November 14: Christ Died TO Sin (so so did you)

Romans 6:9-10. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 

Paul’s been talking about our union with Christ, his death and resurrection. We KNOW that our old self was crucified with Christ (6:6), and we BELIEVE we will also live with him (6:8).

But what’s the basis for this knowing and believing? The answer is Christ himself.

Once for all

We know that Christ’s death and resurrection only happened once. This is a biblical and historical fact.

Oh that we could grasp this great truth. Christ died once. Christ was raised once. No more is needed. All has been accomplished. The cross is a finality. There is no more sacrifice for sin. There is nothing we can do to earn more forgiveness. Nothing we can do to gain more grace. Our co-death with Christ accomplished it all.

Too many Christians are spending too much of their time pursuing more grace and pleading for more forgiveness and failing to see that Christ’s once for all death satisfied the penalty for sin in that singular moment on the cross. Our catholic friends deal with sin by confessing over and over and paying penance. But we protestants often live the same way. Just without the human priest and the confessional booth. More self-affliction, more accountability, more pleading. Are we trusting in Christ’s once for all death and resurrection or not?

JESUS DIED ONCE FOR ALL, AND SO DID YOU.

Christian, you do not “die daily” to sin (the Bible never actually says this). Your death was as effective as Christ’s. You are LEGALLY free from the wage of sin – death. And there is no double jeopardy in God’s legal system. You will not be tried again. You are justified in the courtroom of Heaven. This is because Christ’s death was fully effective, fully legal, and fully conclusive.

No more dominion

Death did have dominion of Jesus. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that Christ “became sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). He was under the dominion of sin and therefore under the dominion of death. The “sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).

But Jesus died to sin. He didn’t just die FOR sins, he died TO sin. Jesus became sin for us. He became what we were. Not just what we had done (Newell). Jesus didn’t just bear our guilt on the cross. In his dying he didn’t just conquer the guilt of sins, he conquered Sin.

Stay with me, this gets a little technical (but beautiful).

In becoming Sin for us, Jesus became the Second Adam. He is our new representative head. His death to sin is not his own personal release from the temptation of sin, or a release from a propensity to sin. No. It is a legal transaction. The sin of Adam is paid for. And so with it is your sin and my sin. The wage of sin is death, and so that is what happened – the death of Christ and the death of you and me. But, in Christ, it is a death unto life – the life he lives, he lives to God.

Jesus didn’t come to cleanse or change the old self. He came to kill it. This he did once for all time on the cross.

“To live is Christ” means everything that happened to Jesus happened to you. Romans 6:9-10 tells us what happened to Jesus – he died and he rose, once, defeating the power of death. Now, do you believe that this is also your reality?

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

Here’s few classics to help you focus on the work of Christ – his dying and rising.

 

 

November 13: Set Free From Sin

Romans 6:7. For one who has died has been set free [declared righteous] from sin.

Most of us deal with sin by dealing only with the effects of our sin. What I mean is we sin, feel guilty, confess, pray, cry, try harder, repeat.

Romans 6:7 lets us know that there is more. There is a better way to deal with Sin. The cross. In fact, the cross is the only way that sin can be dealt with that brings any hope.

The one who has died (that’s you Christian), has been declared righteous, justified, from Sin.

I know what you’re thinking, “We know, Paul, we’re righteous, we’re justified, you’ve been talking about it for three chapters now, we get it.”

But Romans 6:7 is a new thought.

We are declared righteous from sin. He’s not talking about the effects of sin. Not the guilt of sin. He’s talking about Sin itself. The power. The force that’s out to get you and destroy you.

Yes, the blood of Christ has justified you from the guilt of sin. Now all of your sins are forgiven and there is no condemnation (chapter 3).

But now Paul is saying even more about God’s grace. You are justified from sin itself. How? By your death with Christ. The old self died.

CHRIST’S DEATH FOR YOU JUSTIFIED YOU FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN, AND YOUR DEATH WITH CHRIST JUSTIFIED YOU FROM THE POWER OF SIN.

