This is an exegetical sermon on Romans 6:8-11 titled, Sin and Union With Christ – Part II and looks at how the death and resurrection of Jesus in fact conquered death once and for all. This sermon was originally preached by Pastor Duane Smets Sunday, October 15, 2006 in San Diego, CA. Audio unavailable.
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:: The Resolved International ::
:: The Resolved :: Sunday, October 15, 2006
Duane Matthew Smets (elder)
Sin & Union with Christ – Part II
the benefits of his resurrection
romans 6:8-11 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Good morning. As I was studying for my sermon this week I came across a book titled, “Vampires or gods.” In this book the author, William Meyers, defines a vampire as “a corpse that becomes reanimated” and he defines a god as an “immortal being having special powers over the lives and affairs of people” and then he goes on to say that followers of Jesus Christ may “may not be worshipping a resurrected god, but a vampire.”
I thought that was interesting and I needed a good introduction since this week’s sermon is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I love vampire movies but just to clear the record, I don’t think Jesus was a vampire. But if he was, he was a very kind vampire because he never bit anyone and because all the pictures I have seen of Jesus showing him smiling and he doesn’t have any fangs.
we are in chapter 6 of Romans, which is this section all about how even after becoming a Christian there is still sin we struggle with and Paul, our author, wants to help us with that so we will make progress in our lives and be a stronger and happier people. Verse 5 says, “For if we have been united with him (Jesus) in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
last week we looked verses 5-7,11 to see how being “united” to the death of Christ is a huge benefit to us and this week we look at verses 8-11 to see how being “united” to the resurrection of Christ is an even greater benefit. Being united with Christ is the key to understanding this whole passage it is simple and overarching answer Paul gives us for the question of what to do about sin in our lives after becoming a Christian.
We learned that the word “united” is a farmer’s word that means in grafted or grown together. And we considered how it seems that there is some sort of unique, mystical, secret union that we as individuals have with this person Jesus Christ, who first clearly came on the scene about two-thousand and six years ago. It’s easy to remember because that is what our modern calendar is based on. Now, that whole idea of uniting with another person is kind of weird, especially when it is a person you have never seen with your eyes and who lived so long ago.
if one of you came to me today and told me that even though Kurt Cobain died 10 years ago and even though you never met him that you still have this special union with him and that he is a great aid to your spiritual life I would tell you that you are crazy and you should lay off the drugs. That’s why I think most Christians sound a little crazy and why I don’t really blame the guy for thinking the whole thing has something to do with vampires. Well, not really, I do blame him because that is just stupid. But I think realizing the craziness of what Christianity is puts us is in a place where this text today becomes really important because then we are able to look at it honestly and decide for ourselves whether Jesus is really worth following.
So let’s read our text and pray. Romans 6:8-11 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
God, you are the author of life. Death has come into this world and caused much pain, struggle, strife, and confusion…but you have given us Christ. Who died for sin and death once and for all in order that we lowly creatures may fathom the infinite wonder of who you are. we live in an in-between time where there is life and joy through your son and where there is still the lingering effects of all that is evil about us. May this text today open our eyes to comprehend the magnitude of who you are and what you have provided for in Christ. Amen.
I. we believe
The first verse of our study, verse 8, is really a re-iteration repeating the tie between Christ dying and rising, which was introduced in verse 5 which said, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Verse 8 transitions us from the topic of being united to Christ’s death to being united to his resurrection.
Back in April of this year I preached from Romans 4:24 which talks how the resurrection of Jesus Christ finalizes and secures our justification, being made right with God in our spiritual standing before him. in that sermon we looked at the arguments for and against the resurrection of Jesus Christ because the bible is very clear that the resurrection of Christ is the crown and cornerstone of the Christian faith and that if it is not true then Christianity itself declares it is the one religion that can be proved false. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then there is no way that Christianity can be true.
But today I’m not going to spend time diving into the facts, and data, and circumstances that unquestionably verify that Jesus really did rise from the dead. I’ll just direct you to my past sermon which is available online if you are interested. Today the point of our text is not so much whether Jesus really rose from the dead, it just assumes that is true here and focuses on the spiritual benefit we receive from it for our lives now and in the time to come.
so, I said just a minute ago that verse 8 here is basically just repeating verse 5, but there is one word here that is different I want you to notice, the word “believe.” Do you see it? “We believe that we will also live with him.”
