Consider Your Standing
Topic: Expository Passage: Romans 6:5-11
(Read vv. 1–11) I want to begin by asking, how would you evaluate your spiritual life? Do you see yourself as a spiritual success, a wreck, or something in between? And how do you see your failures and sin struggles? Have you resigned to failure because you see yourself as a victim of a broken past, overwhelming trials, or a brain disorder?
What about your closest brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you constantly anxious about their spiritual progress? Do you despair over their immaturities? Or maybe you are numb to their struggles because you have no hope they will ever change.
And here’s a tough one, how much are those opinions purposefully anchored in Scripture? Do you judge through the lens of fear and popular culture, or do you purposefully judge based on in the inerrant Word of God?
Maybe you know that some of our thoughts are not true, but you assume that how you think and what you feel don’t have much effect on what happens, so there’s no point in investing much energy in changing how you think.
But today’s text declares that your answers to these questions are very significant. How you see yourself dramatically shapes your spiritual progress or lack thereof. And how you see others dramatically shapes how you influence them and whether you promote godliness or discouragement. Therefore, the message of Romans 6:5–11 is crucial to the Christian life. With this in mind, the first major truth we must believe is that…
I. Christians are dead to sin (vv. 5–7).
To appreciate this, we must remember the context we developed in the last sermon. Verse 1 asks two questions that drive the entire chapter (read). Remember that Paul anticipates these questions coming from an imaginary but realistic Jewish opponent who believes that salvation by grace alone is ridiculous. His thought is, “Paul you say that grace abounds where sin increases. If that’s so, we might as well sin more. What a ridiculous theology.”
Paul will say that this is a false conclusion; however, it must be said that many gospel believers basically believe it. They twist God’s grace into laziness in the struggle against sin, or they even glory in their worldliness, claiming that grace has freed them from all law. Paul responds in v. 2 with the thesis statement of vv. 1–14 (read).
In other words, anyone who claims that grace frees us to be ungodly has fundamentally distorted the nature and intent of the gospel. When God saves someone, he doesn’t just forgive their sin; he destroys sin’s enslaving power. He makes us “dead to sin” in order to transform our lives.
Verses 3–4 add that he makes this change by uniting us to Christ. When we get saved, we don’t just receive a gift; we enter a relationship with a person. As a result, God’s intent in saving sinners is not simply to fill heaven with as many people as possible; instead, he saves us to transform us into the image of Christ. Verse 4 says, “So we too might walk in newness of life.”
But vv. 5–11 follow by saying that it’s not enough that these things are true; we must know them, believe them, and apply them to how we approach the Christian life. Therefore, vv. 5–7 drive home the fact that…
I am united to Christ’s death to sin. Galatians 4:4–5 describe the significance of what Jesus did when he died on the cross. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4–5).
Jesus became one of us. He submitted to the OT Law. And on the cross, Jesus took our sin and all its consequences on himself. Incredibly, v. 9 says that death became Jesus’ master. However, death’s mastery didn’t last! “Death no longer is master over Him.” Christ broke sin’s enslaving power!
Verse 5 declares that every Christian has “become united with Him in the likeness of his death.” The Greek term (homoíōma) that is translated “united” often describes two objects that are so completely bound together that you can’t distinguish them, such as legs of a chair that are so perfectly formed to the chair that it looks like one piece of wood. Similarly, we are united to Christ’s death. We are in him.
Verse 6 adds that the result is, “That our old self was crucified with Him.” The “old self” is literally “the old man.” We must understand this considering the contrast in Romans 5:12–21 between the first and second Adam. Remember that we have all inherited Adam’s sin nature. As a result, 5:21 says that for all who are in Adam (which is how we are all born), “sin reigns in death.” The unbeliever is enslaved to sin and condemned as a result.
But when I was united to Christ that “old self was crucified with Him.” The old man is dead. I’m not the same person I used to be. I am a new man in Christ! Now, this does not mean that I no longer sin. I still have a sin nature, and I will struggle against sin until the day I see Christ. But my relationship to sin has forever changed. The old man is dead, and 2 Corinthians 5:17 says I am “a new creature in Christ.”
I love how Colossians 3:10 puts it, “(You) have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” I’m a new man, but I still need a lot of practical renewing. So do you, and so do all of us. So, Christ has given us a wonderful gift through our union with his death, but he did so with a very specific intent.
I must live out my union. Notice the two purpose statements in v. 6. I must note that the phrase, “body of sin,” doesn’t mean that sin solely arises from the body or that we shed our bodies when we get saved (That would be strange!). Rather, he is describing my whole person, including body and soul, before conversion. John Murray says that the entire old man is “conditioned and controlled by sin.”
But I was crucified with Christ so that “the body of sin might be done away with.” God saved me to destroy sin’s reign. And 2nd, God did this, “in order that…” Notice the tension in that statement. If you are in Christ, the old man has been crucified. Verse 7 adds that the believer is “freed from sin.” But the end of v. 6 also assumes that I can voluntarily remain enslaved to sin.
