Considering Ourselves Alive in Christ | Romans 6:4-11

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Considering Ourselves Alive in Christ | Romans 6:4-11

Introduction

Let’s say I wanted to do a complete restoration of my wife’s 2001 Dodge Caravan. (I know that right away you’re thinking, why would you ever want to restore a 14 year old minivan, but for the sake of the illustration, just stick with me.) So let’s says I banged out the dent in the door and reupholstered the inside and put a fresh coat of paint on the outside. I spent thousands on the restoration project. When you saw my completed van, you might just think I got a new van, but I would know that the truth is that I just freshened up my old van. It looks new on the outside, but on the inside, it’s the same 14 year old van with 130,000 miles. It’s the same old van, it just looks new.

On the other hand, if I bought my wife a brand new van (instead of fixing up her old one), it would look new on the outside because it is new. I wouldn’t have to do anything to the van to make it look new. It would look new because it is a new van.

When we come to Christ, a newness of life begins. This is not just the old life fixed up to look new.

  • It is a newness…
  • A youthfulness…
  • A spiritual rebirth…

After we’ve been saved, we have a quality of life that is completely different from the life that was lived in the past. We might look the same on the outside, but spiritually we have been reborn and a new quality of life has begun. Sometimes we call that being “born again.” Jesus came up with that term. In John 3:3 He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Go with me to Romans 6:4. Paul says, “We were buried therefore with him

[Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life….”

In our passage today, Paul is calling for a change in our thinking. We are not the same as before. We are “born again.” We are completely changed. A total transformation began that day when we, as believers, gave over control of our lives to Jesus Christ. This transformation impacts absolutely every area of our lives.

  • We don’t act or look or behave differently in order to get right with God.
  • We act and look and behave differently because God gave us a new life – a spiritual rebirth.

Our new life with Christ is not simply an old life that had been improved. It is a life that is reborn. Scripture is filled with descriptions of a believer’s new life in Christ. Consider these three descriptions of your new spiritual life:

  • Believers receive a new heart: “26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ez. 36:26
  • Believers are called a new creation: “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
  • Believers are given a new self: “…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:24

That spiritual rebirth results in a new heart and a new self because we are a new creation. A person who has been given a new life shouldn’t think about themselves in the same way they did before they knew Jesus. The “newness of life” should affect the way that we think about ourselves, but sometimes it doesn’t…. Here’s one reason why:

Since we have not been granted new bodies quite yet and we are still living in the same fallen world, you and I will sometimes continue in old, secular thought patterns. We need to be reminded all the time that:

  • We are no longer the same.
  • We’ve been changed.
  • We’ve been bought with a price.
  • Our lives have been transformed

Because of Jesus, we no longer need to bow our knee to the old slave master called sin. Today’s message is to remind you and I to think about ourselves differently now that we know Christ.

Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking.

Verses 5-10 are all supporting verses that lead us to the conclusion in verse 11. If we understand where Paul is going with this passage, it will make the next 5 verses make more sense. Skip down to verse 11 and let’s read the conclusion first. “11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

The word “consider” in the ESV (or “reckon” in the KJV) mean this in the original language: “to put together in one’s mind.” This verse is telling us to ‘put together in your mind that you are dead to sin and then put together in your mind that you are alive to God.’ It demands a change in our thinking. Beginning in verse 5, Paul gives three compelling reasons why you and I need to completely change our thinking about ourselves. His first reason is because our old life has come to an end.

Our old life has ended

Go back to verse 5-6: “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 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.”

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are documented in history and are essential to Christian doctrine. BUT… The basic theme of Romans 6, up to this point, is that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not just historical facts and important doctrines.

Verse 5 says, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his…”

Being united with Christ implies some real, intimate, personal involvement. It’s not just academic. For the Christ follower, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just a fact in a book. It is the reality of their new life! The disciple of Jesus participates in the death and resurrection of Jesus in this way:

  • They have put their old self behind them. It is dead and only fit for the scrap heap.
  • AND they began a new spiritual life with Jesus Christ as Lord. They were resurrected.

