3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.
5 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. 6 We know that our old self[a] 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. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin.
I love this passage.
I remember distinctly the first time it made an impact on me.
Unlike what you’d expect, it didn’t come from a sermon. It came from a book – a $2 torn paperback found at Hodgepodge Coffee Shop in East Atlanta, back when they were in their old space. I loved that space.
One sunny afternoon during my first Atlanta autumn, (not first Atlanta fall – that was something else…think “slip”…), I felt like reading something. So, feelin’ real cool, I casually let my eyes gaze across the stocked bookshelves propped up against the wall in the room where they had the toys and the trains for kids. One hand on my hip, one hand wrapped around an overpriced “Oh, Honey” latte, I let my eyes fall on the book that would change my life.
“The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee.
“Hm,” I thought to myself, “this looks good.”
And so, I grabbed it and began reading one of the most challenging yet liberating theses on what a “normal” Christian existence should be – according to the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the reality of what Jesus accomplished for us, and this incredible minister’s real-life experience.
Several times throughout the book, Nee stressed the importance of this Romans 6 passage in our understanding of our “death” – and thus, our understanding of this “normal life”.
If we believe we have been united in Christ’s death, then we have died to sin.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – what’s the difference between “dying to ourselves daily” and “being united in Christ’s death”?
One is made possible by the other – being united in Christ’s death gives us the power of new life needed to be able to deny our desires and die to ourselves. The body of sin is too strong, too powerful to allow us walk in obedience. The Word says it is hostile to God. It needed to die.
Here’s a somewhat silly visual that I hope will help you:
Imagine that you desire to cook a meal. Your sustenance of choice is a frozen pizza and a bag of frozen green beans. Both require a rather hot oven at 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Because both items can successfully cook at the same temperature, and for the same amount of time, you don’t think twice about putting them both in the oven simultaneously. Green beans on the bottom rack, pizza on the top.
The same heat that cooks the pizza cooks the green beans.
Now, imagine that oven as the grave.
In the same grave that Jesus was buried in…so were we.
Sticking with the visual, let’s pretend we’re the green beans and Jesus is the pizza…well, um, yeah…Jesus is definitely the pizza.
When we come to believe that Jesus is the son of God who bore our sins and rose from the dead with all power in His hands, we spiritually enter the same oven, er..grave..that Jesus entered.
Verse 4 says, “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.“
“Just as“. Both are equally real. You can’t have one death or resurrection without the other.
Listen – you would never question whether both the pizza and the green beans would successfully cook. If the oven is working properly, you can confidently believe that both foods will cook.
Guess what? The grave worked.
You cannot say you believe that Jesus died, and yet you did not.
You cannot say you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, and yet you are not.
After all, Jesus didn’t die for himself! He had no business dying if it were not for us.
He died for us! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but raised to new life in Him.
Please, please…do not worship Him for raising from the dead without also worshipping Him for raising you to new life.
For that is why He died.
Oh, one more thing.
Once the pizza cooked, it was cooked. No need to cook it again.
Once the green beans cooked, they were cooked. No need to cook them again.
Once we died with Him, we died. No need to die to sin over and over.
It happened once and for all.
Now, believe that – and live!