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Dead to Sin, Alive to Christ | Romans 6:1-14

Have you ever used short cuts in your walk with Christ, trying tips, tricks, and life hacks to get closer to Him? In the second week of our sermon series Dying to Live, Blake Holmes dives into Romans 6:1-14 to teach us where true spiritual growth comes from and what it looks like.

Blake HolmesAug 22, 2021

In This Series (8)
God is for You | Romans 8:31-39
Harrison RossOct 10, 2021
Future Glory Over Present Suffering | Romans 8:18-30
Blake HolmesOct 3, 2021
Changed by God | Romans 8:1-17
David MarvinSep 26, 2021
Acceptance Over Performance | Romans 7:7-25
Blake HolmesSep 19, 2021
The Law and Spirit | Romans 7:1–7
John ElmoreSep 12, 2021
Our Identity in Christ | Romans 6:15-23
David MarvinAug 29, 2021
Dead to Sin, Alive to Christ | Romans 6:1-14
Blake HolmesAug 22, 2021
Obedience of Faith
Nathan WagnonAug 15, 2021

Summary

Have you ever used short cuts in your walk with Christ, trying tips, tricks, and life hacks to get closer to Him? In the second week of our sermon series Dying to Live, Blake Holmes dives into Romans 6:1-14 to teach us where true spiritual growth comes from and what it looks like.

Key Takeaways

  • Spiritual growth begins with knowing whose you are and what He has done for you.
  • Sin is anything we think, do, or say that is contrary to the will of God, and is the ultimate, fundamental problem in the world.
  • Romans 6:1-14 shows us that: We are dead to sin (v. 1-2); We are united with Christ (v. 3-7); We are alive to God (v. 8-11); We are set free by grace (v. 12-14).
  • Licentiousness cheapens the grace of God and legalism denies the grace of God. Instead, our response should be bound to the love of God (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
  • Salvation consists of justification (freedom from the penalty of sin), sanctification (freedom from the power of sin), and glorification (freedom from the presence of sin).
  • As you grow in your relationship with Jesus, surrender to Him, and yield to His Spirit, your affections change and sin no longer has power over you.
  • When we trust in Christ, we are united with Him and we are given a new identity.
  • In Adam, we had sin and death. In Christ, we have righteousness and life.
  • We are free not only from the penalty of sin but also the power of sin.
  • Because we have been set free by grace, we can now live in such a way that is pleasing to God and is a blessing to other people.
  • Because of what Christ has done for us, sin is no longer our master. We have a new master who loves us and has our best interest in mind.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • As you grow in your relationship with the Lord, what are the things that used to “taste good” but are no longer as appealing?
  • What are some things that still keep your affections on earth rather than longing for an eternal kingdom?
  • When inevitably tempted by your old master and sin patterns, how will you prepare yourself to follow Christ and make choices in the moment that honor Him?

Good morning, Watermark. I'm excited to be here with you this morning. I was looking on the Internet this week, and I discovered many life hacks. The Internet is filled with life hacks, these tips and tricks to make life easier and more manageable for us. Everything out there promises us how to eat more and still lose weight, how to do more in less time, how to manage your inbox. Just a quick Google search, and you will see all of them flood your screen with all of these life hacks.

We look for tips and tricks and ways in which we can make life more manageable and more organized, but sadly, what I think is true is that, for many of us, we approach the spiritual life in the same way. We're looking for tips and tricks and formulas and shortcuts in order to make life work. We are told to read more of the Bible, memorize Scripture, serve more, try harder.

Although there's nothing wrong with reading the Bible, praying, and serving, what happens is that when we try to create a formula that is devoid of any intimacy or relationship with God and we approach God looking for a shortcut, it often leaves us feeling distant from God. It leaves us exhausted in our performance for God. That familiar sin which so easily entangles us just continues to defeat us time and time again.

We come to God looking for a shortcut, and we fail to come to him with a sincere desire to simply know him more, to fall more in love with Jesus, not so that life will work and we can be happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser, get married, and travel more, but so we can know God more. Today, we're going to see that spiritual growth…true, genuine transformation…begins with knowing whose you are and what he has done for you. True spiritual growth begins first when we recognize whose we are and what he has done for us.

