Father, we thank You for these truths we sing. We know that they’re not songs, but they’re mediums through which we remember and learn how great and merciful You are, how kind You are in the spilled blood of Your Son Jesus, that there’s the promise of new life and the promise that You will never cast us out. So Lord, let us hold on dearly to these truths and these promises as the enemy himself seeks to rob us of these daily. Lord, show us what it means to clench tightly to the grace of the Gospel and to know that You are with us in all things. Father, we pray You would bless our giving, our tithe, our offering. Lord, let us give in worship. Let us give sacrificially. Lord, knowing that You are generous and You have been generous to us and Your Son Jesus, and You are our great provider for all things. Lord, so bless and multiply all we give and all we do for You. Lord, we pray for not just our country, we pray a special prayer for the world, we pray for the world today as there is so much unrest in the Middle East when it seems like there couldn’t be more, there’s more. Remind us that You raise up both the good and the evil king, that Your hand is sovereign meticulously over every little thing that happens, and You mean to work all things for Your glory, Lord. But we just pray wisdom for our president, we pray wisdom for Benjamin Netanyahu, we pray for wisdom for those who are seeking to bring peace, and we pray for peace. We pray it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, good evening. It’s good to be with you. I know we started back in Revelation last week, but now I’m stopping after one week and doing something different. But it’s a special Sunday because it’s a baptism Sunday for us. We’re also going to take communion, but it’s baptism Sunday that makes it special, but then it’s even more special for me because it’s my son being baptized. So what I wanted to do this morning was, I guess, give a special charge to him. But at the same time, hopefully it’s a good word to those of us who have been baptized

about the great mystery and privilege of having been baptized into the church of Jesus. And I’m going to be in Romans chapter 6, if you want to turn there with me in your Bibles. Romans chapter 6, verses 1 through 5.

The Apostle Paul says, What shall we say then?

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means. How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Paul starts out in verse 1 and he has

something of a ridiculous question he asks. And he asks it for a reason, but he asks the question because he knows it’s on the minds of those whom he’s trying to discredit for preaching a false gospel. Those who were trying to abuse the gospel of Jesus. Paul’s exposing blatant corruption of false teachers. And it has everything to do with what he said just earlier there at the end of chapter 5 in verse 20. And in 5.20 Paul says, Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. So their reasoning went like this. Well, if the law of God, if the law of God only shows me how sinful I am, and the more I see how sinful I am, the more I act on that sinfulness, God’s grace covers that sin, and that’s to God’s glory, I should keep sinning so that God keeps covering my sin so he gets glory. It’s like saying my employer provides me with such great health benefits, I should start living an entirely reckless life and see how many bones, I can break and how much pain I can, you know, get. It’s ridiculous. It’s perverted. It’s upside down. And the truth is, we’re usually not so explicit in our sin, in our pursuit of what’s wrong. It usually is a quiet thing. People say in the back of their hearts, well, God will forgive me if I do this. God will forgive me. He’ll pass over it.

William Barclay writes, how despicable it would be for a son to consider himself free to sin because he knew his father would forgive him. So you have to say, at least on the face of it, the willingness to exploit the blood of Jesus and the mercy that the father has shown is at least a misunderstanding of the gospel. But it’s much more sinister than that. Because we’re much more sinister than that. We’re much more corrupt than that. So Paul says in verse two, by no means, exclamation point, by no means. Because if that were the case, that means the cross of Jesus was God’s plan to enable sin and to encourage us to sin. And that’s the very thing that we saw in Revelation last week. God hates. Remember we said the wrath of God is a function of his holiness. If God loves his own holiness, he has to be wrathful against everything that’s not. So the problem that Paul’s addressing here is deeper. It’s quite a bit deeper than the things, the external things you and I do. Did you say that? Was it bad or good? Did you do that? Was that bad or good? Did you think that? Was that bad, good, right, wrong? Rules, no rules. That’s not what Paul’s addressing. Paul’s getting down to not the symptoms. He’s getting down to the symptoms. He’s getting to the root of the problem. And the root of the problem is the heart. It’s the heart. And I want to say to you, that’s what the cross of Jesus deals with. Your heart problem, my heart problem.

