Yesterday, as I met with some men for Bible study, someone asked me to explain a passage that had him puzzled. He read Romans 6:2-4.
” … How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.”
He stopped there. The subject matter of “death” continues until verse 14 but these first few verses allowed him to make his concerns clear. I silently prayed something like, “Lord, help me to explain this in terms that will clear up the matter for a man that really wants to understand. It is a profound truth but help me to explain it simply.”
Immediately, I thought of an illustration. Let me share a bit of what these verses are talking about and then conclude with the illustration:
The end of Romans 5 tells us that no matter how bad our sin problem was/is, God’s grace can cover it. “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). To highlight God’s amazing grace, the author, Paul, said that God’s grace was abundant enough that it could cover any sin.
However, Paul assumed that folks would hear this truth and be tempted to presume upon grace. Someone may think: “If God’s grace will forgive me of any sin, and if grace is a good thing, why don’t I sin as much as I can so I can be forgiven and get the good stuff – grace!”
Paul told his readers that this wasn’t an option (Romans 6:1-14). Why? Because we died to sin. We were “buried with Him (Jesus) through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). When we were saved, we were identified (baptized) with Christ. We were identified with his death, burial and resurrection. Essentially, we died! When we received the gift of eternal life, our “old self” died. The point that Paul is making is: “You shouldn’t keep on sinning … because dead people don’t sin.”
Illustration: I bought a pretty cool video program a couple of months ago. Among all of the editing options it provides, probably the most basic is “splice” and “insert.” I can locate a specific point within a video, splice (cut) the video at that point, and insert another video into that opening so that the inserted video becomes an actual part of the original video.
Imagine for a moment that I was able to go back to that day when I received the gift of eternal life. I was 8 years old at the time. I can picture that Sunday afternoon when I talked with my dad in his church office. I remember closing my eyes in prayer and asking God for forgiveness and giving my life to Him.
Now (don’t check out yet), imagine that all of this was caught on video. Romans 6 tells us that as I was praying, God hit the “splice” button. He separated the beginning of that prayer from the end of that prayer and He inserted another video into that opening making it a very real part of the story. The video He inserted? It was Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Essentially, God made Jesus’ experience my history. If you were to re-watch the video with the added section, you would see me bow my head in prayer, then you would see the cross scene where death took place, then the tomb, and then the resurrection. In the next scene, I said “Amen” and opened my eyes. I died to myself when I prayed to receive the gift of eternal life and when I said “Amen,” I was a brand new creation walking out of the empty tomb. The person I was before I received the gift of eternal life died. But that’s not all. I was resurrected to walk in a new way of life.
Do I still sin? Of course I do because I still live this side of Heaven. Daily, I have to claim the promise of 1 John 1:9 and confess my sins. But now, I am to “consider myself dead to sin” (Romans 6:11). I’m to think of myself as a dead man. In fact, I’m to be more specific than that and say that I died when I was 8 years old. Why? Because dead people don’t sin.