A Voice in the
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (vs1-2) "Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Let it not be! (vs15)
There is a grievous error being proclaimed today. It goes something like, "God loves you JUST AS YOU ARE. That's why He saw 'worth' in you and saved you. That's graaeeeessss! It doesn't matter what you've been, God doesn't care. And once you're saved, God doesn't care how you live... graeeeessss."
That is NOT what God's 'grace' is about! As we saw last month, His grace saved us when we were worthless sinners. There was nothing desirable in us, and yet He saved us. (5:8) If we truly understand -what- takes place when God justifies us in Christ, we would understand the 'Christian life' better.
When Jesus died for us, -we- died -with- Him. (vs3-4) Before His death Jesus spoke of the 'baptism' that He had to undergo. (Mt20:22) Another label for His crucifixion and death. And so, when we are saved, we are receiving the 'baptism' which Jesus accomplished for us. Dying and being buried. This is not 'water' baptism we are speaking of. This is the REAL THING. The event which the water -merely- outwardly 'symbolizes'. But this event is that which occurs in the heart. (2:29,10:9,Acts8:37)
This event "joins" (vs5) us to Christ. Jesus is the 'head' (Eph5:23), and we join the 'body of Christ'. (Col1:18,2:17) And, no, this is -NOT- 'church membership' to some 'local' body. This is the body of -all- those who "name the name of Christ". (2tm2:19) Part of the larger "family in heaven and earth" who are named in God's name. (Eph3:14-15) This is that 'unity' which Christ accomplished which He prayed about in Jn17, "that they also may be one in Us.."(vs21) the symbolism of "the two..shall be one.." (Eph5:31) as Paul equates the union of Christ and the Church to the marriage bonds of husband and wife.
Just as our 'joy', once saved, is nurtured in 'affliction' (5:3), our 'marriage' in Christ begins with -DEATH-. In order to come to Christ, we DIE. Before we can be "born again" (Jn3:3) the 'seed' which Christ the 'Sower' (Mt13:3) plants must die. (Jn12:24,1Co15:36) Our old self must be "put to death" (Col3:3,5) as we are "crucified with Christ". (vs6,Gal2:20)
And this, right here, separates most modern "invitations, decisions, commitments, etc" as flawed. People want a 'marriage' with flowers, beautiful music, feelings of romance and happiness. They want to take on Jesus, 'add Him' to their lives, for Him to come-along, take their hand, and romance-WITH-them, as they wish to la-dee-da along their way. -THEIR- way. And their songs of Christ are swoony "love songs".
DEATH ?!? Oh, no! That is much too painful and grotesque! It is not 'enlightened'. It does not boost my 'self-esteem'. It means I would have to humble myself and admit that I'm a 'nothing' and worthless. And we can't have that!!
But notice what happens when we join with Christ in His death. Christ was raised from the dead. (vs4,1Cor15:20) "We shall also be [joined] in the likeness of His resurrection." (vs5) John tells us, "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1Jn3:2) "..we shall also live with Him." (vs8) If we do submit to Him in death we are told, after we've 'mourned and wept', "be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (Jas4:10) If we are, thus, "in Christ, [we] are a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2Cor5:17)
This 'death' and 'resurrection' now makes us "dead to sin" and "alive to God". (vs10-11) Remember from our previous lessons, death came about due to Adam's sin. We were born in sin. But 'now', due to our death with Christ, and our joining Him in newness of life, there is no more death. "..death no longer has dominion..." (vs9)
Thus, the 'natural' outcome of all this is that we are not going to sin. Why would we? Our new natures are not natures 'of death' (and sin). (Next chapter we will see the struggle between the spirit and the flesh.) But, in our transformation, we are to "count yourselves also to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord." (vs11) This word "count" is the same accounting term we considered in (4:9) as "reckon". We may still, temorarily, be in these "bodies of death" (7:24,1Cor15:50-54), but we are to live as those who are "alive to God".
Therefore, we are exhorted, "do no let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts." (vs12) This is a command. Because our bodies are yet 'mortal' and full of 'corruption' (1Cor15:53) this is a conscious choice we must make. How do we accomplish this?
It's a matter of fellowship and headship. "Yield your members..." (vs13) To whom do we hand over the controls to our life? Do we go hang out with the old swinging, partying friends? Or do we give ourselves to the Lord, to do with as He chooses, having said, "what will You have me to do?" (Acts9:6) We cannot have it both ways. Remember, Jesus said, "you cannot serve two masters." (Mt6:24) If you wish to live 'both' lives, you will have -defaulted- to "unrighteousness to sin".
This 'yielding' is a 'slavery'. It is 'bondage'. Whether a person wants to admit it or not, if they wish to control their own life, they are in bondage to sin. But when a person dies with Christ, dies -to- sin (repents), he becomes a 'slave' (to obey) to righteousness. This obedience is "from the HEART". (vs17) Humanity has a built-in sense of 'belonging'. Belonging to -some- entity or person.
So, a person might object, "isn't God awfully demanding? See? It's just like everybody says. He has all these 'expectations' of us." Well, when we were in sin, certainly, we were 'free' from God. (vs20) But look at the life in sin. Debauchery, lust, hate, anger, etc. All the things that lead to unhappiness and discontent while in this life; and ultimately leads to death. It was these -things- which your God-given conscience indicated to you as you came to Him in repentance.
But you see, the 'bondage' of Christ leads to life. When Jesus invites, He says, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt11:28) You see, "rest" is the thing God gives to those who yield to Him. When a person comes to Faith in Christ, they "..enter into His rest.." (Heb3:18) One of the characteristics of Eternity with God is "rest from their labors" (Rev14:13) But as long as a person is in sin, he is weighed down.
Thus, Jesus' invitation is "Take my yoke on you.." (Mt11:29) A yoke was a farming instrument to 'connect' the ox or horse to the plow, to do work. But Jesus says, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (vs30) But we must yield to Him. When we do, we understand meekness and humility, as we "learn of" Christ; as we learn to have the mind "in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil2:5) But with this yoke a person finds "rest to your souls."
Yes, it might be "slavery" to God. (vs22) But the fruits are "holiness." We are "free from sin" [and its result ..'death']. The ultimate result is "everlasting life." Furthermore, if you find this to be an impossible situation for you, you didn't really die with Christ. You are not "dead to sin." You were not saved. You were not raised with Him. You are "yet in your sins." (1Cor15:17)
In case you're still struggling with how to proceed with your life, a little reminder: "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God [while His 'slave'] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (vs23)
But if you have "died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God" (Col3:3) and are looking forward to "be[ing] like Him" when He is revealed and we "see Him as He is" ...then "everyone who has this hope on him [will live a pure life], even as He is pure" (1Jn3:2-3) as we "[live] to God" (vs10)