EASTER 2008 (Rom. 6:3): We Have Died And Risen With Him
TEXT: Romans 6:4, Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
We often discuss this verse when people are preparing to undergo being baptized because it indicates to us the symbolism inherent in the act of baptism. But, it seems that though we discuss the verse with people that there is often a bit of uncertainty about its meaning or application in our lives as Christians. I thought that this morning as we are celebrating the Christian holiday of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, that it might be a good time to look in depth at this verse and what it means to us as Christians.
Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher of a century and a half ago once said the following in his preaching:
The idea that the grace of God should lead us to licentiousness is utterly loathsome to every Christian man. We cannot endure it. The notion that the doctrines of grace give license to sin, comes from the devil, and we scout it with a detestation more deep than words can express. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
On our first entrance upon a Christian profession, we are met by the ordinance of baptism, which teaches the necessity of purification. Baptism is, in its very form, a washing, and its teaching requires cleansing of the most thorough kind. It is a burial, in which the man is viewed as dead with Christ to sin, and is regarded as rising again as a new man. Baptism sets forth, as in a picture, the union of the believer with the Lord Jesus in his baptism of suffering, and in his death, burial, and resurrection. By submitting to that sacred ordinance, we declare that we believe ourselves to be dead with him, because of his endurance of the death penalty, and dead to the world and to the dominion of sin by his Spirit; at the same time, we also profess our faith in our Lords resurrection, and that we ourselves are raised up in union with him, and have come forth through faith into newness of life. It is a very impressive and vivid symbol, but it is without meaning unless we rise to purity of life. The basis of this confession lies in the union of every believer with Christ Jesus. We are dead with him, because we are one with him. We are risen with him, because we are one with him. Every believer is, in the purpose of divine grace, identified with Jesus.
2. IDENTIFICATION WITH CHRIST:
2.1. This verse underlines the believers identification with Christ. It speaks of two critical aspects of the crucifixion of Christ which believers are identified:
2.1.1. We died with Him.
126.96.36.199.The first aspect of our identification with Christ and His resurrection has to do with the fact that just as Christ died upon the cross, the believer also has died. Going under the water during baptism symbolizes this fact.
188.8.131.52.The moment a person comes to truly have saving faith in Christ for salvation, he/she has died with Christ. There is no one who shall ever enter into heaven who has not died with Christ, for one must be identified with Christ in His death to be considered one of Gods people and partake of the work of Christ in his/her life.
184.108.40.206.What part of the believer has died? It is obvious that Christians have not expired in a physical sense, so what part of us has died? It is the sinful nature within us that has been rendered powerless through our identification with Christ that is meant, as is evident from a few scriptures, including:
220.127.116.11.1.Colossians 2:20, If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees
18.104.22.168.2.Colossians 3:3, For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
22.214.171.124.3.1 Peter 2:24, And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
126.96.36.199.4.Romans 6:1-2, What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
188.8.131.52.5.Romans 6:11, Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
184.108.40.206.It says that we have been baptized, which means, immersed, and this is into death. The idea being indicated then is that the death that we Christians have experienced as a result of our identification with Christ is one which is total or complete. The Lord has not just helped us to act a little better or made it so that we might make a few more holy or sanctified choices. No, the believer in Christ has had his sinful nature or old self rendered completely unable to act or perform.
220.127.116.11.To emphasize the effect that this death of the sinful nature is to take, Paul actually takes the death of our sinful nature to the next logical step in the fact of its extinction. He says we have been buried with Him through baptism into death. The final act involved in coping with the departing of a loved one occurs at their funeral when we actually place them into the earth, or bury them. This is what has happened in relation to the believers sinful nature or old self, it has been buried.
18.104.22.168.It might be good at this point to ask ourselves if Christ really did die? Do the gospel accounts tell us that Christ actually died, or do they indicate that He simply feigned death or appeared to be dead? We must answer that because if we are identified with Christ in His death and He did not really die, then neither did we. Here are some of the many New Testament scriptures that tell us that Jesus Christ did in fact die:
22.214.171.124.1.1 Corinthians 15:1-5, Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
126.96.36.199.2.Galatians 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
188.8.131.52.3.Romans 5:6, 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
184.108.40.206.4.Romans 5:10, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
220.127.116.11.5.John 19:34, But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. He was dead already therefore the blood had already separated in His heart.
18.104.22.168.6.John 19:39-40, Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. He was mummified and wrapped in grave cloths, which in itself would have brought about His death. John in his gospel tells us that when he came to Jesus tomb on Sunday morning that the Lord had rolled back up His head cloth after taking it off and laid it neatly down. Later after Jesus had resurrected He appeared to His disciples and showed them the hole in His side where the spear went in and where the nails had pierced His hands and feet.
22.214.171.124.Before coming to Christ, each of us once were dead in trespasses and sins: Ephesians 2:1, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins. But, when we came to saving faith in Christ we died to that old sinful nature that was itself spiritually dead and devoid of life.
126.96.36.199.If we who have genuinely come to saving faith in Christ truly died to that old sinful nature or old self, then how could we still struggle with sinful temptations and thoughts?
188.8.131.52.1.The old nature remains with the believer and thus the believer has two natures resident within him, just as these verses indicate:
184.108.40.206.1.1.Ephesians 4:22-24, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
220.127.116.11.2.The point of our dying to the sinful nature or old self is that now since coming to salvation through Christ we do not have to give into temptations and sin, we have been given power and assured victory over the old sinful nature, as seen for instance in these verses:
18.104.22.168.2.1.Romans 6:6, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
22.214.171.124.2.2.Galatians 2:20, 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
126.96.36.199.2.3.Romans 8:13, For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
188.8.131.52.2.4.Colossians 3:5, Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
184.108.40.206.2.5.1 Peter 2:1-2, Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
220.127.116.11.2.6.Galatians 5:16-17, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
2.1.2. We have been raised up with Christ.
18.104.22.168.The second aspect of the believers identification with Christ involves his having been raised up from the dead in the same way that Christ was raised up from the dead on the third day after His death by crucifixion. Being raised up out of the water at baptism symbolizes this.
22.214.171.124.If Christ had been raised from the dead in a physical body there would be no way that we Christians could be identified with Him in His resurrection unless we too first literally died in a physical sense and then were raised from the dead in a physical body. But, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, we read about the body in which Jesus Christ was resurrected in, and we observe that it is a spiritual body, not a body of flesh: 1 Corinthians 15:42-45, So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
126.96.36.199.In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul being so convinced of our identification with Christ in His resurrection, teaches us that we are even seated with Christ in the heavenly places and then proceeds to make many applications to our lives as Christians based upon this fact regarding our identification with Christ: Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ 1:20,which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places 2:6, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
188.8.131.52.Paul does not merely mention in this verse the fact of spiritual birth and leave everything at that point. Instead, he takes the step of also admonishing us of the practical aspects of having been raised from the dead spiritually by telling us to, walk in newness of life. In other words, we Christians ought to live our lives as if we truly have been born again with new spiritual life and enabled to walk in a heavenly type of lifestyle such as He Himself walks, having raised from the dead Himself.
184.108.40.206.The scriptures indicate many things to us about what that newness of life that we have received should look like in practice, including:
220.127.116.11.1.2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Can you relate to having had such a transformation in your life such that you became a completely new creature, in a sense like the ugly earthborn caterpillar who one day turns into a beautiful butterfly no longer bound to earth but able to fly? If you have come to salvation through Christ you have been made a new creation through the infusion of new life, resurrection life. I would ask you who claim that you are a Christian if you have a before life and after life part of your story? If not then you should possibly question whether or not you have genuinely come to have saving faith in Christ.
18.104.22.168.2.Life has certain characteristics, does it not? When a persona is unconscious paramedics will check for a pulse and see if the person is breathing in order to tell if they are alive. This new life gives us (1)new desires and causes us (2)to become active and to (3)make spiritual progress. In Colossians 3:12-15 we see that several admonitions are given to us all of which are dependent upon already having life within ourselves, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
22.214.171.124.3.If you are having a struggle with sin in your life this is an indication that life is present within you. There is now a war being waged within the believer of the Holy Spirit battling with the fleshly nature still resident within the Christian, and through that new life we have received we read that we can have victory over the sinful nature and desires of our flesh, Galatians 5:16-26, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
126.96.36.199.So, baptism is supposed to be a symbol of what is already true of the Christian. As I have shown, going down into the water is to symbolize the fact that we have died to sin and the sinful nature. Coming up out of the water is to symbolize our being raised up to walk in resurrection life in Christ. Now, if these things are not true of you before you are baptized then baptism will do nothing for you. If you go into the water dirty, you will come up out of the water dirty. Baptism does not produce these results in the Christian it is merely to be a symbol of it. Some churches teach this thing called baptismal regeneration which is the notion that the baptism brings about the new life. However, the problem with this idea is that going into the water has nothing to do with your heart nor with what you believe. People are taught in these churches though that the water brings this about. In defense of this teaching some have said that the fact of apostolic succession assures that if you are baptized by someone who has the proper authority that your baptism will effect these things in your life. However, the scripture tells us that the Lord looks on a persons heart and where there heart is at determines whether or not they please the Lord. So, what you believe and where your heart is at nullify any effects water baptism could effect. Plus, the scriptures just do not teach baptismal regeneration.
3. DEAD RECKONING:
Romans 6:11, Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. This word translated here as consider is also translated as reckon.
3.1. Now that we understand our identification with Christ both in having died with Him, that is died to our old sinful nature or old self, and having been raised up to walk in the newness of resurrection life in Him, what is left is to allow those truths to work themselves out in our lives. We need to die to the sinful nature and walk filled with resurrection life on an experiential basis. We need to do what Paul told the Philippians to do in the third chapter of his letter to them when he told them to work out what God is working into our lives, and to do that with fear and trembling.
3.2. The way that Paul tells us in Romans chapter 6 that we are to work out in our lives this truth of our identification with Christ is by reckoning it to be so.
3.2.1. We must first understand these truths that we have died with Christ and also been raised up with Him.
3.2.2. We must act in faith upon this being true in our lives. This involves trusting Christ to give us the power to overcome a temptation we may have, trusting that we are in fact new creatures and that therefore we can and will think godly and God-honoring thoughts, trusting that God will fill us with His Spirit and work mightily through us in putting to death the deeds of the body.
3.2.3. It is a moment by moment experience.
4.1. Though we Christians are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, and thereby have died to the old sinful nature and begun to walk in the newness of resurrection life, we still need to have our minds renewed daily so that we can remain in that life we have received in Christ: Romans 12:1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
4.2. Someone once described the Christian life as being like there are two dogs fighting within us, that would be the Spirit and our flesh, who are constantly at war. The one that we feed is the one that is going to win. We need to learn to feed the Spirit in our life both by spending time with the Lord and in His word, and also by learning to be obedient to God and keep the flesh crucified by reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
4.3. Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God moment by moment of every day.
4.4. Have you been baptized in water since coming to salvation through Christ? If not, you should do this in obedience to the Lord.