Paul has shown and will show in Romans so clearly, our hearts are inescapably in love with sin.

The psalmist makes it plain. Psalm chapter 51, verses 5 and 6. Psalm 51, 5 and 6. David says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. That’s a problem because in verse 6, it says, You delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom, where? In the secret heart. So God loves a pure, pure and true heart. Yet David says, But I was born sinful.

No one’s taught how to hate. No one’s taught how to steal. No one’s taught to be greedy, to disobey, to idolize self, especially children. Augustine has said, It’s not that an infant can’t do wrong. It just doesn’t have the capacity to carry it out yet. And if you don’t think that’s true, you’ve never been a parent.

Friends, the cross of Jesus, I even dare say, is an imperfect project if the only thing it does is wash over the bad things we’ve done and do, yet it does not deal with the actual problem, which is a heart that loves, capital L-O-V-E-S, sin.

So Paul asks the question here kind of in shock because he knows the God. The gospel does do more than just deal with outward sin problems. He says, How can we who died to sin still live in it? How can we who died to sin still live in it? Imagine if you had a co-worker and he was a dear friend of yours and you and this co-worker worked together for years and you cut up together and he was a bud, but you got a terrible phone call. He died in a car wreck. You went to the funeral. You mourned him. Buried him. You went back to work on Monday. There he was. Hey, buddy. I picked you up a cup of coffee on the way in. You would say, You can’t be here. And you would say, Why not? And you would say, Because you’re dead. And dead people can’t, can’t live the life they lived before. Paul’s saying that’s how ridiculous it is when Christians, if they’re claiming to be Christians, go on in their sin because their heart and their soul and their mind that loves sin died with Jesus completely. Your innermost person terminated. And if it’s not so, it can’t be so. We’re in Christ. Jonathan Edwards says, famously said, You can do whatever you choose. You can do whatever you want in life. At the same time, you’re always a slave to your greatest desire. You can do what you want, but you’re always a slave to your greatest desire. So see what Paul doesn’t have is a category for a Christian who sins and loves it. Longs for it, is mastered by it. Now, I did not say a Christian, who doesn’t sin. Because then we’d all have to tap out, I think. Doesn’t say a Christian who struggles with sin, but someone who is fond of it and is mastered by it. So he goes on in verse 3 to say, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Do you not know that? Leon Morris, one of my friends, one of my favorite commentators, and he says this about that word baptized there in that verse. He says, In the first century, while the verb could denote the ceremony of water baptism, baptized evoked associations of violence. It meant immerse rather than dip. It was used, for example, of people being drowned or of ships being sunk. Josephus, the first century historian, metaphorically of crowds who flooded into Jerusalem, said they wrecked the city. It is quite in keeping with this that Jesus referred to his death as a baptism. When it is applied to Christian initiation, we ought not to think in terms of gentleness and inspiration. It means death. Death to a whole way of life. And that’s Paul’s point here. Christians are people who have died and their baptism emphasizes death. Death runs through this passage, we should not let the modern associations of baptism blind us to the point Paul is making so strongly. And he’s saying that it’s quite impossible for anyone who understands what baptism means to acquiesce cheerfully in a sinful life. Because the baptized have died to all that. Died to all that. So the question is, all of Jesus’ friends is a call, chiefly, firstly, to die. To sin. To the old man. To the world. You know, baptism is really a bold declaration to Satan. You’re not my master anymore. And more than that, I’m going to work against your kingdom and try to pick off other people. And more than that, my master is your enemy. To be baptized is to say, I’m daily going to wage war within my own self to fight against sin. I’m going to daily suffer the loss of plenty, if need be, and the approval of others. So I want to say, I think we’re really setting up people today who get baptized. We’re setting them up to be abject failures if we have not solemnly charged them as souls. Soldiers, entrenched in a spiritual warfare.

