Re:Life: When We Get It (Romans 6:1-7)
Topic: Romans Passage: Romans 6:1–6:7
Re:Life: How Resurrection Changes Everything
Re:Life: When We Get It
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
April 13th, 2014
I. A Whole New You
What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “a whole new you”. What if we were to type that phrase into an online search engine? What kinds of sites do you think we would be directed to by that phrase? Well, I did just that the other day and I bet you can guess the kinds of subjects, the kinds of services, that were being promoted with that very phrase. There were sites, of course, about health and fitness. There were sites about cosmetic surgery. There were sites recommended that had to do with continuing education, and time-management, and fashion, and even something called “the power of conscious breathing”.
But why...why are people interested in discovering “a whole new you”? And will any of the things I just mentioned from those search results, will anything of those things really produce “a whole new you”?
Let's bring these very questions to God's word this morning. Turn with me back to Romans 6.
II. The Passage: “Walk in Newness of Life” (6:1-7)
As we did last week, let's look again at the first seven verses of Romans 6:1-7. As I read these verses, think about what God, through Paul, is telling us about “a whole new you”. Verse 1, Paul asks...
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who 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 would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.
Now, you may remember from last week that our study that morning, and every one of our studies this month, was, is, and will be focused on what we could call “resurrection life”. Last time, we began this study be talking why we need this “resurrection life”. Paul refers to that need in verses 1 and 2 when he refers to “continuing in sin” and “living in [or under] sin”.
But as we discovered in that previous study, Paul has painted a picture in the first five chapters of Romans, a picture that vividly shows us the horrible reality of “continuing in sin”.
As those born under the curse of sin we are, by nature, slaves of sin (6:6, 7), inheritors of death (5:12), enemies of God (5:10), and forfeiters of heaven (3:23). But unless we truly recognize and embrace our absolutely desperate inner condition, we won't long for “resurrection life”. Instead, we will try to meet our needs with the things of this world. Or we might say, we will look for that “whole new you” through things like cosmetics, career, cardio, carb-counting, couture, and maybe even “conscious breathing” (whatever that is).
But if by the sovereign grace of God we do recognize that we do need to die spiritually, that we need to die with Christ, or as Paul puts it in verse 6, that we need to be “crucified with him”, then what does it mean to be, verse 5, united with him in a resurrection like his?
I believe that our passage this morning points us to two distinct, but nevertheless, two related answers when we ask the question, “What does it look like to receive?”, OR “When do we get resurrection life?”
A. New Life, Part One
If we look back to verse 4 of Romans 6, we learn something about new life, or resurrection life, “part one”. We read: 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.
So with both parts of this new life Paul describes, we also need to talk about two aspects of these answers. We need to address the central question of “chronology”, the “WHEN”, as well as the question of consequences, what are the consequences WHEN we receive this “resurrection life”.
1. Chronology: This Day
So in the context, the chronology that verse 4 seems to point to is a chronology focused on right here and right now...on THIS day. Notice the term “walk” that Paul uses when he talks about walking in “newness of life”. That word is used 31 times by Paul in his letters and always refers to the way in which we conduct ourselves, or live our lives in this world, day by day. So it sure seems like Paul is talking about “newness of life” right here and right now.
But do we find this same idea anywhere else in Paul's writings? Does he connect the ideas of resurrection and life in this world in any other passages. Well, get your pens ready to write down some of these references...
First of all, look down at verse 11 of this same chapter: So you also must consider yourselves (right now) dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
This is idea of realized resurrection is even clearer in Paul's letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae:
[God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... (Eph. 2:5-6)
...having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses... (Colossians 2:12-13)
Isn't this what Paul was referring to in II Corinthians 5:17 when he wrote: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (II Corinthians 5:17)
When do we receive “resurrection life”? We receive it the moment we trust in Jesus Christ as our only hope, as Savior and Lord. Isn't that amazing!
2. Consequence: A Change of Heart
But what are the consequences of receiving this “resurrection life” by God's grace alone, through faith alone? Well, as you can see from the context here in Romans 6, Paul's entire argument is that if we have received “newness of life” through the resurrection of Jesus, then we should “walk” in that “newness of life”. What does that mean? It means not continuing or living in sin any longer. It means not living as if we were still slaves of sin and enemies of God.
Paul makes this same descriptive-prescriptive connection (descriptive: what has happened, prescriptive: what should now happen) in Colossians 3:1 and 2. Remembering what he said in Colossians 2 about being raised with Christ, Paul writes...
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col. 3:1-2)
So we could say that “resurrection life” brings a change of heart. If there is a “newness” to who we are because of Jesus, then shouldn't there be a “newness” in terms of our desires, our priorities, our words, our affections, our attitudes, our responses, our impulses, or commitments, our convictions, and our entire worldview, our perspective on life?
B. New Life, Part Two
But there is another part of this new life, this resurrection life that Paul is discussing in Romans 6.
