Romans: Sanctification

Romans 6
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Paul is writing to a mixed audience in Rome. There are the rule keepers and the rule breakers, and they’re having some disagreements about what it means to be the body of Christ and what it means to be a local church.

The rule makers are the Jewish people. They were telling the Gentiles to do the things they were doing, to follow the Mosaic law. The Gentiles did not want to do that, but everybody recognized that there’s a social way they’re supposed to live with general morality.

Paul says that in Christ we’re freed from our own human nature. We’ve been justified. We’ve been set right before God. Christ died for the ungodly, but what Paul has been saying up to this point isn’t that we are all terrible people. It’s that God is the perfect standard.

God is set apart as Holy, and we cannot reach that standard. We are ungodly. Christ died for us. He set us apart as different. God’s grace is sufficient for us.

So, does that mean that we should continue to sin? That grace may abound?

By no means.

Are we to sin because we are no longer under the law, but under grace?

By no means.

Are we to say that even the law is sin?

By no means.

Although we might see the same response, an important distinction must be made between the verses—nouns vs. verbs.

Noun – an object, person, place, or thing
Verb – an action, what’s happening

When we look at the way the word sin is used, in the first two verses, it’s used as a noun. In the last, it’s used as a verb, an action – something we’re not supposed to do. When used as a noun, it’s seen as a category. And that makes a huge difference to how we understand what it means to not be in sin.

When Paul is addressing this, he breaks down his questions.

What shall we say? Are we to continue in sin? Should we sin or are we to sin? The answer is the same, but there’s a big difference in how we understand what it means to be sanctified or made to be in the character of Christ.

So, what does it mean to say that sin exists as a category? It’s not just a singular action but a singular action with consequences. Now, as the human race we are born into it. Think about a child. When they know the difference between right and wrong, they still sometimes choose wrong, and better yet, they know when they are choosing wrong and act accordingly.

Sin is part of our world, and Paul realizes we are in sin. But there’s a significant change that takes place when we are found in Christ. Paul says that we move from being dead in sin to being dead to sin. This category that defines our world and life is no longer the primary thing that defines who we are.

Sin doesn’t rule in us. In Christ we are dead to sin. And so, are we to continue in that sin in this world of sin, just so that grace may abound?

By no means.

This response isn’t quite saying no; it’s not an emphatic no, or a holistic no. No matter which way you look at it, there is no way that if you are found in Christ, your life should be defined or characterized by, or under, the dominion and the ownership of sin anymore. You have been set free.

So, how can we who have died to sin still live in it? Paul says it’s not to say that we will now live these perfect lives but that we will no longer be owned by sin.

Maybe you’ve had a pattern in your life or a pattern in your family – a characteristic that has defined your family for generations. Some of us come from families riddled with addiction or infidelity – generation after generation of sin. And it feels like it owns who we are.

Paul reminds us that we aren’t going to get it perfect. There’s this metaphysical reality, a status outside of ourselves. It’s beyond what we’ve done or even what we may feel or think about ourselves. We can be dead to sin and not have it control us anymore through the power of Jesus.

But it’s not necessarily easy to walk from this metaphysical reality to truth reality. Depending on what you consider to be a certain category and what you believe to be true about a certain category will impact how much you understand it.

Many of us carry a piece of the gospel, especially the piece that we have been justified by faith alone. We are set right by our past sins through Christ’s sacrifice, and now we have this eternal status that when we die, we’re going to heaven and will spend eternity with God. We are forgiven for our sins. And that is true – but it’s not the whole gospel.

Your life is set free from your past, and you have to make a practical difference because you are dead to sin, meaning your life is transformed now and can lead to a new kind of living.

Maybe you don’t quite have a picture of the fullness of the good news. We are called to walk in the newness of life. We believe in salvation, that Jesus died, rose, and one day will return. Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. So, you must consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Jesus.

Present yourself to God as those brought from death to life, and then present your members to God as instruments for righteousness. We live in a meritocracy world where this is always the opposite. The first thing we do is act. If we can do the job well enough, work hard enough, and earn it, then we’ll get a promotion or be elected.

In our world, action bears results, and results lead to status. However, Paul says that the economy of God is the complete opposite. You already have the position. You already have the stature because of who God is and what He has done for you. Therefore, all you have to do is own it, believe it, and hold onto it.

Jesus died for us. He died to set us free from our ambitions, striving, efforts, and own righteousness. He set us free from the struggles of this world, the difficulties, sinful family patterns, and challenges.

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