Scripture: Romans 6:1b-11
Key Verse: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (v. 3-4)
Observations: In Romans 5, Paul tells the history of creation in order to shine the light on God’s grace. Paul writes, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). Paul presents the relentless nature of God’s pursuit of disobedient human beings. God is determined that grace will be the last word. Paul then is confronted with what this generous abundance of grace means for human beings and this leads him to the question we find in 6:1. “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” It is easy to dismiss this question as a rhetorical tool; a straw man set up so that Paul could then knock it down. However, the question guides us to understand the nature of grace and our proper response.
Analysis: Paul’s immediate answer to his own question is “By no means!” (v. 2) But not because this is an absurd question but because of our baptism. Baptism is more than just a ritual or rite of passage. Baptism is more than just gaining membership in our local congregations with an eye on going to heaven when we die. Baptism is the means by which we are united with Jesus Christ; becoming one with him and therefore restored to right relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Since we have been united with Christ in baptism and Christ has defeated sin and death, we too are now free from sin ruling over our lives. The freedom makes it possible for us to walk in the newness of life. Paul likens baptism to the exodus. Just as the children of Israel once labored under Pharaoh’s rule; we once labored under the bondage of sin. Just as God broke Pharaoh’s power when the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; we have been set free from the power of sin when we passed through the waters of baptism. As commentator Ted A. Smith writes, “Dead to sin and alive to God, the baptized one cannot remain in sin without betraying who she has become.”
Prayer: Lord God, teach us to live for you. Remind us that we are new creatures because of what you have done and continue to do in our lives. Renew our understanding of what it means to live in the newness of life. In the name of Jesus. Amen.