Romans may be divided into five sections: SIN, 1:18-3:20
Now, we begin the third section, SANCTIFICATION—Righteousness imparted by the Holy Spirit.
The kind of Christian life set forth in the NT is so far above the experience of many professing Christians that they think it abnormal. Yet it is here that many through the God’s grace have found it, and lived it, and described it in such term as as THE LIFE OF FAITH, THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE, THE DEEPER LIFE, and the VICTORIOUS LIFE.
Every sincere Christian wants to know how to overcome temptation and how they may be used of God in His service. How to find freedom from anxiety, and really know that peace of God that passes understanding. How to live at home, work and school the kind of consistent Christian life that is taught in our Sunday school classes and preach from our pulpit. Paul tells us how to have real power to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
History has proven that God mightily blesses those who embrace sanctified life outlined in chapters 6-8 of Romans. In chapters 3- 5, Paul sets forth the legal side of the doctrine of solidarity and imputation, whereby—
We have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
God can impute (credit) the righteousness of Christ to all who believe in Jesus since God has imputed the sin of Adam to the entire human race. By one man’s act of disobedience, we became sinners and by One Man’s act of obedience we became righteous. This legal side of our salvation is based on imputation. The practical side of our salvation is based on impartation.
Sin and death were passed from one man to the entire human race since we were contained in Adam when he sinned. Hence, righteousness and life are passed from One Man to all who are in Christ. Our salvation in Christ is not only the deliverance from the wrath of God, but also it is deliverance from the domain of death, sin and law.
The Bible describes man as being either natural, carnal or spiritual. The NATURAL MAN is the unsaved person who can rise no higher than his intellectual, moral or volitional powers can lift him. He is ruled by his senses. The CARNAL MAN is a saved person still dominated at least partially by the power of sin and under the control of the old nature. The SPIRITUAL MAN is the believer whose life is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
When God declares the ungodly sinner justified, He makes no mere legal and lifeless imputation of righteousness apart from a real and deep life-union of the believer with Christ. We actually become a new creation in Christ.
Just as chapters 3-5 of Romans are foundational and essential to our JUSTIFICATION, chapters 6-8 are foundational and essential to our SANCTIFICATION, which is the effect of purification of heart and life.
JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION are as inseparable as a torso from a head. You can’t have the one without the other. Justification is intended to produce sanctification. HOLINESS is to be the touchstone of the Christian life. Christ came in order to save people FROM their sins, they were not to be saved in the midst of their sins and then lie down in them again.
Sanctification is the process of becoming HOLY. And holiness is required for eternal life according to Hebrews 12:14—
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Holiness is the reign of righteousness in our life. Paul wrote in Romans 5:17—
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
The way of righteousness or holiness may be outlined and summed up in five words found in Romans 6:10-17: KNOW, COUNT, REFUSE, OFFER and OBEY. Around these terms, the apostle sets forth a simple formula that activates God’s gift of righteousness reign in life through Christ.
RIGHTEOUS REIGN (5:17) = KNOW (6:1-10) + COUNT (11) + REFUSE (12) + OFFER (13) + OBEY (16-17)
First, we are to KNOW certain facts about identification with Christ. Second, we are to COUNT these facts true concerning themselves. Third, we are to REFUSE to let sin reign in our mortal bodies.
Fourth, we are to OFFER ourselves to God.
Fifth, we are wholeheartedly to OBEY the teaching of God’s Word.
KNOW is the first ingredient in Paul’s formula that unleashes God’s gift of righteous reign in life through Christ. Romans 6:1-3—
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
According to Paul, IGNORANCE is a key factor in hindering a life of victory—the repetition of the expression DON’T YOU KNOW indicates that the apostle wants us to understand a basic doctrine.
The first area of ignorance with which Paul deals has to do with the DOMAIN OF DEATH. Death, once our enemy, is now actually made to minister to the believer the benefits of Christ’s victory over the tomb as we are BORN CRUCIFIED.
Chapter 5 ended with the proclamations that we are no longer under the Law and where sin increased, grace increased all the more. This raises the question: “Are we free to sin so that grace might increase?” Paul’s response is exclamation of horror: BY NO MEANS!
It is a terrible thing to seek to trade on the grace of God and to make it an excuse for sinning. Thin of it in human terms. How despicable it would be for a son to consider himself free to sin, because he knew that his father would forgive him. That would be taking advantage of love to break love’s heart.
Grace means liberty, but it does not mean license. So Paul asks, WE DIED TO SIN; HOW CAN WE LIVE IN IT ANY LONGER? The very question itself tells that sin is still alive in us, even though we died to it. An honest person knows he never reaches the place in this life where he is dead to sin. He recognizes that he still has an old sin nature.