Galatians 2:20 puts it like this, “20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” In other words, I participated personally in the death of Christ. I got rid of the old worthless self and a new spiritual life started up within me. Since I do still live in the flesh, I might remain in the same life situation but I’m living that life in a completely different spiritual condition. Galatians 2:20 goes on to say, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Our new life is not just a made-over old life, but it is a life that is given to you by God as an extension of Christ’s life. There is no role for the old life. It’s worthless. There is no use for it anymore. It is only fit for the junk yard. What that implies is that there are not two natures or two dominating forces at war within us. A disciple of Jesus only has one Lord – that’s Jesus Christ. This truth is a radical shift of thinking for some people.

In drivers ed they often have a car with two sets of controls. There was one set for the student and one set for the instructor. Some people think of their lives like the drivers ed training vehicle. They envision Jesus at one set of controls and Satan at the other set. They picture Jesus and Satan pushing and shoving each other trying to gain control of their lives. They feel like they have two drivers in their lives and they never know who is going to win. When they feel like Satan won the battle for control, they will often excuse their sin by saying things like, “I can’t help it… I’m only human…”As if they do not have any say over who is controlling their lives.

Here’s where their thinking is faulty: If you are a believer, you only have one Lord – that’s Jesus Christ. Satan does not have access to any of the controls of your life. The body of sin is destroyed. Satan no longer has dominion over you. You are no longer obligated to follow the commands of sin or Satan or your flesh. He is defeated. He is disabled. He is deprived of power.

But, he’s not eliminated. Satan can tempt you. He can allure you. He can even try to trick you. But he has absolutely no control over you. If Jesus is trying to steer you one way and you refuse to go, the only person responsible for the detour is you (and me).

For the Christian, we have all the tools we need to follow Christ’s commands and it’s completely your decision (and completely my decision) as to whether or not you and I are going to follow his commands. Sin’s dominion in your life has come to an end.

Sin’s dominion has ended.

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.

Paul really wants to drill these facts into our heads so that our thinking will change. Here we have the same truth again, but stated in a different way. Sin’s reign of terror in our lives has been ended. The Old Kings James uses some very descriptive words in verse 6 that are very helpful. It says, “our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” When it says “destroyed” it means that nothing is left. It means that the domination of sin had completely ceased. It is no longer in control.

It might be helpful to envision a horse. When we were under the dominion of sin, Satan was sitting on our back and was holding the reins. He was giving the commands. We were under his control.

When Jesus came into our lives, he kicked Satan off our back and took over the reins. Now Christ is giving the commands. A well-trained horse will follow the commands of its rider, but a horse still has a will of its own. It can choose to ignore the riders command if it’s stubborn enough.

Satan is no longer allowed to hold the reigns of our lives once we have given our lives to Christ. We have a new Lord, a new owner and a new master. BUT….that does not mean he gives up trying to influence us. He will often try to entice us away from following the commands of our Lord.

It is like he is standing at the edge of the corral with an apple and he’s saying, “if you come over here, you can have this apple. Don’t follow Jesus’ commands.” Satan might not be in control, but he is still very influential. He’ll pull out one trick after another to tempt us so that we won’t honor our King or follow our commander’s instructions. Satan can still tempt us, but he can no longer control us.

In the original language, the phrase in verse 7 translated “free from sin” means to be liberated from the guilt and power of sin (but not necessary from the presence of sin.) New birth in Christ does not mean that we are immune to temptation. Every mature Christian learns that the more they grow in Christ, the more they become aware of sin and temptation in their lives.

Romans 6:23 says that the wages of our sin is death. That means that sin leads to an eternal separation from God. BUT…The exceedingly good news of the gospel is that we’ve been set free from sin and freed from it’s consequences. Romans 6:23 goes on to explain that Jesus took care of the payment for the sins of his disciples. They are justified – meaning that the penalty for their sins are paid for. It says, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now [that we’ve been justified by Jesus] our bodies are capable of doing good things and later in Romans 12 Paul exhorts us “to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” There is a great deal of hope in Paul’s exhortation. It means, through the power of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we can live lives that are holy and acceptable to God. Righteous living is possible.

