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Program Guide

We Died To Sin (5:20-6:7)

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We have a tendency to think that if something is good, more is better. However, this often is not true. For example, if taking medicine cures you of an illness it does not mean that a larger dose will be even more beneficial. On the contrary, a larger dose might kill you. Likewise, we need to eat a certain amount of food in order to live. It does not follow that more food is always beneficial. If we eat too much it can lead to all sorts of health problems.

Even worse than taking something which is good beyond what is appropriate, is continuing wrong or destructive behavior because some good came out of it. For example, a man may have learned some wisdom from having failed in business. Should he then continue making the poor decisions which led to his failure? Should he pursue more failure in the hope that it will make him wiser still? Of course not. We should not deliberately seek failure, rather we should learn from our mistakes and failures so that we can avoid them in the future.

The same principle is true in spiritual things. All of us are sinners. We have all violated God’s standards. As a result, we have been separated from God. However, our sin also enables us to experience God’s grace, justification and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. These are all wonderful things.

In his inspired letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul writes that God’s grace increases all the more the greater our sin becomes. As we become more and more aware of God’s requirements, we become more guilty for not keeping them. As we become more guilty, God’s grace becomes more apparent. What, then, should our response be? In chapter 5, verses 20 through chapter 6, verse 7 he writes, “The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly; that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

The purpose of medicine is not to allow us to continue those behaviors which make us ill. Its purpose is to heal us. If we do not avoid those things which make us sick, the day will come when the medicine loses it’s effectiveness and we will not be cured. In the same way, the purpose of God’s grace is not to allow us to keep sinning, but to help us stop sinning altogether. If we try to use God’s grace as an excuse to keep sinning, God will no longer extend it to us. The Scriptures say, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV)

So what does God expect of us when He extends His grace to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Paul writes that we must die. Why does he say this? Weren’t we already dead, that is separated from God, because of our sin? Hasn’t God extended His grace to us so we might live?

The death Paul speaks of in this passage is not the death which is the consequence of sin. Instead it is dying to sin. Just as sin separated us from God, when we accept His grace we must die to sin, that is be separated from it. Paul’s point is that if we have died to sin, we will not live sinfully any longer.

How do we die to sin? Though Paul does not use the word here, part of dying to sin involves repentance, that is, renouncing and repudiating sin. We turn our backs on what separated us from God to seek Him.

Another part of dying to sin is participating in Christ’s death. Christ sacrificed His life on our behalf. We must identify so closely with His death that it is as though we ourselves died with Him. How is this possible? Paul writes that this takes place in baptism. When we are baptized, we are immersed completely in water. Just as Christ’s dead body was buried, so too our repentant self is buried in water.

There is an important corollary to dying with Christ. When we are baptized we are not only plunged beneath the water, we are also raised from it. The meaning is this: If we have joined Christ in death, we will also experience His resurrection.

In summary, we must die because we are sinners and the penalty for sin is death. But God, in His mercy gives us the choice of how we will die. We can choose to die with Christ, or we can die without Him. If we choose to die with Christ, we will also live with Him. If we choose to die without Christ, we will be separated from God forever. Have you repented of your sins? Have you been baptized into Christ’s death so that you are now alive in Christ?

How does dying with Christ affect the way we live our lives? Paul writes that we have been crucified with Christ. Our old self, our old way of thinking, our old passions and desires have been executed. Our old nature which was once controlled by sin is now powerless. Sin no longer controls us. We are free.

Paul points out that laws do not apply to dead people. Once we have died with Christ, the old rules, which stated that we could not do this or that, no longer apply to us either. We have been freed from the effects of sin.

If the old rules no longer apply to someone who has died with Christ; if he is free, then what prevents him from committing sin in the future? If this question interests you, then listen to our next program.