What I want to point out here is that belief is the means or the way that we unite with Jesus Christ and his death and his resurrection. This is what the bible teaches everywhere. in john 20 toward the end of the fourth gospel it says, “now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name (john 20:30-31).”
So what does it mean to believe? today when I hear that word it sounds to me like it means that something is not really true but you choose to accept it in some way anyway. like ufo’s, aliens, ghosts, astrology, Santa, the tooth fairy, mermaids, luck in Vegas, feng shui, and wishing upon a star. But belief in the bible is different. Belief, in the bible is an ongoing uniting to Christ based on being convinced of certain truths, which in turn bring about an experiential adoration from the heart, and the result is continual change of behavior in our lives.
You see, the way that the resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes a reality to us is from what we come to know and be convinced of about him and based on that a love is born inside of us for him. Like in 1st Peter 1:8 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
I have never seen Jesus with my eyes or touched him or eaten with him. But I have come to know enough about him that I considered him worth putting some time and energy into following after him. And now after ten years of following after him in prayer, thought, study, and action…I feel like I know him…and I love him. He is everything to me. And now I long, I look forward to and long for the day when I see him face to face.
II. We will (*spiritual or two ages)
And that future experience, that future aspect is where this text turns next. Follow the words after belief. “We believe that we will also live with him.” The rest of the verses today stand on these two words, “we will.” Verse 9 and verse 10 and verse 11 are all dependent upon the significance of “we will.” So let’s spend a few moments on how we are to understand the future part of faith in Jesus.
First note that there is a new life ahead for those who believe in Jesus. We will live with him. Paul is carrying through the same idea he first mentioned in verse 4 of this chapter which ends by saying, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; we too might walk in newness of life.” There is a new life in Christ.
Okay. There are two huge questions here. One is, if I am united with Christ, and if he is really raised from the dead, then why am I still here? When Jesus Christ rose up from the dead he had a new sort of body, human, but purified human, so that it was no longer limited by the constraints of time, space, and corruption. So why do I not have that now? Why am I not able to be where Jesus is now and see him, why does my body still die, and most of all why do I still do and feel things I know are wrong and sinful.
The second question is, is this new life a certain quality of new life in that it is better or is it in a quantity of duration that will happen for us after we die?
Big questions. These are hard questions and I don’t know if I can answer them fully. But I will try.
the first question is very similar to the question I asked last week about being united to the death of Christ about how the old self of sin and everything bad is still around if we have really being united to Christ? This week is about why the new self, the new life with resurrected bodies, completely free from death and sin like Christ’s…are not ours now?
I didn’t feel like I answered that question very well last week. I said the reason was “because we live in between two periods of time, the period of death from Adam the first human, and the period of life from Christ. And right now they overlap.”
I want to try and unravel that a little more. In Jesus Christ something new happened in the course of history. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was an unprecedented event never happening before and never happening since. But what happened was not just an event that only affected Jesus himself and those who knew him then but it effected the whole course of history because in his resurrection a new age was initiated.
1 Corinthians 15:20-24 has this to say, “As by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”
So what this tells us is Jesus resurrection was a kind of first fruits that inaugurated a new age of redemption that will be, in the future, fully consummated in a glorious ending when he returns in all his power and might!
But that is in the future. And Adam is in the past. The first human, where sin and death all started. And right now, we live in between these two times, these two ages, and there is overlap. If you can imagine two circles representing two times and they are crossing over each other just a little bit, then the time we live in is in the portion inside of the cross-over. And that has a huge effect on us.
Because we still experience much of the junk that comes along with the old age, but at the same time we can experience some of the new life that comes in the future age. we begin new life in Christ when we believe and start following after him and that new life which is ours, that we experience in small portions, will become unending and categorically more wonderful when the new age comes in all its fullness.
