9 - The Believer Must Die With Christ
This is the primary purpose of the plan of redemption - that the believer dies through and with their representative, Jesus Christ. Christ‘s death represents the death of the believer. This terminology is often used in the New Testament to refer to the point in time past where one actually became a Christian:
- if we died with Him we will also live with Him. 2 Timothy 2:11
- since you died with Christ Colossians 2:20; Romans 6:8
- you have died and your life is hidden with Christ Colossians 3:3
- have been crucified with Christ Galatians 2:20, see 2 Corinthians 5:14; Romans 6:7
If this is the gospel message - that Christ dies for (in place of) the sinner — the believer must ask the question, “How, or when do I die with Christ?”
When does God view me as...
- dead to sin? Freed from sin?
- dying with Christ? Dead to sin?
- crucified with Christ?
- united with Christ in His death?
The answer to this question is the believer’s response to the one gospel. We have a Bible answer to this critical question and not just the opinions of man. The answer is clearly and specifically given in Romans 6. The Christians in Rome had developed a belief that once they had their sins removed and became Christians they could sin all they wanted to. In addressing this error, our four questions are answered. Look at some key verses in Romans 6.
v1 - What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Imagine, using the grace of God as a license to sin!? First, he reminds them that they had died to sin. When? This is answered clearly in the next verse:
v3 - Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Here is our When? (and How?) question clearly and specifically answered. We died to sin when we were baptized into Christ. This is the purpose of baptism. It is the act of faith that puts us into Christ by placing us into Christ‘s death – the entire purpose of His work on earth! Paul is reminding them of what happened when they paid the judicial price for sin (death) by being placed into Christ‘s death.
v4 - Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Two very important things are here. First, when we are baptized into Christ – when we are baptized into His death – we are buried with Christ into death. Secondly, the result is a new life! Why? Because when we die with Christ our sins are removed.
v5 - For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, When we are baptized into Christ and are baptized into His death, I am then united with Christ‘s death so that my sins can be removed by the price of His death.
v6 - knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; When we are baptized into Christ it is as if I was on the cross with Him, paying the price for my sins. As a result “our body of sin” is done away with.
v7 - for he who has died is freed from sin, When we are baptized into Christ we died and our sins are removed – we are freed from sin.
v8 - Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him... When does God view us as dying with Christ? When we are baptized into Christ - when we are baptized into His death. Don‘t let the importance of this verse escape you. The entire purpose of Christ coming to earth to be the sacrificial Lamb of God and pay the judicial price of sin was so that we could die with Him, have our sins removed, and be reconciled to a Holy God.
v12 - Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts… Now we get the stated purpose for the entire previous discourse - stop sinning! Because you have died with Christ and had your sins removed you should have a different attitude towards sin. Because you have been brought up out of the muck and mire of the world and been cleaned off, don’t crawl back into the mud – don’t go get dirty again! By reminding the Romans of what Christ had done for them when they were baptized into Christ and His death, they should understand that they should no longer want to sin or be slaved to sin. This is the idea of repentance – that a Christian has a changed attitude toward sin and, rather than sinning more (as the Romans were doing) they should do just the opposite, and sin less.
v17 - But thanks be to God that though you were slaved of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, Here is where he reminds them that it was by faith (obedience – from the heart) that they were saved. Baptism derived no power from the water, superstition, or meritorious work. It derives it’s power solely from the faith of the participant. The sinner has heard of the work of Christ to remove sin, believed it, and now wants to participate in the death of Christ to have their sins removed. Baptism is the act of faith that accomplishes this.
v22 - But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. As a result of having their sins removed they were made holy, sanctified.
v23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This was a free gift of God. By being baptized into Christ and into His death they had not earned God’s grace or mercy, they had just accepted His gift by faith.