather he uses only declarative sentences,s the indicative mood. Why? Because he was simply describing who we are. Not matter what we do, those verses describe who we are. Starting in vs. 11, though, Paul uses the imperative mood. In light of who we are because of what Christ has done for us in dying and rising and uniting us with Him, Paul says that from now on we should __________________ ourselves to be _______________ to sin but _______________ to God in Christ Jesus (v. 11).
Next, we need to remember what we studied last week about the Christian having 2 spiritual natures AFTER he becomes a Christian: the old nature of sin from Adam and the new nature created by the Holy Spirit. When Paul writes that we walk in newness of life, he means that we are walking in this new nature, that the Holy Spirit is producing His life in and through us. Remember though that the old nature is still with us. He will not be completely eradicated until Christ returns; however, the Holy Spirit is giving us a real taste of that life RIGHT NOW. Although the Christian is going to fail from time to time because of the old nature which lives in him, he should be experiencing this new life on a consistent basis.
According to v. 12 now that we have died to sin, we should no longer let what reign in our mortal bodies?
This verse introduces a major area of concern for many Christians, the problem of lust (whether it be sexual lust or lust for power, fame and/or material possessions, etc.) According to v. 12 now that we have died to sin, are we going to quit having lusts?
According to v. 12 what will be true of the Christian with regards to lust?
How then do I practice purity if I can't eradicate lust? In other words what is purity? It is not dwelling on sexual thoughts whenever one enters my mind. It is turning my head whenever something sensual is thrown into my field of vision. It is refusing to go to movies which are sexual in nature. It is having sex with only one person, my spouse. Even then there are boundaries for the sexual relationship between the husband and wife.