This is an even greater truth. An even greater grace. It is the reason you can live forever in holiness with God. Justified from the guilt of sin does not alone purify you for Heaven. You must also be justified from the power of sin too. You have to have the hope of the eradication of all sin from your life. Only your death will accomplish this. And it has, praise God!

This does not in any way bring with it sinless perfection today. We still sin in the flesh. We still experience sin all day, every day.

Declared righteous from sin is a reality beyond our experience. Our daily experience of sinning does not change our relationship to Sin. It still has no power over us. It never, ever sticks to our record. It never condemns us or changes our status as saints in Christ. If it did, then the cross of Christ would not be enough.

The truth is, your daily experience of sin, and the sorrow it produces (hopefully) should remind you of your new reality in Christ. Your daily sin should not produce condemnation, but longing. Longing for the resurrection.

Romans 5:8. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

“To live is Christ” is to separate your experience from your identity. You are not what you do (sinning). You are what God says you are (set free from sin).

Do you see yourself as free from sin in spite of your daily experience? How does your union with Christ allow you to see yourself as set free from sin?

November 12: Knowing the Old Self was Crucified

Romans 6:6. 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.

We know

But do we really? Many Christians are stuck back in Romans 5 without ever moving into the glorious truths of our union with Christ found in Romans 6. We know Christ died FOR us, but do we know that we died WITH Christ?

We know that we are forgiven, and we are thankful for it, but is that enough? Might simply expressing gratitude for forgiveness lead to an attitude of “trying to be thankful and not sin,” or “trying to live for God because he did so much for me”? But is this the fullness of faith? Is it knowing the fullness of God’s grace and our union with Christ? Or is it works? Is it pay back? Is it a subtle form of self righteousness?

How do we know that our old self was crucified? First and foremost because God said it. It is an objective fact. If we believe (and I hope you do) that the resurrection of Christ is an historic and objective reality, but also a spiritual reality, then the question is, “do you believe what God and Jesus himself say about that death and resurrection?”

Jesus said that he came to give us life, abundant life, his very own life. But this can only be possible if first there is a death. Your death. And then your resurrection. If Romans 6:6 is only a subjective feeling or concept, then we lose Paul’s entire argument, we lose any need for faith over feeling, and we lose our very salvation.

We know that our old self was crucified with him…

This is what we know, what we trust, what we believe: that the old self, the Adamic nature, is dead. Not sick. Not dying. Not hanging on. Not dormant. Dead. We believe that our relationship to sin is now the same as Jesus’ relationship to sin – dead and defeated. That this work is DONE, forever.

I know you don’t feel like the old man is dead in your life. Everything inside you screams that he is still alive and well. But faith is asking you to trust in what God says you ARE by his imputed righteousness. Not in what you feel like based on your behavior today.

IF YOU DIDN’T DIE THEN YOU ARE NOT ALIVE IN CHRIST, YOU ARE NOT SAVED. Do you believe that you’re saved? On what basis? It better be on the basis of your co-crucifixion with Christ.

Now let’s not confuse the old self with the flesh. Paul talked a lot about the flesh in Galatians.

Galatians 5:24. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

We still have the flesh. The manifestation of sin in our lives (later Paul will call it “indwelling sin”). But notice the difference between Romans 6:6 and Galatians 5:24: GOD CRUCIFIED YOUR OLD SELF. YOU CRUCIFY YOUR FLESH.

Read that over and over until you get it. It’s important. You cannot crucify your flesh unless God has already crucified your old self.

The implications of the death of the old self are life changing. For one, you can stop crying out to God for help and victory over sin. It’s already done. There is nothing left for God to do in this area. All that’s left is for you to actually believe it. To trust that your old self is dead. That sin has no power over you. That you are alive in Christ.

The cross is the only way to deal with sin, and the cross has already happened. It is finished! Not just your forgiveness, but also your crucifixion. Self denial, training, resolutions, revival, confession, knowledge, experiences – these will not end Sin in your life. Only the cross will. And it has!

