Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church
June 16, 2002
To Live, You Must Die
From my viewpoint, one of the great tragedies of American Christianity is
that so many who profess themselves to be Christians do not seem to have even a
basic understanding of what it means to be a Christian. For many, they are
"Christians" only in the general cultural context that they were born
in America and are not pagans, Islamic or Hindu. Others were born to parents
that professed to be "Christians," and they would go to a
"Christian" church of some sort at least once in awhile even if only
at Christmas and Easter. Others are very active in their churches and may even
be very conscientious about fulfilling their religious duties. However, in all
reality they live in utter defeat when it comes to actually following Christ.
Why? Because they are not following Christ but the religious system they been
taught. And take heed, this can be as true for someone raised in a Fundamental
or Baptist Church as in the Catholic church.
The issue of true Christianity is Jesus Christ Himself. I think I am on safe
ground to assert that most people who call themselves Christians do so on
religious grounds and not because of any actual personal relationship they have
with the Lord Jesus. Then there are the many that have been marketed a fire
insurance policy to escape Hell or they have had Jesus sold to them as a means
to a better life here on earth. Tragically they have never read the policy or
had the instruction manual explained to them. Because of that, the vast majority
live without the real benefits of being a Christian. They lives are marked by
many things other than the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – Gal. 5:22,23). Many
will find in the end that they will not even escape the fires of Hell, because
they have held to false beliefs about Jesus, who He is, what He has done, and
what it means to believe or have faith in Him.
What does the Bible say about all this? What is the purpose of salvation?
What are we saved from? Paul addresses these questions clearly in Romans 6 as he
continues to deal with the ramifications of being justified before God through
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, that Paul has been showing that the
gospel message is about the righteousness of God demonstrated in calling a
people to Himself based in His own justification of them through faith in Jesus
Man does not meet God’s perfect standard nor can he earn the favor of God
through his own efforts, all of which are filthy before the Holy One that
created us. Paul has demonstrated this in Chapters 1-3. Every single person is
naturally unrighteous before God. The ungodliness of the immoral is obvious, but
the outwardly moral are also ungodly demonstrated by their hypocritical
criticism of others while they are condemned by their own conscience for failing
to do what they know is right. Religious people demonstrate their
unrighteousness by failing to keeping their own religious standards. There are
none who are righteous. There are none who even seek for God. Man can not be
made right with God by his own works. God’s righteousness is demonstrated in
that out of His great love He Himself provided the means to redeem man from sin
and save people from His wrath through faith in the person and work of Jesus
Christ who paid the penalty of our sin on the cross that we could be made right
with God. Jesus Christ is the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in
Him. The nature of this kind of faith is demonstrated by Abraham, which Paul
points out in Chapter 4.
There are many ramifications of being justified by faith. We have already
looked as some of them in chapter 5 among which are having peace with God, being
able to exult in God and our hope in Him which even allows us to exult in the
tribulations we face because of the foundation of God’s love demonstrated in
Jesus Christ. I can never question God’s love for me because He has already
proven it in Jesus dying for my sin even while I was still a sinner. Because I
know I am loved, I will always have hope, a confident assurance in Him and His
promises for the future. Because I have hope, I can persevere in trials and
mature in my character becoming what God wants me to be. James 1:2-4 says
essentially the same thing. I can consider it all joy when I face trials in this
life because I know that God will make me more like Jesus Christ through them.
Though I am condemned both through my sin nature inherited from Adam and from
my confirmation of that with my own sin, through faith in the person and work of
Jesus Christ, my guilt is taken away, and I am given a new nature that no longer
has to sin. This is the context of Romans 6.
The common, but incorrect, view of Christianity is that it is about saving
people from Hell. Yes, salvation in Christ does include escape from God’s
wrath which includes Hell, but that is only a side benefit to the main issue. If
you reject the main issue, then you can not enjoy the side benefits.
If you want the benefits of marriage, you have to get married. You can not
have one with out the other. Those that try to get the benefits without getting
married only end up with heartache and tragedy because the foundation necessary
for the building of the benefits is never laid, therefore the house crumbles
when tested. Marriage is about a lifelong commitment to love your spouse by
giving of yourself to them for their benefit.
Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is about an eternal relationship with
Him in which He redeems you from your sin, gives you a new nature, and changes
you to be like Him. If that is not what is taking place, then you have a
counterfeit ticket and your destination will be Hell, not Heaven.
