How to change, part nine

When we are thinking about sin and holiness, and change, if we are talking with someone who is not a Christian, they are enslaved to sin, they are under the dominion of sin, they need the gospel, but if we are talking to someone who is a Christian, they need to understand what the gospel means for them. In other words, they need to understand what it means to be a Christian.

To be a Christian is to be someone who has died to sin, which means you are someone who is not enslaved to sin, someone who has been set free from sin, someone who no longer lives under the authority of sin.

Which seems so big, someone might say, I think, how is that even possible?

I don’t feel that way.

 And when I look at sin, it seems pretty powerful, and I can’t imagine how I can ever be someone who has defeated sin and broken its back.

Which of course, is pretty much, why Paul spends so much time explaining in verses 3 through 10, of Romans 6, exactly how this happened. We have his question in verse 1, and then his answer in verse 2, and this long explanation in verses 3 through 10, which ends with him saying down in verse 11.


“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

In other words.

As a result.


This is why.

You should think of yourself as dead to sin, and what is the reason, Paul’s been giving?

In all the verses that go before that?

In sense, it is not that complicated.

And in another sense, it sort of feels like it is.

But as you look at this passage, I am going to try to keep it kind of simple by showing you the two basic components to his argument.

And the first.

Is because of what Jesus did.

Which is vital.

Why do we consider ourselves dead to sin?

It’s first, because Jesus died to sin and rose again and you can see that’s the foundational theme running throughout these verses.

It’s the assumption.

And it has nothing to do with our will power or our decision or something we feel is true of us or our just being really serious people.

If it were you versus sin, you would be taken out.

Every time.

The reason you can be assured as a Christian that sin has lost its authority over your life doesn’t have something to do with your personal efforts, everything to do instead, it has to do with a fact, an event that has taken place in history.

Jesus came into this world

Jesus died, and Jesus was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father and this death and resurrection has significance.

Which Paul’s explains in verses 9 and 10.

In other words.

It accomplished something.

Paul writes,

“We know that Christ being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died, he died to sin, once for all, but the life, he lives, he lives to God.”

Which means.

In other words.

Jesus’ won.

As Christians, we believe Jesus won.

He didn’t just become man because He was wondering what it was like. He came into this world in order to go to battle against sin and its consequences, and while he was in this world, there’s no question, sin assaulted him, and he’d experience the consequences of living in a world that was dominated by sin.

And the biggest and worst consequence of them being the death that He died on the cross.

There was a point in history where death had dominion over Jesus, and the reason it was able to have that dominion over Jesus, was because of our sin, he took our sin on his body on the cross and bore the wrath of God, and we know, that while though Satan and sin did everything they could to defeat Jesus, in the end, they couldn’t, Jesus was victorious, and the proof of that, is the fact that he was raised from the dead.

He went to war against sin.


And against all its consequences, and even though sin brought out its most powerful weapon against him, when Jesus was raised from the dead, God made it clear that Jesus had won, and that victory, for Jesus was final.

He’ll never experience the consequences of sin like that again. Death has no power over Him.


Paul says.

In the next verse.

For the death he died, he died to sin.

Which means, as far as sin is “concerned, Jesus’ relationship to it is finished forever.” It’s done. He came. He lived on earth. He died for sin. He humiliated Satan. He put an end to sins claims on believers. And now that he’s died, that phase of his life, is past.

It’s not going to be repeated.

Which is why he says as he is dying on the cross.

It is finished.

Which is why, after he rose from the dead, he ascended to God the Father, and now, we know, or course, he lives in a completely different realm. The life he lives, Paul says, he lives to God and he doesn’t mean, obviously, now that He is risen, He really is able to obey God or something like that, because he always was able to obey God, fully.

Instead means, that Jesus now, lives entirely in the realm of God the Father.

Where there once.

Was a time.

As one pastor explains,

“when Christ was in the realm of sin and death; he is no longer there…he is now living in this other realm, in the realm of the power and the glory of God.”

Which of course is awesome. It is exciting.

It’s like we are watching a great king go out to do battle against this terrible enemy, whom we all know, we could never overcome ourselves, and as we watch him do battle against this enemy, we see that He’s clearly victorious, and yet you might be asking, what does all of this has to do with me?

