(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 7/7/02 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn to Romans 6. I'll be reading verses 1 through 14:
Romans 6: (1) What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) Let it not be! We who died to sin, how shall we still live in it? (3) Or are you ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that as Christ was raised up from [the] dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [Him], that the body of sin might be nullified, so that we no longer serve sin. (7) For the [one] that died has been justified from sin. (8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that also we shall live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ being raised from [the] dead dies no more; death no longer lords it over Him. (10) For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. (11) So also you count yourselves to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Then do not let sin reign in your mortal body, to obey it in its lusts. (13) Neither present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as [one] living from [the] dead, and your members instruments of righteousness to God. (14) For your sin shall not lord it over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace.
We're continuing in our study of the Christian's identification with Christ in His life and His death. Last time, we went through verse 6, so let's start with verse 7:
Romans 6: (7) For the [one] that died has been justified from sin.
The word "for" at the beginning of the sentence connects this sentence with the last one. In the previous sentence, we saw that, since we have been joined to Christ in His death, our old man was crucified with Christ. And the result of that crucifixion of our old man is that we no longer serve sin, since the body of sin has been completely abolished. Here in verse 7, Paul continues by saying that the one who has died in Christ has been JUSTIFIED from sin. Now wait a minute. Isn't JUSTIFICATION an objective being declared not guilty? What does that have to do with no longer serving sin? Paul again shows that the objective and subjective realities are connected. One who has been JUSTIFIED from sin will no longer SERVE sin. There's no such monster as someone who has been JUSTIFIED from sin who is SERVING sin. The word "for" there is very interesting, because it shows Paul's inspired logic. He actually says that IT IS A LOGICAL THING that those who are justified do not serve sin. IT LOGICALLY FOLLOWS that those who are justified do not serve sin. Away with the heretics who say that someone who is walking in sin subjectively can still be in a state of justification objectively! The one who has died with Christ has been DECLARED NOT GUILTY, so his sins will NEVER bring him back under condemnation, but you know what? He will also NEVER live in sin! Both are true for every believer. A believer is declared to be righteous not based on anything he does or doesn't do, AND a believer will not walk in sin or serve sin! A believer, one who has been justified by a PERFECT ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS, will live his life desiring to be and working to be in CONFORMITY to that PERFECT ALIEN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Christ's perfect obedience is IMPUTED to us, and we also strive to be perfectly obedient. Now we'll never get there in this life, and our striving forms NO PART of the ground of our salvation, but working to be obedient to God's commands is characteristic of EVERY believer.
Now to the next sentence, which is in verses 8 and 9:
Romans 6: (8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that also we shall live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ being raised from [the] dead dies no more; death no longer lords it over Him.
The first part of the sentence, which is in verse 8, is a reiteration of verse 5, which shows our identification with Christ, our union with Christ, in His death and in His life. This repetition is for emphasis. If we are joined with Christ in His DEATH, then it follows that we are joined with Christ in His LIFE after His death. Our old man was crucified with Christ, AND we walk in newness of life, in the new man, the new creation.
Let's now take a look at the second part of the sentence, which is in verse 9. The first phrase is: "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more." Jesus Christ died only ONCE. Why is that important? Why is it an important doctrine that Jesus died only ONCE? Let's turn over to Hebrews 9 and 10. As we read, keep this question in the front of your minds: Why is it important that Jesus died only ONCE? I'll read Hebrews 9:23 through 10:18:
Hebrews 9: (23) Then [it was] needful for the figures of the things in the heavens to be cleansed [with] these; but the heavenly things themselves by better sacrifices than these. (24) For Christ did not enter into [the Holy of] Holies made by hands, types of the true things, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf, (25) not that He should often offer Himself even as the high priest enters into the [Holy of] Holies year by year with blood of others; (26) since He must often have suffered from [the] foundation of the world. But now once for all, at the completion of the ages, He has been manifested for putting away of sin through the sacrifice of Himself. (27) And as it is reserved to men once to die, and after this, Judgment; (28) so Christ having been once offered "to bear [the] sins of many," Christ shall appear a second [time] without sin to those expecting Him for salvation. (10:1) For the Law had a shadow of the coming good things, not the image [itself] of [those] things. [Appearing] year by year with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, they never are able to perfect the ones drawing near. (2) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? Because those serving did not still have conscience of sins, having once been cleansed. (3) But in these [there is] a remembrance of sins year by year, (4) for [it is] not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (5) For this reason, coming into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You prepared a body for Me. (6) You did not delight in burnt offerings and [sacrifices] concerning sins." (7) "Then I said, Lo, I come, [in the] heading of the Book it was written concerning Me, to do Your will, O God." (8) Above, saying, "You did not desire nor were pleased [with] sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [sacrifices] concerning sins," (which are offered according to the Law), (9) then He said, "Lo, I come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first in order that He may set up the second; (10) by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (12) But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, "sat down" in perpetuity "[at the] right [hand]" of God, (13) from then on expecting "until His enemies are placed [as] a footstool" of His feet. (14) For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity the ones being sanctified. (15) And the Holy Spirit witnesses to us also. For after having said before, (16) "This [is] the covenant which I will covenant to them after those days, says [the] Lord: Giving My Laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds;" (17) also [He adds], "I will not at all still remember their sins" and their lawlessnesses. (18) But where remission of these [is], there [is] no longer offering concerning sins.
