Monday, October 30, 2006

Death, Burial and Resurrection (Romans № 15)

Since Paul just said that grace trumps sin [Romans 5.20,21] does that mean we can live like the devil and have the righteousness of Christ, by faith, at the same time?

People believe that, you know. People believe they are unconditionally eternally secure and they will get to heaven no matter how sinful they live. Consider Paul's answer to this question:

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (Rom 6.1-3 ESV)

Paul didn't hold that a person could live in sin and, all the while, be covered by grace. To prove his point, he alludes to the metaphor of baptism by immersion that the early Church employed. As A. T. Robertson explains in Word Pictures:

"Rom 6:3 - Were baptized into Christ...Better, 'were baptized unto Christ or in Christ.' The translation 'into' makes Paul say that the union with Christ was brought to pass by means of baptism, which is not his idea, for Paul was not a sacramentarian. Eis is at bottom the same word as en. Baptism is the public proclamation of one’s inward spiritual relation to Christ attained before the baptism."

And Clarke in his Commentary:

"Rom 6:3 - Know ye not, etc. - Every man who believes the Christian religion, and receives baptism as the proof that he believes it, and has taken up the profession of it, is bound thereby to a life of righteousness. To be baptized into Christ, is to receive the doctrine of Christ crucified, and to receive baptism as a proof of the genuineness of that faith, and the obligation to live according to its precepts."

I believe baptism is a symbol of burial; just as Christ was buried after his crucifixion, so, too, are we spiritually buried in him; baptism is a symbol that we have died in Christ. Paul takes up his thought:

"We were buried therefore with him 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. 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. 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God." (Rom 6.4-10 ESV)

Paul identifies us with Christ in his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Paul says that Jesus died, therefore we died. Jesus was buried, therefore we were buried. Jesus rose from the dead, therefore we rose from the dead. The old creation under Adam is gone, the new creation under Christ is here!

To believe that a person, united with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection to could talk of living like the old person is absurd to Paul. It's beyond argument.

Sinners live like the devil, under Adam. Saints live like Jesus, under Christ.

The question is, who are you under?