That leaves us with the flesh.

The flesh will also only yield to the cross. Nothing else. Only by faith in the crucified Savior who killed the old man in you, can we crucify the flesh and it’s passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). Now we are no longer enslaved to sin.

Do you KNOW that the power source of sin in your life, the old man/nature, has been put to death? And by “know” I mean believe. How does our union with Christ explain this amazing reality?

November 11: Resurrection and Rest

Romans 6:5. 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. 

United in his resurrection.

Have these just become words to you? Do these words still bring any sense of hope? Of joy? Of peace? Comfort? Or are they just something you hear every week in church but it’s become meaningless? Maybe coming back from the dead feels like just another movie plot to you. Just another trope.

But the resurrection is the center of all we believe. Not just Christ’s resurrection. Yes, it is the greatest apologetic for our faith. If it is true, so is everything else. If it is not true, we are pitiful. But we are talking here about our resurrection WITH Christ. Christ’s resurrection is meaningless for us without our union to his resurrection.

Christ’s resurrection was not his abandonment of the world. It was his total commitment to it. He is forever human. Forever one of us. He will rescue the physical world.

But again, here in Romans 6 we go even deeper. Christ’s resurrection is not just the means whereby he understands and commiserates with us. It is the means by which he brings us, by his Spirit, into his own life, his own resurrection. We are one spirit with him (1 Cor. 6:17).

Whether you realize it or not, you need the truth of the resurrection today – and every day.

You need it for your hopelessness.

You need it for your woundedness.

You need it for your stress.

You need it for your grudges.

You need it for your failures.

You need it for your crushed dreams.

You need it for you FOMO.

But how does resurrection help? It brings rest.

Rest is what you need. Rest brings repentance and forgiveness. When I realize that I will live forever, all the idols I am creating here seem so much more foolish and futile. Repent. When I realize that I will live forever, the wrongs done against me seem smaller. My wounds don’t have to be my identity. My pain, though real, is not my destiny. Forgive. Rest.

Christ’s resurrection means he is running the world. Your resurrection with him means you don’t have to. “To live is Christ” unites you to a death like his and a resurrection like his. It also unites you to a rest like his.

How can the truth of your co-resurrection with Christ bring rest to your life today?

 

 

November 10: Your Death, Burial, and Resurrection (it’s already happened)

Romans 6:1-4. 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.

Forgiveness for your sins is only half of the gospel. It’s not enough to deal with your real problem – the sin nature inside of you. For that you need union with Christ. You need death, burial, and resurrection.

Your union with the death of Christ, the burial of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ has dealt with not just what you have done, but what you are. We are now moving beyond our standing before God. We are moving into a whole new identity. A newness of life. This is true deliverance from both sins (the ones we’ve committed), and Sin (the power inside of us). If the gospel only deals with sins and not Sin, we are forgiven but not new. If we are not new we are doomed to live forever fighting the horrors of sin in our lives. Praise God for the abundance of grace that brings us to the truths of Romans 6.

Our identity as sinners came to us by birth. Therefore the only thing that can change that identity is death. And then of course, new birth.

This is what Romans 6:1-4 is beginning to explain to us.

all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death

Baptism here is not the water baptism you did in the river or the church tub (or if you were sprinkled or poured over). This is the baptism of the Spirit whereby you were placed into Christ. Placed into his death and resurrection. This happened when you, by faith, trusted in his life and death alone for the forgiveness of your sins (justification).

What this means is that YOUR SIN HAS BEEN DEALT WITH AND WILL ONLY BE DEALT WITH IN CHRIST. No penance. No pay backs. No confessions. No amount of weeping. No commitments. No dedications. None of this has any affect on your sin. Only death will do. Only the death of Christ and your death with him, and THIS HAS ALREADY HAPPENED ONCE FOR ALL TIME.

