We died with Christ, we rose with Christ, we ascend with Christ, we reign with Christ. It is impossible for a person to continue in the same relationship to sin that he had before that, because he has been fused with Jesus Christ who is eternally holy. One theologian has said that holiness starts where justification ends, and if holiness doesn't start, we can suspect that justification never started either.
What that means for you and me? If you don't see holiness in a professing believer, it could well be that that person really isn't a Christian. So the question for you is, does holiness characterize your life?
Have you experienced freedom from sin? John MacArthur brings us face-to-face with that issue today on Grace to You as he continues a penetrating study from Romans called simply, Freedom from Sin. And now here's John with the lesson. The foundation for Paul's teaching on holiness is laid down in the opening of this marvelous chapter. Let me just give you three elements to open up the first 14 verses. The antagonist, the answer, and the argument.
Just a little three-point thing. We'll look at the beginning of those significant points. Let's look at the argument. And it begins to unfold in verse 3, and we'll just get a brief start. Watch how it unfolds. Here's how he explains what he means when he talks about dying to sin.
What do you really mean by that? Here's his explanation. And he does it in a series of logical statements. This is very logical. You really got to think with Paul. He's really in his legal mode here. He's taking this as if it were a legal argument.
It's very logical. It's very fluid in terms of the flow of thought. But he works his way from verse 3 to 14 with a series of truths, just one by one, unfolding what it means that we have died to sin. As we work our way through, the first principle is this. We're baptized into Christ. See it there in verse 3? Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Just take the first half of the verse.
That's the first principle I want you to see. As many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ. We, in our conversion, were baptized into Jesus Christ. What does that mean?
What does that mean? Well, let's talk about the implications. That a person can even think of asking whether Christians are free to sin betrays a lack of understanding of what a Christian is. You're not merely a justified, legally declared, righteous person who chooses to do as he pleases. When you became a Christian, you were brought into intimate, living union with Jesus Christ.
And I think that's the best way to understand it. Salvation. Isn't God up in heaven looking at the record MacArthur and where it says, sinner bound for hell, he draws a line through it and stamps it saved.
It isn't just that. It isn't something that goes on in heaven that doesn't have anything to do with me. When I become a Christian, the Bible says my life is fused with the life of Jesus Christ. I am, if you want to use the correct sense of the word, baptizo, I am immersed into Jesus Christ.
Now, that's a marvelous concept. When you became a Christian, you were immersed into Jesus Christ. You were fused into Jesus Christ. Now, if you were to study, for example, several other passages, this couple I'll bring to mind, you can write them down. 1 Corinthians 10, 2 talks about being baptized into Moses. It talks about the children of Israel in the wilderness baptized into Moses. What it means is to come under the authority of Moses to participate in the Mosaic leadership, to participate in the Mosaic privilege, to participate in the Mosaic blessing, that which God did in his life reached to the people who followed him.
So to be immersed into Moses was to be involved in all that God was doing in the life of Moses. And that's a good parallel as the children of Israel, in a sense, were fused into Moses. He was their leader. He was the anchor to God. He was the channel through which God spoke. He was the one with the face that shone and revealed the glory of God.
And they were, in Moses, in a sense, united with him in an even deeper, more profound and real sense. We are baptized into Jesus Christ. We are placed in, immersed in, deeply into Christ.
Now I believe this is used metaphorically here. That is, it's not talking about H2O. I think he's speaking as he does in terms of baptism in 1 Corinthians 12 when he says, We've all been baptized with the Holy Spirit. And he's not talking about water there. He's talking about an immersing ministry where the Spirit of God, the Christ is the baptizer and through the agency of the Spirit of God, he immerses us in the Spirit and thereby in the church which carries in it the universal life of the Spirit.
Now these are profound thoughts. But it's speaking metaphorically. We are fused into, immersed deeply into Jesus Christ. It speaks of an intimate, personal fellowship. 1 John talks about it. It says, Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son. Jesus said it in Matthew 28. He said, Lo, I am with you what?
Always. Paul said to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 6, 17, He that is joined to the Lord is what? One Spirit. And so when you became a Christian, you became one with him. One writer says, The introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment is the best definition of baptizo. It is putting us in a new environment, putting us in a new union, in a new relationship, with new conditions, all different. And so what Paul is saying here is, Look, when you were saved, you were placed into Jesus Christ. It's an incredible concept.
And I'll be honest with you. At this point, you'll never understand it fully until you get to heaven. I don't understand it fully.
