Re:Life: How to Live It (Romans 6:1-7)
Topic: Romans Passage: Romans 6:1–6:7
Re:Life: How Resurrection Changes Everything
Re:Life: How to Live It
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
April 27th, 2014
I. The Goal of Our Camping Trip
I hate to break the news to you, but this morning our 'camping trip' is coming to an end. What do I mean by that? Well, if you recall, for the past three weeks we've been 'camping out' in Romans 6:1-7. Turn to that passage if you haven't already.
We've been digging deep into these verses in order to understand the amazing reality that I've called “re:life” or “resurrection life”. In verse 4 of Romans 6, Paul refers to it as “newness of life”. But verse 4 also makes it clear that this “newness” is inextricably connected to the resurrection of Jesus. Do you see how Paul puts it: just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
But what does it really mean to walk in resurrection life. Answering that question has been our goal this entire time. But to lay a good foundation for the answer to that question, we've spent the past three weeks dealing with these three aspects of resurrection life: why we need it, when we get it, and where it comes from. So this morning, having laid that foundation, let's return to Romans 6:1-7, with resurrection life in mind and think about how we live it.
II. The Passage: “No Longer...Enslaved to Sin” (6:1-7)
Look with me one last time at Romans 6, starting in 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.
So as we've already talked about, our goal this morning is to understand what it really means to walk in this “newness of life”, in this resurrection life. We know we desperately need it. We know, in one sense, we already have it. And we know it comes from and is fixed to the resurrection of Jesus. So how do we live it out?
Well, let me share with you the three main ideas that weave their way through the entirety of Romans 6. In terms of RE-life, they are easy to remember: Rejoice. Reject. Relinquish. (2x) Let’s expand on these one at a time. First…
1. REJOICE: Walking in newness of life begins with recognizing our freedom from sin's grip.
Just listen to how Paul emphasizes this point throughout chapter 6...
2-How can we who died to sin still live in it?
6-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.
7-For one who has died has been set free from sin.
14-For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
18-having been set free from sin
22-But now that you have been set free from sin
Doesn't it seem like Paul really wants them to embrace this idea? Did you know that, through faith in Jesus, by trusting Christ as your only hope, did you know that you are no longer under the power, the authority, the mastery, the domination of sin.
What exactly is sin? Well turn back to chapter 1 for a minute. In this chapter Paul told his readers that sin is expressed in (1:18) the unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth about God . Where does that lead? Well (v. 21) although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him... What does sin do instead? (v. 23) It exchange[s] the glory of the immortal God for images... (v. 28) Sin involves having a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Sin is manifest in (v. 29) all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice....envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. [sinners] are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
And Paul confirms in 6:17 he is speaking to those who were once slaves of sin. If you sit here this morning and are human, then you are either in sin's grip or were once in sin's grip. Two images are present in this chapter: sin as a king and sin as a slave master. You see, God tells us that sin rules or ONCE ruled you. Sin reigns over or ONCE reigned over you. But through Jesus, we are set free. We are emancipated, liberated.
How? Because through Jesus' death, the 'slave to sin' me has died. If a slave or servant dies, it's pretty clear that he or she is no longer a slave to their old master. Because of Jesus, Paul is reminding his readers, and us, that that's exactly what happened spiritually. Since they have died in the true Master, they have been set free from the old master. Since this is true, we must rejoice, every day, that we have been set free. And we must go in that joy!
Do you believe that is true in your life? It's very easy to feel stuck. It's very easy to feel defeated. It's very easy to let old thoughts, and old patterns, and old feelings take over. But we MUST know, we MUST embrace, that such things have been rendered powerless over us by Jesus for any who believe.
But why is it so important we understand the spiritual freedom we have in Jesus? Well, think about this second point...
2. REJECT: Walking in newness of life therefore means rejecting sin's influence in our affections and actions.
This letter, and all of Paul's letters, make it clear that believers in Christ, that followers of Jesus can, and very often will, go back into the dungeon of sin, close the door behind them, and place those old chains around their wrists.
Because that's true, Paul wants to rouse them. He wants them to understand how inconsistent that is with the reality of their freedom in Jesus. (v.2) How can we who died to sin still live in it? Here is an amazing truth: because of Christ, that dungeon door can never be locked. Because of Christ, those chains can never be secured. Whenever we drift back to that old mindset and those old ways, God is saying, “Get up! Get out of there! You are free!”
As long as we believe that sin, in some way, still has power over us, we will place ourselves under its power. We will accommodate sinful desires. We will tolerate unforgiveness, anger, compromise, and other worldly patterns. We will go easy on old habits. If we believe some things simply will not change, then they won't.