I hope that helps. It sounds a little science fiction to me. So if you have Tom Cruise scientology in your heads right now I’m sorry. I’m not trying to get all of us to believe in some weird thing but rather something that is grounded in factual history and not only that but matches up with what we really experience and feel in this life. The evidence for the resurrection is astounding and the hope and spiritual philosophy present in it speaks to my soul.
There is probably a lot more that I could say but I’m just going to leave you with that. I know it is not complete but perhaps it is a beginning. I wanted to take on that question first because it makes the other two questions easier to answer and actually sets us up for the rest of the passage.
So question two. Is this new life a certain quality of new life in that it is better or is it in a quantity of duration that will happen for us after we die? There is a bunch of debate about this. The truth is not always somewhere in between where we say, “well they are both true somehow.” That is often people’s way out of dealing with hard questions. But here is a case where I believe that both of these are true.
The reason is because there is a danger in accepting either one all together. If I say yes, it is just a new quality of life, then there is a tendency for those of us who consider ourselves Christians to think that our lives are somehow better than everyone else’s and if they just had our life then they would be better off. That’s just simply not true. If anything our lives are harder, but there is more honesty and there is more true satisfaction in it.
And if I say yes, it is just a new quantity of duration for us after we die, and then Jesus tends to become a sort of get out of jail free card that I flash when I die. Like I have some sort of checklist. Yes, I believe Jesus lived. Check. Yes, I believe he was God. Check. Yes, I believe he died for my sins. Check. Yes, believe I will go to heaven. Check. And now I can just live my life and simply flash my Jesus card at heaven’s gates. The problem with this is that the risen life of Christ is intended to affect us now. There is a present reality or experience of it that changes us and enables us see and experience the world with a new set of eyes.
So it is quality and it is quantity. There is a satisfaction and joy of the risen Christ that is for us now that comes from our future when we will experience it fully. And in that future that quality will be never-ending. It will not fade. It will not come and go. It will not be able to be interfered with. We will experience unparalleled quantity of glory forever and ever as we explore the expanse of God and his infinite creation.
Those are the two questions that the words, “we will” bring up by placing our resurrection in the future. Now in verses 9 and 10, Paul takes us backward to the cross to see how Christ secured this type of future resurrection we have been talking about.
III. The Christus Victor (*never again, no dominion, once for all)
Let’s re-read verses 9 and 10. “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.”
Christos Victor is Latin for victorious Christ. I think the Latin just sounds cooler…but either way what these two verses bring up is the successful triumph of Christ victoriously won because he rose up from the dead. Notice the three phrases, “never again” “no dominion” and “once for all.”
These phrases emphatically announce that what Jesus Christ did on the cross and what he did by rising up from the dead three days later sufficiently dealt with the human problem with sin so that there is nothing left to be taken care of except its application in our lives. But the spiritual provision has been secured.
That Christ will “never die again” points out the permanence of this resurrection. Jesus did not rise from the dead but then later in his life die again. There is no record anywhere of any other dead of Jesus. There is no shrine or tomb where his bones rest. On the contrary, in revelation 1:18 Jesus says “I am the living one, I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever.”
And death no longer has dominion. That is one of those words that come from the times when kings and queens would rule the land and they would have a dominion and all in their dominion followed their demands. Jesus put a stop to the chain of death has been dominant in the course of human history.
And that his death was “once for all” is the sufficiency of his work for us. Sin is our problem, it is the problem of every human. Jesus never sinned but took our sin upon him as though it were his own and suffered the penalty for it, death.
Now, there may be a lingering question in your head because if Jesus really did conquer death for us why do people still die. I spent a lot of time this last week with Seth wood. Some of you here know him, I married him and Courtney a few months ago. But last Sunday night Seth’s dad died. A couple months ago now Justin’s grandma died and now his grandpa is not doing well. Death is real and it is hard. So here’s my question, if Jesus death and resurrection is really real and victorious then why do people still die?
