I’d like to begin with a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “This morning…we come again to the same noble theme. Christ Jesus is today to be set forth. You will not charge me as repeating myself, you will not look up to the pulpit and say, “Pulpits are places of repetition.” You will not reply that you have heard this story so often that you have grown weary with it, for well I know that with you…the person, the character, and the work of Christ are always fresh themes for wonder. We have seen the sea, some of us hundreds of times, and what an abiding sameness there is in its deep green surface, but whoever called the sea monotonous; traveling over it as the mariner does, sometimes by the year together, there is always a freshness in the undulation of the waves, the whiteness of the foam of the breaker, the curl of the crested billow, and the frolicsome pursuit of every wave by its long train of brothers.”[1]

I begin with this quote today because as we keep on in Romans 6, we’re coming again to the same theme we lingered on last week in our time together. In Romans 6:1-4 we were reminded of who we are in Christ. That by being united to Him by faith, we died with Him and rose with Him and that we’re now dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what we saw in v1-4. And as we move ahead to v5-11 we see much of the same thing, but we see it expanded. So as we enter into some repetition today, with Spurgeon I ask you, do not call these themes of wonder monotonous, no. Rather it’s my prayer you’d see a deep freshness in what is already familiar to you.

If you’re not already there turn with me to Romans 6.

The point[2] at which we’ve now arrived in Romans 6 is that we should not and must not believe we can continue in sin so that grace may abound. We should not and must not abuse God’s grace in this way. Rather, we must remember that we’re no longer in the grave, no longer in the kingdom of darkness, but in the Kingdom of God. And that we should live as such. Paul expands on this in v5-11 in more detail about what exactly happened to us the moment we went from being in Adam to being in Christ, the moment when we died with Christ and rose with Christ. ‘Remember who you are’ is the big call here today. It was the call we heard last week, and Lord willing it’ll be the call we hear next week as well. Which really shows what Romans 6:1-14 is getting at, our identity in Christ.

So, v5-11 comes to us in two parts, each having to do with us ‘knowing’ certain things. See first…

“We Know” Death (v5-7)

“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. 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

As we begin, see how v5 is a summary of what Paul just finished saying in v1-4 while at the same time being the opening statement for what’s to come in v6-7. It’s a ‘if this, then that’ kind of argument. Like, if you accidentally eat a pickle you’ll then without hesitation spit it out. One naturally follows the other. This is what Paul’s doing here, “If we’ve been united with Christ in a death like His…” so too “…we shall certainly (not maybe, not possibly, not even probably) we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” We can state this positively. We get both of these in our union with Christ. Both death and crucifixion as well as life and resurrection is ours in Christ. Everything we’ve ever needed provided richly for us in Christ. Amen. We can also state this negatively. We can’t have one without the other. We can’t love and enjoy the crucifixion without the resurrection, and we can’t love the resurrection without the crucifixion. Or, we can’t say we’re covered in the blood of Christ shed on the cross, enjoy having all our sins washed away, and believe we’re forgiven forever…and leave it at that ignoring the resurrection and the power and call contained within it to walk in newness of life as v4 mentions. Just as we can’t trumpet the call to be new and walk new in the power and victory that comes with the resurrection…and leave it at that ignoring the crucifixion that made it possible! If you’re in Christ, you’re united to Him in all that He has done, His death as well as in His resurrection.[3]

But question: how are these things true of us? Is Paul saying that we’re united with Jesus in His crucifixion and resurrection spiritually or physically? You might immediately say it’s a spiritual reality, simply because we weren’t there at the cross or at the empty tomb when the actual historical events took place, so it has to be spiritual union being spoken of here, right? Yes, these things become true of us spiritually the moment we place our faith in Christ and our saved. Spiritually we died when Christ died, and spiritually we rose when Christ rose. But don’t miss it Church, the day is coming when what is now true of us spiritually will be true of us physically when we stand with the Lord of glory in glory.[4] What a day that will be! But Paul doesn’t stop with this thought and move on to what comes next, no. In v6-7 Paul keeps on, explaining this to us in terms of something we’re to know.