We're continuing our series Dying to Live. We're looking at Romans 6-8. The whole idea here is that Christ died for us so we might live, and when we surrender our lives to him, when we die to ourselves, we experience the abundant life…not just an eternal life that is promised us in the future, but an abundant life…a life of meaning and significance and purpose and security and hope today despite the craziness of the world around us.

Romans is a rich theological book, and we are going to be in the deep end of the pool today. So I warn you. We're going to look at Romans 6:1-14, and it is rich in theological meaning. I hope you brought your Bibles, not just your phones. Turn to Romans 6. While you're doing that, I want to set up the context, because it's so important. Whenever you read the Bible, you have to read every verse in context of every paragraph, every paragraph in context of every chapter, every chapter in context of each book, and every book in context of all of the other books.

There are 66 books in the Bible, but they all tell one story. They all point to one particular person, Jesus Christ…all of Scripture. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed, and it all centers on Jesus Christ. Who is he, what was he doing on the cross, and how can we know him? That's what your Bible is all about.

In Romans, in the first three chapters, from chapter 1, verse 1, to chapter 3, verse 20, Paul meticulously describes the problem. The problem in this world is not a lack of education. It is not a financial crisis. It's not a medical or health crisis. The ultimate, fundamental problem in this world is a sin problem from which all of the other problems…suffering, sicknesses, disease, war, famine…everything else springs, but Paul is clear. If you want to understand why our world is broken and there's sin and death and pain and suffering, it's because of sin, anything we think, say, or do that is contrary to the will of God.

Paul starts off and says to the pagan Gentiles, the non-Jews who are out there who believe there are many roads to this one God, perhaps… He says to them, "Creation testifies against you that there is a God in heaven." To the moral man out there who denies God, he says, "Your conscience condemns you." From a young age, you recognize right from wrong. It's not because of what your mom and dad taught you.

There's an innate sense of right and wrong from every one of us, no matter where we're born, wherever we come from. Who gives us that innate sense of right and wrong called a conscience? It's from God. It's this internal sense of "oughtness," what we ought to do and not do, and we feel it from a young age. Paul says that is from God. Creation testifies against you. Your conscience testifies against you that you're without excuse and that all of us have sinned.

Then he looks at the Jew, and he says, "You who have all of the prophets and the Law and the promises and the covenants… Despite all of that, you too have rejected God by disobeying him." He concludes… Every one of us…everyone in this room, myself…everyone is without excuse. We've all rebelled against God. But here's the amazing thing, and perhaps more has been written on this section of Scripture than any other passage of Scripture.

In Romans 3:21-31, he explains the good news that despite our sin God loves us, and he has been on a rescue mission of bringing us back into a right relationship with himself, and we can be made right with God not by if our good works outweigh our bad or we go to church or we do more or read the Bible more or try to impress him or give more. We're made right with God by trusting in the provision of his Son Jesus Christ, his death, burial, and resurrection.

"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. This is not of yourselves. It's a free gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." Not by works. It doesn't matter what you bring. All we bring to the cross is sin and resistance. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus was fully God so as to be without sin and fully man so as to serve as our substitute.

So, as the God-man, he is the only means of salvation bridging a gap between a holy, righteous, perfect God and a sinful people. When we receive that gift of grace, not trusting in ourselves but receiving and trusting in what he has done for us, we can be made right with God. There's peace with God. There's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is the gospel.

Then in Romans, chapter 4, he answers the question…How were people saved before the time of Christ Answer: by grace through faith. We're always saved by grace through faith. Look at the life of Abraham. Then in chapter 5, he explains the blessings that come with knowing God. We have peace with God. We have eternal life with God. We experience his unconditional love. We have joy despite tribulation in this world, and we are united with Christ.

After explaining the blessings that come from knowing God, we pick up in chapter 6. I want to read this with you. Romans 6:1-14. As you read it and as you hear it, I want you to think, "Now what in the world does that mean?" We are going to swim in the deep end of the pool today, and I'm desperate for you to understand what Paul writes here, because it's so rich in theology and so key and fundamental to understanding how to grow in Christlikeness. Not through tips and tricks and three points and a prayer, and what have you, but to know the mind of God, whose you are and what he has done for you. So, let's read this together.

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" In other words, in light of all that God is for us, shall we sin all the more? "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

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. 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. 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.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

Wow! There is a lot there, so I want to unpack this. The fundamental idea is this: spiritual growth starts when we know whose we are and what Christ has done for us. When we look carefully at these 14 verses, we see, first of all, verses 1-2: we are dead to sin; verses 3-7: we are united with Christ; verses 8-11: we are alive to God; and verses 12-14: we are set free by grace. These four truths are so essential.

