Identity to Reality

As Paul wrapped chapter 5, he boldly declared that where sin reigned over the earth and death through sin, Jesus Christ had initiated a takeover.
To begin his explanation in chapter 6, the apostle asks two questions that illustrate how alien grace is to a world dominated by death and to minds given over to depravity. These are both rhetorical questions Paul anticipated his opponents asking.
In response to Paul’s first question in 6:1, the natural response would be “we know that can’t be true; so the doctrine of race must be false.”
A depraved mind will certainly see grace from a twisted perspective. But Paul turns the attack to his advantage. His opponents say that God cannot allow those who receive His grace to remain in their depraved state of mind or they will mangle grace. Therefore, believers must receive a new nature.

We had been enslaved to sin because our old nature found it irresistible. But death has freed us from that bondage!
This begs the question of how we have died to sin when we are obviously very much alive. Paul answers this with a rhetorical question in verse 3.
There is a complex truth called identification. All those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have been baptized into Him.
To be baptized into something was to be totally enveloped by it. The primary significance of baptism is identity.
New converts to Judaism were baptized into God’s covenant with Abraham, so they became identified with the natural born Jews and became heirs to all that God promised Abraham’s Hebrew descendants.

When we place our faith in Christ, we are said to be enveloped by Him in a spiritual sense. In a very real way, our identity becomes united with His, such that His experience becomes ours. He died and we died with Him. He rose from the dead to a new kind of life, and so do we. Because we identify with Christ, we have been set free from sin.

Substitution: He died for me.
Identification: I died with him.
He paid sin’s penalty. He broke sin’s power.
Justification to my account. Sanctification made part of my life.
Saved by His death. Saved by His life.

Identification in Christ allows me to take part in everything that Jesus enjoys.


1. Know Truth (v.4)
Emancipation legally releases a person from involuntary bondage but it doesn’t guarantee that they will experience freedom.
As a logical consequence of our identification with Christ in His death, we will be identified with Him in His resurrection. In eternity, we will be like Him; our bodies will be like His, we will not endure suffering or pain, weakness or temptation.

For now, we live in this body of sin. The body is not inherently evil, but it is the vehicle of our old, sinful nature. In a spiritual sense, we have died. Dead bodies don’t respond to temptation. Someday we will experience this truth in a physical sense. The first step is knowing our old self was crucified with Him and we are now subject to God’s authority rather than that of sin.

2. Consider Truth (v. 8-11)
Once we know God’s gift is available, we must claim it. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead temporarily. Lazarus would then die sometime later. This isn’t the kind of resurrection Jesus experienced. He was raised to a new kind of life with a body that was no longer subject to disease, disaster, or aging.
The resurrected life has God as both its source and its purpose. To claim this gift, we must consider or reckon it to be true and then act on it.

3. Present Truth
Once we have been freed from sin, we must present ourselves to our new master to enjoy the benefits. We must present our bodies to Christ to accomplish His desire: righteousness.
Grace is not of this world so it should be no surprise that a newly freed spirit struggles to understand and apply something so foreign to the old nature. Eventually, this physical life will give way to eternal life and we will be like Christ. Until then, we’re a work in progress.

If you’re struggling with a particular sin, the power to overcome lies in you in the person of the Holy Spirit. Call on Him to help!
Pastor Chris Williams
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