Crucified With Christ
Know You Are Dead To Sin

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 25a of 83


“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? &c” (Romans 6:1-14).

We are doing a survey study of the book of Romans. The central theme of the book of Romans is the doctrine of justification. The doctrine of justification teaches us that the ground of man’s acceptance with God is not in himself, but in Christ.

The apostle ended his formal presentation of the doctrine of justification in chapter 4. In the first part of chapter 5, he has begun to describe some of the benefits of justification. In particular, he spoke of how we will persevere in Christ unto all eternity.

But, from verse 12 to the end of the chapter, Paul brings us back to the doctrine of justification to show us another aspect of it. He shows us how all men are either represented by Christ or by Adam. God has always dealt with man on the basis of a covenant head. In Adam all sin and die. In Christ all are accounted righteous and live.

But in bringing up the parallel between Adam and Christ, Paul shows how Adam accentuated the greatness of Christ. This leads him to show also how the Law likewise accentuates the greatness of Christ. In particular, he shows us that the written Law magnified sin, and sin magnified grace and grace abounded in Christ: 

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom 5:20).

Now, we come to chapter 6, and Paul is resuming his exposition of the benefits of justification. In particular, he will address the blessings of sanctification. But he begins by linking it with the thought that may arise from what he has just said at the end of chapter 5. He has said “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

This may lead some to think that sin must be good. Since grace abounded when sin abounded, we should surely continue in sin so that grace may abound. Now, this may seem to be a rather ridiculous reasoning. But truth is stranger than fiction. There was in the late 19th century, a notorious self-styled Russian Orthodox monk by the name Gregory Rasputin. This man actually held and taught this reasoning! He believed that the more you sin the more God will give you grace. And if you are just an ordinary sinner, you will only experience ordinary grace: For you are not giving God the opportunity to display His glory! You should therefore strive to be an extraordinary sinner. Rasputin was himself known to be extremely immoral. He was called the “saintly sinner.” But whatever he was, He was not a Christian.

Paul anticipates this kind of strange argument in verse 1 of our text:

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

How does he answer? His answer is clear and immediate:

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein.

“God forbid.” The Greek for this phrase does not have the word “God.” But it is such a strong negative that our translators have to choose the strongest way of saying, “NO!” And the strongest way of saying no in the 17th century, and even today, is “God forbid!”

Absolutely not! Not at all! By no mean! Do not even think about it! How can we who are dead to sin live any longer in sin?

Paul does not answer his own question. The answer should be quite obvious! It is absolutely unthinkable and incongruous that those who are dead to sin should continue to live in sin. But as with most doctrinal assertion, what ought to be obvious is often not so obvious to everyone. So Paul goes on to explain and develops what he is saying. His explanation revolves around three things he wants us to do.

  •   In verses 3-10, he wants us to know that we are dead to sin;
  •   In verse 11, he wants us to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin; and
  •   In verse 12-14, he wants us to yield ourselves unto God rather than unto sin.

Here then is a simple outline to follow this instructive passage on the Christian life.

1.  Know

What does Paul want us to know? He wants us to know that we are dead to sin.

a.   In the first place, when we were baptised into Christ, we were identified with Christ in His death and resurrection (v. 3-5). Paul says:

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Paul is no doubt referring to water baptism. Water Baptism is a picture of Spirit Baptism. It is a sign and seal not only of our regeneration, but of our union with Christ.

Our water baptism symbolises our identification with Christ. It marks us out not only as belonging to Christ, but as being one with Christ. Christ is the Head of the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ!

When we are baptised, we are marked out as being united to Christ. In particular, the death of Christ on the Cross becomes our death. This is why Paul says that we are baptised into the death of Christ. Christ our Lord died for our sin. He was altogether righteous. He needed not have died; but He died for us. He died to pay for our sin. Why did He die for our sins? In order that we might “walk in newness of life” (v. 4):

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Paul is speaking metaphorically when he says, “we are buried with him by baptism into death.” Our baptism confirms that His death was our death. Our sins were paid for because we died in Christ.

But take careful note of what Paul is saying. Notice that he is not speaking about our justification or reconciliation to God. He has already spoken about earlier. But here now he is speaking about sanctification. Christ died not only to justify us, but in order that we might be sanctified. In other words, Christ died not only to give us a right standing in God’s eyes, but also to enable to live a holy life that pleases God.

5 For [says Paul] if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

There a very intimate union between Christ and His people. This union is signified and sealed in our baptism. By this union, we know that as Christ died literally, so His people must, in a sense, die spiritually. And as Christ rose literally, so His people must rise spiritually. As Christ died and rose literally, so His people die and rise spiritually. As Christ must rise when He died, so we must rise when we die in Christ.

He is the Vine, we are the branches. The death of the vine necessitate the death of the branches. The life the vine necessitate the life of the branches.  Such is the union between Christ and His Church that His death and resurrections makes it absolutely necessary that we die and rise. We must die to sin and self; and rise in newness of life.

b.  This is especially since our old man has been crucified, and its body of sin has been destroyed (v. 6-7):

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Our “old man” refers to our corrupt nature. By nature we are dead in sin and trespasses. We have a wicked and corrupt nature. This is our old man. “Our old man,” says Paul, is crucified with Christ. This is a very vivid way of saying that when Christ died on the Cross, our old man died too. Paul says elsewhere:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal 5:24).

“The flesh with the affections and lust” is the old man. The old man is as good as dead. We need no longer to submit to his tyranny. Our old man is crucified with Christ, “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

The term “body of sin” does not refer to our literal bodies. No, Paul is speaking figuratively (cf. Col 2:11). The “old man” has a “body of sin.” The old man is like a person. It has a body. It has life. It has power. It can lead astray. And it can also be put to death.

By the grace of God, our old man is dead. He was crucified with Christ when we died with Christ. For this reason we are no longer under the dominion of sin. We are “freed from sin.” We are freed from the bondage of sin. Before our union with Christ we were under the bondage of sin. We could not but sin. We were unable not to sin. But now, we that we are crucified with Christ, we are able not to sin. Our old man who loves sin has died.

c.   Is this the case with you, dear reader? If it is, then you will live unto God. We have been raised to live unto God. This is what the apostle says:

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

7

 
Christ died for sin but once. Once for all, He paid for the penalty due to all our sins; and then He rose. Death has no more dominion over Him because He has completed paying for it. Therefore Christ is living and He is living unto God. Now because Christ liveth, we shall live. We shall live with Him. We shall live because He lives. We shall live because we are one with Christ. And Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us.

As Christ lives unto God, we will live unto God. This is in the first place, the reason why Christ died. He died for us that we might die to sin. Therefore, as He rose, we also rise and live unto God in righteousness. How do we rise? We rise spiritually in our regeneration and sanctification. One day we shall rise in our second resurrection; but today we have already been raise from the dead. We have experienced the first resurrection. We should already be living unto God with Christ.

This is a fact. It is true whether or not you have experienced it. This is why Paul says:

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim