Thursday, November 14, 2013

Victory in Christ - Part 2

This is the next installment of a series I am writing concerning what Romans 6-8 teaches about our sin problem and God's plan for victory. To find previous installments do a search for the title: Victory In Christ.  Part 1 can be found here.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

The question then arises that since when sin increases, grace increases more, should we sin more so that there will be more grace? The answer in verse 2 is 'of course not!' Paul goes on to say, almost with a tone of incredulity, “How could we go on living a life of sin if we died to sin?” The fact is that when we were baptized into Christ at our salvation, we were baptized into Jesus' death. (I don't believe he is talking about water baptism here, but spirit baptism as in 1 Corinthians 12:13.) Being baptized into His death means that Jesus' death counts as our death. We went to the tomb with Him.

The result is that just as Christ was raised from the dead and was at that point free from the temptation and trials that sin brought before His death, we too should view ourselves as having died with Christ and should look at it as though we are on the other side of the resurrection. The truth of the matter is that we are on the other side of the resurrection as far as God is concerned. Ephesians 2:5-6 says, “even when we were dead in trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Our identity with Christ is so thorough that in a sense we are already in Christ in heaven. The goal then is to walk in newness of life, just as Christ does because we too were raised on that day.

Principle 2: Our identity is Christ and our position is 'in Christ'.

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 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. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Paul then goes on to say that just like we have been united with Jesus in His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. We were raised spiritually with Christ when He rose again, and our bodies in the future will also be raised.

The crucial point he makes in verse 6 is that when we died with Christ, what he describes as “our old man,” which I take to be the old sin nature went to the cross with Jesus so that the body of sin might be done away with, with the result that we would no longer be slaves to sin. The phrase “done away with” in some versions is translated as “destroyed”. As an argument in this direction he says in verse 7 that he who has died has been freed from sin. In other words after we die, sin won't be an issue. And we are to see ourselves as having died with Christ when He died. Even though we are actually still in the body and subject to temptation, the truth is that we have died to sin. Having died to sin means that sin has no power and no authority over us any longer to keep us in bondage. The chains have been broken.

Now, unfortunately, it doesn't often feel that way. It feels like sin still has a lot of power over us because of all of the habits we have formed in living our lives. But we should focus on the truth of what God tells us and not on how we feel at any given moment. Sin is deceptive and our flesh is vulnerable to habits and patterns of thinking. Both of these create a situation where we feel like sin still has the mastery. But it does not!

Principle 3: Because we died with Christ, we have been released from sin's power and authority.

Part 3 can be found here.

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