Death is hard. It seems so final. And I think there is a lot wrapped up in why God has chosen to begin a new age in Jesus Christ resurrection but wait a significant amount of time until it is completed. But here is what seems to be the main reason why we still die…
Jesus death and resurrection was dealing with a spiritual problem, sin. Spirituality is non-physical, it has to do with our souls and our spirit but it affects everything physical that we do and are. So our bodies die because they are contaminated by the effects sin, they are bodies of death wasting away, breaking down over time. But when the body dies, the soul does not, it goes on and at the point of death our soul will receive its moral due in one of two eternal qualities. One is hell, an unending experience of pain and death. And one is life, an unending experience of joy and discovery. So there are two types of death. There is physical death and there is spiritual eternal death.
Okay, so here it is listen closely. Jesus’ death was a physical one and a spiritual one. It was physical because he was a physical human and died a real physical death. And his spiritual death was eternal because he was God from eternity.
What our text says is that for those who unite and believe in him, Jesus is their substitute. That he died a death for us in our place. What death? The spiritual eternal one. And because he did, he secured an eternity of life and joy for us and will effect us physically when our old bodies finally die and our souls will get a new body like his resurrected body.
Listen to Paul’s explanation in 1 Corinthians 15 “42 so is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks are to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That is really exciting to me. I know it is a lot to swallow. It makes sense but it is a lot to swallow still. But I think it is worth it. I think there is enough here to give me solid reason to think it is true. And the benefits of believing in this type of gospel are immense. It seems worth it. It seems to make sense of this life because it deals with the frustrations of this life and yet also our longing for something else.
IV. The alive life
I think that longing is a longing for the future, when all that begins now in Jesus will come in fulfillment. Which brings us to our last point today here in these verses, the alive life. The end of verse 10 says, “The life he lives he lives to God.” And verse 11 says we must “consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Those words, “he lives to God” are the longing of our hearts. Christ died and rose and now lives. And we long to live with him. It is what we are made for. Ephesians 1:6 says that God created us to live “6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” He made believers for life and not for death.
And that is what we must consider. we talked last week about how considering is the working out of the muscle of our mind to think about who God has made us to be, where we are headed in the future, and to live it out now. To make decisions and choices to act in a way that reflects who God is. Everyone just wants to be happy and so we pursue jobs or relationships that we think will bring us that, but you have to know they are dead ends if God is not the reason you are pursuing them. We have to remember the spiritual truth of this text. Sin is wicked and warps our mind and brings death. But there is something new in Jesus Christ. There is life and it is available for us now.
This past week has been one of the most trying weeks of my life. Not only have I wept with those who are weeping over the loss of a loved one, but I have had to fight intense spiritual battles and temptation, and I have had to endure hard and devastating news from one of my best friends in the world who is hitting rock bottom. It has been crazy week. But some weeks are just like that.
But despite all of that the resurrection power of Jesus Christ has been feeding life into my soul. Death and despair may seem all about but there is life in Christ. In Christ there is a supply that flows from the fountain of heaven and nourishes our souls as it washes away death and raises us up in life. And I feel strong. Stronger than ever. I feel the victory of Christ at work in my heart and he is like a lion inside me roaring with passion for the glory of God.
The stuff in this text is real. It is not just some stupid weird religious belief. It directly connects to our life. Sin is real and its deceptive power is great. But Christ is greater. He conquered sin, death, and hell and now lives to the glory of God and offers himself to us.
Unite with him. Put your faith in him. Use your mind and consider yourself alive to God in Jesus Christ. Work at becoming the person God has made you to be. Draw near to him.
This last week has been one of the most special weeks to me with my wife. We spent a lot of time together and we read a lot of the bible together and spent more time praying together then we ever have. And the grace God has extended has been astounding.
I try really hard to be understanding and compassionate toward our feelings and the things we experience and go through. But there comes a point when you just have to put it all away and set your mind on the gospel. You can’t solve the things that are troubling you by just thinking about them more and more but you can pursue Christ and begin to think about him. And what happens is that everything else just sort of fades away and begins to make a little more sense.
This text is about fighting sin as a Christian and how you fight it is to set your mind on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Who he is and what he has done. I want to close with the words from an old hymn we sing sometimes here, “how great thou art.”
and when I think that God, his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died, to take away my sin,
when Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart, then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and there proclaim, ‘my God how great Thou art!’