In our last lesson, Paul raised a few rhetorical questions:
- “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1-2.
The reason for the questions was due to his radical teaching on grace.
- A taste of this is in 5:21 – “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.
We saw that the way he answered his questions involved a couple of important rabbit trails on reign making.
- Verses 1-5 were his “first off”.
- Today we deal with his “second off”.
Paul’s “first off” consisted of the following:
- A description of how it is that we are led out of Garden Exile – the domain of sin and death – and into the domain of grace and life.
- In other words, how Jesus makes it reign.
The “how” of Christ’s reign making is, for Paul, grounded in our union with Him.
- We are “baptized into Christ Jesus” (vs. 3).
- We are “baptized into his death” (vs. 3).
- We are “buried…with him by baptism into death” (vs. 4).
- We are “as Christ…raised from the dead” into a “newness of life” (vs. 5).
- We are “united with him” in “a death like his” (vs. 5).
- We are “united with him in a resurrection like his” (vs. 5).
These things are difficult to understand.
- But we know they can’t be just metaphor.
- We are not “righteoused” by metaphor.
- This is where Paul’s “second off” comes in.
Paul’s Second Off:
Paul’s “second off” gives us more insight into our reign change.
- Romans 6:6–11 (ESV) — 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In these verses, Paul gives more insight on how our Union with Christ puts us in the reign of grace.
- Like his “first off”, it revolves around our participation in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
- But specifically, this text details some of the specific manifestations this Union has in our lives.
- And, importantly, what our response should be.
Manifestations of Union and Reign:
So Paul says, “we know” some things about our Union with Christ and its reign power.
- He says that in Christ, “our old self was crucified with him” (vs. 6).
And as a result of this…
- Our “body of sin” is “brought to nothing” (vs. 6).
- “So that we would not longer be enslaved to sin” (vs. 6).
Paul kind of encapsulates these truths under the heading as having “died” (vs. 7).
- And because we have “died” to sin we are “set free from sin” (vs. 7).
But wait…there is more.
- Christ didn’t just die.
- He also rose from the dead!
- So “we will also live with him” (vs. 8).
In fact, Paul says, because of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15) He will “never die again” (vs. 9).
- And so, critically, the dominion of death has been smashed.
- “Death no longer has dominion over him” (vs. 9).
- The dominion of death and sin isn’t just displaced but defeated!
We need to know, N.T. Wright says, something profound about Christ’s resurrection.
- Christ didn’t experience death and come back to life like, for example, Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter.
- He actually went into death and came out the other side “into a new bodily life” (Wright).
- Lazarus would die again – Jesus will never die again!
Paul drives this point home in verse 10.
- “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God” (vs. 10).
- In Christ’s death, sin was put to death.
- In death, sin not only doesn’t have dominion, it can’t!
Likewise, in Christ’s resurrection…
- Life lives – it reigns.
- To put it strangely, the dominion of grace was put to life – resurrection life in Christ.
Do these truths help us understand the “how” of reign change?
- Douglas Moo thinks so.
Focusing on verse 6, where our “old self was crucified” with Christ…
- Moo says Paul is speaking of an actual fact – a “real” reality.
- Specifically, he says, “Paul’s language throughout is forensic, or positional; by God’s act, we have been placed in a new position” – Douglas Moo.
“What is meant is not the believer’s duty to put away sin, but the act of God whereby, in response to our faith, he considers us to have died the same death Christ died” – Douglas Moo.
In other words, by our Union with Christ, God literally put us into a place where we receive all the benefits of Christ’s reign changing, redemptive work.
- This is something that would be easy to downplay as some sort of creative fiction.
- But that would be a devastating mistake.
- Our Creator – the maker of all reality – has declared this to be the actual reality of the believer.
Put another way, it isn’t fiction because it isn’t just something God arbitrarily says.
- It is something He creates through the baptism of the Spirit! (6:3)
- It is something He creates through the work of Christ!
I love what N.T. Wright says of this new reality – this new reign.
“Paul insists that we are now ‘in the Messiah’, so that what is true of him is true of us, however unlikely it sounds and however much it doesn’t yet feel true” – N.T. Wright.
Our Response – “Must Consider”:
In light of all this reign changing reality, Paul says this:
- “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (vs. 11).
This is where Paul finally works his way through his “first off” and “second off” of reign making and puts on his pastoral hat.
- With verse 11, he creates the perfect segue in to our text next week – “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body” (vs. 12).
So what is this “must consider” business?
- Or, as the NIV puts it, “count yourselves”.
The word is worth exploring.
- The Greek word here is “logizomai”.
The general idea behind the word is to “give careful thought to” or “let one’s mind dwell on” – BDAG.
- This sense of the word demands philosophical considerations from us – EDNT.
- The actual reality that accompanies Christ’s reign making work is worth careful thought.
- It directly effects who we are as persons and our identity.
But “must consider” does more work than that!
So, we must look at another meaning of the word – a meaning that involves numbers.
- And in this sense “logizomai” means, “to reckon or calculate” – BDAG.
This is the sense in which Paul uses the word in Romans 4:8 and 22.
- Romans 4:8 (ESV) — 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
- Romans 4:22 (ESV) — 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
When taken in this sense, Paul wants us to do the math with this new reality.
- Just as 1+1=2…
- Paul’s “first off” plus his “second off” equal…
- We really are “dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ” (vs. 11).
N.T. Wright speaks of this beautifully:
“And here is the point. It is often hard to believe the result of the calculation. But faith at this point consists, not of shutting one’s eyes and trying to believe the impossible, but opening one’s eyes to the reality of Jesus and his representative death and resurrection—and to the reality of one’s own standing as a baptized and believing member of Jesus’ people, those who are ‘in the Messiah’. That is the challenge of verse 11. We need to remember who we really are, so that we can act accordingly” – N.T. Wright.
The implication of this “calculating” is this:
“Resisting temptation isn’t a matter of pretending you wouldn’t find it easier to give in. It’s a matter of learning to think straight, and to act on what you know to be true” – N.T. Wright.
God really has created a new place for us through the Holy Spirit, and the saving righteousness work of Jesus Christ.
- A place – the grace in which we now stand – in which He really does place us.
- A place that, as part of its construction, didn’t just contend with death, but soundly defeated it and came through the other side never to return to it.
- A place for those formerly in Garden Exile who have faith in Christ.
In Christ, and removed from Garden Exile, we are a new creation.
- Which is to say we really have been moved from one dominion to another.
But alas, “What we were ‘in Adam’ is no more; but, until heaven, the temptation to live in Adam always remains” – Douglas Moo.
- Which is why Paul has more to say to us.
- Continued next week.