Christians are sinners (sin is lawless — 1 John 3:4) who are freely pardoned because of who Jesus is and what he has done.
Because of Jesus Christ, Christians are not condemned as they deserve to be. Rather they are treated as children of God. A person’s acceptance with God is wholly and only dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
How should Christians live in response to that great truth? What do we say in the light of this mercy from God. Do we continue to live as we did before we were brought to faith in Jesus Christ. Do we continue in sinful rebellion?
Apparently Paul had come across people who argued like this: ‘If by showing of mercy to sinful people God receives well-deserved praise, surely the more sinful we become the more amazing will be His mercy and the more deserving He will be of praise.’ – or to put it another way – ‘Let us sin so grace might abound.’
Is God’s mercy a reason to do any and every sinful thing we can imagine because Jesus has rescued us from the judgement of God?
Paul says, ‘No!’ In fact, ‘May it never be so!’
‘We have died to Sin, how can we continue to live with it?’
Paul arguement is that we can’t continue in sin because we are united to Christ. Paul’s reasons seem to be these:
Christ’s death and rising again makes sinners legally clean. The supreme Judge declares us ‘NOT GUILTY’ simply because of what Jesus has done for us. We are to become what we are.
Water Baptism (a washing with water) symbolises of our unity with Christ. It symbolise our being made clean because of that unity.
When the Holy Spirit makes people into Christians, the act is referred to as a baptism, a cleaning.
- He units them to Christ
- He applies the benefits of Jesus to them
- and, from that moment onward they are regarded as good and as clean as Jesus himself.
‘Baptised into his Death’ means that we, because of the unity with Christ, are regarded as having died for our sins when Jesus died.
‘Buried with him’ indicates that our death is final. It means that those who are united to Christ, those who trust Jesus, have no remaining punishment awaiting them. The Judgement due their sins is passed as the reason for judgement is dead and gone.
Being united with Jesus Christ in his resurrection mean that we are brought to life. Not only are we given the gift of everlasting life, but we are brought to a new way of life. We are to have, and as Christians we will have, new attitudes.
We ought to walk (conduct ourselves) in newness of life (verse 4).
We cannot have one without the other – forgiveness and a changed attitude to sin come as a package to the Christian.
If we are rescued from judgement by unity with Jesus in his Death, we are also united with Jesus in his resurrection. We are to be united to his new way of life. To emphasise this reality, Paul uses a ‘much rather’ phrase: ‘If one is rescued from sin, so much rather will that one live now as a new sort of person.’
[Continued in Part 2]