United In Death AND Life

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection; knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:5-7).

Jesus was buried after his crucifixion, leaving behind a physical life for a short time. On the third day, the Savior arose from the grave in newness of life, to be saved from the grave and preserved for His ascension. We, too, share the death, burial, and resurrection through baptism. We are united with Christ in this act. No other action or attitude can lead us to salvation.

But there is the undeniable expectation that our new life conform to the example of Jesus, according to 1 Corinthians 11:1 and Ephesians 5:1. By continuing in sin after baptism, we effectively negate its purpose. “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ…By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments…Whoever keeps His word in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says He abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:1-6).

It is not that we are incapable of sinning after baptism, for all people continue to fall short on their own merit. But the difference between the old life and the new is that unbelievers sin as a lifestyle while Christians sin as an isolated error. We are guaranteed forgiveness of our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:9).

This is why the language of the text is powerful. We are freed from sin! I am not a slave of it any longer. What is interesting to me is that everybody ends up being a slave to something, whether they know it or not. “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart… and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Why not submit to something on your own terms?

It is not enough for us to simply acknowledge that we are sinners, or that the old self (manner of life) was a mess. It is also not enough for us to admit that the old self still creeps back every now and then. We are told quite clearly in Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” If we think we are going to belong to our Lord, then we had better take that old man, crucify him with all of his passions and evil habits, and walk as far away from that life as we can (Colossians 3:9-10).