Therefore, spiritual growth is not automatic. I must actively apply my death to sin. According to v. 6 says I do this by knowing down deep in my soul that I’m dead to sin. Verse 11 commands me, “Consider…” Therefore, v. 12 commands me, “Do not let…” I must apply what I have received.
We’ll talk later about what that looks like, but for now, notice again God’s intent in our salvation. God doesn’t save people merely so that they can go to heaven or feel good about themselves today. No, he saved you so that “we would no longer be slavee to sin.”
So, if anyone ever tries to tell you that life under grace means you are free to be spiritually lazy, to indulge your flesh, or to live a worldly life, tell them that they are wrong. They have denied the fundamental intent of the gospel which is to create holy worshippers of the Lord.
It’s also important that we include this fact when we share the gospel. If we omit the life-transforming obligations of receiving Christ, we have misrepresented the gospel. Yes, someone doesn’t have to appreciate every implication of discipleship to be saved, but they must understand that receiving Christ means entering a relationship with the Savior that changes everything. They must follow him.
And it is important to emphasize that this is a good change! Yes, Satan makes sin look very appealing, but he hides the fact that it is truly an evil slave master that never satisfies and ultimately ends in condemnation. Satan wants you to see all the fun rebels enjoy, and they do have some fun.
But he likes to hide just how angry, depressed, and lonely they are as well. By far, the happiest people I know are committed Christians, not rebels. Sin’s mastery will never compare to a mature Christianity of walking with the Christ, beholding his glory, and enjoying his grace and kindness.
So, give thanks that you are dead to sin. It’s chains are broken, and you are free! So, believe it, and remind yourself often that it’s true, and then apply it day by day. Christians are dead to sin. The 2nd great truth is…
II. Christians are alive to God (vv. 8–10).
Just as we are only dead to sin because Christ died to sin; we are only alive to God because Christ rose from the dead. Therefore, we can only appreciate our victory if we first appreciate…
The Victory of Christ (vv. 9–10): Once again, it’s incredible to consider how far Jesus went in identifying with sinners. He was “born of a woman” and became fully human. And he “who knew no sin (became) sin on our behalf.” He took our guilt and our punishment on himself to extent that v. 9 says death became his master. The Greek verb is kurieúō, and it comes from the same family as, the Greek term for lord, kurios. So, the idea is that in the cross death became Jesus’ lord. There is no darker moment in human history.
But it was only a moment because God raised Jesus from the dead. And vv. 9–10 especially emphasize the finality of Jesus’ victory. Jesus “is never to die again” because “death no longer is master (i.e., lord) over Him.” And “the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” Jesus’ won by a route.
Contrast that with America’s war on terror. We began a war on terror in 2001 when the World Trade Center was bombed. And we won some great victories. We captured and killed Saddam Hussein and Osama Ben Laden. We have uncovered many different terror cells and stopped a lot of destructive plots. But for every victory, there were ten new challenges. It got so long that we essentially lost interest.
In contrast, when Jesus defeated sin and death, the battle was over. He shattered sin’s chains. I love how the song, “Christ Arose” mocks death’s efforts to hold Jesus, “Vainly they watch his bed, Vainly they seal the dead. Death cannot keep his prey, He tore the bars away.” Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Jesus’ victory was full and final.
As a result, v. 10 states, “The life he lives, He lives to God.” Sin and death have no lasting impact on Jesus; instead, he lives in perfect holiness in all the joy and peace of the Father. Jesus won a final victory. But what does any of that mean for your struggles with worry, anger, lust, or depression? Paul says it changes everything. Let’s talk about…
The Victory of Christ’s People: We must begin with the fact that...
In eternity, we will be glorified (vv, 5, 8). Both verses say that our union with Christ’s death guarantees are future complete union with his resurrection. “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed…for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality…then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed upin victory” (1 Cor 15:51–54). This is our great hope.
But sadly, while we are eager for that day, many Christians fail to appreciate how significant it is for their present struggle with sin. In particular, we must see that glorification is the ultimate goal of the gospel. God saved you with to glorify you so that you could fully glorify your Savior. Holiness is the goal of the gospel.
If holiness will be the climax of my salvation, it must be passion today. I must earnestly desire to partake in as much of the beauty today that will be my glory and joy for all eternity. I must learn to hate sin as the cheap imitation that it is, and I must zealously pursue God’s all-satisfying, eternal holiness.
But notice that Christ’s victory doesn’t just give me hope and direction for life in eternity; it also dramatically impacts my struggle against sin today.
In the present, I am alive to God. Neither v. 5 nor v. 8 is intended to solely describe life in glory. Rather, the point is that our future glory has broken into the present. Think of it like dawn and dusk. Some of you never wake up early enough to see this, but trust me when I say that well before the sun peaks over the horizon, it already breaks into the darkness. It gives light well before its full glory appears.
