Romans 6:1-14: The “Secret” of Union With Christ
I’m gonna invite you please to open your Bibles with me to Romans Chapter 6, Romans Chapter 6.
I willingly confess that this sermon series that I’ve titled, The secret of the Christian life, was built around this sermon and this text… This was the one I couldn’t wait to get to.
I call it the secret of the Christian life. They’re really not secrets, it’s not some big mystery, I think they’re just truths that we often forget- that the vast majority of Christians don’t know about or don’t remember, and so I’ve been offering these to you each week, and this is one that I think is the most forgotten truth in Christianity.
If you’d open with me, Romans Chapter 6, and I’m going to read verses 1 through 14, and we’ll pray and we’ll jump into explaining what this wonderful text means.
Romans 6 verse 1: “What shall we say then, are we to continue in sin so that grace will abound. By no means. How can we who have 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. 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 may no longer be enslaved to sin. For the one who has died has been set free from sin.
Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we also will 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.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. But present yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law, but are under grace.”
Let’s pray. God, help us to receive these words, and I think beyond that, Lord, we need capacity, we need categories, we need buckets in our mind to put these ideas in to understand them, we need a revelation, we need you to give insight right now and reveal these truths to us, so that your people here today can live as those who are free and we need those who are not believing in you today to find freedom for the first time in their life, so open eyes so that we can see- all of our eyes so that we can see these wonderful truths, a Pray this in your precious name. Amen.
So you could call this sermon- the main idea of this, the Secret of the Mind of Freedom. And that’s kind of where we’re gonna be headed today, now to this point in Romans Chapter 1 through 5, is one of the most concrete jam-packed, full theological statements of what it means for us to be saved, what it means for anyone to be saved… Now, how many of you have read Romans 1 through five? How many of you have read Romans one through five and scratched your head a little bit… Okay, that’s normal. In fact, Peter said of Paul, in 2 Peter, he goes, “some of what Paul writes is hard to understand”, and we all say Amen. That’s really hard to follow Paul. But we wanna understand because it’s very apparent to us that you’re talking about things that matter, that are glorious things that we barely catch a hint of a smell of and we want to taste fully.
We need that God.
So Romans One through Five is this concrete jam pack and basically the theology goes like this, Romans 1-3, he talks in Chapter One about how those who never knew about God, never knew about his law, are still without excuse in their sins.
Even if you don’t know about God, even if nobody ever told you anything in the Bible, you are still without excuse, because there is enough revelation in creation, there is enough out there in the glory of this world to know that there’s a God and know that he made us and therefore, we owe something to him, We owe our thanks to him, and instead people who have not been trained by the Word of God have so often devolved into worshipping the creation rather than the creator. And then that so often led to a variety of sexual sins, a variety of idolatry, a variety of many other sins that were just depraved and ruin lives. And we’re not honoring a God who made all things. Well, Chapter Two, then moves to, Oh, by the way, you who have the Bible, you who grew up in church, you who read the Sunday school or new Sunday school stories? From the time you were young, read the Bible, from the time you were young, you too, just because you have the truth, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. It’s not enough to know the right thing.
In fact, then he moves to Romans Chapter 3, his line of argument is, all of us have sinned and all of us have fallen short of the glory of God, that’s Romans 3, 10.
I’m sorry, Romans 3-10 is none righteous, no, not one 3:23s, all sinned. And so the teaching there that he’s trying to guide everybody to a point of lossness, everybody to a point of helplessness, and we don’t like to be helpless… Amen? We don’t like to feel like we’re not in control, amen? We don’t like to feel like we’re dirty and we can’t clean ourselves up… Amen. Anyone else? And yet, that’s where Romans 1 to 3 leaves every single one of us.
I don’t care if you’re the best person in this room. I don’t care if you’re better than the worst person in this room, it doesn’t matter, we are all on even footing before the cross of Jesus Christ in desperate need of what he accomplished for us there, ’cause we’ve all sinned, or… And the end of Romans 3 then begins to explore this idea, what does it mean to be saved? Is salvation just that God saves us?
Is it that He will save us when we become good enough, that he saves us out of this world of corruption and sin, as we get better, we get to a certain point, maybe we’re at level one and we need to get at level five of righteousness and then God will save us, then God will deliver us. And that’s how many people have in their mind, whether you realize it or not, Christian or not, many people get trapped in the line of thinking that I will turn to God for help.
