“Death to sin is not of itself an adequate characterization of the believer’s identity….But death to sin is but the precondition of that life which is the final issue of grace…And baptism as signifying union with Christ must mean also union with Christ in his resurrection and therefore in his resurrection life.” (Murray 216) The fourfold state of man notes that, in the redeemed state, the man’s nature is transformed by the power of Christ. Where sin once reigned, where man was once in bondage to Sin, Christ’s work effects righteousness. Though indwelling Sin still rages in battle within the believer, Romans 6:1-11 demonstrates that the nature of a child of God is Christian. That is, redemption indicatively accomplishes a change of affections and empowers believers toward righteousness. This paper will demonstrate that the imperatives for righteousness found throughout the Scriptures for the redeemed are grounded in the indicative acts of power effected by Union with Christ. Romans 6:1-11 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. 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. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Verse 1 - Antinomianism Excluded “When Peter states that some of Paul’s teachings were being distorted (II Peter 3:16), he may well have been thinking of this particular attempt to twist the meaning of the words used by his “dear brother,” the apostle to the Gentiles. We know, at least, that what made Jude change his mind about the contents of a letter he had planned to write was the fact that ‘certain individuals had turned (the doctrine of) the grace of God into a license for immoral living’ (Jude 4).” (Hendriksen 194) Romans 6:1 poses a common mischaracterization or perversion of the conclusion of Romans 5 where the superabounding grace of God is said to abound where sin abounds. In man’s idolatry, many are apt to conclude that the Apostle advocates that the continued sin of a believer would serve to magnify God’s grace and therefore glorify Him. Yet, while God may receive glory in the justifying of the un-Godly and the calling of enemies His friends, the purpose of the redeemed man is not simply to abide in sin. Rather, Paul’s emphasis in Romans 5 is for the comfort of believers that they might see the power of their identification with Christ, the second Adam as He saves to the uttermost lest the tender soul despair that his battles with Sin cause God to cast off those who He has made His friends. Verse 2 – How can we live to what we have died to? The apostle answers the absurdity of the suggestion with an emphatic denial that the purpose of Christ’s death for His own is for their continuation in sin. The question posed by the Apostle is: if the believer has died to sin, how can he continue to live in it? This is the key premise of the apostle’s thought in the chapter. “If we view sin as a realm or sphere then the believer no longer lives in that realm….” (Murray 213) That is, sin is pictured not merely as the fact that disobedience to God exists but that a person is in a state of unrighteousness. A believer, however, has died to sin and no longer lives in a state of unrighteousness. God does not merely find men to be what He calls them to but what He has made them to be when He regenerates them and unites them to His Son. Verse 3 and 4 – Baptized and Buried The significance of baptism is underscored not merely for what it outwardly accomplishes in marking Christians out from the world but is applied Sovereignly by the Holy Spirit and sealed to the believer. The spiritual reality of baptism is that the believer has been united to Christ and identified with Him in His death. This union effects union in all phases of Christ’s work as Mediator as well. As Christ died for Sin, so the believer dies to sin. Christ’s burial is the proof that Christ actually died in His flesh for His own. Consequently, what Christ has died to is true for the believer who died with Christ in this mystical union. This union does not stop, however, with Christ’s death but also with His resurrection from the dead. Christ does not remain in the grave but His resurrection demonstrates the indestructibility of His life and, consequently, the resurrection life that the believer possesses with Christ. “…And hence for no other reason does he slay what is mortal in us, but that he may give us life again….” (Calvin) Paul does not merely instruct believers to imitate Christ – that Christ is merely a pattern for Christians to follow – but that the death of Christ destroys the depravity of man. Christ’s resurrection produces a new nature and, in baptism, believers are transferred into participation with this grace. Only with this indicative fact established are Christians exhorted to respond to the calling that they live according to what they have been reconstituted for. Verse 5 – The Certainty of Resurrection “…grafting designates not only a conformity of example, but a secret union, by which we are joined to him; so that he, reviving us by his Spirit, transfers his own virtue to us. Hence as the graft has the same life or death in common with the tree into which it is ingrafted, so it is reasonable that we should be partakers of the life no less than of the death of Christ; for if we are ingrafted according to the likeness of Christ’s death, which was not without a resurrection, then our death shall not be without a resurrection….” (Calvin) Verse 5 underscores and confirms Verse 4. The relationship of the believer to Christ is not pictured as a process that the believer progressively realizes. The benefit of union with Christ aforementioned is not a fruit of individual diligence but grafting into Christ was effected by the Sovereign Hand of God. As Christ’s death and resurrection were not processes that were progressively realized, neither is the believer’s conformity to the Resurrection life. The