In Romans 12, Paul goes on to tell us how to in a way that honors God. Romans 12:2 says,

“2 Do not be conformed to this world,” In other words, use the power of Christ in you and don’t fall prey to Satan schemes. “…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Here it is again: Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking. How do we renew our mind? I can think of two critical ways to renew your mind:

  1. Be a person of the word. Paul exhorts his young disciple Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15
  2. Act like you are no longer controlled by Satan. We now have a choice if we are going to follow Christ’s commands or not. Peter gives us this exhortation, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14)  We do that. This is a choice that we make. It is our choice whether we are conformed to the passions of this world or not.

The believer has a newness of life because of Christ taking over and setting us free from sin’s domination.

We are free to live with Christ

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.

Christ lived for the glory of God and we can live that way too. We no longer have to live under the domination of sin, but we can live for the glorification of our King! Our slavery to sin is a thing of the past and has been broken by Christ. So… we need to get our mind’s right… because: Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking. .

Being dead to sin does not mean that we are no longer capable of sin. We are still fully capable of sin, but we are no longer a slave to it. The main thing that characterized the old life was a bondage to sin. When Christ set us free, he set us free from that bondage. Jesus didn’t set us free from sin so that we could run back to it. Jesus set us free from sin so that we could run to Him.

Peter reinforces these truths in 1 Peter 4:1, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…” Again we see that those who have been united with Christ in his death are no longer controlled by sin. Their newness of life in Christ demands a change in their way of thinking. 1 Peter 4:2 says, “2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” Christ set us free from sin so that we might live lives that reap all the spiritual blessings of righteous living.

 

Life Application

Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking

When a Christian sins, they are acting against their identity. Why would they sin? It might be because they are not thinking correctly about who they really are. Sin is often the result of not realizing who we are in Christ or forgetting what Jesus has done for us.

One commentator (Martin Lloyd Jones) depicted our condition this way:

Take the case of the poor slaves in America. They were in a condition of slavery when the Civil war started. As a result of that war, slavery was abolished in the US. But do you know what actually happened after the war?

All slaves, young and old, were given their freedom, but many, who had endured long years in slavery, found it difficult to understand their new status. They heard the announcement that they were free, but they did not act upon it.

Many of them would see their old master coming near them and would begin to tremble for fear of being sold. You can be a slave experientially without being a slave legally. In other words, you can act like a slave, even though you are free. You may be free in Christ while still acting as if you were a slave to sin.

The believer is no longer a slave to sin, but some simply do not realize it. The exhortation for today is for you and I to change our thinking and realize who we are in Christ.

God does not command us to become dead to sin. He tells us that if we are really born-again, disciples of Christ, we are dead to sin and alive to Him. Paul didn’t tell us to feel like we were dead to sin. He didn’t tell us even to understand that we are dead to sin. He is telling us to act on God’s Word and claim this truth for ourselves. We are dead to sin.

On the other hand, he also is not asking us to pretend that our old nature has died when we know full well that it is still alive. If your sin nature is still alive and well and dominating your life, then you have to consider whether or not you are really saved.

For those of us who are saved, the old life has ended. The debt of sin is paid. God commands us is to act in accordance with the new life that He granted to us in Christ.

Teaching Outline

Consider these 3 descriptions of your new spiritual life:

  • Believers receive a new heart: “26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ez. 36:26
  • Believers are called a new creation: “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
  • Believers are given a new self: “…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:24

Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking – v.11

Our old life has ended – v. 5-6, Galatians 2:20

Sin’s dominion has ended – v. 6-7, 23, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 1:14

We are free to live with Christ – v. 8-10, 1 Peter 4:1-2

Application:

Our newness of life in Christ demands a change in our thinking

God commands us is to act in accordance with the new life that He granted to us in Christ

 

By | 2016-11-07T20:10:44+00:00 January 11th, 2015|New Testament, Romans, Romans - New Life In Christ, Sermons|0 Comments

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