By Paul Holbrook
Today’s reading: Romans 6 1-14
Paul asks in Romans 6 – What shall we say then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase?
He says earlier in Romans 5:20 – since Grace increases to cover sin why not sin more so that God’s grace increases even more? If God actually sees us as perfect because of Jesus, then why worry about sin?
But his answer to this is an unequivocal – “Certainly not”!! We have died to sin – How then can we go on living in it??
Paul it says, was “public sinner number one” – But God used him to teach the world with the gospel. Grace was so central to Paul’s message that he mentions it at the very beginning of all of his epistles.
Many people died because of the sin of one man (Adam) and because of that one man – Death began to rule – But how much greater was the result of what was done by the one man: Jesus Christ – As one sin condemned all people – In the same way the one righteous act set all people free and gives them life.
Paul continues in Romans to say that when we are baptised, we are baptised into a union with Jesus. We were baptised into a union with his death, we are buried with him and shared his death in order that just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the father, so we might also live a new life. But this also means that when we sin we are putting Jesus through death again.
When we died with Christ at baptism, we died to sin. Sin did not die, rather our physical body which sin used as its instrument was taken out of gear. Meanwhile we have been raised to a new life with Christ. This new life is never ending. It is a life lived in knowledge of God and in reverence for him.
Paul gives a number of instructions to us at the end of the verses (11-14) – The first is that we are to make the same calculation about ourselves as God has made about us; that is, we are dead to sin and alive to God. As God sees us so we are able to see ourselves – Psychologists say we try to conform to the image of us that’s seen by the most important person in our lives (Not that I’ve ever met Jurgen Klopp – Or the chief Brewer at the Tennents brewery in Glasgow) But imagine what would happen if you started to see yourself as God sees you? Then we do not let Sin reign over us.
I was wondering about this as I was writing – I was baptised at less than a month old. (The last time I was cute) – But when I was growing up I was never told that the commitment to die to sin was made for me and nobody ever followed it up. In fact I’ve been a representative for 2 of my nephews’ baptisms – But I never fully understood the commitment. For me, the day I made the prayer of commitment which then led to me being confirmed – that was when I truly died to sin and rose again with Jesus. I understand that when Paul was speaking adults made the decision regarding baptism – It was a fully immersive event in which they were immersed into the water to symbolise the descent into Hell. Now people get their children baptised because it’s something that you have to do. But I wonder – That how many people who attend those services appreciate the enormity of the commitment they are making for their son/daughter/niece/nephew? I didn’t. I do now.
So following on from this – it leads to Pauls second instruction that we do not keep going to Sin’s temple to make offerings there. Rather we commit ourselves to Gods lordship (v13) – the reason for this is that we live in a relationship not ruled by observing law, or by earning merit. We live in an unconditional, undeserved relationship of Gods grace.
I think then what we take from Romans 6 is the gift of Gods grace and the knowledge of eternal life with God. For me eternal life with him means freedom in a way – Free from Sin, worry, the feeling of failure. Living in the glory of Gods grace and love.