Baptism is a great struggle. A great struggle in the cosmos has happened between good and evil, light and darkness, heaven and hell. The Son of God has snatched up one more soul for Himself from the clutches of Satan. Jesus means to keep it, and Satan means to take it back. That’s what’s happening when a soul is baptized. Baptized into Christ Jesus. So you see how dangerous easy believism is that’s so prevalent in the church today. Friends, Christianity can’t be reduced to just something you need to know about. It can’t be reduced to fulfilling obligations of attendance. It can’t be reduced to tempting morality. It can’t be reduced to giving your money away. It’s about gazing upon a bloodied, bruised Satan. It’s about gazing upon a cross for your sins and there repenting of your whole self and giving up your whole self and surrendering to your new Lord and Master, Jesus. The Apostle Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live. I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me. We’re literally talking about a change in nature. We’re talking about a complete change in nature. Water baptism shows us what the supernatural spirit of God has wrought in a soul. In Genesis chapter 39, when Joseph is made head of Potiphar’s house and Potiphar’s wife keeps trying to pull Joseph into an immoral relationship, Joseph says to her, I’ve been made greater than the master in his own house. He’s given me all of this, these responsibilities. How could I do such a wicked thing? What Joseph’s saying is, how could I betray the privileged position I have now I didn’t have before? Potiphar had given me everything, yet you’re asking me to betray it all for sin.

So friends, I want you to know that I’m not just saying this, I want to charge you here. If you have died in Christ Jesus, the Scriptures charge us over and over again. Keep a close watch on your own soul daily. The Apostle Paul says, test yourself to see truly if you’re in the faith.

I want to say this also to those of us who perhaps get so discouraged as we often do in sin struggle, and I think as Christians we always deal with that. We feel like there’s sins or a sin and I seem to go back to it and that must mean I’m not a Christian because I’m struggling with sin and I think there’s actually encouragement in the opposite. The struggling, the fighting is the winning. If you find in yourself a longing to do right, a longing to please the Lord, a longing to be free of that sin, praise God the Spirit’s not giving up on you and you’re still fighting. So fight. Fight onward, I say. Fight onward. Trust the Spirit to do His work in you. The enemy would have you throw the towel and say, I’m just giving in to my sin because I can’t do it. Of course you can’t do it. Trust in the Spirit of God to do the work.

Watch over your own soul. Be meticulous in your own care of your soul. You think, well, I don’t knock over banks. You know, I don’t… I don’t do bad things. Yeah, but do you have a greedy heart?

You say, well, I tithe. I give money to the local church. What do you do with the rest of your money? Are you a materialist in every way? You say, well, you know, hey, I try to, you know, be a Christian and do the right thing and serve. But do you have an identity problem wrapped up in your success and what you do for a living? You say, well, I’ve never… I’ve never done anything wrong, maybe, like cheat or something of a sexual nature. Okay, but do you have lustful thoughts you’re not reigning in? Friend, the devil is trickier than you could imagine and your own sinful flesh longs for sin more than you could imagine. We must be keeping watch over our own souls lest we lose them. Third, are you the kind of Christian that’s open to be corrected from fellow saints? I feel like I try to talk about this stuff and I feel like it hits a wall because our American individualism comes out. So much, though, that the Spirit tries to accomplish in you and in me requires having people in our lives who have a license given by us to poke us and say, hey, that doesn’t look like Jesus. Hey, hold on a second. You’re not supposed to talk like that. You’re not supposed to act like that. Hey, have you thought that through? And friends, if you cut that kind of community out of your life, you’re effectively cutting out the way the Spirit would sanctify you and deal with sin problems in your heart. So you and Jesus plus the world is a really bad game plan. It’s a really bad game plan. We are gifts to one another so that the Word can work out. We are gifts to one another through our conversation so often.

So Paul talks about what you were, but then in verses 4 and 5, he talks about what you are now, what you’ve been made to be.

In verse 4, Paul says, we were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk, in newness of life. And it all hangs on the in order that. Paul didn’t say, well, you’ve died in Christ, so great, you’ve just died. The good news is that Jesus died, but what happened on Easter Sunday? Jesus rose. And the good news of dying in Jesus means we also get to rise up with Jesus. If Jesus rose above the fall of Adam, we rise above the fall of Adam. If Jesus is Lord of anew, that means if we rise with Jesus, we’re a part of a new creation. If Jesus rose to what Paul called an indestructible life, that means in Christ we have an indestructible life. That means if Jesus is champion over sin and death, that means in Christ I also am a champion over sin and death. And if the Father raised Jesus from the dead by his glory and power, that means we’ll be raised by the Father with his glory and his power.