When I’ve clean myself up a little bit, I will turn to God for help, when I’ve started to do a little bit better than I am currently.
When I feel like I’m good enough to be able to approach God, then I’ll start praying to him.
Listen, I wanna tell you something. You can never approach God that way.
I know it’s backwards, I know it seems weird, but God in His salvation in Romans Chapter 3 and four is saying, Look, you can’t do it. You can’t get good enough. You’re never going to be there. And that’s why Jesus was stopped, because only Jesus could be good enough on your account so that you could be a child, only Jesus could do what you could never do.
And so he offers this rich, full, free salvation where he says, here’s a gift, I extend it to you freely today, you don’t have to get good enough first, you don’t have to convert to being a Jew first, you don’t have go after religious activities, first, you don’t have to crawl on your knees a thousand miles to some random spiritual location first. No, none of that is necessary. It is a gift, I’ve given it to you, I’ve done it all for you, so that I could be both just and righteous in dealing with your sins, but also the one who justifies you or makes you righteous in the blood of Jesus Christ, so that I can accept you. Listen, all of us outside of Christ are under condemnation. All of us outside of Christ are under the threat daily of hell, and we’re only holding on by this little single thread we call life.
I grew up in a small town called Cincinnatus.
A lot of fun names for Cincinnatus- rural community, upstate New York.
I went to a Christian school and church and youth group, and so all of these things, I had a very close-knit group of people that I knew. I didn’t have wide casting connections, I had a select few group of people, one of my memories from being there was playing basketball, in youth group, before youth group, after game at half time of game, and I remember there was always one other who would join me when I played… He was a lot younger than I was.
His name was Judah Harris.
His sister was in a lot of my classes, his mom taught me in the Christian school and in Sunday school, Judah… Yeah, he would always get out there and play with me, and this last week, 20-some years old, he died in a car crash.
It’s a thin thread we call life, we think we’re so secure, and the only thing that keeps us from falling into God’s condemnation today is the thin thread called life, and Jesus- God, he extends to you today, you don’t have to fall in the condemnation when you die, when you die, you can come to be home with me, face-to-face with me in Heaven, but it’s a gift, this magnificent Truth, verse after verse, built on and then builds to the early part of Romans Chapter 5, a verse that I’ve quoted multiple times in the service where he says, God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. A few verses before, He didn’t say we were still sinners, he said we were still helpless. Helpless and sinners, we are helpless to save ourselves, and we are enemies because of our sin to God, and while we were still in those sins, it was then that Christ died for us, it wasn’t… He waited until we showed that we were gonna get better, and then he died for us to save us, it wasn’t that he waited for us to show up to church, he waited for us to get her life back on track, and then He died for us. Now, while you are still sinners, Christ died for you. I’m trying to emphasize to you today the importance of the freedom of the gift of God, you get it yet, it’s an extension of his giving nature, that’s who God is, to offer you salvation and you glorify Him when instead of trying to earn it, you simply receive it -you glorify His giving nature.
God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He goes on in chapter five, and he explains that even though sin is going to still be going on, God’s grace is gonna abound above and beyond our sin today, and then that brings us to a really obvious question and where we start our passage today, and it’s a question that you yourselves have asked, I’m sure you’ve dealt with it. I’m sure you’ve dealt with it in your life… It’s the question of, when do you give forgiveness after somebody’s hurt you?
Yeah, do you wait for them to get like, Okay, show me you really mean it, and then I forive.
How often do you forgive? Forgiveness, how much forgiveness do you give… Do you give a little bit and then you see that they try to get a little better. So then you give a little more. And then they try to give a little. And then they try to get a little better and then you give them a little more… How does that work? And in the case of US and God, not just US with somebody else, when God offers His forgiveness absolutely freely, does that mean that you and I should just do whatever we want, ’cause God’s grace is gonna cover it anyway.
I’m gonna live however I want today, because God’s grace is gonna abound much more, and it’s just a gift. So I’m just gonna receive it. receive that gift. I’m gonna receive that gift. That’s what he’s asking. In Verse 1, What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin, that grace can abound?