Notice the question that Paul is answering in verse 1 as he begins this
passage. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might
increase? There were those who wrongly concluded that God’s righteousness
is demonstrated in His forgiving sin through faith in Christ, then why not just
continue in sin and let God’s glory be manifested in His grace which abounds
all the more where sin increases (5:20). While there are few that actively sin
with the perverse idea that in doing so they can bring greater glory to God
because His grace to cover it will be even greater, there are many that do live
that way for all practical purposes. They do not consider their sin to be any
big deal. Why be concerned about it if God’s grace will be greater and will
cover it? Why bother to pursue holiness? Why not enjoy the things of this world
and what God will give us in the next too?
Paul’s answer is strong as he can make it. 2 May it never be! (mhV
gevnoito). The reason is that such is contrary to who we are in Christ.
The faith that brings salvation in Jesus Christ is not an intellectual exercise,
but one by which we enter into a new relationship with God. We are radically
changed by it. As Paul puts in verse 2, How shall we who died to sin still
live in it? That is as strong a statement as you can make. You are no longer
what you were. The concept here is extremely radical. What you were is dead, why
then would you want to keep living as dead man in sin when you can now live as a
new man in Christ. This would be like someone who escaped from the Taliban in
Afghanistan and came here, rejected Islam, became an American citizen, yet
continued to wear a burqa if a woman, or refused to shave their beard if a man,
for fear of the Taliban. The change that is made in us when we come to Christ is
more radical than when a refugee from a communist country or other dictatorial
regime becomes an American citizen.
Starting in verse 3, Paul uses baptism as the illustration of the radical
change made in us. In doing this, Paul also teaches about what Christian baptism
actually is. This is important for us since this is a doctrine that is horribly
perverted by the Roman Catholic church and many other denominations that
influence our area. Let me digress here a bit so that you will understand what
Paul means when he is talking about baptism here.
History of Christian Baptism
Christian baptism arose from Jewish baptism rituals. Levitical law demanded
that unclean things, including humans, were to be washed for ceremonial
cleaning. Leviticus 15:13 even speaks of the person bathing in
"running" water. Jewish proselyte baptism was a sign that the convert
had changed from a gentile to a Jewish orientation of following the God and laws
of Israel. The baptism of repentance practiced by John and Jesus was symbolic of
the cleansing away of sin. The baptism itself did not take away sins, but it
symbolized the righteousness and cleansing given to the individual as they
confessed their sins and placed their trust in God alone. Christian baptism
arose out of these as an identification with Jesus Christ who cleanses us from
our sin. This is also in keeping with the very meaning of the word
Meaning of Baptism
Our word, "baptize," is a transliteration of the Greek word, baptizw
/baptizo, which means to "dip" or "immerse," and is in fact
translated that way in John 13:26 and Rev. 19:13. The baptized object becomes
identified with whatever it is "dipped" or "immersed" into.
For example, a piece of cloth "immersed" into indelible dye will
always be identified with that dye. When the Bible teaches that the Christian is
baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27), it is showing that the Christian is
spiritually identified with Christ in death (Gal.2:20), burial (Col.2:12), and
resurrection (Col. 2:12; 3:1). The word is also sometimes used in the sense of
"washing" with water. Christian baptism also includes the idea of
spiritual cleansing or forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38:22:16, cf. Titus 3:5). The
spiritual, inward, and personal change experienced by the believer in Christ is
pictured in a physical, outward, and public way through water baptism.
Mode of Baptism
There are three different modes of baptism that are practiced in Christian
churches, but only full immersion is in keeping with the meaning of the word and
the historical practice of the church. The Roman Catholic Church, as well as
most of the mainline denominations, currently practice sprinkling as the method
of baptism, and a few churches practice "pouring," which is in reality
just sprinkling with a lot more water. While the mode of Baptism is not
critical, it is important that we should do our best to follow the examples
given in Scripture and use the method that most clearly illustrates the meaning
and purpose of the ritual.
To "baptize" something was to immerse it. When Jesus was baptized
by John, He went up (anabainw / anabaino) from the
water (Matt. 3:16). We also find that John would baptize in a place where there
was "much water there" (John 3:23). John would not need "much
water" and Jesus would not have to "come up from" the water if
sprinkling or pouring was used. The practice of the early church was immersion.
When Philip baptized the Ethiopian in Acts 8:36-38, they stopped the chariot
when they came to some water and went down (katabainw
/ katabaino) into (eiV/ eis) the water. There is no
Biblical text that even suggests another method was practiced.