To understand what Paul means by “WE DIED TO SIN” we must take notice of the preposition TO. The NT prepositions are theological statements. We must pay careful attention to these little words if we are to understand our salvation. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3—
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died FOR our sins according to the Scriptures.
Jesus died two deaths on the Cross. Christ’s first death was SPIRITUAL and it occurred when He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Father had laid on Him our sin and He was separated from the Father. That was DEATH FOR SIN.
Christ’s second death was PHYSICAL and it occurred when He called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” At that moment, He was separated from His body and our sin that Father had laid on Him. That was DEATH TO SIN.
Nothing can be more unresponsive than a person who is dead. Imagine someone trying to evoke a reaction from a corpse! It can be caressed, commanded, or kicked and no response will come, for the simple reason that it is dead to all such stimuli. Death renders the body or principle of sin inoperative.
Since Christ died to sin and rose to new life, it has no mastery or dominion over Him. Since we are identified with Christ, the same is true for us. God reckons us to be dead to the prompting of sin because we participate in Christ’s death BY FAITH.
In light of Chapter 5 of Romans, which teaches that God deals with the human race according to the doctrines of solidarity and imputation, whatever happened to Christ, happened to us—when He died on the Cross to sin, we died with Him!
WE WERE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST JESUS. The word BAPTIZED is not a translation but the actual Greek term, which literally means to dip in or under, to dye, to immerse, to sink, to drown, to bathe and to wash. However, Paul is not speaking about WATER BAPTISM, which is the outward portrayal of inward realities. Here the apostle uses the metaphorical meaning of BAPTIZED.
The fact that metaphor rises from the literal in no way makes it necessary to think in literal terms of the metaphor. For example, our English word IRON means a certain metal. But who thinks of metal in finding the meaning of the phrase, “He has an iron constitution?” When used this way as a metaphor, iron means firmness, stubbornness or obstinacy of will.
In the NT, BAPTIZED can refer to dipping into water or to washing, but it usually denotes a change of identity, or, to identify. There is no water in this verse!
We must remember that Paul was using language and pictures that almost anyone of his day and generation would understand. It may seem strange to us, but was not strange to his contemporaries.
When a man entered the Jewish religion from heathenism, it involved three things—sacrifice, circumcision and baptism. The Gentile entered the Jewish faith by baptism. The ritual was as follows.
The person to be baptized cut his nails and hair; he undressed completely, the baptismal bath must contain at least forty seahs, that is two hogsheads, of water; every part of his body must be touched by the water. As he was in the water, he made confession of his faith before three fathers of baptism and certain exhortations and benedictions were addressed to them.
The effect of this baptism was held to be complete regeneration; he was called a little child just born, the child of one day. All his sins were remitted because God could not punish sins committed before he was born. The completeness of the change was seen in the fact that certain Rabbis held that a man’s child born after baptism was his first-born, even if he had older children. Once baptized, the Gentile was identified as a Jew.
BAPTISM is IDENTIFICATION. Why did the sinlessness of Jesus not exclude Him from being baptized by John the Baptist? Because His Messiahship included identification with sinners. On the Cross, He identified with our sins when He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities—when the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Last year I stood an looked at the place of the Skull, Golgotha, Calvary, just outside the walls of Jerusalem. There I imagined Jesus hanging on a Cross, not because of Jews or Gentiles nailed Him to the Cross—No, it was for my sins He hung there. My sin put Him up there, and your sin put Him up there. We were identified with Christ Jesus as He hung on the Cross.
In other words, when Jesus was baptized with water, it was a symbolic act of identification that pointed forward to the Cross and Empty Tomb. When we are baptized with water, it is a symbolic act that points back to the Cross and the Empty Tomb. We identify with Christ as He identified with us on the Cross.
When we became a CHRISTIAN, our identity was changed. We are called saints instead of sinners. We are the children of God instead of the Devil.
The NT tells us that our things occurred in our spiritual baptism, when we were identified with Christ:
- God poured out of the Holy Spirit into our life;
- God cleansed us from sin;
- God placed us in the body of Christ, the Church; and
- God united us in the death and resurrection of
Paul illuminates the uniting aspect of spiritual baptism in Romans 6:4—
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Grace has its own dynamic control. It is not found externally in tablets of stone upon which are written God’s laws, but in the inner man where the Spirit of God has taken up residence. Ezekiel 36:25-27 explains—
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Thursday night Congress passed a law that allows individual states to determine whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed in schools and public buildings. The display of the Ten Commandments might provide a small measure of restraint, but the history along with the Bible shows that natural man cannot keep them. All in Adam are ungodly sinners. Natural man is dead in sins and trespasses.
