How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2, CSB)
Why do Christians still sin when we have all of these wonderful promises about Jesus overcoming sin in our life? Paul offers several truths in Romans 6 to give a more robust theology of sin. Being armed with this perspective, we can better face our daily rebellion.
Our Sign of Hope
The first truth that Paul offers is the sign of baptism. Most Christians don’t see their baptism as a help in overcoming sin, maybe because it’s not rightly understood. Baptism is meant to be a sign of hope for us in this life. When we are baptized “into Christ Jesus,” we symbolically participate in his death. And in the same way that Jesus was raised “by the glory of the Father,” that same power lifts us from our way of death into a “new way of life.” Baptism is a beautiful sign for a Christian, but it is not the true resurrection, right? We still have to go about our daily life. We will still die, but we have a hope for true resurrection in the future.
“For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5, CSB)
This sign, along with the hope that faith grows in us, is a tool for subjugating our sinful, mortal bodies. Much of the Christian life is about looking towards the promises of the future to overcome the everyday.
Our Weapons of Righteousness
We are now able to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11). But how do we move beyond the knowing to the doing? One of the problems that I see with Christian sin management is how we only concentrate on not doing something bad, rather than being intentional about doing good. Paul is pressing this point in Romans 6:12-14. He says that you shouldn’t obey the desires of sin or offer any part of yourself for its use. Instead, we are to offer our whole self to God as tools/weapons/instruments of righteousness.
“Paul teaches us that faith doesn’t so free us from sin that we can be idle, lazy, and self-assured, as though there were no more sin in us.” – Martin Luther, Preface to Romans
Jesus’ conversations with religious people were often very heated. He had a problem with their devotion to the rules of God and their lack of devotion to God and people. The law was the chief end of their existence. If they suppressed their sin and kept the rules of their religion, they might obtain righteousness. But our great promise is that when we could not obtain righteousness, Christ purchased us. He did not sin. He did not break his relationship with God. Now, sin cannot rule over us, because we are not under the law but grace (6:14). God bought us with a great price and now our only hope in life and death is that we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.