Historically, the Christian church practiced only the mode of full immersion
until the Middle Ages. While there is evidence for Baptism by pouring being used
in the second century, that was only done when water was scarce. The Roman
Catholic church did not recognize other forms of baptism except immersion until
1311. The Lutheran and Reformed churches inherited the form of sprinkling from
the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of England (Anglican/Episcopal) did not
begin sprinkling until 1645. The case for sprinkling is weak goes against the
meaning of the word and the obvious examples of Scripture and church history.
There is also the symbolism involved. Catholic Theologian Thomas Aquinas
(1225-1274) said, "In immersion the setting forth of the burial of
Christ is more plainly expressed, in which this manner of baptizing is more
commendable." We agree. We practice baptism by full immersion here at
Grace Bible Church because it best fits the meaning of the word, the historical
practice of Jesus and the early church, and best fits the symbolism involved.
Purpose of Baptism
It is also important to understand the purpose of baptism. The Bible is clear
on the issue, but theologies developed by men who seek to overturn the
Scriptures have confused many.
In Roman Catholicism, and in some other Christian religions, baptism is the
means by which the individual is cleansed from Adam’s sin. That is why they
baptize infants. However, there is nothing in Scripture to even suggest this
idea, much less teach it. This practice sprang up from the idea that the ritual
of baptism itself is a means of gaining God’s grace. However, the only means
by which we can be cleansed from our sins is through being justified by faith in
the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed as the atonement for our sins (Eph.
1:7). He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Those who do not have the
Son do not have the life, and those that do have the Son have the life (1 John
5:11,12). That has been the thrust of Paul’s message here in Romans 1-5.
Other groups have taken this same idea and teach that unless you are
baptized, you cannot be saved. They cite 1 Peter 3:21 as Biblical support – And
corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the
flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of
Jesus Christ." Peter makes a similar statement in Acts 3:37 in response
to the people asking what they should do in response to his sermon that Jesus,
whom they had crucified, was risen from the dead. "Repent and let each
of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your
sins." While it may appear at first glance that baptism is necessary
for salvation, even in both of these passages it is not baptism itself, but what
it represents that saves – belief and identification with the resurrected
Christ. The scripture is clear in many places that no act of righteousness which
you can do can save you from your sin. For example, Titus 3:5-7, He saved us,
not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to
His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6
whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being
justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to [the] hope of eternal
A person should not be baptized as an effort to gain or to keep salvation.
Water baptism does not save! Salvation is completely by grace through faith in
Christ as Savior (Acts 16:31; Eph .2:8-9) and not by good works including water
baptism. Baptism should be a result of salvation. Note the order in Acts 8:12, "when
they believed, . . . they were baptized" (see also Acts 16:31,33,
Baptism for it is important, and there should be serious questioning of the
salvation of a person that refuses to be baptized. In the New Testament we
consistently find that those who come to believe in Jesus are baptized. However,
baptism does not save or add to salvation. That is not its purpose.
Among those holding to reformed or covenant theology, there is the idea that
baptism brings a child into the covenant relationship the parents have with
Christ. For these groups, baptism is essentially the New Testament replacement
of the Old Testament ritual of circumcision among the Jews. That is an
interesting concept, but not one that can be demonstrated by Scripture. That is
not the purpose of baptism.
The purpose of baptism is to identify the individual with Jesus Christ’s
death, burial and resurrection. Here we come back to Romans 6. Paul presents
baptism as an outward ritual of something that reflects an inward reality. Look
at Rom. 6:3
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him
through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5
For if we have become united with [Him] in the likeness of His death, certainly
we shall be also [in the likeness] of His resurrection,
Baptism is a public profession of a person’s faith in Jesus Christ as their
Lord and savior. They are proclaiming that they have turned their back on their
former life of sin and have begun to walk in a new life of righteousness for
God. That is why we encourage those that are going to be baptized to also give
their testimony of salvation. Going down into the water is identification with
His death and burial and represents the death of their old self. Coming up out
of the water is identification with His resurrection and their being raised to
walk in newness of life.
Paul expands on this idea of newness of life in verses 6-12 with a practical
conclusion and admonition in verse 12-14.
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with [Him,] that our body of
sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he
who has died is freed from sin.