The goal of BAPTISM is NEW LIFE. To have new life we must be BORN CRUCIFIED. In other words, we must die to live! We died with Christ on the Cross, and we rose with Him from the Tomb. We participated in both events by solidarity and imputation. The moment we are justified by faith, we are united or joined with Christ in His death and resurrection. Verse 5—
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
This tremendous spiritual truth is illustrated in the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus in chapter 11 of John. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days; so there was no question about his death. By the power of His Word—“Lazarus, come forth!”—Jesus raised His friend from the dead.
But when Lazarus appeared at door of the tomb, he was wrapped in grave clothes. so Jesus commanded, “Loose him and let him go.” He had been raised to walk in newness of life. In the next chapter, we see Lazarus seated with Christ at the table, in fellowship with Him. Dead—raised from the dead—set free to walk newness of life—seated with Christ—all of these facts our being united with the One who said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
The Greek tense of MIGHT BE DONE AWAY WITH is subjunctive. That means the action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances. Our old self was crucified when we were born again, but that does not mean that our old self has been eradicated or annihilated. DONE AWAY WITH means that our old nature is RENDERED INOPERATIVE. It has been put out of business. Christ broke the power or mastery of sin.
SIN is described as a MASTER and we are its SLAVES. Sin’s bondage, however, has been broken. We were formerly slaves to sin, but we have now become slaves to righteousness. The old self, literally THE OLD MAN, was crucified with Christ! He died on the Cross with Christ. That’s to say, the sinful nature we inherited from Adam died. Our old dispositions and appetites and evil desires have been put to death.
That’s what Paul means by THE BODY OF SIN. It is rendered idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative so that we too may live a new life. Paul’s testimony in Galatians 2:20 should be the testimony of every believer—
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul want us to know that because we died, we have been freed from sin. FREED is in the Greek perfect tense, which indicates a completed action in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. We are born again once—not many times!
As we go forward in Romans, however, we will see that Paul teaches that our old self is still alive and kicking in our body. Legally and positionally we are to know that our old self has been crucified with Christ. Experientially, our old self will not be exterminated until our physical body actually dies. Until then, there is to be that daily crucifixion in our life that Jesus taught in Luke 9:23—
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
To understand the Christian life, we must understand the death which begins our life. Death by the cross or crucifixion was never instantaneous; it was long drawn out. This why crucifixion so clearly illustrates our death with the Lord Jesus, for this is how God deals with our old self our body of sin. He does not annihilate it and leave us in sinless perfection. Our death with Christ is both a crisis and a process. In today’s passage, Paul is speaking about the CRISIS of salvation—our position. Jesus spoke about the PROCESS of sanctification in Luke 9:23—our condition.
If we do not understand this, we lose years of joy in God and live far below the level of what God has for us in Christ.
Untold thousand of believers go through essentially the same experience. After becoming aware that they are sinners, they receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. At this point, most believers anticipate complete victory over sin; but suddenly they become aware that their flesh is struggling against the Spirit of God. Many are defeated and even fall into grievous sin.
Then the new believer wonders, “Am I really saved? if so, how could this happen?” Then he learns that he must be daily crucified with Christ. Unfortunately, many never learn this truth and are defeated by Satan. To try to live the Christian life in ignorance is not bliss, it’s misery!
I am still dying with Christ day by day and finding new depths in my Adamic nature that must be crucified so that I might follow Christ. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:22—
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.
Instead of letting the new self reign in their life, many Christians let the old self reign, even though God has declared it legally dead.
Too many Christians are BETWEENERS—they live between Egypt and Canaan, saved but never satisfied; or they live between Good Friday and Easter, believing in the Cross but not entering into the power and glory of the resurrection.
The Christian life, is not merely negative. It does not consist simply in freedom from sin. It is a new and risen life. Verses 8-10—
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
The death that Jesus died was to sin. It was a one time event which ended His relationship to sin once and for all. Therefore, the life He now lives is one of complete fellowship with God.
Like Christ, we too can live in obedience to God. Sin is a terrible master, and it finds a willing servant in the human body. The body is not sinful; the body is neutral. It can be controlled either by sin or by God. But man’s fallen nature, which is not changed at conversion, gives sin a beach-head from which it can attack and then control.
The Good News is that Christ broke the mastery or power of sin so that it no longer controls our lives.
There is more than a mere ethical or legal change in our life when we accept Christ. There is a real identification with Christ, but there is much more to being IN CHRIST. A great scholar has suggested this analogy. We cannot live our physical life unless we are in the air and the air is in us; unless we are in Christ, and Christ in us, we cannot live the life of God.
We are BAPTIZED into Christ. Like air, we are to live and breathe Christ. We have a living, personal relationship with Him and if we cultivate this relationship, we experience the new life of holiness.