Romans 6:1-11 Living the new life is not about life without sin but about adopting a divine identity and heavenly direction
Romans 6:1-11 Living the new life is not about life without sin but about adopting a divine identity and heavenly direction
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may 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, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through 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, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would 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. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In view of the grace of God, Paul urged believers to be intentional to die to sin and live to God. In other words, to die as Christ died, and to live as Christ lived. When Jesus denied His rights and gave Himself to serve humanity, the Father resurrected Him in His glory. Hence, those who walk in the path of Christ will likewise walk in Christ’s resurrection life. How then should we walk in this new life? By not being fixated on law or on grace. But to emulate Christ’s manner of life. Today’s devotion teaches us: Living the new life is not about life without sin but about adopting a new identity and heavenly direction.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Paul continues from the preceding verses by anticipating a response from the reader: “What shall we say then?” If where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (v 5:20), then should we continue to live in sin while expecting grace to forgive and sanctify us? Sin comes from man’s selfish ego. Indeed, many adopt a passive attitude in dealing with their ego supposing God’s forgiveness and sanctification need no participation on man’s part.
Paul replies: May it never be! Here, Paul strikes at the conscience of the hearer: How shall we who have made a conscious decision to die to sin continue to live in it? How is it when we have made a covenant with God to divorce ourselves from the human ego continue to co-exist with it?
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into His death?
Here, Paul points us to the neutralising power of Christ’s death on sin; the corrupt human ego. That which is counter to sin, that which is contrary to the human ego is the manner in which Christ lived; His righteousness and sacrificial love towards mankind. In fact, His obedience to the Father on the cross put to death the corrupt human ego on behalf of those who believe. To sum it all, Christ’s death destroyed the bondage of sin and freed believers from the corruption of human ego. Therefore, to be baptised into Christ’s death, to put to death our human ego as Christ did. Paul said,
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
Christ’s death or the denial of the corrupt human ego is seen in the following:
Christ denied Himself of His right to be equal with God. He stripped Himself of His deity to become a human being. He was demoted from the stature of being God, to become a bond-slave of the world. He also took on the likeness of sinful flesh, fragile and susceptible to temptations.
Christ denied Himself the desire for worldly wealth, power and glamour. Jesus rejected the devil’s temptations of worldly riches and power. At the close of His ministry, when the Jews persecuted him, He declined the invitation of the Greeks who gave Him a way out. He persevered on the path of the cross by denying Himself a means of escape. Jesus said,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” – John 12:23-25.
Christ denied Himself the right to justice. Jesus willingly gave Himself over to the Jews to be condemned as a criminal. Justice calls for the righteous to be rewarded and evil men to be punished. But He denied His right to justice by asking the Father to forgive those who sinned against Him.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Because Jesus denied even His right to justice even to the point of death, God raised Him to the highest station of the universe (see Philippians 2:9). Christ gave His life so that those who persecuted Him may be given an opportunity to repent. Thus, all who walk this path (buried with Him), who have this attitude will likewise be raised from death to glory. To walk in the newness of life is to manifest Christ’s love, wisdom and power in our daily lives.
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.
Only when we deny our human ego to the extent of giving up our rights (united with Him in the likeness of His death), then we will be glorified and resurrected in the same way that Christ is.
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
The old self is in fact the corrupt human ego. The very fact that Christ is a man like us, He also possessed human ego. And because He is appointed as the Son of man to represent humanity before God, consenting to the crucifying of His body will mean the destruction of the power of sin (body of sin or corrupt human ego) over humanity. Therefore, because of Christ’s death, humanity receives the grace (through the Spirit) to set themselves free to journey towards Christ’s righteousness. That said, to be freed from sin does not mean a life without sin. It only means freedom from bondage, which means the human ego is crippled and no longer irresistible. Therefore, we have to make choices every time we face temptations to deny the promptings of the human ego and do what is righteous.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, all who made the decision to put to death their human ego (died with Christ) in doing God’s bidding, will likewise be freed from bondage to live the resurrection life. And the bondages of darkness: hatred, anger, envy, greed, lust, violence, poverty, sickness, failures, hopelessness, foolishness, and self-condemnation will no longer be master over us. Because the power of sin is destroyed once for all, we can turn to God at any time to find grace to live the new life. Therefore, we have to persevere to put on the righteous human ego (consider yourselves to be dead to sin), to live by His righteousness and directives.
Living the new life is not about life without sin but about adopting a divine identity and heavenly direction
Sin is a matter of the heart, not the mind.
If believers adopt a new direction by seeking Christ’s righteousness (His love, wisdom and power) to do His work, we will eventually be perfected. By seeking to transform our hearts by adopting a new identity and direction, our actions will follow. Murder, adultery and stealing do not occur out of a vacuum. Sin is first conceived in the heart. The heart is the master, and the body is merely its slave. Jesus said,
For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. – Matthew 12:34b-35
In the case of Adam, he did not murder or steal, but he ate the forbidden fruit. Eating the fruit per se is not sin, but it is what goes on in the heart that is considered sinful. It is in his desire to be free from God’s laws and commands that condemned him.
Do not harbour the mindset of the law.
Some in the church today fixate on the law in hopes of living a sin-free life. They measure themselves by how frequently they commit sin or by how disciplined they are in prayer and in reading the bible. Such may stagnate because righteousness or sinfulness is the matter of the heart, it cannot be overcome by moral will but by the Spirit. Such will soon take on the legalistic mindset of the Pharisees.
Harbour the mindset of grace and love.
Believers must harbour not the mindset of the law, but the mindset of grace. To harbour the mindset of grace is to keep steady in one’s heart Christ’s righteousness and His kingdom’s work. Christ’s righteousness pertains to His virtues, wisdom and power. Christ’s kingdom’s work relates to serving others, to emulate Him; to die as Christ died, and to live as Christ lived. The apostle Paul said,
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3
The things above refers to Christ’s righteousness and His works. Therefore, do all to keep our hearts pure and wise through communion with God. Be zealous in establishing justice and in goodwill serve others.
To seek the things above is to be vigilant and wise. Guard our hearts against sin and avoid evil men. The last days will bring difficult times where the righteous will be persecuted for the truth they stand for. The apostle Paul said,
But realise this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these… Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5,10-12.
Having read the above text, write down on paper some of your sinful inclinations. Make a decision to persevere amid oppositions and persecutions.
What is your life ambition? Or more importantly, what is God calling you to do? Are your ambitions holy or self-serving?
Make time for self-reflection to understand what God is doing in this last days and join Him in His work. Avail your resources to help the needy as God directs.
Dear Lord, I desire to live abundantly, joyfully, creatively and actively blessing others. Fill me with Your Spirit and cause me to live as Jesus lived. I declare that I no longer need fleshly things. I crucify them on the cross and declare them as dead. In Jesus’s name. Amen.