Why should the Christian take sin seriously, and to eschew it – to use an old
word for abhor and flee from it? Because through our faith in Jesus Christ we
have been changed. When Jesus died, He not only paid the penalty of my sin, but
He also put to death my old self, that sinful nature I inherited from Adam. It
had been my master, but now I am free of it. The nature of my identification
with Christ is so complete that Paul expresses here that I have been freed from
sin because I have died with Christ. It is an axiomatic statement that those who
are dead no longer sin, but that is applied to me while I am still alive for
that is the application of my identification with Christ’s death. My old self
was crucified with Jesus so that sin in my life would be done away with and I
would no longer be sin’s slave. To continue to live in sin is to live as the
dead man I was, not as the new man I am. Paul speaks further of this in verse
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die
again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He
died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even
so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
My identification with Jesus also gives me positive hope in a new life in
Christ. When Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered death. It no longer has any
power over Him. Jesus will never die again. Death is the result of sin, and
Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin once for all. God accepted the payment
and raised Jesus back to life demonstrating His victory over sin and death.
Jesus lives to God.
Our identification with Jesus is to be such that we also consider ourselves
to be dead to sin and alive to God. This spiritual reality is something that we
are to live out in the here and now. This does not come automatically. Paul uses
the word "consider" here because this is something we have to think
through and apply in daily life. As each decision comes up, as each temptation
is faced, I must think back to the reality of who I am now in Jesus Christ.
Whereas I was a slave to sin, I must remember that it is no longer my master and
I do not have to obey it. Whereas I was controlled by the inherited sin nature
of my old self, I must remember that my old self is dead and I am now to live in
the new self of a nature identified with Jesus Christ.
Christians take sin seriously because of who they have become in Jesus
Christ. Paul expands on this further in verses 12-14 with a practical
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey
its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin [as]
instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive
from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For
sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
Paul’s is clear here. The one who has faith in the person and work of Jesus
Christ is radically changed. If the Christian sins, it is because they are
living as if the old sinful self were still in control. That may be due to
ignorance or stumbling, but in either case, it is not living in the benefits we
have in Jesus Christ. Remember I said earlier that if you want the benefits, you
must have the main issue settled first. Many professing Christians live in sin
because they have not been changed and their old sinful self is still who they
are and sin is their master. Their profession is false.
This issue of identification with Christ is the major difference between the
Christian and those who are not true Christians. Sin is the master of
non-Christian, for the old sinful self is still alive. The will of those who are
in Adam is bent only toward sin. The Christian will still sin (1 John 1:8-10),
but the old self has died with Christ and along with it the mastery of sin.
Those in Christ have a new self that is alive and can obey God and walk in
What is your own attitude toward sin? It is very revealing about where you
really are spiritually. The true Christian struggles against sin. The
non-Christian does not. The Christian finds that it is now against his very
nature. The sinful things this world offers have less and less attraction. Sin
bothers the Christian and he desires to change and be different. Like the
teenager who begins setting aside childish things in order to enter the world of
adult responsibilities, the Christian increasingly sets aside the fleeting
sinful pleasures of the world in order to pursue the greater satisfaction of a
life pleasing to God.
As a conclusion, let me make some closing comments about baptism, for we take
seriously this important ordinance in which the individual identifies themselves
with the Lord Jesus Christ. Why should a Christian be baptized and what are the
Motive for Christian Baptism
Why should a Christian desire to be baptized? True Christians have a genuine
love for Christ which motivates them to obey their Lord’s commandments (1 John
4:19, cf. John 14:21, "He who has my commandments, and keeps them, he it
is who loves Me,"). Christians should be baptized as an act of
obedience to express the reality of their love for Christ (Matt. 28:19, cf. John
14:15). Jesus’ own baptism "to fulfill all righteousness"
(Matt. 3:15-16) gives an example of obedience for the believer to follow in
Christian baptism is like a soldier who puts on his uniform, not to become a
soldier, but because he is a soldier and wants to publicly identify himself as a
soldier. In Christian baptism the believer publicly identifies himself with
Christ and His people (cf. Rom.6:3-4; 1 Cor.12:13).
Let me add here that this is also really the first step in identifying with
Jesus Christ. Baptism is a serious matter and should not be done without great
consideration of its meaning and your commitment to live for Jesus Christ. At
the same time, there is also solid reason to question the validity of the
profession of faith of someone who has not been baptized. Frankly, those who are
afraid to obey the Lord and identify themselves as belonging to Him in baptism,
should be even more afraid of falsely professing themselves to be Christians to
others. The only condemnations we find Jesus made on people during His earthly
ministry were on those who claimed to show others the way to God yet refused to
obey God themselves (Mt. 23). Those who are not baptized should be even more
afraid of partaking in Communion since Paul specifically warns that those who
partake of it in an unworthy manner bring condemnation upon themselves (1 Cor.