Which is the second component to Paul’s argument.

And this is key.

We find it all the way back, in verse 3.

“Do you not know”

Which of course is the problem that a lot of people have. They don’t know.

“…that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

And obviously when we heard the word baptize or baptism, we think about the water, but the word baptism itself, literally just means immersed, and so, Paul’s saying, when you become a Christian, you have been immersed in Christ.

That’s fundamentally, what this is talking about. It’s talking about believer’s union with Christ.

Union with Christ.

You say, I don’t know what union with Christ is?

You need to know it.

It’s Paul’s favorite way of describing what it means to be a Christian. I think there are something like 100 pages of Paul’s writings in the New Testament and somewhere around 170 times in those 100 pages he talks about being immersed or united to Christ, which kind of tells you this is important to him.

As Christians.

According to Paul.

We have a relationship with Jesus now, that is so deep, we can, say we have been, immersed in Christ.

Which is significant.

When it comes to us being sure, sin no longer has authority over us.

Because as you see, Paul works it out.

If you have been united to Christ. God looks on what happened to Christ, as having happened to you. Which sounds intense.

But it’s what Paul says.

If we have been immersed into Christ Jesus, he says in verse 3, that means we have been immersed into his death.

Which is the first step.

We look back at Jesus dying, and we died with him.

Verse 4.

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Verse 5.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his…”

Verse 6.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him.”

And verse 8.

“Now if we have died with Christ.”

In other words.

If we think about ourselves, as we used to be. As people who were born into this world, and were represented by Adam. With Adam as our head, it’s like when Adam sinned, we sinned.

Paul says this back in Roman 5:12.


“Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”

And he’s saying.

Before, God looked at us as in Adam and as result, as having sinned with Adam and what he experienced, we experience.

We experience all the consequences of his sinful choices.


Through faith.

All that changes because we are united to Christ.

He’s our representative now.

And because God now looks at us as in Jesus, it’s like everything that He went through, and that He accomplished, happened to us, specifically, He was delivered from the dominion of sin and now sin’s no longer able to threaten him or exercise any kind of rule or power over Him, like it did on the cross.

Which again, Paul’s has practical implications for us, because it means we can be assured, confident, that sin no longer has rule and power over us.

I mean.

Listen to how many times Paul says this.

Verse 4.

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Verse 5.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Verse 8.

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we also will live with him.”

Verse 11.

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

And, man, it’s interesting how often Paul repeats himself, but that’s because he knows how hard it is sometimes for believers who are struggling with temptation and sin to believe this. And really, we have to believe it, because this dying and rising again with Jesus, is not some sort of experience we had really.

It is a divine transaction.

When you were saved there wasn’t a real death and burial that took place, though God gives you baptism to help you picture it, but it wasn’t a physical thing, it was spiritual, and we have to know it’s true through faith.

Which is why it is sometimes hard for us to really grasp and enjoy the fact that this is actually true.

I was thinking this week.

I think it’s kind of like what might have happened after Apartheid maybe.

I mean, I wasn’t here, so I am kind of making this up, but I can also imagine it’s something like what happened in America after slavery ended.

If you were living all these years under this oppressive system, where someone was telling you, that you weren’t as important and you couldn’t do certain things, and you were supposed to act a certain way around certain people, and then say that oppressive system was somehow overthrown, and you weren’t actually the one who was physically present overthrowing that system, you were just out there, somewhere hearing about it having happened, and you heard you were freed from all of that, that would be amazing of course, but you know, it would be very tempting, if you had lived under that old oppressive system for so long, to not to really believe it.

In practice.

Because you woke up the next morning and most everything still looked the same.

You can imagine in the United States there were restaurants where certain people couldn’t go, and then, suddenly, when that changed, you might have been allowed to go into that restaurant, but it would be somewhat difficult to believe it, or enjoy it or even do it to go into that restaurant, because there had been so many years, when you couldn’t.