Let's look once again at what he says in verses 1-2. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" Paul anticipates the question all of us should be asking ourselves. "Wait a minute, Blake. You're telling me I can be made right with God not because of what I do or don't do but simply in whom I trust." Yes. It's called grace. The question then becomes, "All right. So, can I sin all the more? I mean, do I have license to sin now?" And he says, "By no means!"

It's a logical question. In fact, when I share the good news, the gospel of Christ, with other people, if they don't start with that question, I have to ask myself, "Did I really clearly explain it?" It's a logical question, but when you really understand the sacrifice that was made for you, it's never the right response, because we are dead to sin. Notice what he says. "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" What in the world does "dead to sin" mean? Well, it does not mean you're no longer tempted. It does not mean you no longer sin.

One man said it something like this: "Sin is like a defeated army in a civil war that, instead of surrendering and laying down its arms, simply fades into the countryside, from which it continues to wage a guerrilla war of harassment and sabotage against the government forces. Sin as a reigning power is defeated in the life of the believer, but it will never surrender. It will continue to harass us and seek to sabotage our Christian lives as long as we live."

So, what does it mean to be dead to sin? It means we are dead to the penalty of sin and the power of sin. The penalty of sin is death…separation from God and physical death. But 1 Peter 2:24 says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on that tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For by his wounds you have been healed."

What does it mean to be dead to sin? We have been set free from the penalty of sin. When you trust in Jesus Christ, you are justified, declared righteous, not because of what you've done but because of what he did on your behalf. But not only that. You are freed from the power of sin, the dominion of sin. It no longer reigns, but God's Spirit now lives in your heart and enables you to walk in faithfulness and to live a life pleasing to God.

So, justification is that we are free from the penalty of sin; sanctification is we are freed from the power of sin; and all of us, ultimately, one day, after we die, will be glorified (glorification), and we will be freed from the presence of sin. Salvation is not simply when you trusted in Christ back in that day. Salvation is you were saved, freed from the penalty of sin; you are increasingly becoming like Christ as you cooperate with his Spirit who's at work in your heart; and ultimately, you will become like him and freed from the presence of sin.

We are dead to sin because of what Christ has done for us. Sin should no longer taste good to us. What used to be true of us before we knew Jesus, what sounded fun, now makes us sick. We long for something different. Our affections, as Jonathan Edwards, the great American theologian, talked about, religious affections… Our affections, our eternal longings, values, tastebuds have changed.

I am a kid of the 70s. I know my mom is watching online. This might embarrass her, but she used to feed me TV dinners. How many of you know what I'm talking about…the TV dinners? Thank you very much. Mom, you're not alone. You would open up the TV dinner, and there was always this mystery meat, like a sausage or a hot dog. I think there might have been green beans I never touched. There was always the brownie, which I ate first, and then there was some sort of applesauce. Are you with me? Did you have that one? All right.

Others of you are like, "I don't even know what you're talking about." It's like cafeteria food, like prepackaged, when we were kids. Okay? I used to (I'm confessing this in front of many people right now publicly) take that mystery meat and thought it tasted good when I put the mystery meat into the applesauce, and I would eat that. I was like, "Let me get more of that." That is disgusting. I don't like mystery meat today, I don't really like applesauce today, and I'm sure not going to mix them. My tastes have changed.

What I'm suggesting to you, friends, is that when you trust in Christ, that mystery meat is dead to you. It no longer tastes good. You don't seek it, you don't want it, and when you put it in your mouth you're like, "Ugh! I hate it." That's the greatest sign that God's Spirit dwells within your heart. If you hate the sin, God's Spirit is at work.

In verses 3-7, he says we are not only dead to sin, but we're united with Christ. "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized…" I want you to circle the word baptized. "…into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.

For if we have been united with him…" There it is. Underline that. "…in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." Verse 5 is key to this whole passage. "We know that our old self was crucified…" Circle the word 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin."

Now that is a mouthful. We are united with Christ. What does that mean? It means when we trust in Christ, we are united with him insomuch that we are now given a new identity. If we had time and you read the passage that precedes this… In Romans, chapter 5, beginning in verse 12, all the way down through the end of chapter 5, Paul is going to make the argument that all of humanity is born in sin, is born in Adam, and in Adam is sin and death, but when we trust in Christ we're no longer a part of the family of Adam.