Similarly, our future glory dramatically impacts our struggle with sin today. So much so that v. 11 states definitively, “Consider yourselves…” I’m not yet fully glorified, but I am already “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Similarly, 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
I’m not the same person I used to be. Again, this doesn’t mean that I always look like a new creature or feel like one. Every Christian who is striving for godliness is very aware of his sin struggles and all that needs to change. We all have a long way to go.
But by God’s grace, there has also been a fundamental change in your relationship to sin. When God’s Word confronts your sin, you respond. You want to fight sin and pursue holiness. And although we sometimes obsess over how far we have to go, if you take the time to reflect, you’ve probably come a lot further than you realize. God is changing you. You aren’t perfect, but you are “walk(ing) in newness of life” (v. 4).
So, Christ is doing a marvelous work in every genuine believer. He is transforming us into his own image so that for all eternity we can enjoy God’s presence and worship him. Yes, we all have a long way to go, but don’t ever forget who you are in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). You are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
These are the two great truths of our text. But Paul’s not done. He ends with a very important command.
III. Consider who you are (v. 11).
A fun but very important fact about v. 11 is that this is the first command in the book of Romans. Paul has spent over 5 chapters laying a theological foundation that he hasn’t yet finished before he gets to the first command.
And the verb he uses fits his process. The verb is logízomai. It’s the same verb that dominated chapter 4 where it describes how God counts us righteous. It conveys the idea of drawing a proper conclusion in light of all the facts. Here Paul uses it to call Christians to make the same sort of thoughtful, deliberate decision that God makes when he justifies.
We must consider who we are in Christ. I want to emphasize that he is not simply commanding us to know in our heads who we are in Christ. Rather, we must take what we know from the previous verses and contemplate its significance or life. We must really believe we are dead to sin and alive to God to the extent that it transforms how we see ourselves, how we see our struggles with sin, and how we approach all of life. This truth is revolutionary!
And it’s significant that Paul uses a present imperative to communicate an ongoing practice. You can sit there right now and obey this command and truly account for your new life in Christ, but Satan won’t quit on you. He is the accuser of the brethren, and you can sure that he will try to convince you tomorrow that holiness is hopeless, and that glory is a distant hope. So, you need to consider daily and sometimes hourly who you are in Christ.
Now, that may seem like a fairly insignificant discipline, but it is vital to your spiritual health because, as I said in my introduction, how you see yourself dramatically shapes how you live and the success you enjoy.
For example, one year when I coached basketball, one of the boys was named Josh. He was a really quiet kid, but he was a decent ball player. He was probably 5’10,” and he had pretty good ball-handling skills and a decent touch as a shooter. Therefore, I mostly played him on the perimeter.
But toward the end of the season, one day in practice, I was watching Josh, and it hit me that he had suddenly become the tallest boy on the team. He was probably 6’3” with long arms. However, I was still playing him like he was 5’10”, and he was also playing like he was 5’10”.
So, I went on a mission to change the way I played Josh, and to change the way he saw himself and how he played basketball. He needed to know he was the tallest guy on the court if he was going to play like it. He needed to stop fearing smaller guys and play over them. He needed to know the power he had if he was going to fully use it. And over time, he did.
The same is true in the Christian life. One of the most important keys to spiritual victory is believing you can attain it. You must stop believing sin is an overwhelming enemy and start acting like it is a defeated foe that will someday be fully eradicated when you see Christ. That realization will change how you think, it will increase your motivation, and it will fundamentally alter the battle. Considering who you are in Christ transforms spiritual growth.
This was certainly true for me. I mentioned in my 1st sermon in Romans 6 that in college this chapter transformed my view of Christian living. This is where that transformation happened. I had always seen obedience as overwhelmingly difficult because it was simply up to me to grit my teeth and do the best I could. If I succeeded, I grew proud, and if I failed, I despaired.
Then I began to understand that I am not on my own. I am in Christ. I am dead to sin and alive to God. Someday, God will finish the process, and I will be glorified. It changed how I see God, God’s commands, the pursuit of holiness, my sin struggles, my hope for change and my entire strategy for spiritual growth.
Christian, “Consider yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to righteousness.” And let this perspective drive your battle. We’ll talk more about that next week. Believe that you can overcome, and battle to do so.
And keep this perspective as you minister to others. So many Christian parents and disciple makers are quick to despair over every struggle in those we love. You should long for change, but don’t forget that change is a process. And if that person is in Christ, that change is going to happen.
So, don’t just guilt them into obedience. Help them see who they are in Christ, how it must change them, and how it will. Be a gospel-centered disciple maker.
And if you have never been saved, please receive Christ. You can the Savior, and you can know the joy, the victory, and the hope of life in him. Maybe you’ve been playing the game for a long time. You said some words once, but you never really wanted Christ. He’s not your Lord, you don’t love him, and you know it. Please confess him as Lord and be saved. It’s the best decision you will ever make.