11:27,28). To want to identify with Jesus in the Lord’s Supper and yet refuse
to identify with Him in baptism is inconsistent at best, and a reason for God’s
condemnation at worst.
What then are the Requirements for Christian Baptism?
The New Testament teaches that only true believers in Christ should be
baptized. First, Jesus’ command in the great commission is to baptize people
after they have become disciples (Matt. 28:19). Second, baptism is reserved for
believers because only believers have been spiritually baptized into the body of
Christ by the Holy Spirit (I Cor.12:13, "For by one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body"). In the book of Acts, people expressed
repentance or faith and received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized (Acts
2:38,41; 8:12; 10:47-48; 16:31-33; 18:8). Spiritual baptism must be a reality
through trusting Christ as personal Savior before water baptism can have its
true scriptural meaning for a person. A person baptized before salvation becomes
just a wet unsaved person instead of a dry one.
This means that baptism should be limited to people who are old enough to
know Jesus as their personal Lord and savior. This
excludes infants since they cannot understand these things. In addition, the
Bible does not give even one clear example of infant baptism.
While an infant cannot believe, a small child can. Jesus Himself spoke of
"these little ones who believe in me" (Matt. 18:6). If a child
gives clear testimony of saving faith in Jesus Christ and shows a basic
understanding of Christian baptism, then such a child is eligible for baptism,
just as an adult would be.
The principle to remember is that genuine belief in Jesus must precede
Christian baptism if it is to be scriptural and meaningful, and those who have
genuine faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ are to identify themselves
with His death, burial and resurrection through baptism into His name.
Have you been Scripturally baptized for the right reasons? Then rejoice in
what Jesus has done for you and pursue living for Him with all your heart. Sin
is not your master, Jesus is.
Do you profess faith in Jesus Christ for salvation from your sin that
separates you from God? Then you need to be baptized. Talk with me or one of our
church leaders after the service so that we can arrange that for you.
Are you still living according to your sinful nature inherited from Adam? Are
you still estranged from God by your sin? There is forgiveness and a new nature
awaiting you in Christ. Talk with me or one of our church leaders and let us
show you how you can become a new creature by faith in Jesus.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s
lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you
hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times baptism is
mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents the meaning and purpose of Baptism.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the main
issue of Christianity? Why do so many professing Christians live without the
fruit of the Spirit? List some of the ramifications of being justified by faith
in Jesus. How do you know for sure that God loves you? What is man’s natural
state? Why? What question in Paul answering in 6:2-14? What is his answer &
its basis? How is it illustrated by baptism? What did Jewish baptism symbolize?
How is it related to Christian baptism? What does "Baptise" (baptizo)
mean? What are the three modes of Baptism used by Christians? Which is best?
Why? According to Catholicism, what is the purpose of Baptism? Is Baptism
necessary for salvation? Why or why not? Why is infant Baptism wrong? What does
Rom. 6 say is the purpose of Baptism? Why should the Christian take sin
seriously? What is the "old self/man"? What happens to it in the
believer? What is the nature of the believer’s identification with Jesus’
death, burial & resurrection and its ramifications in relationship to both
sin & hope for the future. What can be said about a person that continues in
sin? How does the Christian differ from the non-Christian in their attitude and
relationship to sin? What is the proper motive to be Baptized? Who is Biblically
eligible. Have you been Baptized. Why or Why not? If not, do you take Communion?
Why? Do you tell people you are a Christian. Why?
Sermon Study Sheets
Sermon Notes – 6/16/2002 am
To Live, You Must Die – Romans 6:1-14
Ramifications of Being Justified by Faith in Christ Jesus
The Question (vs. 1)
The Answer (vs. 2)
Contrary to the Christians Nature
The Example of Baptism
History of Baptism
Meaning of Baptism
When the Bible teaches that the Christian is baptized into Christ (Gal.
3:27), it is showing that the Christian is spiritually identified with Christ in
death (Gal.2:20), burial (Col.2:12), and resurrection (Col. 2:12; 3:1).
Mode of Baptism
Catholic Theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) said, "In immersion
the setting forth of the burial of Christ is more plainly expressed, in which
this manner of baptizing is more commendable."
Purpose of Baptism
Identification with Christ – Romans 6:3-11
Dead to Sin (3-5)
Alive to Christ (6-10)
The Believer’s Relationship to Sin (12-14)
Motive for Christian Baptism
Requirements for Christian Baptism
Have you been Baptized. Why or Why not? If not, do you take Communion? Why?
Do you tell people you are a Christian. Why?