Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
Thesis: The Father's intention toward us is "newness of life."
Introduction: Last week we continued to consider Paul's claim in Romans 6:1-14 that our union with Christ by the baptism by the Spirit is to significantly affect our typical commitment to "sin". Since the issue of "sinning" has enormous implications for the quality of our lives, it seems to me that all of us ought to have some degree of interest -- even if it is totally self-interest -- in discovering what Paul was teaching in Romans 6. In the first fourteen verses of Romans 6, Paul puts his emphasis upon the potential for "newness of life" in contrast to living under the "mastery of sin". In the last nine verses of Romans 6, he puts his emphasis upon the danger of yielding to that mastery.
In these first fourteen verses, the possibility of a "newness" of life is set forth upon the foundations of what Paul has called our "baptism into Christ". He is deliberately attempting to focus our attention upon not only what Christ did on our behalf in making us a part of a new humanity that has been delivered from the old Adamic humanity but also upon the absolute identification that we have with Christ by the baptism by the Spirit so that God actually treats us as "Christ's brethren".
This evening we are going to look more specifically at our identification with Christ in His burial.
August 15, 2006
- I. Paul's Transition from Death to Life.
- A. It is one needful thing to understand that we "died to sin" when Christ "died for sin."
- 1. Paul emphasizes our death with Christ by bringing in the "burial" issue.
- a. For Paul, the "burial" issue is a matter of highlighting "reality".
- 1) In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul attempted to establish beyond doubt that our confidence in God was not misplaced because of the indisputable reality of what Christ did.
- a) In this text, he used "burial" to press the issue of the reality of Christ's death for our sins.
- i. This is crucial because the death of Christ for our sins has totally eliminated any future application of the Justice of God upon us who have believed: we are "justified".
- ii. This is crucial because the death of Christ for our sins has put us under the "reckoning of God" by which He...refuses to acknowledge that we are even capable of sinning (Romans 4:8; 7:17, 20; and 1 John 3:9) and...refuses to allow anyone else to lodge a charge of sinning against us (Romans 8:33) in an attempt to obtain "justice" from Him toward us.
- b) In this text, he used "burial" to press the issue of our continuance in believing in what God has done and declared in Christ.
- i. When it is all said and done, "faith" is always going to be "the" issue.
- ii. What God has done and declared is of no benefit to the person who does not believe it.
- 2) In other "burial" texts, the impact has at least three factors.
- a) First, it is the presentation of an absolute break with the former experience.
- i. This mostly generates a final sense of hopelessness for any "recovery" of the former experience.
- ii. In a small minority of cases, this generates a glorious sense of hope for a "new" and "better" experience.
- iii. This issue is designed to highlight, for the believer, Paul's claim that since we have died to sin, there has been an absolute break within us to it.
- b) Second, it is the presentation of a separation of the "living" from the experience of the witness of the processes of corruption.
- i. There is a process of decay that is extremely unpleasant to watch.
- ii. There is a process of decay that is extremely unpleasant to smell.
- iii. Burial is designed to shut the "living" off from the "processes".
- iv. This issue pushes Paul's claim that, though we cannot "witness" what has happened/is happening, we should "believe" it because it is going on/ has gone on.
- c) Third, it is the presentation of the reason for God's actions of grace.
- i. "Death" is presented in the Bible as the last great enemy (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
- ii. The "fear" of death is presented in the Bible as the key catalyst for the bondage of men to Sin (Hebrews 2:15).
- iii. Since, then, the believer has already "died" with Christ and been "buried" with Him, there is nothing to fear from what used to be an enormous enemy.
- b. In this text, our "burial" together with Christ is also a declaration by Paul of the transition to resurrection.
- 2. Paul emphasizes the comprehensiveness of our "baptism" into Christ by moving through His death into His burial.
- a. This comprehensiveness is important because we tend to separate "truths" from each other so that we "believe" one and "disbelieve" others [Note Galatians 3 where Paul holds the Galatians accountable for the "implications" of one truth for all of life, and James 2 where James does the same thing].
- b. This comprehensiveness is also important because it allows us to "transition" from one "truth" into the next with the same level of "confidence".
- B. It is a second needful thing to understand that when Christ was raised to Life, we were raised together with Him.
- 1. This "resurrection" truth is often hamstrung by its immutable linkage with the prior "death" and "burial" truth.
- a. To the degree that we do not buy into our death to sin, to that degree we also do not buy into our resurrection to life.
- b. The truths are linked so that there can be no breakage in the chain.
- 1) If we bypass "Sin", our enthusiasm for "resurrection with Christ" is invariably a "stink" in the nostrils of those around us -- because there is only a false humility that all but ourselves can see through.
- 2) If we bypass "Death to Sin", we have no enthusiasm for "resurrection" because we are angry and frustrated by our lack of understanding of the facts and by our on-going bondage to Sin.
- 3) If we bypass "Burial", we bounce between our "Death to Sin" and the reality of our bodies as "Instruments of Unrighteousness" because there is no sense of the final and absolute reality of our baptism.
- 2. This "resurrection" truth is at once the easiest and most difficult of issues.
- a. Its "ease" is seen in the fact that even the newest of believers experience the reality of resurrection life.
- b. Its "difficulty" is seen in the fact that even the most mature of believers experience the reality of sinful failure.