But listen to how Paul challenges his readers, listen to how God is challenging us in 6:11-13..
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  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... (Romans 6:12-13a)
Now to be clear, when Paul talks about our mortal bodies and the members (or parts) of our body, he is not simply talking about our skin, our blood, our flesh and bones. Our body is the vehicle through which every part of you interfaces with a fallen world. Therefore, our bodies, and the parts of our bodies, represent both the whole and the different parts of our lives. So Paul is saying do not submit, do not give your affections and actions over to sin's agenda.
And if you look at verse 21, Paul reminds them about the ultimate consequences of “continuing in sin”, of submitting once again to sin's mastery: But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (Romans 6:20-21)
The puritan pastor John Owen touched on this when he talked about rejecting sin's influence. He wrote, “Do you mortify [that is, put to death sin's passions]; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
If we can daily rejoice that we have been set free from the authority and cruelty of our old master, then we should daily reject its influence. Brothers and sisters, do not give your heart, your mind, your eyes, your ears, your time, your money, your love…do not give these things back to that tyrant called sin. It is not who you are. It is not why He set you free. But there’s a third point in these verses…
3. RELINQUISH: Walking in newness of life finds its fullest expression as we daily give ourselves to God.
In many ways and at many times, rejecting sin may seem like the ‘end game’. But taken by itself, abstaining, NOT obeying the passions of the body (v. 12), is a terribly incomplete and inaccurate picture. That picture only makes sense when we see rejection as part of the broader call of relinquishing our lives to God’s power and purposes. Listen to some of the ways Paul drives this home in chapter 6:
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (6:11)
…present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (6:13)
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (6:17-18)
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. (6:22)
What does it look like to be “alive to God” in your life? Think about that. What does it look like for you to “present yourself to God”? What does it mean that you are a “slave of God” a “slave of righteousness” by grace, through faith? Later on in this same later, Paul expressed it this way:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (12:1-2a)
Each day, you and I have a choice. We can either yield to sin or yield to God. And yes, there may be pressures, there may be voices that entice, there may be fears that tug at our hearts, there may be deep struggles as we attempt to yield, to relinquish our lives to God, but…we never have to be afraid that it isn’t possible. Jesus died to make it possible.
Notice some of the language Paul used in regard to this relinquishing, this obedience. To submit to God is walk in righteousness (vs. 13, 18). And that righteousness is defined by a “standard of teaching” (v. 17). And our commitment to this standard involves a “renewal of your mind” (12:2). This reminds us of how important it is to know what God has revealed about living the “resurrected life”; about thinking according to the “resurrection life”. Chapters 12-14 of this letter contain specifics about doing this very thing. Listen to some of these…
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:9-16)
III. Going in Grace
Rejoice. Reject. Relinquish. This is our pattern for living the resurrection life every day.
Imagine you have been subjected your entire life under the cruel reign of awful tyrant. All you know is despair, and all you can look forward to is death. But then imagine, one day, you are set free, with the promise of greater freedom to come. And your liberator is not simply another fool grasping for power. Your liberator is the King of Kings, the One who cannot be overcome, the one who set your free in love and for love. How will you live each day in light of this drastic change?
Rejoice! You have been set free, and the old tyrant of sin can never again tell you what to do. Reject! Shun those old ways. Remember how empty they are. Remember where that old path leads. Relinquish! Give yourself daily to the agenda of the King of Kings. Always ask, “What will you have me do this day, Lord Jesus? What will bring you glory, Father? In my relationships? In my plans? In my finances? In my thoughts? In my entertainment choices? In how use technology? In the ways I look for comfort and security?”
And as you do this, remember grace. Look again at 6:14…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Now what exactly does that mean? Well, look back for a minute to Romans 5:20, 21. Listen to what Paul has already said about law and grace:
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Law condemns us. The Law imprisons us. How? Because it reveals what we are and what we deserve, and therefore it locks us up under the fear of death. And in that condition, we are either paralyzed by fear, or we simply give in because it seems easier, or we attempt to use the Law as a ladder to God, but only end up deepening our condemnation.
But because of Christ, we are no longer under the Law. We are under grace. As Paul expressed this in 5:1, 2…Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1) Did you see how living the resurrection life is completely about living in light of the gospel? He died, therefore we are dead to sin. He rose, therefore we are now alive to God. He reigns, therefore we are no under the power of that old tyrant. We never graduate from the gospel, do we? I like how the commentator Matthew Henry talked about walking in newness of life, in light of the gospel: God's promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the mortifying of sin than our promises to God. (Matthew Henry)
Living the resurrection life is not about what we can do. It’s about what He already did. Let’s thank God for these things.