apostle does not state that a believer “might be” conformed to Christ’s resurrected life but the future tense “we shall certainly be” indicates absolute certainty that the believer will walk in newness of life. Verse 6 – The old man has been crucified with Christ Continuing unabated in sin would be in outright contradiction to the purpose of the life of a believer. Here, the purpose of our identification with Christ in His death on a Cross is demonstrated that it was to destroy the body of sin. This old man was crucified once-for-all with Christ on the Cross – it “…is fastened to the cross of Christ, for by its power he is slain….” (Calvin). As long as man is a child of Adam he is in bondage to sin but union with Christ in the crucifixion delivers men from the prison of Sin. This is not to say that redeemed men no longer sin but victory in the battle over sin is assured in the nailing of the old man, and its enslaving authority, to the Cross. The redeemed body is now no longer controlled by a sin nature but by what it has been regenerated to be. The Christian is governed by a new ruling principle in the whole of his being that he might obey righteousness (Rom 6:16). Paul is not unaware of the struggles common to believers, nor to the power of the continuation of indwelling sin. Romans 7 will later expound upon this truth. Yet, it is common for believers to lose focus and to regard their sin as inevitable. Paul, however, demonstrably affirms that it is not the nature of the case that we must Sin. He wants to lift the head of the believer from looking within and wallowing in self-pity over a perceived inability to give battle, and remind the believer to look outward and up to the Cross of Christ where he can see his Sin nailed to the Cross of Christ. It’s as if Paul is telling us: “Look at the old man that you believe has so much power and see how your Savior has conquered that power on the Cross! The authority that you give to the old man has been put to death and you are not to be ruled by it.” The believer is, therefore, no longer a bondservant to Sin – to the old man – because the old man is dead in Christ and has no authority. Verse 7 – Free Indeed! Sin no longer lays claim on the person who has been redeemed in Christ Jesus. Key to the nature of Justification is that one views Christ’s vindication as forensic. The believer is not actually righteous, in himself, but counted righteous due to Christ’s payment on his behalf and the imputation of Christ’s life to the believer in his union with Him. This verse confirms that the judicial aspect of deliverance from the power of sin needs to be appreciated for sanctification as well and forms its basis. “A judgment is executed upon the power of sin in the death of Christ (cf. John 12:31) and deliverance…arises from the efficacy of this judgment.” (Murray 222). Sanctification, then, has its surety based not that Christians reckon that they will possess power in themselves to accomplish righteousness but that Christ has judged Sin itself. Sin has come before the bar of God’s judgment already for the believer and was put to death for him on the Cross. The believer’s progression in sanctification is grounded in the assurance that Sin has been put to death and no condemnation follows as he strives against the sin that continues in his members. Verse 8 – Even as we died with Christ we will also live with Him The believer’s dying with Christ does not merely entail the death of Sin, its condemnation, and power. The design of this death to sin is that the believer will live with Christ. This life of Christ’s resurrection is the possession of those who have been united to Him in his death and resurrection. This is not exclusively a future resurrection state for the believer but points to the current and certain participation of Christ’s resurrected life in the here and now. Believers ought to reckon themselves as being an image of Christ, both that their old self has been crucified and that they possess spiritual life. “For if we roll again in our own filth, we deny Christ; of whom we cannot be the participators except through newness of life, inasmuch as he lives an incorruptible life.” (Calvin) That is to say that the believer, when he sins, forgets His union with Christ and so denies what Christ has accomplished. Believers are called to walk in newness of life, yet again, on the basis of who they are in Christ. When a saint reckons rightly who he is, he is empowered to give battle to sin and to live unto righteousness, which is his true spiritual condition. Verse 9 – Never to die again This is the basis for the believer’s assurance of living with Christ. There can be nothing that can break or interrupt a believer’s participation in Christ’s life. There can be no reversal of his death to sin and falling back into abject slavery to its power. If this is the case, according to this argument, Christ’s very resurrection could be reversed or repeated over and over. Christ’s resurrection is final and it represents a definitive break from the power of Sin. Christ submitted Himself to the power and judgment of sin and death, for a season, ruled over Christ yet it was impossible that death could hold Him or swallow Him up and, so, by rising again, He defeated it forever. This truth is in direct contrast to the modern practice of “life re-dedications” in the Revivalist tradition. A poor sinner, conscious of his sin and lack of performance unto righteousness, comes regularly forward at the altar call to declare to Church that he has dedicated himself yet again to God and proclaim that he will no longer live for sin. In many traditions, re-baptism accompanies as its significance is seen to be grounded in the believer’s sincerity. This impoverished view reckons too much to man’s own power and too little to the Savior’s power over Sin. This theology inherently denies that