Do you see why it's so important that Jesus died only once? When the priests had to continually offer sacrifices in the Old Testament as a type of Christ, it showed that these sacrifices did not take away sin. Over and over again, year after year, there had to be more and more sacrifices. Now just think: If just ONE of these sacrifices in the Old Testament completely took away sin, then there would have not been a need for any more sacrifices. Why keep sacrificing if sin has been completely taken away? There would be no reason for it. But when Jesus came and offered His own body as a sacrifice, there was NO NEED for any more sacrifices. In fact, it was, and is, BLASPHEMY to offer any of the Old Testament sacrifices now that Christ has been sacrificed. Why was there no need for any more sacrifices once Jesus Christ came as a sacrifice? It is because, through His sacrifice, the sin of EVERYONE whom He represented was COMPLETELY taken away. There was a COMPLETE REMOVAL. Jesus Christ made FULL ATONEMENT for His people. So why is it an important doctrine that Jesus died only once? Because by Christ's ONE offering, He made an end of sin for all His people. Had he died a second time, that would mean that He did not make a complete satisfaction. It would mean that He was not fully punished and that God was not fully appeased. This is such a powerful passage for efficacious atonement. The atonement was NOT a "make it possible" atonement. The atonement ACCOMPLISHED SALVATION. Verse 12 says that Jesus Christ offered but ONE sacrifice for sins. And those universal atonement heretics are telling us that this ONE sacrifice for sins really didn't DO everything that Jesus Christ wanted it to do. But what does verse 14 say? Does it say that Christ's offering made it possible for everyone to be perfected, if only they would do their part? No - it says that Christ's ONE offering HAS PERFECTED IN PERPETUITY the ones being sanctified. Christ's work ACCOMPLISHED PERPETUAL PERFECTION for His people. It wasn't just a possibility, it was an ACCOMPLISHED ACT. And verse 18 says that there are no longer offerings because of what? Because of REMISSION OF SINS. The ONLY WAY that Jesus Christ does not have to die any more and that the priests do not have to offer any more sacrifices is if the SACRIFICE OF CHRIST FULLY ACCOMPLISHED REMISSION OF SINS. Do you believe that Christ's sacrifice FULLY ACCOMPLISHED remission of sins? Well, if you're a Roman Catholic, you don't. Every time in the Mass, the Roman Catholics say that Jesus Christ is being re-sacrificed. So if you're a Roman Catholic, you do not believe that Christ's sacrifice fully accomplished remission of sins. You keep going to confession because you need a priest to help remit your sins over and over. You pray to the saints because you need them to help remit your sins over and over. You have NO IDEA who Jesus Christ really is. Your idolatrous crucifixes make a mockery of the true Christ. So what about those of you who are professing non-Roman Catholic Christians? Do you believe that Christ's sacrifice FULLY ACCOMPLISHED remission of sins? Well, you don't if you believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception and yet some go to hell. Think about it. If you believed that Christ's sacrifice FULLY ACCOMPLISHED remission of sins, then you would believe that ALL for whom Christ died have their sins FULLY TAKEN AWAY. Do you believe that? What about those for whom Christ died who end up in hell? Have their sins been FULLY TAKEN AWAY by the sacrifice of Christ? Did Christ ACCOMPLISH REDEMPTION for those who are burning in hell? Of course not. So if you believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, that His blood atoned for everyone without exception, that everyone without exception is bought by the blood of Christ, then if there are some in hell, you must believe that the sacrifice of Christ actually accomplished NOTHING in and of itself. You might as well go to Mass with the Roman Catholics. Your christ and the Roman Catholics' christ both accomplished NOTHING, and SOMETHING needs to be ADDED to the one sacrifice in order for it to accomplish ANYTHING. The Roman Catholics offer up their christ and their works over and over to supplement the sacrifice of their christ. The universal atonement advocates offer up their faith and their perseverance and their good works over and over to supplement the sacrifice of their christ. There is not even one iota of the true Christ in their worship. Verse 18 says that by Jesus Christ's ONE offering, there is REMISSION of sins. There is NOTHING LEFT TO BE DONE. Christ did it all. Christ paid it all. Christ accomplished it all. And not a SINGLE ONE of those for whom He died will perish in hell, because Jesus Christ's sacrifice TOOK AWAY ALL THEIR SINS.