Repentance in faith means we’ve been raised to new life. Spiritually now, but bodily even when Christ returns, and we’ll be just like Jesus forever, which is hard to think about. Forever.

The Scriptures say we’re new creations in Christ Jesus, though now. So you and I can’t just say, well, that’s great. I’m spiritually reborn, but I’m waiting around. I’m waiting around for Jesus to come back when I get my new body, too, and then I’ll start living the new life. That’s not what the Scriptures say at all. So in Ephesians 4, 22, we’re told to put off our old self, which belongs to the former manner of life, and it’s corrupt through deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind and to put on the new self. After the likeness, the likeness of God and true righteousness and holiness.

Newness of life. Again, Leon Morris says there, it would be better translated, a new sphere, which is life. A new sphere, which is life. That’s what we’ve been brought into in Jesus. And there’s no, I think, better story to see all this captured, honestly, than the story of Nicodemus. Remember Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee and he came to Jesus at night. I’ll read through this. Jesus came to Jesus and he says, Rabbi, we know that you’re a teacher come from God, for no one can do the signs you do unless God is with him. Jesus answered him, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he’s, oh, can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? So he’s really dense. He’s not getting this at all. Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Jesus says, that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Jesus says, don’t marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes. You hear it, you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the spirit. Jesus said, how is it that you’re a teacher of Israel and you don’t even understand this stuff? See, that’s the old man. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He knew a whole bunch of stuff. He surely lived, I mean, painfully moral and trying to do every little thing right.

Yet what didn’t Nicodemus, what didn’t Nicodemus have? He didn’t have a spiritual rebirth. He didn’t have spiritual eyes to see, spiritual ears to hear. He was still dead in his sin.

Friends, you and I have to come to a place where we ask the question, have I died so that I can be reborn? Am I a new man?

Paul Washer, Paul Washer, he’s a preacher and he gives the illustration of a pig. So imagine you see a pig and it’s eating trash. And man, it just loves it. Just eating trash. Tastes so good. But then that pig is somehow magically turned into a man. And if you were that man, you would start vomiting and just disgusted at what you were doing and you would be ashamed and you would be embarrassed and what would you do? You would go put on clothes and you’d brush your teeth and you, make your hair and you would be beside yourself that you were once that way. What do you call it, you know, when you put lipstick on a pig? Still just a pig. And that’s the point Paul’s making. You can put lipstick on the pig all day long. Guess what? You got bacon. That’s all you got.

The gospel is good news because it doesn’t just take away our sin. It brings us into this new spiritual sphere where we love God, love like God. We’re like Him. The marred image of God that is a result of the fall of Adam is made perfect on us again because of who Jesus is and we love right things and we hate wrong things and we’re growing in holiness and we’re growing in righteousness and we’re living for God’s glory and we’re full of God’s glory. That’s what the gospel accomplishes. New life. And that’s what baptism shows. As we die the death of a sinner in Christ, we’re raised to a new life with Jesus, our King and our Champion who has overcome all.

But it hangs on here on this last verse in chapter 6, verse 5. It hangs on these two little letters, if.

It all hangs on if.

He says for if we have been united with Him in a death like His. If we’ve been united with Jesus in a death like His, Paul can say we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. It’s a big if. It’s a big if not because it requires something that you can’t give or do. The if is not if. You can earn it. If you can live well enough. If you’re born into the right family that would defy the whole point of the gospel. If there was some merit you had to come up with to earn your salvation. The if is not about what you can do. The if is about admitting you can’t do. The if is about the humility to say there’s nothing good in me I’ve done. There’s nothing good in my heart and soul. Jesus, let me die. And then climbing up on that cross and dying with Him. That’s the if. The if is if you would repent and believe.

Then the Scriptures give us this wonderful promise. Certainly. Certainly, Paul says, we shall be united with Him in a resurrection like His. That’s the beauty and that’s the beauty. That’s the grace of water baptism, friends. It’s a beautiful picture of the crucifixion and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful reminder that you too have died to your sin but by the grace of God you’ve been resurrected to Jesus. but by the grace of God you’ve been resurrected to Jesus.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Romans 6:1-5