Should we just keep on sinning if God’s grace is so great, that means I can do whatever I want, and I’m gonna tell you You fundamentally… And he’s gonna argue. You fundamentally misunderstand God’s grace if you think that way. First thing is that God’s grace was meant to lead us to repentance, He says that Romans chapter 2. So when he gives that grace, it’s meant to teach us to deny our ungodliness and worldly lust, that’s really good advice for you, by the way, in your relationship with others, this ethic is so crazy upside down to the way we think about how grace and forgiveness should work in our world.
And yet this is the gospel truth.
He loved us with a covenantal promise love, it was not just googly eyes, it’s not just, I like you. Do you like me too? Like some people make Christianity out to be… My God is saying, I like you. Will you like me too? And we say, Yeah, sure. We’ll like you, and then we all get along like, no, that’s not Christianity. This was a covenant promise love where God transforms us, and what we see here really clearly is that we normally think that our righteousness precedes or comes before God’s forgiveness, we naturally get it stuck in our head that we need to be qualified in order to receive forgiveness for what we’ve done in the past.
But we normally think that righteousness actually makes forgiveness possible, but it’s actually the exact other way around, Christianity is forgiveness precedes your righteousness, God’s forgiveness comes before your righteous living, God’s forgiveness makes your righteousness even possible, and that brings us to our passage here, because if you understand all of these things, that’s wonderful, but you need to understand what God has done in your relationship with sin as a result of your salvation.
So in order to do that, we’re gonna quickly work through four different keywords in this passage, and then we’re gonna end with some application at the end. Four words that your translations might translate differently ’cause they’re difficult words to translate, but I think what you’ll be able to get a really good grip on what day each mean? And the first one is the word crucify with- Verse 6: We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing. It’s not a very hard word to translate, but I want you to hear me say that that word is not used very often in the Word of God, and one of the only other times it’s used in the word of God is of the thieves that were crucified on each side of Jesus, you remember that Jesus is crucified in the middle, two thieves, one on each side, one ends up believing in Jesus, but the three of them were crucified together.
Now, listen to what he says.
He says, You know that your old self was crucified with Him. Stop. Full Stop. Think. Is this symbolic?
Is he just giving an illustration here? ‘Cause I think that’s how most Christian think… No hint in this passage whatsoever that he is being symbolic here, he is talking as literally as He talked in chapter three about how the only way for you to be saved is by the justification of God through Jesus Christ. There is a mystery here. I most wanna call it some old Christian authors would call it a mystical reality here that transcends time and location. It’s a mystery that the moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ, that moment, there’s a part of you, we say the old self, the old you, that part of you that constantly was defaulting to sin, that was crucified with Jesus Christ in a real way, not in an illustration way, not in a fake way, not in a… You should imagine it like this way, in a real way, your old self was crucified.
Now, let’s bring it down, let’s bring it down exactly what this means, ’cause some of you have been saved later on in your life, praise God for you, you know what your old self was, you know the habits you ran to, some of you have been saved since the time you were young, and it’s hard to remember before that, don’t think about old self like it’s whatever happened before you got saved. If you think about it like that, you’re gonna be frustrated if you were saved when were young… There are plenty of old self-isms in your life still today. That moment, What If I was talking with you one-on-one about your struggles right now, we would talk about that specific thing, but I don’t have that ability. So what’s your struggle? Think about it right now, you get angry, you get bitter, you love money, you love possessions, and you’re always chasing more goal, you struggle with lust, you lust after other people, your proud and egotistical, you’re always thinking about me. You have a tendency to lie with your tongue, gossip with your tongue, be rude with your tongue… What is it for you? I listed a bunch there… What is your thing?
Now, I want you to think about that. That thing, hold it in your mind, is part of your old self?
Now, personify it. Make it into a person. Not just a black BLOB, which is how I imagine sin. Now imagine that that person, that old self, evil and criminal was crucified with Jesus Christ and is dead.
That’s what you’re supposed to do here. You’re supposed to put that kind of thinking here and realize that now the second word that’s really important is in the same verse, it’s the word we were… The old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing. Your translations might have several different translations there, a difficult word to translate, I’ll give you the variety that you can choose from, I’m gonna list them off here, they all mean basically the same thing to cause to come to an end, to cause to no longer be in existence, to abolish, to wipe out set aside cause something to be unproductive, use up, exhaust cost something to lose its power, effectiveness, invalidate, make powerless caused to release of someone from an obligation be discharge… Be released, and I could go on and on, but the idea is that it is destroyed.