Christ, alone, had the power to put Sin to death and that Christ’s death and resurrection were definitive and once-for-all. The remedy for indwelling sin is not to be found in the self but found only in an indestructible Life (Hebrews 7:16). The apostle underscores this folly in Galatians 3:1-3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The power of Christ over sin and death has consequences for how men understand the Gospel and possession of the Gospel must include not only the Power by which men begin in the faith but how they are sustained and sanctified in it. Verse 10 – Christ Died to sin, once for all, but lives to God This is one of the most significant statements regarding the full meaning of Christ’s death – that Christ died to sin. “Without the assurance that Christ’s death was a once-for-all death, believers would lack the comfort they need for this and the future life.” (Hendriksen 200) The Apostle has already noted that Christians are forever freed from the bondage of sin and death and now presents it again to demonstrate that they are no longer subjects of its rule. He proves this by noting the purpose for Christ’s death – He died that He would destroy sin. Christ not only dealt with the guilt of sinners in a vicarious manner on the cross but also with the power of sin. Death ruled over him in the grave until He broke its power. “So sin may be said to have ruled over him in that his humiliation stat was conditioned by the sin with which he was vicariously identified. He was made sin (2 Cor 5:21) and sin as power must be taken into account in this relationship.” (Murray 225). In other words, it is common to emphasize only the propitiatory nature of Christ’s death to put away the wrath of God for Sin. This is certainly central but another aspect of Christ’s death to Sin must be reckoned, which is essential to the understanding of the power of sin: Christ’s death on the Cross was purposed that He should put Sin as power to death on the Cross. This truth, then, forms the basis for what is emphasized both in verses 2 and 11. “Because Christ triumphed over the power of death, those who are united to Him in in death died to the power of sin and become dead to sin (vs. 2, 11).” (Murray 225). Once again, the motivation and power of a Christian’s struggle with Sin is grounded in what Christ has definitively accomplished once-for-all. Verse 11 – So consider yourselves dead to sin “The meaning, then, of the words may be thus expressed, “Take this view of your case, — that as Christ once died for the purpose of destroying sin, so you have once died, that in future you may cease from sin; yea, you must daily proceed with that work of mortifying, which is begun in you, till sin be wholly destroyed: as Christ is raised to an incorruptible life, so you are regenerated by the grace of God, that you may lead a life of holiness and righteousness, inasmuch as the power of the Holy Spirit, by which ye have been renewed, is eternal, and shall ever continue the same.” But I prefer to retain the words of Paul, in Christ Jesus, rather than to translate with Erasmus, through Christ Jesus; for thus the grafting, which makes us one with Christ, is better expressed.” (Calvin) “Consider yourselves” (or “reckon yourselves”) is an imperative statement but the command needs to be investigated carefully. The Christian is not commanded to become dead to sin and alive to God. This has already been accomplished for the believer in Christ. And it is not by considering the facts carefully that they become true. The Apostle’s exhortation is that Christians are to meditate upon their union with Christ and fully appreciate what Christ has obtained for them. The facts of the case provide the motivation and strength in the battles that come ahead. Paul’s own commentary on this truth is found in Col 3:1-4: “1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” CONCLUSION The Westminster Confession, Chapter XXVI, I notes: “All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.” Enslaved once to the Covenant of Works, where we were under the judgment of God for a failure to obey every jot and tittle of the Law, we are apt to fall back into the delusion of self-power and motivation for the accomplishment of righteousness. The Scriptures abound with commands for righteous living and the judgment of Sin. As we strive to obey, we must not forget Who placed us upright and what gives us life and breath and strength for the struggle. When we forget Christ’s accomplishment of righteousness, we are in danger of proceeding as if we accomplish the demands of God on our strength. When we forget Christ’s propitiation for Sin, we are apt to view God as an angry Judge ready to punish us lest we come to him with recompense for our offenses. When we forget Christ’s victory over Sin and Death, we believe the lie that Sin is still our ruler. We enter back into bondservice, not because Sin has authority, but because we sinfully reckon and deny what Christ has accomplished. We are no longer our own and no longer under Sin’s power. Our Sin is on the Cross and we are now bondslaves to Christ and bondslaves to righteousness. Christ’s death is once-for-all and He ever lives and so must we. When we lift our heavy heads away from the filth of indwelling sin and its alluring, idolatrous power, we look up to Christ and in Him we find that our hearts deceived us to Sin’s remaining power. Instead of a song of lament and self-pity over our condition, our hearts exult with the Apostle Paul: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10) Works Cited Calvin, John. “Commentary on the Book of Romans.” Christian Classic Ethereal Library. 8 July 2009. < Commentary on Romans | Christian Classics Ethereal Library>. Web. Hendriksen, William. Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1981. Print. Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997. Print.