Lesson 18

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:1 What will we say then? Will we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 Certainly not! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? 6:3 Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. 6:5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. 6:7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

 Today's Lesson 

Paul had stated that through the Law sin abounded but grace, which came through Jesus Christ, abounded even more. The grace of God is limitless. So some might say, Let us continue to live sinfully since God's grace is greater than sin so that grace might be shown to be limitless. But, Paul is not preaching this message. This thought is known in Christian theology as antinomianism. Such a position believes that morals do not matter in the covenant of grace. His critics had accused Paul of being antinomian, but he certainly was not one, as we shall see.


To contradict this Paul gives one of the strongest ideas of Romans. This is possibly the least taught Paulinian idea in the modern era. Paul states that when we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into His death. We were baptized into His death so that we might be raised to a new life through the power of His resurrection.


There is a complete transition in our lives from God's perspective. When we are justified by faith by God our old life of sin is terminated. It is over. It is dead. We begin from that moment on as a new creation in Christ. We are imputed the righteousness of Christ and the resurrected life of Christ. Our old body of sin is crucified with Christ because he was willing to bear our sin on the cross.


The reason more Christians do not live victorious Christian lives is because they've never held the funeral for their old life. We celebrate the transition but then we fall back into the same old patterns of life where sin held us captive. We want to be called God's children but we still want to act like those who live in rebellion to Him.


The problem is I don't feel any different. I still have the attraction toward sin even if my heart desires to serve God. For Paul the issue lies always in faith. Do I believe that I was crucified with Christ? If I believe that I have been then the war with sin is won. The more firmly I believe the less I will struggle. Sin must have all the attraction of corruption and the grave. I must train my mind to see the things of the sinful nature as crucified and dead. I must have faith that what God declares to be true IS TRUE. "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I; Christ lives in me!"


Paul sums this thought us in the last of Today's Scriptures. "For he who has died has been freed from sin." We will be freed from sin to the same extent to which we believe that we have been crucified with Christ. We ignore this teaching to our own peril. If we desire to continue to live in sin and yet claim to be "saved" it is an indication that our faith is lacking and that our basic understanding of God's righteousness is deficient.


Does this mean that "good Christians" will never struggle with sin? Certainly not! None of us has perfect faith. Remember Abraham and reread what Paul wrote about him in Chapter 4. God is looking for people with the faith of Abraham. Abraham wondered and misunderstood and struggled with what God had promised him. But, he stuck with it and continued to act on the core thought that God would make him a father of many nations.


In the same sense God's desire is that you grab hold of what has already been revealed to you and believe with all your heart. It may not be much, but if you trust in the Lord it will be enough. If you only know that your sins were crucified with Christ and that now Christ lives in you that alone will be enough to lead you into all other truth. Hold on to that one core thought as a life preserver on the seas. Without faith we are lost but with faith we can survive the greatest of storms.


Of course, for faith to work it must be founded in reality. Faith is without merit if what you believe is not the truth. Have you been baptized into the death of Christ? Have you been crucified with Christ and resurrected to his life? Does Christ live in your heart today?


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