"DEAD TO SIN"
1. Helen is driving home from work on a Friday evening. It has been six days since those two women from Calvary Road Baptist Church knocked on her apartment door and asked if they might talk to her.
2. Being an attractive young woman, Helen never spends Friday or Saturday evenings at home doing nothing. She is always being asked out to dinner, or to a concert, or to go away for the weekend by someone.
3. And so it had been the night before the two Christian women came. Though they knocked on her door about 10:30 Helen was somewhat irritated that they had come by. After all, staying out late the night before resulted in getting a late start on the day, so they caught her before she had made herself presentable.
4. But they were nice and she invited them in. After a few minutes of chit chat she gave them permission to show her how to be sure that when she died she would go to heaven. About a half hour later Helen responded to the truth they had presented to her from God's Word and received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. To use Paul's terminology of Romans chapter 5, Helen had been justified by faith in Christ.
5. Being an attractive young woman did not diminish the fact that she was a depraved and Hell-bound sinner in the sight of God, so she depended on God to freely give her a righteous standing who was not righteous and to establish a relationship with God where there had been none.
6. But that was six days ago. She had been asked to Church by the women, but hadn't fulfilled her commitment to attend the next day and make public her profession of faith in Christ. She had also been asked to go to Palm Springs for the weekend by an old boyfriend.
7. Folks, we have a question to ask about this young woman, Helen. Assuming that she really did receive Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, can she go on and live her life in the same fashion that she had lived it before she received Christ?
8. My text for today begins to answer that important question. Taking your Bible, letís stand and turn to Romans 6.1-5, and read todayís text [Read].
9. No, Helen, you cannot. No, Darrell, you cannot. No, Irma, you cannot. No, David, you cannot. No, Christian, you cannot live your life after youíve received Christ in the same fashion that you did before receiving Christ.
10. Follow the four steps in Paul's line of reasoning to see how impossible it is for the Christian to "continue in sin."
1A. STEP 1, IN PAULíS LINE OF REASONING, IS THE PROPOSITION (6.1) [Read]
Two questions to start things off.
1B. First, There Is The Question Of Acknowledgment
"What shall we say then?"
1C. This particular question appears four times in Paul's letter to the Romans. And each and every time it appears Paul introduces a false inference, an erroneous conclusion, if you will, that people make when they do not fully understand what he has written.
2C. What Paul has just written is a presentation of Godís plan of justifying sinners. And what he has most recently said, in Romans 5.20, is that the magnitude of sin that must be dealt with is always overwhelmed by the magnitude of Godís grace. So, with this question, Paul acknowledges that there are some who will misunderstand what he has just said.
2B. Which Brings Us, Secondly, To The Question Of Anticipation
"Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
1C. Here is how people will generally misunderstand what Paul has said about sin and salvation, and especially what he has said about the abundance of God's grace. They will think that it is possible to live after you trust Christ as you did before you trusted Christ, if what Paul says is true.
2C. What we have to remember is this: The grace of God, rightly understood, never encourages sin. Remember, God is a holy God. He is a righteous God. He would never do anything that would encourage sin or promote sin.
3C. So, what Paul is putting forth is not a legitimate or genuine proposition, but one that was typically put forth either by his enemies or by those who simply did not properly understand him.
4C. Nowadays people would word things this way: You mean to tell me that all I need to do to get my sins forgiven is receive Jesus? As simple as that? Hey bud, won't that just encourage folks to commit sin so God's grace will take care of the problem afterwards?
2A. STEP 2, IN PAULíS LINE OF REASONING, IS THE REFUTATION (6.2)
Here, as you might have guessed, Paul answers those who contend that salvation by grace, justification by faith, encourages sinful behavior.
1B. As To Reaction
1C. This is the way Paul typically answers a question for which the answer is "Absolutely, positively, no way." It is a powerful denial of a false assertion.
2C. And so effective is this way of answering "No" that Paul uses the phrase ten other times in Romans.
2B. As To Reality
"How shall we, that are dead to sin,..."
1C. Can people, after they are saved, live lives of unregenerate sinfulness, just like they did before their conversion?
2C. Paul begins answering that question by pointing out the reality that "we," believers, are "dead to sin."
3C. My friends, when asking yourselves whether or not our imaginary Helen can do after Christ what she did before Christ, remember this: She has died to sin. Having been born into the realm of Adam, when she trusted Christ as her personal Savior, she died with Christ when she trusted Him. And when she died, she died to that old Adamic realm where sin ruled and reigned over people.
4C. That may not be the way Christians "feel" sometimes, but that's spiritual reality, nevertheless.
3B. As To Response
1C. In light of the fact that you and I, and Helen, have died to sin, the question we must ask ourselves is this: How shall we live any longer therein? If you are dead to sin, how can you live in sin any longer?
2C. Folks, this is a rhetorical question that Paul asks. The answer is not specifically given because it is so patently obvious that given the answer is completely unnecessary.
3C. How can Helen, who is dead to sin since she has trusted Christ, live after Christ as she did before Christ? She canít. Neither can you. Neither can I.