1. Chronology: One Day
Look again at verse 5: 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.
Notice the tense of the verbs in the first and second halves of that verse: “we have been” and “we shall be”. That future tense seems to be saying that there is, in the future, another way in which we will be given “resurrection life”, as those who have trusted in Christ alone.
Paul expressed that future hope like this in Philippians 3:20, 21...
But our citizenship is in heaven (notice that present tense), and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Paul really spells this out in I Corinthians 15:
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”  You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. [they were asking, “How can our weak, sickly, decaying bodies live forever?”] And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.  But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body... There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another....What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body [not a “body of spirit”, but “spiritual” in the sense of “eternal”]. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (I Corinthians 15:35-38, 40, 42b-49)
This is the same body Paul speaks of in II Corinthians 5:1-4 where he talks about a “heavenly dwelling”, an eternal “tent” that God will fashion for us. But wait a minute. What about the idea of living forever in God's presence as spirits. Isn't that what the Bible teaches? Why do we need another body? We need another body because our future home is the very place described by Peter in II Peter 3, as he himself echoes the language of the prophet Isaiah:
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:13)
Our bodies, not THIS day, but ONE day, our bodies will receive resurrection life because our world, this universe, will one day receive resurrection life. We were made to be embodied, not disembodied. And the future God has promised us is one in which His presence will fill that new earth in a wonderful way. We will be in a new 'here', but we will be with God, forever and ever. Is that music to your ears?
2. Consequence: A Change of Hope
You see, like the first part of this 'resurrection life', this second aspect should also produce consequences in our lives today. If take this verse from II Peter 3 and include the next verse along with it, we see a connection to the first part of resurrection life. Peter writes...But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (II Peter 3:13-14)
But there's not only a change of heart that comes through both the reality and revealing of resurrection life, there's also a change of hope. Listen to how Paul talks about this a couple chapters beyond our main passage:
And not only the creation [not only the heavens and earth], but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:23-25)
Are you hoping in “a whole new you” that will come through something you can see? If you are, then that isn't real hope. That's what we are used to doing. But our hope cannot be grounded in everything working out right now. That's not how it works. Our hope is in that “one day”. Our ultimate hope is in that day God will not only disrupt the power of sin in our lives, but when He will destroy the presence of sin, purging it from every inch of this universe, forever. And in that includes our new bodies, bodies that will pulsate with 'resurrection life'.
III. Who I Am, Who I Will Be
So how is God challenging us this morning? He's challenging us in regard to the question of WHEN...when do we receive 'resurrection life'. Do you have it now? You do if you have turned from sin and self and trusted in Jesus as King and Redeemer. Do you have it now? Not all of it, because one day God will give you a new body, a resurrected body, in which you will be perfected and remain forever in the perfection of God's presence.
I love the way Paul talked about these two aspects of 'resurrection life' in Philippians 3:10, 11...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
The “power of His resurrection” is something we can know now, and attaining to “the resurrection from the dead” is something we can know then.
Let me ask you this: when you think about “a whole new you”, when you long for “a whole new you” (and we all do)...what are you thinking about; what are you longing for? If you are “in Christ” by faith, then God has created “a whole new you”. Do you realize that? Or is the reality of battling the “old you” distracting you from what God has done? We'll talk more about that struggle in just a couple weeks.
But we also can't get stuck in thinking that perfection or victory over sin, that healing and absolute wholeness, is something we will obtain in this life. No, that victory is reserved for the life to come. And God wants us to have hope in the fact that, one day, we will be fully conformed to the likeness of Jesus. What God has begun now in terms of new life, will eventually crescendo in our complete redemption, body and spirit.
Friends, do you recognize your need for “a whole new you”? Or are you content with 'business as usual'? Brothers and sisters, are you living 'on purpose' in light of the 'resurrection life' you've been given in Jesus?
Look to Jesus Christ. Know that in Him you can say, “I've come back from the dead. Who I was is not who I am; and who I am, is not who I will be. God has begun something wonderful in my life, something He promises to complete.”
Do you want “a whole new you”? You can have it when you believe. You have it if you believe now? And if you have it now, are you struggling to work out what God has worked in? If so, remember, that “whole new you” is a work in progress, a work in that will one day be completed, beyond death, but through death. Humility in light of what God has done and is doing. Hope in light of what God will do.
So how will those astounding truths affect the fears, the concerns, the chronic sins, the hurts, the frustration, the confusion, the strained relationships you are facing today...this week? Or we could ask, “How will 'a whole new you' face the challenges God has placed on your path?”
Remember, that 'whole new you' is patterned after and being conformed to the image of Jesus. Do you know what that means? It means you need to keep your eyes on Him. Remember who He is. Remember what He did for you. Remember His promises. Remember His presence. Remember the grace that empowers this 'resurrection life', the grace that carries us in the struggles; the grace that will carry us all the way home.
Let's pray and ask God to help us hold onto the reality of and the hope of both parts of this 'resurrection life'.