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Alive in Christ, Alive to God

Consider! Resist! Present!

Romans 6:8-14

Ladies Bible Study

April 17, 2023

Because of our union with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, our relationship to death has completely changed. To understand this change, let us consider first how his relationship to death has changed. To save us from sin, he gave himself to the power of death by “becoming sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). He paid sin’s wages in full by offering his worthy and sinless life in the place of sinners (Rom. 6:23). After three days, the fish spewed Jonah on shore; after three days, our Lord spewed the grave out of his mouth. Death had no more claim upon him or upon those who believe in him.

He did not do this for himself, but he voluntarily became our Head and Surety. We are chosen in him so that what he did by his death and resurrection would be true of us, applied to us by the Holy Spirit, and enjoyed by us in time and space through our living union with him. Joined to him by faith, we die with him (v. 8). When we believe upon the name of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit applies the meaning and power of Christ’s death to us. Death has no more dominion over the Lord Jesus (v. 9), and it has no more dominion over us. In one of our Lord’s most remarkable declarations, the “one who believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). The Lord Jesus suffered death’s hell and terrors for us. We never shall.

Having died to sin once – to its claims, its power, and its horror – the Lord Jesus lives. He is now alive absolutely, without any possibility of dying again. He is raised to give his life to all who believe in him. He is alive to God. He was for a while in the sphere of death’s power and curse. To save sinners, he could not avoid this, for he had to take upon himself our “sorrows of death and pains of hell” (Ps. 18:4-5). He spoiled death, conquered it, penetrated its every dark corner. He emerged victorious. He is now, as our Mediator, in the sphere of life. He is completely done with death. He did death to death, we might say, and he now lives to God (v. 10). And as we died with Christ, so we live in him.

Second, we must consider how in union with Jesus Christ our relationship to sin and death has changed. In three imperatives or commands, we are taught in vivid and practical terms what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ mean for us. We are taught how his saving work changes our relationship to death. We are to change the way we think about sin and death: consider (v. 11)! We are to think of ourselves as “dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is not the power of positive thinking but the renewed thinking (Eph. 4:23) that marks those who are alive in Christ. We are dead to sin. Jesus Christ has killed sin in us. This means three things. He has paid its curse, broken its power, and will one day deliver us from its presence. We enjoy the first two of these now. Sin is no longer what marks us as believers in Jesus, depressingly defines our existence, or weighs us down with paralyzing guilt. This is not a change we bring into our lives but what Jesus Christ has done for us by dying in our place. He died to sin; in him, we have died to sin’s curse and power.

As he rose to new life and is alive to God at his Father’s right hand, so we are alive to God by him. We are reconciled to our Father, forgiven, and “accepted in the beloved.” We have God’s Spirit indwelling, uniting us to Jesus Christ, empowering obedience, and applying his gospel victory to our lives (Eph. 3:16-17; 1 John 2:27). Instead of being enslaved to our desires, we want to please God and do his will (Col. 1:11; 3:17,23). Even our relationship to physical death is changed – it is not for us a summons to judgment and doorway to everlasting destruction in hell. It is the gate to Jesus Christ, to be forever with the Lord, to be received and crowned by our Father. This is what the Lord has done for us, not what we merit, bring to him, or improve ourselves to be. Jesus Christ has made us alive.

Now that we are alive, we must resist sin! “Let not reign” is the command in verse 12. It is very fitting. Sin dominated us; in Christ, we can dominate sin, put sin to death (Col. 3:5), resist it. The Lord Jesus changes even our relationship to sin! We do not face daily temptation from a position of defeat – same old me, same old sin, same old results. In union with him, in fellowship with him, by faith and his strength, we can resist sin. We will not win every time, but our position vis-à-vis sin has changed – it is not our overlord, our inevitable master. Sin, like death, is a defeated foe, now in principle, so that we can resist it. Jesus Christ has made us free indeed (John 8:36)!

He adds “let not sin reign in your mortal bodies” – Christ’s victory applied to us includes our bodily cravings. Lusts of various forms, and not only sexual, enslave our race. Our bodies were created to serve God – sin has made them tools to serve our urges and desires. But, and we must not pull back here, we can overcome and say “no” to our cravings. They need not define us. Our bodies can be tamed, so we that present them to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). The world says that your cravings define you, that you should indulge them, and that you harm yourselves if you deny them. The world’s gospel is hopeless, bad news. You are a slave to your desires. They inevitably define you.

In union with Christ’s death and resurrection, believers do not yield or, to state the command positively, present themselves to God (v. 13). The verb means to stand near, like a soldier looking to his commanding officer, awaiting orders, ready to obey. Being alive to God is not being alive to myself and my enthusiasms – it is being alive to God’s will, standing near him in prayer, ready and alert to obey his word. “Members” is our bodies and thoughts and desires – all refusing to yield to sin and its insinuations, fighting against them, by presenting ourselves to the Lord for his help and protection.

“Righteousness” is an important bridge to the last section of chapter 6. It is vital for mental and spiritual health. Righteousness is necessary to live in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with our Savior (John 14:21-23; Gal. 5:16-17). Jesus Christ has made us alive to serve righteousness – not to please ourselves or even to please others. Jesus Christ has delivered us from sin’s dominion so that we can joyfully obey the Father’s will, as he did (John 15:9-11). We are alive to God so that we can serve him with joyful hearts. He is the righteous God, and he loves righteousness. He knew that sin had killed us as far as righteousness is concerned. We could not please him, and did not want to do so. So, he sent his Son to kill sin for us and to make us alive, to give us new life in union with Jesus Christ. Let us live to His praise with every breath and to serve him body and soul!

For Reflection

1. Why does it mean to have died with Christ? To live with him? Explain again “union with Christ.”

2. How does he break the power of sin and death in us? Remember the applying work of the Holy Spirit.

3. What are we to think about our relationship to sin? To death? Why are we made alive in Christ?

4. How does our new life apply to our daily attitudes and temptations? Seasons of life: youth, aged?

5. In what ways is verse 12 the remedy for the sinner’s despair about his sins and desires?

6. Practically, how do we apply this to our personal sins? Family sins? Congregational sins?

7. Where do you need to present yourself to God more intentionally? Live in pursuit of righteousness?

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