Or maybe here, even though, now, it’s obviously wrong for a certain group of people to treat others as inferior, there are people who will still act as if they were inferior, just because for so long, they were told that is how they were supposed to act, and they would be punished, if they didn’t act that way, and so it just became a way of life for them. And someone might say, that’s not how it is any longer, but it might not feel like much has changed for them really, and obviously, if they are going to change, it’s going to take work, but that work is mostly going to be in their mind, they are going to have to keep coming back to what they know to be true, this is what is reality, they are going to have to come back to what happened, and say this is what is real, and that is going to be especially hard, if everyone around them is telling them, that’s not reality, and it’s going to be difficult, if they don’t feel like it’s real, but they can’t allow their feelings to control them, if they are going to change, they have to say this is what is true, and this is how I need to live in light of that.

Which is what Paul’s saying we have to do, as Christians, if we are going to change, in verses 11 and following.

We have had the question.

Can Christians keep on sinning?

And the answer is, no, because we have been united to Christ, and our relationship to sin, as a result has completely changed, we are no longer under its power and authority.


This is the application.

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

And he’s not saying pretend like you don’t have sinful desires and pretend like you don’t sometimes struggle with sin. I mean, this is not some sort of funny game you play with yourself.

I don’t want that.

I don’t want that.

Instead he’s saying verse 12.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions.”

In other words, as you are being tempted, you need to go back to the gospel, and observe what’s happened. Follow me now. This is one key step in overcoming sin. You need to think about what you know to be true, which is, that Jesus has defeated the power of sin, and he’s been raised from the dead, sin has no authority over him, and therefore, if you are a Christian, you are in Jesus, which means sin has no authority over you either.

So don’t let it.

Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, and if it is going to reign over you as a Christian, that’s the thing you have to let it.

You have a choice now. And so you have to know that. You can’t keep making excuses for yourself. You have to know, that you are in Christ, and you are a new person, and you have to now work at applying that reality to the way you think and live.

Which is the second key really, know, make sure you know what’s true about you, and that you think about it, and then act.

Quoting Paul again.

“Don’t let it reign sin your mortal body to make you obey its passions.”

Which can be a challenge of course.

I was thinking.

If you were a slave for a long time, and you were set free, and then your slave master came back and he tried to intimidate you, and threaten you, you might be tempted to just go back and start relating to him the way you used to, and to doing what he says.

And someone might have to come to you, and say no, don’t, don’t do that, because that man doesn’t have any authority over you any longer.

Which is what Paul is saying, in terms of sin.

While Jesus has won the battle, we are going to have to work at enjoying the benefits, because we are still living in this sinful world and sin wants to reign in our mortal bodies.

I mean.

We don’t have our resurrected bodies yet, which are going to be completely free from any kind of corruption. When we have those resurrected bodies, the issue is completely taken care of, body and soul are going to be in absolute sync with one another, perfected without any desires that are broken, but for now, we still have these mortal bodies, which are messed up because of sin, and so there are still desires, that are not working the way they should, and sin wants to take advantage of that weakness that remains in us.

And of course.

This is where as believers, the battle is taking place.


This is why it sometimes feels like such a struggle.

As long as we are in these physical bodies, there’s still a kind of very real brokenness, and yet, you know, it’s not hopeless, which is Paul’s whole point, because now, as believer we can say no to ungodliness and yes to righteousness.

If you are a Christian.

You can as Paul says in verse 13.


Not to.

Present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness.”

 You are able not to sin.

 When the old slave master comes and says come, work for me.

And even using your desires to fool you.

You are able as a believer to say no, I am not going to give you my body, to use for unrighteousness. This is part of overcoming sin, knowing what’s true, applying it to your life, and then specifically, saying no to sin and yes to righteousness.


You are able to.


To live in a way that pleases God.

Quoting Paul.

“Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

And while I never want to minimize the challenges we face in pursuing holiness in this world, I also want to make it very clear that Paul thinks it is possible, for those of us who are believers, to live lives that are genuinely pleasing to God.

There actually are some people who think that we shouldn’t expect Christians to be able to turn from sin and turn to God. And sometimes they even argue, that it’s because they are making a big deal of God’s grace.

But I am pretty sure, the apostle Paul would say the opposite.

Romans 6:14.

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law, but under grace.”

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