Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
June 25, 2017
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Romans 6:1-11| New Living Translation (NLT)
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
We pick up Paul’s letter to the Romans in the 6th chapter. Remember again that Paul did not write with chapter divisions. He has just gotten done writing this line, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” This is what brings us to the question Paul starts today’s passage with. “Should we continue sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?” Paul’s immediate answer is “NO!” We are reminded that sin is not the pattern for the believer – for one who believes and places his hope in Christ. “How can we continue to live in sin if we have died to it?” we are asked. Great question. There are those who say that we sin in thought, word, and deed every day. I’m sure Paul would argue against that. As believers in the Wesleyan tradition, we believe it is possible not to sin. Does it all depend on us? No…but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can have the power over sin. If we can have power over sin, what did Christ die for. This is exactly the point that Paul is making.
We are given the illustration of baptism. This is a great scripture to go to explain the sacrament of baptism. It is our identifying mark as believers. When we go down into the water, we are saying that we die to sin – we are putting away the old – the natural – the carnal. This is just the way Christ was buried when he died for our sins. When we are baptized, we are buried with Christ – our old nature is gone. When we come up out of the water, it signifies that Christ has been raised and that we have been raised with Christ into new life.
In another letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.” It’s the same thought that we have already explored. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can live new lives in him through the glorious power that raised Christ from the dead. Our old life has been crucified with Christ – and that renders sin powerless in our lives. Yes, it still likes to rear its ugly head, but we have the power that raised Christ from the dead to overcome. We are no longer slaves to sin – a little later on Paul reminds us that we are slaves to the new nature – the nature that pleases Christ. Christ rose from the dead to break the power of sin. Why do so many believers want to dwell where Christ has already closed the door? It’s an interesting question. I would encourage you reader to live in the power of the risen Christ – the one who frees us from the power of sin and ultimately from the power of death.
Christ is risen from the dead and he is glorifying God. We are called to live in the power of the risen Christ – dead to sin – alive in Christ – risen in Christ with all of the power that it entails, so that we may glorify God as well.