Summary: How do we reject sin and enter the real life God wishes for us?
Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:1b - 11 (NRSVA)
In the Baptismal Covenant we are asked a question: Will you turn away from the powers of sin and death? It’s a pretty simple thing to read the answers off the paper…
We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness
We reject the evil powers of this world
And repent of our sin
Reading a pre-programmed answer is easy; but how do you live it? If the untold numbers of testimonies of lives-lived in and out of the Christian faith are any evidence, rejecting sin and the evil forces of this world are not found in repeating some magical formula like a mantra…
I’m a Christian, I will not sin,
I’m a Christian, I will not sin,
I’m a Christian, I will not sin…. Ad nauseum!
It’s also not a matter of getting a good self-help book from a TV Religious program, “7 Steps to Holiness…Name it, Claim it, Blab it, Grab it, you deserve a Cadillac, send me $100 and I’ll pray for you”.
Rather, the answer is found in our identity; the answer is to be “in Christ”. In our text Paul says it this way:
11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
“In Christ”! What does that mean? I can tell you the worth of it – being in Christ is everything. And anything less than 100% “in Christ” is to be without Christ entirely. There is no power to resist sin without Christ. But living “in Christ” holds the power to reject sin.
If you spend much time hanging around philosophy students you know they’re weird. Invariably they try to get you to answer in 25 words or less the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life?
Well, we’re at that point today…and let’s not shy away from asking that ultimate question, but let’s go beyond merely getting at the meaning of life as understanding or head-knowledge; let’s also ask how we can experience the meaning of life. I want to have more than information about life’s meaning; I want life!
Now, the answer is already there; the process is a matter of removing the obstacles that block us from seeing it, so we can see clearly, and step into life.
What we need to see is the cross and empty tomb. Everything about our baptism points to that. On the cross Jesus died because sin had us dead to rights…sin requires death, separation from God. The empty tomb is proof Jesus conquered sin and death.
How does that help me see how to have life? The answer there is found in the fact that the cross and tomb are outside of yourself. And therein we see the difference. Often we are told to “look within” for our answers. OK…let’s do that; look inside the average person, child, teen, adult, senior…what do we see?
Is there confusion?
Is there questioning?
Is there doubt and suffering?
How does any of that provide answers that you can trust? On this one, looking within won’t cut it. We need to look outside ourselves; we go to the cross and empty tomb for our answers.
THE MAIN OBSTACLE TO SEEING AND STEPPING-INTO LIFE IS ME!
I remember a cartoon strip from many years ago, Pogo is considering life and he muses: “We have met the enemy and he is us”.
A person asked Socrates why it was that Alcibiades, who was so rich, so brilliant and so able a statesman and general, who had traveled so much, and seen so much of the world, was nevertheless so unhappy a man.