“We know that our old self was crucified with Him…” Notice here Paul clarifies what happened when we died with Christ. He says “our old self” died with Him. Then he goes further and says this happened, “…in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing…” What is the “old self” and the “body of sin” Paul’s speaking of here? You might at first think it’s this body we’re in right now, the physical body, and then conclude that our bodies, the physical or visible part of us is bad while the spiritual or invisible part of us is good. This is very common to think this, that sinfulness is at root a very physical thing, that sin exists at the level of our base instincts or appetites, and shows itself in things like gluttony, sex, or drunkenness. This is what the ancient Greeks believed to be true, and they got it from Plato who taught that this was true. But this is not what Paul is getting at here.[5] Paul might be using the phrase “body of sin” but to him our sinful nature doesn’t reside in our physical bodies, it’s deeper within us, in our very souls.

So the “old self” and the “body of sin” do not refer to our physical bodies but are phrases describing all that we once were in Adam, or our old man that once lived under the tyranny and reign of sin and death.[6] John Stott once put it like this in his book Men Made New, “…what was crucified with Christ was…the whole of me as I was before I was converted.”[7]This is what Paul has in mind here in v6. But what did this death of our old self and body of sin bring about? Freedom from sin’s chains. See this? At the end of v6 Paul says sin was master over us, it had us bound and enslaved. So for Paul when he thinks about our life before we were in Christ, or our life in Adam, the image of slavery comes to his mind. What then does slavery to sin look like? That, I think, is a question we sadly all know the answer to. Sin at first seems alluring, tempting, desirable. But when we give into it, make room for it, or yield to it, do we find the joy, pleasure, and satisfaction we were searching for? No, not at all. What do we find instead? Guilt, despair, and emptiness. Slavery to sin then, looks like death. Perhaps the image we mentioned last week comes back into view. Sin is a banquet in the grave. It leads to death, stinks like death, and spreads the rottenness of death within us.

With all of this in mind, and in light the dire reality of the slavery of sin, do you see the glory of v6-7? Christ died that our slavery to sin would be brought to nothing! He died so that we would no longer be bound to sin’s alluring grip and deceitful power. Which then leads to the great pronouncement of v7, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” This is the truest kind of emancipation ever found. But I wonder if you see it as such. Church, you might see v6-7 as a kind of call to die to sin. Is it? Not at all! This is not a call to put away sin or to fight sin. This is not a call to do something or to do anything Church, this is a reminder of what God has already done![8] If you’ve believed in Christ, you’re now in Christ, united to Christ, and when He died on the cross what we once were is now no more, and though the temptation to live in Adam still remains, Adam no longer rules over us, and no longer represents us. Christ does.

This death with Christ, this death to sin in Christ is, remember the start of v6, something we know. But we know more…

“We Know” Life (v8-11)

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

v8 is the opening statement to v8-11, just as v5 was the opening statement for v5-7. Notice that in it Paul reminds us of what we just covered, our death with Christ. But do you see how Paul says what he says here? “…we believe…” If we’ve died with Him, we believe we will also live with Him! This is a statement of sure hope! Paul did the same thing in v5 when he used the word ‘certainly’ to indicate how true and beautiful our death with Christ is, here in v8 Paul uses the phrase ‘we believe’ to do the same and show us how true and beautiful our resurrection with Christ is. So since Jesus died and rose, and since we’re one with Him, we died and rose with Him, we believe this.

Now, v9 is where we come to the second reality we’re said to ‘know.’ The truth is given to us in v9-10 and applied to us in v11. But do you see how v9-10 is all about Jesus and not about us, but that in v11 Paul shows how this is so very relevant to us? See it in v9-10, ‘we know’ that Christ’s resurrection means He will never die again. No, the death He died He died once for all, as v10 says. Jesus then does not go on dying again and again, dying is something He’s already done. The resurrection proves this, that He’s finished the work His Father sent Him to do. I think we get this, but to make sure we get it compare Jesus with Lazarus.[9] Lazarus, by the word of Christ, was raised from the grave. But remember, Lazarus would have to die again, whether at old age, or at a tragic event sooner than old age. The resurrection he experienced did enable him to walk out of the grave once, but it didn’t keep him from entering into another grave later on. So when the Pharisees plotted to kill Lazarus in John 12:10 you think Lazarus was scared? He probably laughed to hear of their plans in a ‘Been there, done that!’ kind of manner. Jesus, on the other hand, walked out of the tomb, never to return to it again. His resurrection is greater, it’s stronger, and it confirmed who He truly is, the Son of God in power!

