What question are you asking?
Paul is a master at asking rhetorical questions; some scholars have counted more than 50 questions in the book of Romans. Paul asks two critical questions in chapter 6:
- Well then, should we keep sinning so that God can show us more and more of his extraordinary grace?
- Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?
The resounding answer to the question, should we continue to sin, is NO, by NO means!
I remember a Sunday School teacher in my teen years reminding us that if we ask how much we can get away with or how far can we go in sin, we are asking the wrong question! Paul is not saying we don’t still sin, but he is saying that we can say “No!” to sin!
I don’t know about you, but I sin way more than I want to.
What question are you asking? Are you asking how close to sin can I get without it being sin? Or are you asking how I can say “No!” to sin?
In Romans 6, Paul wants us to understand that our justification is not only about our peace with God and life eternally in His presence. Our justification changes the way we live now! Paul points out at least three concepts, three keys that will help us say “No!” to sin and live Godly lives now.
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?Romans 6:2b-3 NIV
Knowing, understanding our position in Christ is a first step in our sanctification, that process of being conformed to His likeness. We identify with Jesus’s death; we are crucified with Him, setting us free from the power of sin. It is a specific point in our spiritual conversion and an ongoing process as we learn to take up our cross to follow Jesus. We die daily to the power of sin over us, appropriating the life of Jesus for our victory in life’s challenges.
Baptism is a picture, an outward symbol of this death. The old man, the person I was before salvation, no longer lives, and I am raised as a new creation in Christ.
The first of three keys is that I need to know this fact about my justification and not forget it. That is what Paul says in this phrase, “Did you forget, or don’t you know!?”
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit. So we should follow the Spirit.Galatians 5:24-25 ICB
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.Romans 6:11 NIV
The old King James uses the term “reckon,” meaning to settle your accounts, look at the bottom line, and use mathematical logic to conclude that what God says is true. We still experience temptation, and because our sanctification is not yet complete, we will still sin. BUT when faced with temptation, we can, with the Spirit’s power, resist, count ourselves dead to sin, and not give in to sin.
In other words, the second of three keys is that we don’t just know we are dead to sin but act on that truth! We will still struggle with sin, but if we find ourselves constantly in a battle, it may be time to reflect on how we are not reckoning ourselves dead to sin!
Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy.Titus 2:12 VOICE
Present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. For sin will have no mastery over you because you are not under law but under grace.Romans 6:13b-14 NET
The final key to sanctification is yielding by presenting ourselves fully, heart, soul, mind, and strength to God.
This idea of presenting is illustrated throughout the New Testament. In Luke 2, Joseph and Mary travel to Jerusalem with Jesus to present him to the Lord. Jesus will present the church to Himself, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5). In Paul’s preaching, he wanted to present every person as mature in Christ (Colossians 1). Paul encourages us in 2 Timothy 2 to present ourselves as students of the word, teaching God’s word skillfully.
Of the three keys, this one requires an act of our will; it’s not just a state of mind, knowing, or counting but requires action on our part. We actively take off the old man, which is dead, no longer having power or authority over us, and actively put on the new man, working out our salvation with awe and reverence. Later, Paul will say, given the mercies of God, this unique gift of salvation, present yourselves as living sacrifices which is true worship!
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.Matthew 6:33 MSG
I love the Christ, the Son of God,
Who died that I might live;
I would my gratitude express,
A gift unto Him give.
My gift is small, it is my all,Lucena C. Byrum
Accept it, Lord, I pray;
Let self be slain, let Jesus reign
Within my heart alway.
PS, I wrote about Sanctification as Slow Process … click the link!