Back to Romans 6:9. The last phrase is: "death no longer lords it over him." It can be translated, "death no longer has dominion over him." The Greek word for "no longer" implies that it once happened. There was a time in which death had lordship over, had dominion over, Jesus Christ. This was when the sins of God's people were imputed to Christ, and Jesus Christ suffered death on their behalf. Now we know that this "lordship" or "dominion" of death over Christ was not one in which Christ lost the battle to death. Christ VOLUNTARILY gave Himself up to death. Think about that. Jesus Christ chose to suffer the equivalent of eternal punishment in hell out of love for His people. This was the ultimate act of love. He gave Himself over to the torments of God's eternal punishment, even unto death, for ME, and for YOU, if you are one of God's elect. There's no greater love than this.
The word for "no longer" ALSO tells us that it is something that has ended. Death did not win. Death is swallowed up in VICTORY! Death only lorded over Christ for as long as God determined. Christ was RAISED from the dead on the third day, having put away sin and the punishment for sin, and God was SATISFIED. Not PARTIALLY satisfied - COMPLETELY satisfied.
All this flows right into verse 10:
Romans 6: (10) For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God.
Jesus Christ, in His ONE sacrifice, died to sin ONCE for all. We again see the emphasis of the ONE-TIME sacrifice of Christ, showing a FULL ACCOMPLISHMENT. What does it mean that Christ "died to sin"? Well, we know that Jesus Christ did not personally sin, so it most definitely does not mean that he once sinned and then died to it. But we ALSO know that sin was IMPUTED to Christ, and he became guilty by imputation. Christ suffered the punishment that those sins deserved, and when He died, He was freed from that imputed sin, and in our union with Christ's death, we, too, were freed from our sin. The verse then says that in that Christ lives, He lives to God. Here is a contrast with Christ's death and His life. When Christ died, He died to sin. When Christ lives, He lives to God. This living to God is not talking about Christ's life on earth before His death. As we see in the context of this entire passage, the "living" is living AFTER death. So this is particularly talking about Christ's life AFTER His resurrection. Now why does Paul say that Christ particularly lives to God after the resurrection? It's because he's talking about Christ's life as the ACCOMPLISHED REDEEMER, with whose sacrifice God was totally pleased, to the glory of God.
On to verse 11:
Romans 6: (11) So also you count yourselves to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here again we see the parallel between Christ and believers. As Christ died to sin, so WE are dead to sin in Christ. As Christ lives to God, so WE are alive to God in Christ. In Christ's death, we - our old selves - died. In Christ's resurrection and life, we - our new selves - are alive to God to serve and glorify Him. We identify and are joined with Christ in His death and His life after death. As far as our oneness with Christ in His death goes, verse 3 says we were baptized into His death. Verse 4 says we were buried with Him through baptism into death. Verse 5 says we have been joined together in the likeness of His death. Verse 6 says that our old man was crucified with Him. Verse 8 says that we died with Christ. As far as our oneness with Christ in His life goes, verse 5 says we are joined together in the likeness of His resurrection. Verse 8 says that we live with Christ.
The Lord willing, we will go into the practical implications of being dead to sin in Christ and walking in newness of life in Christ. May we who are believers, in our identification with and union with Christ, always keep in mind Christ's accomplished work that is the only ground of our salvation, and let us also always keep in mind our death to sin and our life to God. Amen.