While we understand this detail in v9 that He will never die again, do you understand the other detail about Jesus in v9? “…death no longer has dominion over Him.” What does that mean? How could death ever have dominion over Jesus? Isn’t death the result of sin? Well, Jesus never sinned, so how can death have any dominion over Him? Dominion is a term denoting power and is often used to show how a stronger power exerts authority on a lesser power. How could that ever be true of Jesus? Isn’t He the King over all kings? Yes He is the King, but He’s our King of grace. Who in great love willingly took our sin upon Himself and by so doing willingly put Himself under the penalty of our sin, which is death, and by putting Himself under that penalty He fully embraced the sting of death, for us. This is the only explanation possible that Jesus could have ever been under the dominion of death.[10] He allowed it, He permitted it, and in the greatest irony of history, when death exerted its dominion over Him and killed Him on the cross, death paved the way for Jesus to exert His greater authority over death and kill death forever in His resurrection! Now, having died to sin and rising from the grave, never to re-enter it again, the life He now lives He lives to God. And that life in Him, the resurrection life, He gives to us when He saves us. What does that mean for us?

See it in v11, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Having now told us solely about Jesus Paul turns to the Christian and gives application. See how he does it. In v11 he calls us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Some read in this a kind of psychological mind trick Christians must repeat to themselves over and over again, where we keep telling ourselves and trying to convince ourselves that we are not what we used to be and are truly new in the gospel, and eventually from doing that over and over we’ll become certain of it. Church, there’s no mind trick here. v11, in reality, isn’t telling us to do anything but realize and embrace what’s already been done for us! It tells us about our position in Christ! It tells us who we are! It tells us what is now true of us!

Let me remind you of what these teaches us about sin. Christians sin, you know that. But see it, we do not sin as slaves. We’ve been saved from the dominion of sin and have been made free. So now when Christians sin, we sin as free sons and daughters voluntarily choosing to walk back into the grave we’ve been raised from. Perhaps this is why we need so much gospel repetition.

When slavery was abolished in our country, there were many thousands of people who had been born in slavery, brought up as slaves, and were used to living as slaves. But when the civil war settled the issue, freedom was proclaimed throughout the land, and freedom was rejoiced in. But, many older men and women who had been very used to being slaves, kept forgetting they were now free, and would find themselves returning again to their former slave like behavior and habits. Can you imagine the struggle? What they had to do was keep reminding themselves of what was now true of them, that they were no longer slaves but were free, and that they can truly live as free men and women. This is so like the Christian. We are no longer slaves to sin, and so when a Christian sins what they’re doing is voluntarily returning to their former life, to what they once were as a slave to sin. It’s the essence of folly, because we’re not what we once were. Our whole position has been changed. We’re now free and we should live like it![11]

Conclusion:

We’ve looked at two big ‘we know’ statements together in our passage today. My question for you as we end is simple: do you know these things?

I pray you do. May you remember who you are and live in light of it.


[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Christ Set Forth as a Propitiation: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 7. (London, England: Passmore & Alabaster, 1861) 201.

[2] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans 6 – The New Man (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1985), 55.

[3] Ibid., 58.

[4] Ibid., 59.

[5] R.C. Sproul, Romans, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2009), 192.

[6] Douglas Moo, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2018), 398.

[7] John Stott, Men Made New, quoted in Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 397.

[9] Ibid., 402.

[10] Lloyd-Jones, Romans, 100. Beautiful section here, very much worth reading and rejoicing in.

[11] Ibid., 130.

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