So as you imagine that old self part of You crucified with Jesus Christ, it’s there on the cross, that means it’s debt, and the authority and the power that it has over you is gone.
I’m gonna tie this together with the next word, the third word that I want you to pay attention to is old self. Verse 6, We know that the old self was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be brought to know nothing, so that we would no longer be in slave to sin. For the one who has died has been set free from sin. Do I need to define freedom for you? Sometimes I feel like I do to be independent from something, the words that he’s choosing here are very clear, it’s to picture you as enslaved to a cruel slave master is to picture you as you have something inside of you that is a king, a dictator that wants to control what you do in your lives, and when you have trusted in Jesus Christ, that dictator is nailed to the cross and His reign is brought to an end.
That’s what you’re supposed to think.
So when I get angry, I should be thinking, No, this anger is part of the old self for many years ruled me, it for many years, dominated met for many years, forced me into living in a way was disorder to God and ruined my relationships around me and I don’t want that anymore. And the beautiful news, Father, I know this to be true, that my anger has been crucified, so that his vindictive rain in my life is done.
I get an Amen here? I’ve been trying here.
That’s amazing. This is how you’re supposed to envision your life… This is a reality. It’s not an illustration. So many, so many people live as those enslaved to sin. So many people have tasted of the grace of God, the forgiveness He offers, and they hate their sin and they don’t wanna keep sinning, but they’ve never tasted of the freedom that has come because the vindictive ruler in their life has been dethroned.
The Declaration of Independence says, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. They are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life liberty in the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. That’s the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.
Do you know what the Declaration of Independence is?
Well, it was a declaration of independence, right? They felt like the British government were being vindictive and tyrannical, and they said, No, you no longer have authority here, and it took a war, but eventually they had their independence and the freedom won. And guess what? Britain has no authority here.
That’s and illustration of what’s happened here. The cross of Jesus Christ was like a declaration of independence, where the battle was already won.
Now, The British can still come in, they can still try to wage some kind of warfare in your life, just like your sin still tries to wage warfare here in your life today, it’s got no authority here.
The fourth and the final word that I want you to look at is the word in Verse 11, so you also must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, different translations will have different words for consider there.
Some translations say count.
Some translations, the old KJV will say, reckon. Now, we don’t use the word reckon anymore, reckon would be perfect if we did.
It’s the I reckon farmer who says, I reckon… that kind of thing. And what he’s saying, that’s how I think… That’s my thinking for this.
And that’s what he’s saying here. Consider and count, don’t quite do that same thing, but we don’t use the word reckon, so we can’t… It’s whatever….. consider means to determine by mathematical process, to reckon, to calculate, to evaluate, to estimate, to look upon us, to give careful thought to a matter to think about, to ponder, to let one’s mind dwell on, to hold a view about something, and that’s the one that I want you to use -to hold a view about something, he says, I want you to hold this view in your mind that you are dead to sin to your old self and alive to God.
Look, this word is specifically chosen. Alright, I would argue that the vast majority of the battles in Christian life are won and lost in the mind, it doesn’t mean the mind is more important than the other parts, but I would say today, people have become so undisciplined in the way they think about life, that it has led to a variety of unbeliefs, a variety of sins that just come out of their philosophy of life, and we need to retrain our mind to think like the Bible says, and this is one of those ways, train your mind when you’re dealing with anger… I’m gonna use that as an illustration.
You got anger in your heart, how do you retrain your mind in that moment to consider yourself dead to sin?
Well you go through this passage and you insert your name and your sin in this passage, and you read it again, and you read it again. Let me ask you this, okay, I’ll put it in different terms. This is a second part of what the Gospel accomplishes in your life. The first part is often talked about as like the salvation part, where he saves you. That’s great. How long did it take you to really understand salvation? Some of you, again, you grew up in church, some of you are still struggling to understand it, some of you, It took a long time, and my question to you is, what would you tell to yourself if you do not understand it, what would you tell to yourself now, today, if you were able to speak to yourself from back then when you were still struggling to understand what would you say to yourself?