3A. IN STEP 3, OF PAUL'S LINE OF REASONING, WE HAVE THE EXPLANATION
Understanding that this is only a partial explanation of why the believer cannot live in sin, and that the full explanation covers all of chapters 6, 7 and 8, letís see how Paul uses the ordinance of believerís baptism to illustrate his point.
1B. First, By Pointing Out The Meaning Of Baptism (6.3) [Read]
1C. When Paul writes "Know ye not" at the beginning of a question like this he is admitting that the readers, Roman Christians, most of whom he has never met before and therefore did not win to Christ or personally teach, already know something about what he is saying, though they may not understand the full implications.
2C. Paul, then, is more fully explaining things that he expects them to already know something about. And why would they know something about the significance of baptism? Because they, being Christians, have been baptized.
3C. You see, folks, there simply is no record in Godís Word of a believer not being baptized. This is because, while baptism does not save anyone, but is a step of obedience taken by people after they have been saved, it is a profoundly important public statement for the believer to make.
4C. Paul explains to his readers, then, who have been baptized, that being baptized for Jesusí sake is more than just a step of obedience. It is actually a public way of showing that you have stepped out of the domain of Adam and into the domain of Christ, out of the realm where sin rules and into the realm where grace super-abounds.
5C. Now understand, baptism does not accomplish this shift, if you will, but it demonstrates in a way nothing else can that this shift has occurred in your life. When Jesus Christ died He died for you. You died to sin. Thatís what your baptism means.
2B. The Message Of Baptism Also Points Out That The Believer Cannot Live In Sin (6.4)
1C. The first part of verse 4 shows us a past parallel. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death."
1D. If you have ever been to a loved oneís funeral you know that a dear oneís passing occurs before he is buried. Burial doesnít actually end that personís life. Burial is actually the exclamation point, the finale, the prominent testimony to the fact that death has already occurred.
2D. Baptism is parallel to death in that way. A person isnít justified when they are baptized. A person doesn't actually die to sin when they are baptized. They are justified, they are saved, they die to sin, when they receive Christ as their Savior. Baptism follows that wonderful event and shows that it has, in fact, occurred.
2C. Now for the second part of the verse, the present practice.
"that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
1D. If the first part of the verse shows that baptism is a past parallel to the death of Christ, what do we see here? We see the resurrection of Christ alongside something else. But it isnít baptism. Baptism attests to Christís death and our identification with His death.
2D. But what is it in the Christianís experience that attests to Christís resurrection and our identification with His resurrection? It isn't our believerís baptism. Itís our walking in newness of life.
3D. Know what that means? It means that when I baptize someone I shouldn't say, "Buried in the likeness of His death. Raised in the likeness of His resurrection." What I should say is something like "Buried in the likeness of His death. Raised to walk in the likeness of His resurrection."
4D. That's the message of baptism and the message of the Christian lifestyle.
4A. THE FINAL STEP OF PAUL'S REASONING IS THE EXPECTATION (6.5)
1B. As To The Fact
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death."
1C. Here we have the first half of our famous first class conditional statement. If such and such is true, which it is, then such and such is true.
2C. Please understand that the phrase "we have been planted together" does not refer to baptism. Though I donít have time to go into the reasons why, Iíll be delighted to show you before Church tonight that "we have been planted together" refers to the salvation event.
3C. To be planted together actually means that each and every genuine believer is connected to Christís death, which we already know from verse 3. The truth of this we already know.
2B. As To The Future
"we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
1C. If we have been connected with Christís death, which genuine believers have been, then we will also be connected with Christís resurrection in the future.
2C. Did you and others who trusted Christ really die to sin? Yes. Then know this: You will be resurrected as He was.
1. How do we answer our question about Helen? The proposition is, can Helen live her life after trusting Christ just like she did before trusting Christ?
2. The refutation is, absolutely not. She is dead to sin. How can she live any longer in sin? Not that Helen can't sin. She can sin. But how can she live in the realm and domain of sin when she has died to sin and now lives in the realm and domain of grace? It doesnít make sense.
3. The explanation used by Paul is found in the meaning and message of believerís baptism. If Helen is saved she will be baptized. And her baptism will testify that she died to sin with Christ. Not only that, her new lifestyle will attest to the fact that sheís going to be resurrected, as Christ was.
4. Can Christians live like lost people? Oh, I suppose they can for a while. But Iím a Christian and I couldnít live like I was lost. And you know why? Because the most illogical, the most unreasonable, the most absurd, the most nonsensical, and the most ridiculous thing there is is the person who is dead to sin living like he isnít dead to sin.
5. If Helen really knows Jesus Christ she has been justified by faith. She has been transferred from the headship of Adam to the headship of Christ. She no longer lives in a universe in which sin rules and reigns over her, although she can commit acts of personal sin. She now lives in a universe in which Godís empowering grace rules and reigns supreme in the person of Jesus Christ.
6. So, eventually, she will be baptized. Why not now, Helen? Eventually, she will live like she is dead to sin. Why not live like that now, Helen? Eventually, she will walk in newness of life. Why not do that now, Helen?