Sanctification through union with Christ in His death and Resurrection
Dead to Sin, Alive to God.
In the last chapter, we have seen the blessings of justification. God has provided righteousness through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Therefore being justified by faith in Christ we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). In justification, God declares a sinner righteous. The end of justification is salvation. But our sin nature is not completely removed. Justification deals with the penalty of sin and sanctification with the power of sin. Paul explains that the gospel is supposed to produce a transformed life of obedience. Once a sinner is justified, sanctification follows logically and naturally. Some suggest that justification by faith is a dangerous doctrine and it does give us license to sin. The Lord has brought us out from the slave market of sin and set us free to serve Him. It is so sad that the gospel of grace has been distorted by some. Paul explains that the gospel is supposed to produce a transformed life of obedience. Just because God freely extends his grace and forgiveness does not mean that we can continue in sin that grace may abound (6:1-2). The teaching that justification may lead to sinful lifestyle is a gross perversion of divine grace. It would be unthinkable to purposely sin in hopes of giving God more opportunity to display his grace. We are saved to live a holy and righteous life.
Sanctification and the power of sin: (Romans 6:1-2)
God freely extends his grace and forgiveness to those who believe in Christ. This does not mean that we can continue to live in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace”? (6:15). Paul’s answer is crystal clear, "By no means''. Paul argues that it is impossible for Christians to continue in sin since you are dead to sin and have a new nature (Romans 6:2-5). Paul uses baptism to explain his point. Christian baptism is a symbol of our unity with Christ in his death and resurrection. When Christ was crucified, Christians were in some sense included in that death (6:8; Galatians 2:20). Likewise when Christ was risen from the dead, Christians were in some sense enjoying the blessings of his new life (8:10; Colossians 3:1). They have already started tasting the new life that God has created in us. By justification we are released from the guilt and judgment of sin. So sin has no claim on believers. In sanctification we are released from the power of sin (Romans 6:6-8). Paul uses baptism to explain the secret of living a holy and sanctified life.
Secret of living a sanctified life is Knowing: (Romans 6:3-10)
Christians baptism is a symbol of our union and identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. Because we are united to Christ through faith, we are able to live in the newness of life in him. Christ' death has broken sin's stronghold on Christians and his resurrection ensures our physical resurrection (6:7-8). God does desire that his people no longer be enslaved to sin and Satan but live in the newness of life in Christ (6:4, 6). There are three personal responsibilities in relation to God’s sanctifying work in a believer. We must know the fact of our union and identification with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3, 9). When we trust Christ, we are identifying with his death, burial and resurrection. This truth is conveyed through the symbolism of water baptism. We are baptized into Christ. Through Spirit baptism believers are spiritually incorporated to Christ to become members of His body, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13). We need to know that our old man is crucified with Him. This simply means our old nature is made powerless so that we do not have to serve our old master. It does not mean our sin nature is annihilated. It is still there but made powerless by the death and resurrection of Christ. Now we can live in the newness of life in Christ though we still live in the old body of sin (Romans 6:7). Sin finds its source in our will and uses the body as an instrument to fulfill its desire (James 1:13-15). When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty of our sin in full. Christ is raised from the dead so are the believers. Therefore death hath no more dominion over us. Christ died to sin once for all to defeat sin and now lives for the glory of God. What Christ has accomplished on our behalf at Calvary is the first step of our sanctification. We have already started tasting the new life that God has created in us (Romans 6:4).
Reckoning: (Romans 6:11, 12)
Justification is a declarative act of God. Sanctification is a progressive act of God. Some suggest that sanctification can be achieved only through obeying the law and in some sanctimonious way. Others think that it is a mystical experience. But the Bible teaches that the secret of sanctification is found in knowing what Christ has done for us and by yielding to His will continuously. Jesus' death has broken sin's stranglehold on us (Romans 6:7). His resurrection not only ensures our future physical resurrection but also enables us to live in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). After Knowing our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, we should reckon yourselves dead to sin and live for the glory of God (Romans 6:11). “Reckon” means to count something true continuously. This daily reckoning will enable us to say no to temptation.
Yielding: (Romans 6:14)
The third and final secret of sanctification is, “Yield your body to God as instruments of righteousness” (6:13). Rather than continuing in sin, we must present ourselves as instruments of righteousness to live for the glory of God. (6:13). Yield simply means to present ourselves once for all as alive from the dead work for God’s glory. Instead of living recklessly feeding our sinful desire, we should present our body as an instrument of righteousness. Do not submit your body to sin but present to God to do His will, knowing that you have been brought from death to life. Knowing that we are set free from the power of sin to live in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). We should not not let sin reign in our mortal body, that we should obey its passions (Romans 6:12). Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin (Romans 6:13). The best defense is a good offense. What better offense against sin than a godly lifestyle? When we accept these three facts by faith; knowing, reckoning and yielding, sin will not have dominion over us. Those who genuinely put their hope in the finished work of Christ will not be condemned on the day of judgment because they have already been declared righteous by God. How wonderfully to be forgiven of sins!
Sanctification and the practice of sin: (Romans 6:15-23)
Paul again asks the question, “What then? Shall we sin? “God forbid.” Here in verse 15, Paul deals with occasional sin in Christian life. Shall we commit even an occasional sin? Paul answers: “Certainly not.” Paul makes his point clear by quoting Christ’s own words here. “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Paul uses the analogy of a slave market. Believers were slaves of sin but are now set free from sin to obey God. Sin is no longer our master. We serve a new master, Jesus Christ. We are slaves to the person to whom we surrender. So we should present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).This is our active yielding to the Lord. Those who trust in Christ experience this heart-transforming work of Christ to live in obedience to God. Someone said "This is not a behavior modification but life transformation". Yielding to sin will bring death but yielding to Christ brings righteousness. We must be thankful to God for setting us free from serving sin and its power (6:18). The end result of freedom from the bondage of sin is sanctification and eternal life (Romans 6:22). Verse 23 shows the contrast between serving sin and serving God. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord". The outcome of serving sin is death. But the outcome of serving God is the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Believers no longer dread sin’s bitter payback, death but rejoice in God’s free gift of eternal life.