But the good news keeps coming. God didn’t leave you dead. He gave you new life. Christ’s life. His eternal zoe life of God. This is not a new “way of life.” It is a new life. Not a plan for good living, or how to have your best life now, or basic instructions before leaving earth (b-i-b-l-e). It is a whole new life that never existed before Christ – resurrection life. Even people that were raised from the dead by Jesus (Lazarus etc.) did not have resurrection life. They were raised to their old life. But we have Christ’s resurrection life. Something no humans have had before Christ became “a life giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). But now, in Christ, we share his own righteous life.

Soak in “to live is Christ.” Embrace it. It is glorious. Beyond compare. Truths worthy of your meditation both day and night.

How do these truths of Romans 6 move you beyond being saved from the penalty of your sins and into trusting in your union with Christ?

 

November 9: I’m Happy To Be The One To Inform You, You Died

Romans 6:1-2. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

I heard Romans 6:1-2a many times in church growing up. Can we just keep sinning? God forbid it! Stop sinning. Do it now.

But looking back, even though I heard Romans 6:1-2a many times, I’m not sure I ever remember being told about Romans 6:2b (and the rest of the chapter or the whole book for that matter). Somehow a passage that is the greatest discourse on grace ever written got turned into law. Somehow the solution to sin was turned into my efforts, my righteousness, my attitude toward it.

But the truth is there is only one solution to sin. Death.

As we saw yesterday there will always be law and so there will always be sin. And where sin abounds grace abounds even more. So the law does its job when it reveals our deep sinfulness, because only then are we ready to embrace the abounding grace of God.

The logical follow up question, then, is the one Paul anticipates here: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Let’s back up for a moment. First let’s ask this question: If I am fully pardoned and justified and in Christ, will I keep sinning? The answer is of course, yes. And you will still be forgiven, pardoned, reconciled, justified, redeemed and in Christ. Why? Because Christ died FOR you (Romans 1-5).

OK, next question. If sin makes grace abound, should I try to sin more so that God’s grace abounds more? Answer: By no means!

This question (assuming it’s genuine) demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the grace plan. To the person who is still trying to earn their righteousness by law keeping, the idea of abounding, never ending, constant forgiveness and pardon seems like the most ridiculous solution to sin God could ever contrive. To those whose hope is self-righteousness, grace is simply more license. I have been personally told by some in my church that if I keep teaching too much grace people will just sin more and more.

We are freaked out by the freedom of grace. We just don’t know what to do without law. What will regulate our behavior? What will control our lusts? What will manage our conscience? Abounding grace is chaos isn’t it? Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

Nope.

Why should we stop sinning? Is it because we owe it to God to not sin. If he died FOR our sins, shouldn’t we pay him back with good behavior? Is it because it is the morally righteous thing to do? So be good for goodness’ sake (Santa Claus)? Is it because we can achieve perfection this side of Heaven? Is it because we’re still under the law? Is it because if we sin God will “get us?” Or we will lose our salvation?

Nope.

The answer to why we stop sinning is found only in the grace of our union with Christ and his death. How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Died to sin? When did that happen? It happened at the moment you placed your saving faith in Christ and were united to his life. And it happened 2000 years ago on the cross of Christ. You were crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Past tense.

We didn’t die FOR our own sins (Jesus did that), we died TO sin.

And so we are about to journey into the fullness of grace. It’s true that a grace that only says, “Jesus died FOR you,” and “You are forever forgiven,” would probably lead to more and more sinning.

But this is not all that the grace of union with Christ says. It also says “You have died to sin.” It is now therefore impossible that you could still live in it. A dead person can’t walk around as if alive. A person who died to sin can’t live in sin.

Listen I know your mind is racing and you’re probably thinking “If I died to sin and it’s impossible for me to live in sin then why do I still sin?”

And so herein is the truth that Romans 6-8 will make known and that we will reveal here now: THE FACT THAT YOU DIED TO SIN MUST BE DISTINGUISHED FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE OF SINNING. God declares you dead to sin. His righteousness is imputed. I know your experience of deliverance from sin does not seem to line up with this truth. Please trust in what God says about you, not in what your experience of deliverance from sin seems to say about you. Trust that “to live is Christ” is a declaration not an experience. This is abounding grace in all it’s fullness.

