“We will certainly also be united with Him in his resurrection.”
Jesus Christ was not the only one who arose on Easter morning. That is Paul’s emphatic argument in Romans 6: when Christ died on the cross, the Christian died with Him, died to sin, became dead- with-respect-to-sin. The dead no longer listen to instructions and those who have died-to-sin no longer listen to what sin tells them to do.
Then Paul continues: “If we have been united with [Christ] . . . in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Rom 6:5). Paul’s argument is that these two go together. When God through Christ causes someone to “die to sin,” to become dead-with-respect- to-sin, then God does not leave that person in limbo. Rather, God sees to it that the person who has died to sin with Christ is also raised with Christ to a new life.
So, if having died to sin is a fixed reality for every Christian (and it is!), so is the fact that every Christian has been raised to a new life. Anyone who shares in the benefits Christ obtained on the cross is no longer the person he once was – dead in sin; rather, he has become what he was not – alive to God. God, after all, is God not of the dead but of the living. If God is indeed your God, then you are no longer dead; you have been made alive again. That is Paul’s argument in Romans 6: 10 -11 “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”.
But if being dead in sin implied a lifestyle, so also being raised with Christ implies a lifestyle. Consider Paul’s words: “Our old self was crucified with him” (i.e., was put to death with Christ) “so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom 6:6). Those are the realities that lead Paul to tell the Romans to no longer “let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (v. 12). Again, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life” (v. 13). It’s obvious: Easter implies a lifestyle.
We need the matter fixed in our minds. Being dead with respect to sin is a basic fact for the child of God; it’s not wishful thinking. That counts also for the concept of being raised to a new life. Again, it is not wishful thinking but reality. You and I have been raised to a new life – if indeed we are in Jesus Christ.
And if we are new creatures in Christ, if in faith we share in the righteousness Christ earned on the cross, then – says the Lord – you cannot help but demonstrate that reality! Just as much as Jesus Christ, once raised, could not stay in the grave, so also the child of God, once raised to a new life, cannot remain in the grave of sin. If being dead in sin implies that we’ll act dead in sin, then being raised to a new life implies that we will act raised to a new life.
Being raised to a new life implies that we will act raised to a new life. And if you deliberately continue to act as those who don’t know Christ, you are not raised to a new life. That in turn requires repentance, turning from sin, and embracing in faith the Christ who arose from the dead – so that God declared righteous both Christ Himself and all who belong to Him!
Rev. C. Bouwman is minister of the Canadian Reformed Church at Smithville, Ontario
Source: Clarion 58:9 (Apr 24, 2009)