I don’t know. Keep thinking about it? Keep praying about it? Probably would read different verses that are important in the Bible about it, Hey, don’t just give up, it’s right there, it’s right on the tip of your mind, you just gotta work, you just gotta keep after God and God’s gonna give you that understanding it… And I would encourage you to do that here today, but I wanna give you the illustration here, because many of us, many Christians, are stuck on the other side, the side where we haven’t quite grasped this truth of being crucified with Christ, no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, and the life I live now. Live in the flesh. I live by faith in this one I’ve got… We haven’t quite grasp that, we did it in an idea… Like an illustration, like, I’ve been crucified with Christ. Yeah, but we don’t really get… And I wanna tell you today that the secret to some of your victory here is going to be if you take on the mind of liberty, the mind of freedom, the mind of how the dictator in your heart has been defamed.
How many different ways can I say it? They’re feckless. They have no authority. Their scepter is broken, the throne is melted down. The Constitution has changed. What do you want me to say? You need to get that stuck in your mind, Though, today, you do have sin in your life, and we will keep struggling with sin, it no longer has authority in your heart, and you need to remind yourself and tell yourself of that every single day and read scriptures on it, you can read it here in Romans chapter 6, you can read the same exact truth in Colossians chapter 2, in a few verses of Ephesian, there are some in Galatians, they’re all over the place. This truth is all over the place yet, we often forget it, the secret of the mind of liberty.
We don’t always feel like we’re free, amen… Let’s be honest, we know that these truths are here and we know we need to embrace him, but when it really comes down to it, we don’t feel like we’re free yet, and this is what a guy by the name of Newell said in his commentary on Romans he says, to reckon or consider ourselves dead to sin while conscious of sin in our members is faith indeed, and is walking according to God’s word instead of according to our feelings. And so the call for you is even though you don’t feel understand it, you’re not there yet, you don’t feel like you’re always there, you still lock on to it by faith, and you live as those who are free and you think is those who are free and you put on right thoughts like those who are free and you keep doing that until you are free.
So look at verses 12 through 14, this is the concentrated dose application from Paul here. There are five rule ruling type words in this section.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions.
Do not present your members as to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but present yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law, but under grace. Do you see what he’s getting at? You see the word picture is painting there for you, you have a choice of whether you will go into the throne room of God daily and present yourself and your body and your fingers and your eye balls in your mind and your heart, and your actions and your day and your time and your money and everything you are- present that to God as an instrument of righteousness, you have a choice to do that, and the alternative is if you don’t do that today, the default will be that you will present your body to King Sin again, you will present your members to King Sin again, and it will make you obey Sins, sin will reign in your mortal bodies and have dominion over you, and you will be under sin. That’s your choice. And it’s only a choice because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross… Follow that. Remember that as with everything, I mean, look, salvation is based on Jesus death and resurrection. Our growth, our spiritual growth is based on Jesus’ death and resurrection, self-hate is not symbolic, our growth, spiritual growth is not a symbolic based on the symbolic thing, both are found in our unity with Christ, both neither can be done with sheer will or determination. Both are based on historical fact, both are resting on divine promises of what God has accomplished for us, both are won in Victory Through the resurrection, and both rely on the Holy Spirit to give new understanding. Look, you want this, God is offering it to you today and tomorrow, and you will need it again tomorrow, it’s not gonna be a one-time moment, it’s gonna be an ongoing thing where you remember you’re crucified with Christ, it’s no longer you would live for Christ who lives in, got a new nature, new creation, and you’re a child of God, is an invitation to you today, so application. It’s two-fold.
If you not, maybe you’ve toyed with the grace of Jesus Christ, but you’ve not tasted, I invite you to taste and see that the Lord is good to that.
Taste and see that God demonstrates his love for us. And now, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Taste and see that God can forgive us and free us from the condemnation that you and I rightly deserve, taste and see that we can be forgiven and righteous before the eyes of God. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
And then for all of us here today, Don’t you wanna be free?
All every single one of you here today. Don’t you wanna be free? The way to be free is through the cross. It’s won through the cross, and the cross alone, we’re gonna close our eyes, bow our heads, and in a moment here, we’re gonna close it with a song, but I’m gonna invite you to just quiet your hearts before God right now. And if you need to confess your sins to him and tell him that you trust in Him alone for salvation, Do that right now. And if you need to remind yourself and say, God, I wanna submit myself to your rule and not sin’s rule. Do that right now. Take a moment, please.