How does your union with Christ impact the way you see your sin? What has been your motivation for not sinning? Has it been your co-crucifixion with Christ?

How does an Exodus song relate to Romans 6:1-2?

November 8: The Abundance of Grace

Romans 5:20. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Romans 1-5 is preparing us to understand our union with Christ. It is about our sin and justification through Christ, which are foundational truths for understanding “to live is Christ.” Romans 6 will launch us into possibly the most glorious exposition of the doctrine of our union with Christ ever written. But before we enter into this rhetorical heaven, let us consider the all encompassing grace of God which will be our tour guide in the days to come.

You are a sinner. Sorry, it’s true.

As we’ve already learned here in Romans, we are born into Adam. We sin because we are born sinners. Christ, the second Adam, is the end of this. By faith we can be born into him, found in him, placed into him. There is no third option.

“Wait, what about law keeping?” “Isn’t that option #3?”

The idea here is that you don’t have to be in Adam (original sin) or Christ (justification), you can just be yourself and be good and earn your way to heaven. By the way, this is the majority view of the world and all religions in the world. Aren’t we just blank slates in need of training, and education, and good social systems? Can’t we just be nice and let our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds?

The Law is not offering a third option. The Law was given to expose us as being in Adam. The Law increases the trespass. It was given to expose our sinful hearts. The Law defines sin, displays sin, reveals sin, provokes sin, and increases sin. Yikes.

The problem is that law is all around us. The law rules our lives, at work, at play, at school, at the dinner table, at the book club, at church, Instagram, Facebook, break ups, hook ups, holidays, dinner parties. I can’t think of a place where some standard doesn’t rule what we do and how we feel when we either fail or succeed at it. Can you?

Warning: language. But a powerful example of law’s rule in our lives.

The even bigger problem is that all this law produces all kinds of sinning. Unrighteous sinning. Righteous sinning. Striving or fleeing. Trying or quitting. Law doesn’t make you a sinner, Adam did that when you were born. Law turns your invisible sinfulness into visible sins. Sins of being good (law keeping) and sins of being bad (law breaking). We are left drowning in law and thus drowning in sin. If this were the end of the story we would all be condemned to death.

But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

Grace super-abounded! God’s answer to the sin problem is the abundance of grace. There is and will always be much, much, much, more grace in the universe than there is evil. You can never out-sin God’s grace. You can’t outrun it. You can’t hide from it. You can’t measure it. If you go to heaven, grace is there. If you go to the grave, grace is there. Grace makes darkness light, and death life. Like the law, grace exposes, grace reveals, grace unveils. But unlike the law, real grace always produces righteousness and life.

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

Grace is an extremely hard concept for us. Not to mention super abounding grace. Each of us often tends to either think that we are beyond grace or that we can pay God back for his grace. “How can God forgive terrible me?” Or, “God has done so much to rescue terrible me, I must now live for him.” The truth is yes we are terrible. And this is the necessary realization for the reception of grace.

This is crucial – Grace cannot abound where sin does not already abound.

Yes, I know sin is always abounding so grace is always abounding. But I’m talking about in your own perception. Are you aware of your sinfulness (that’s the Law’s job)? If you can’t admit the abounding sin in your life you will never be open to receiving the abounding grace of God through Christ. The truth of Christian transformation is not one of growing less and less sinful as much as it is one of growing more and more aware of your sinfulness and need for grace, receiving that abundant grace, and letting that grace reign in righteousness (5:21).

But what is this grace?

So far in Romans grace has been “Christ died FOR you” – justification. Now it is about to be “You died WITH Christ.” We are about to see what grace really is in its fullness and how it can bring real transformation to your life. Romans 6 here we come!

Are you aware of the abundance of sin and the super abundance of grace in your life?