Our new life in Christ
6 So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? 2 Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? 3 Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. 5 If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. 6 This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, 7 because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. 8 But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. 10 He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. 11 In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever taught a toddler to swim? Me neither. I don’t really know how, so I have tried to get experts to do this. I mean, I know how to swim, just not how to teach it. Anyways, for the last couple of summers we have gotten my daughter swim lessons. She figures it out and can make her way across the pool correctly and buoyantly. Then, the next time we go to a pool, she undoes all of her learning, begins the frantic but stationary doggy paddle, gasps for air, and gets great exercise. Then we spend the rest of the pool time with a life jacket or holding on to my arm for dear life. So back to lessons again this summer.
She knows how to swim. She knows what it feels like to swim. She knows it’s better, but it’s not comfortable. It’s not what she’s used to, so she goes back to the old way. That’s the way we are sometimes about our life in Christ.
In our passage today, Paul has finished explaining the grace offered us in Christ for forgiveness of sins and renewed relationship with God. Now in this passage, he attacks a bizarre but interesting logic that has cropped up around Christianity (and that Paul has apparently been accused of). Here’s the logic:
If God saved me from my sins by grace (free gift), and if this grace gives God glory….Then, the more sin that God forgives, the more glory he gets, right? Therefore, the more I sin, the more I’m forgiven, and the more glorified God is. So my goal in life should be to sin AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE so that God’s mercy can be celebrated. Foolproof, right?
To say it another way, if I celebrate God because he forgave 100 sins, then I can REALLY celebrate God if he forgives 10000 sins. So I should sin more so that I have more to celebrate. I’ll be a better worshiper. So go nuts.
But Paul says that to accept salvation doesn’t just wipe the slate clean. It’s not just forgiveness for past and future sins (it is that, but not just that). It’s also does something to you. To accept Jesus’ death for your life is to accept your own death to sin. You are dead to the things Jesus died for. That is the meaning of your baptism. When Christ died on the cross, evil and sin did it’s worst to kill Jesus, so when Jesus rose from the dead, he broke any power that sin and death can have on you. We were not just “sinners,” we were slaves to sin. And now that Jesus has broken that power, or to stick the slave metaphor, when he bought us out of slavery, sin no longer has power over us. That is of course, unless you let it have power over you.
So just as we died to sin in the cross, we are raised to new life in the resurrection. We are now new creations, new people living by new power, able to live the life God called us into. Therefore, we don’t walk back to the old life to get more forgiveness, we walk into the new life to see how much better it is than our former sin.
We don’t celebrate swim coaches because they keep us from drowning every lesson. We celebrate them because they taught us to swim. You can swim now. Start swimming.