On to the next section…

We have now completed the first two main sections of Romans, and so far we have discovered that no one can be saved by the law, for the law condemns us all (1:18-3:20). In the second section, we discovered that grace takes our sin away, thus bringing about our justification before God (3:21 – 5:21). Both of the first two sections relate to our outward problem of sin, but there is much more to grace than the simple removal of sin; it has an inward aspect as well.

Once our sin has been removed and we are justified before God through grace, there is much work to be done for forgiveness of sin is not the end of the story but rather it is the beginning. In fact, it is entirely possible for a reasonable man or woman to read our discussions about grace and in all seriousness to ask if it matters what we do from this point forward, after all our sins are forgiven anyway. Why should we obey the teachings of Jesus? Does it make any difference how we live? Can’t I just do my own thing? If my sins are forgiven, who cares?

Paul answers to these questions are found in the third section of Romans, which covers chapters 6-8, and as we will see, grace is a double cure.

To put this another way, in the last section, Paul demonstrated that grace provided justification for sins, in this section Paul will demonstrate that grace provides total victory over sin. Once again, there are three main points in the argument: First in 6:1 – 7:13 he will show that grace does not render sin irrelevant. The second point in 7:14 – 8:13, shows us that grace gives us victory in our struggle against sin, and finally in 8:14-39 we will see that grace’s total and complete victory over sin is assured.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:1-4

With these words, Paul launches his argument that sin is not irrelevant because of grace. No, we don’t keep on sinning so that we might receive even more grace, how can we do such a thing?

What exactly and precisely, does it mean for us to be “born again”?

The answer is in these verses: We are baptized into Jesus’ death; this is where the “old me” died with Him. When Jesus was placed into the tomb, He was most assuredly dead, but then a curious thing happened: He rose from the dead. When I was baptized, they put me under the water and then a curious thing happened to me also: I came up out of the water a new man: I was born again. I was a new creation because I went under without the Holy Spirit, and I rose up with the Holy Spirit within me; “sin” remained behind. (see also Acts 2:38) You see, when I was baptized, not only was my sin stricken from my “permanent record” I became a new person. As a new person, why would I want to run back to the old way? That would be stupid!

Paul expands on this thought in verses 5-14, so we aren’t finished with this quite yet, but I think I’ll end for now and let you have a little time to ponder this. We’ll pick up with verse 5 next time…

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to On to the next section…

  1. Why do people fight this with tooth and nail? Why do preachers preach against baptism? Some say it is water salvation. It is no more water salvation than the cross was wood salvation. It is such a beautiful ceremony representing what is happening to our soul?

    Oh, Jesus, I didn’t understand. Your flesh. It was torn for me. I was the one who should have received the lashing that turned Your back into meat. And the thorny slivers on the cross. The slivers that went into Your already shredded back to create gangrene. The lashing and thorns were supposed to be for me, not You. And the nails too, Jesus. The nails too. How could You go through that in my place?
    Oh, Jesus, I didn’t understand. Your nakedness. They stripped You instead of me. I was the one who’s nakedness should have been exposed, and put on display for the whole world to gawk at and ridicule. I was the one who was supposed to have been subjected to exposure, enduring both the heat of the day and the cold of that strange noon-time darkness. How could you have endured this for me?
    Oh, Jesus, I didn’t understand. Your blood. It was shed for me. If I had been the only sinner in the world, You still would have had to die to free me from hell. That was my blood that was supposed to be falling off the cross that day, not Yours. How could You love me that much?
    Oh, Jesus, I didn’t understand. Your every breath. Taken away from You a gasp at a time as You hung there by merciless nails tearing away at Your life, rendering Your lungs almost paralyzed, piercing Your soul. Each time You chose to ignore the screaming blood vessels in Your back and the unbearable spasms in Your arms and legs just so You could get just one more taste of air, that should have been me. How could You volunteer Your own body to be tortured like that in my place?
    Oh, Jesus, I didn’t understand. In the flames of Your fever and the darkness of my sins, You descended to a horrible place where God does not go. Completely forsaken by Your God. Completely deserted by Love. Not because You simply bore my sins, but You actually became my sins. How could You, who struggled a lifetime to make sure You never sinned, become exactly what You hated for me?
    Oh, Jesus, I did not understand. All my little lies, little things I took home accidentally and kept, the strangers I never encouraged, the friends I never shared my love for You with, my arrogance in not following you. Oh, Jesus, I am so ashamed. How can I ever make it up to You? How can I tell You how sorry I am? I want to see You face to face and tell You how much I love You. How can I convince You to let me do that?
    Jesus personally replies, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Oh, Jesus, say no more! I do believe that You are the Son of God! I do believe!
    Jesus personally replies, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). I’m so glad You said that, Jesus! I truly am sorry for all those sins I have committed that caused You to suffer and die!
    Jesus personally replies, “Whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:31f). Well, isn’t it enough that I believe? Do I have to get my friends involved? If I told them I believed in You, they’d kill my reputation. Are You sure, Jesus?
    Jesus personally replies, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15). “Jesus came…to be baptized….’It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness’ ” (Matthew 3:13-15). Oh, Jesus, I wish you hadn’t been baptized and said I needed to be also. My friends and pastor tell me I don’t need to be. I know they didn’t die for me, but surely they wouldn’t steer me wrong. Please, Jesus, not that! Please….
    Would it be okay, Jesus, if I just do the first two ~ believe and repent? Everyone says that’s all I have to do to please You. I’ll even throw in the third one and tell a few of my friends what You’ve done for me because I believe in You. But the fourth one. I know You Yourself said to, but I just couldn’t! Please, spare me that! Please, Jesus! It would kill me….

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