We are now part of the family of God. We are in Christ. Sin and death entered into the world through Adam. Life and righteousness enter into the world through Christ. If you have received him, if you have trusted him, your identity changes, and now God is pleased with you and there's peace and joy and hope and a marked difference in your soul, in your affections, because now you are part of the people of God.

He uses two metaphors to illustrate this. He talks about how we've been baptized with Christ. That's why I said to circle that word. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith. The right assumption here is the first step of obedience for every believer is to be baptized. It is not that baptism saves you. What baptism does is it declares publicly what you have trusted in. God gives us a very tangible means of experiencing and identifying with Christ's death, burial (going into the water), and resurrection…washed, free, clean, raised to new life. That is what baptism is.

But not only that. You've been crucified with Christ. That's why I said to circle crucified. You have been identified with his death, his burial, his resurrection, and now his Spirit lives within you that you can walk in the newness of life. We are in the deep end, friends. Stick with me, because this is so significant. You don't have to try harder, run faster, or do more. You surrender and yield yourself to the Spirit that's alive in your heart.

The whole idea of verse 6, "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing…" The body of sin brought to nothing means sin that has been defeated or deprived of its power. That's why Paul can say we're no longer enslaved to sin, but we've been set free. But we're not home yet. That enemy is occupied in our heart, and we have to resist and yield to the Spirit.

This is what Paul says in Galatians 2:20, a verse so many of us have memorized: "I have been crucified with Christ." It's a great cross-reference right here. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." We are now united with Christ.

I've been married now for 26 years. When I got married, that changed everything about my everything…how I spent my time, spent my money, how I related to people, what I valued. That relationship changed my everything. I am no longer a single man; I am wedded to Rebecca, and I wear a ring so that the whole world would know. When you trust in Jesus Christ, that relationship changes all of your other relationships fundamentally, and you get baptized to declare to the world you are wedded to the one who loves you the most.

We're dead to sin, we're united with Christ, and we're alive to God. Look at verses 8-11. "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Underline alive to God. These truths are so helpful.

Verses 8-11 just share the opposite side of the same coin. We're dead to sin, but now we're alive to God. In other words, our legal union secures our spiritual union. We are legally pardoned from the penalty of sin. We are forgiven. We are also made alive now. The spiritual union now is God's Spirit lives within our hearts, and we can walk with him and know him and enjoy him forever.

Because we're alive to God in Christ, we can experience the abundant life only he offers. "I came that you might have life and have it abundantly." That's not just eternal life; that's today, that you can know peace and comfort and security and meaning and hope and, as Paul says, a peace which transcends all understanding.

But notice this. This is so important. In verses 3, 6, 9, and 11…he says it over and over again…he emphasizes the importance of knowing what is true. This is why I say the whole idea here is that for spiritual growth, you have to know whose you are and what he has done for you. Look in verse 3. "Do you not know…" Verse 6: "We know that our old self was crucified with him…" Verse 9: "We know that Christ…" Verse 11: "So you also must consider…"

In other words, gang, theology matters. What you believe, what you know, what you study… It's not shortcuts, life hacks, simple tricks, techniques, yet your Christian bookstores are filled with books that are trash. Truly. Like, 80 percent of them: how you can be happy, healthier, wealthier, and wise. It's not about a life hack. Do you know God's Word? Do you understand the significance that you are alive to God?

When I traveled to Russia… I went to Saint Petersburg, Russia, years ago. Now that was crazy. Talk about feeling really far away from home. If you've ever traveled abroad or been far away from home, it's such a surreal feeling, because you experience that jet lag. I mean, I have an internal clock that tells me that I operate by Central Standard Time, yet I'm living in a country that is operating such that when I want to be awake, they sleep; when they sleep, I want to be awake. Their food tastes different. Their language is different.

Everything about my surroundings is different, and my values, because I'm a US citizen, are different than the values of those who live in Russia. When you trust in Jesus Christ, his Spirit moves into your heart. You are alive to God. That internal clock registers like, "Hey, this is not my home anymore. Where I live, I am not home, because Jesus changes my everything." If you have no sense of "Man, something is wrong with this world," if you don't have a longing for a different kingdom and a different home, that should concern you.

