Summary: So what’s your addiction? We all have one or another. As a pre-Christian you might have several in fact. How’s that working out for you? I know it sounds funny, but trusting in Jesus actually leads to addiction-but a really really good one!
What we have seen in Romans thus far has led us on a real roller coaster. Chapter 1: you can’t escape accountability to God for the evil in endemic in us as fallen humans. Chapter 2: God is right in his condemnation of that evil so that, Chapter 3, whether we choose to ignore God, try to be as good as we can, or follow the Law to the best of our ability we fall far short of his character. So then in verse 21 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law … through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
This incredible news carries on into Chapter 4 where we learn that even Abraham had a relationship with God through faith, just like we do. The result is peace with God, justification, access, rejoicing, hope, transformation and salvation from God’s wrath against evil. Then we saw last week in Chapter 5 we saw that we are actually part of a new race. No longer do we trace our heritage to Adam, but to Jesus Christ who is the Last Adam.
It’s pretty heady stuff. We should rightly breathe a huge sigh of relief. There’s nothing we can do to gain God’s favor because Jesus already gained it for you by his life, death, burial and resurrection. We’re alive, in tune with God, and free.
Okay, so now what? It’s like it used to be when I was as a kid. You’d open your eyes and realize it was Saturday and you had the entire day in front of you with no obligations or plans or restrictions. It was time to have fun! We now wake up in Christ with eternity in front of us with no obligations or plans of our own or restrictions. “John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
So we’re free—but free to do what? We’ve been born again but not changed entirely. We still have our body and our mind and live in a world that doesn’t serve God. Paul will say later: (1 Cor 13:12) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known and (1 John 3:2-3) we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. But that’s in the future—not now.
So does this mean that we simply go about doing whatever comes to mind? The truth is that while we live here we live with a dual nature—the new self, modeled after the Last Adam, slowly taking over for the old self, modeled after the First Adam. How to live in that reality without becoming schizophrenic is what Romans 6 is all about. We progress from talking about justification, to sanctification, which is the process of us becoming like God.
1 – 4
Some people might mistake Paul’s statement that where sin abounded grace abounded much more to give them freedom to sin. “If God loves to forgive, let’s give Him more to forgive by sinning more.” We misunderstand both the seriousness of sin and our present condition, that we have been freed, not to become less like God but more like Him. Now, for the first time, we have the choice to act like God on a continual basis more and more.
Considering yourself dead to something is a good way to put it. What makes the difference between someone who has not been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb is that we now have the choice to act like God and NOT act like the flesh. That’s the “newness of life.” Baptism is a symbol of that reality—not that baptism itself is responsible for the cleansing. Peter makes that clear in 1 Peter 3:21.
We have entered a new paradigm. It might not feel like it, but it is none the less more real than you know.
5 – 11
Our sins have been washed and we now have the life of Jesus—life that will never end—life where our character is so good, just like God. “Death no longer has dominion” over you. That is a reality. Again, though, the junk we learned being born into and living in sin likes to hang around. That’s what I mean by a dual nature. The process we are now in is a “transforming” of our minds (Romans 12:2). The first step, though, is to consider (reckon or declare) ourselves “crucified” – dead – to sin.
Once set free, a slave can continue to live as a slave, but why? Japanese soldiers in WWII lived as if the war was still on, and some, hearing that the war had ended, refused to believe or act on the new reality. We don’t have to be that way! No longer do we have to live lives independent from God and for ourselves, we live “for God.”