Verses 12-14. He's going to make the case we are now set free by grace. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you…" Underline that. Look at that. "…since you are not under law but under grace." Circle grace. We are set free because of grace.

It's really interesting. Everything we've read in Romans up to this point is in the indicative. What does that mean? It means stating the fact of the gospel. "This is what is true." But now he turns to the imperative, and he goes, "Now this is how you are to respond. This is true, but now here's how you respond." The indicative and the imperative go together. You deny the indicative of grace and you end up with legalism, moralism, and exhaustion. You deny the imperative grace and you end up with licentiousness. They go hand in hand.

We're told, "Don't let sin, therefore, reign. Do not present your members to sin. Present yourselves to God." How is that even possible? Because sin no longer has dominion over us. We've been bought with a price. We have a new master. Years ago, I was blessed to be given a rescue dog, a black lab that is the most beautiful, sweetest, smartest dog you can ever imagine. I mean, this dog… I'm always like, "This is why they call dogs man's best friend." She is the sweetest dog.

I have never needed to discipline, strike, or put that dog on a leash. All I wanted her to know when I first received her… I just wanted her to know I loved her, and I wanted her to know what her name was, and I just spent a ton of time with her. But even to this day (and it has been over 10 years since I've had her), if I lie in my chair and put my hands back like this, I can see her get nervous. She starts to move. So what I do is I slowly bring my hand down every time, and I just pet her head, pet her head, pet her head. And I do it again.

Why does she get nervous? Because somebody beat that dog. Somebody abused her. Somebody mistreated her. But now she has a new master and one who loves her and spoils her to a fault. It's ridiculous. But I love that dog. Can you imagine if we walked down the street together, if she's walking by my side and we happen to come across her old master? She would know that voice. She would know that whistle. I may not, but she would.

What if that old master who was cruel and mean to her was like, "Come here! Come here!" She'd have a choice. Is she going to obey the old master's whistle or is she going to still believe I have her best interests in mind? I don't put her on a leash to force her to obey me and pull her like that and yank her around. I love that dog. She does not leave my side, quite literally, to the jealousy of my kids. "Why does she always follow you?" Well, when you feed her every day, twice a day, and you change her water and take care of her, somehow it works out. What a shocker.

Gang, what I'm telling you is there's a God in heaven who loves you, who is good, and when you are united with him in Christ Jesus and you are dead to sin and alive to God and you are set free because of the grace of God, you know the Master's voice and you don't have to listen to the old master's whistle ever again, because he hates you. He wants you to believe that the new master, God, is trying to hold out on you, and nothing can be farther from the truth. God is good, and he loves you, and he has set you free.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man. God is faithful, and he's not going to allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he provides the way of escape, because his Spirit lives within your heart. If you will surrender and yield yourself, knowing what is true, you'll find freedom, you'll find peace, and you don't have to listen to the tyrant, the old master of sin anymore. You can experience freedom. I want you to watch this video of my friend Laura as she tells her story of coming to know Jesus.

[Video]

Laura Eldredge: I was straddling the line of faithfulness and foolishness, and honestly, I wasn't getting the best of either, but I thought I was. I loved God deeply. I knew his Word. I believed Jesus died and was raised to life again. So my eternity was sealed, but I was missing out on so much life that God had for me now because I was doing what I wanted to do. I was subjecting myself to nobody but me, and that led to a lot of chaos, a lot of destruction.

I was having a blast, but alongside Jesus, I was chasing fame and chasing boys. That's where regret comes in. I went off to college and let my hair down even more than I had before. I landed in jail for a DUI, lost a job for drinking and lying about it, and honestly, one heartbreak after the next, living on the highs and lows of emotional relationships, because that's what makes good country music.

I moved to Dallas in 2012. That's where everything changed. At the height of my career, I became increasingly convicted that I had to stop doing both. I couldn't live for me and for God. I had to choose, and I laid it down because God in his grace showed me something better. It was that a life lived for him is the best kind of life. I then was faced with the decision to give up boys. Okay. And then drinking. Okay. If it means following Jesus, okay.

Through the wrestles and healing from a lot of that heartbreak that was caused, I began to find peace where I hadn't before. I began to find security without attention from males. I began to find a sure identity without the career I had once pursued. My life was radically transformed when I started chasing Jesus without anything else, and I wouldn't take it back for anything.