I just see what it says and I accept it by faith. In Galatians 3, 27, it says, As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And there he equates the putting on of Christ and the baptizing into Christ as one and the same.
It's just two ways to speak of it. In one sense, it's like being immersed in Christ. In another sense, it's like just putting him on over you.
Colossians 2 speaks to the same matter in chapter 2, verse 11. In whom you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, you are buried with him in baptism, in which you are also risen with him through the operation of God who has raised him from the dead. So, in a sense, you've been placed into his circumcision. You've been placed into his death. You've been placed into his burial. You've been placed into his resurrection. You're fused with Christ.
It's incredible. You see, it is precisely why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, says, How in heaven's name can you join yourself to a prostitute? Because when you do that, you are joining Christ to a prostitute.
Because you are fused with him. Even when we were dead in sins, Ephesians 2, 5, he made us alive, listen to this, together with Christ, and has raised us up together and made us sit together. We died with Christ, we rose with Christ, we ascend with Christ, we reign with Christ. And he says at the end of the third chapter of Revelation, It's given to you to sit with me in my throne.
So, listen. I mean, just from that alone, if we closed the book of Romans and went home, we would know that it is impossible for a person to continue in the same relationship to sin that he had before that. Because he has been fused with Jesus Christ, who is eternally holy. Now, some people think this means water baptism.
God help them. I mean, that's a dry verse if ever there was one. But let me tell you something.
You can't help but realize that behind the scenes, there's some water. Because of the choice of words. Somebody said, well, why didn't he just say, All who believe in Christ are believing in his death and believing in his resurrection and are united with him. Why does he use baptized?
Because baptism, that wonderful, beautiful, symbolic act had become the outward identification of an inward faith. He's not advocating salvation by water. That would be to contradict chapter 3, 4, and 5. There's no water in any of those chapters, by the way.
He's not denying everything he just said. But listen, in those days, water baptism was a fixed sign for faith. And very often in the scripture, when you read baptism, you could substitute faith.
Because the writer sees those two the same. Baptism being the outward sign of faith. People in those days who put their faith in Christ were baptized. So, Paul can say that Christ was put on in baptism, Galatians 3, 27. And Peter can even say, Baptism doth also now save us, 1 Peter 3, 21. And Titus can say we were washed with the washing of regeneration, Titus 3, 5. And it can be said that our sins are washed away in Acts 22, 16. And in all of these cases, we're not saying you're saved by water, but it just became the symbol of faith.
And so, in a sense, it was used synonymously. And it's probably true that the Romans were very well aware of baptism, and that's why in verse 3 he says, Don't you know? Have you forgotten what your baptism symbolized? That's the beauty of baptism. That's why I'm convinced that the only vow of baptism is immersion. Because it's the only one that demonstrates so absolutely the entrance of the believer into utter unity and union with Jesus Christ and immersing. He's saying, Are you ignorant of the meaning of your baptism? You don't know that it symbolizes the spiritual reality of being immersed in Jesus Christ. Sad, tragic thing is that that figure became a reality for many people.
The carnal mind always turns the symbol into the reality and it eliminates the reality. So we see the first great truth. We are in union with Jesus Christ. Credible thought.
One with Him. I think Peter maybe says it as marvelously as it could be said in 2 Peter 1-3. According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. When you were saved, His power gave you all things pertaining to life.
That's real life, spiritual life. And godliness. And then verse 4, he says that we've been given exceeding great and rich, precious promises. That by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Salvation led you out of corruption and it made you a partaker of the divine nature and equipped you with all that life and godliness could ever have. Just a great truth. Now that's principle number one.
Let's look at principle number two and we'll stop with this one. We are identified not only in Christ, but particularly in His death and resurrection. Verse 3, know ye not that as many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into His death?
And let's look at that for a moment. First of all, we were baptized or immersed into His death. What are we saying here? The first thing that happens when you're saved is you attend your own funeral. That's where it all begins. You died a sin. Then look at verse 4. Therefore, and this verse just re-grips the thought of verse 3. Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism, by the spiritual baptism, not the water, into death, that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Now we are buried in His death and we rise in His resurrection.
It's an incredible statement. We are buried, verse 4, with Him by baptism into death. Then you have a Hinah purpose clause in the Greek, which means in order that we might be raised to walk in new life.
Now what is that saying? When you were saved, now listen to this, and you can't explain it ultimately, only in the simple sense. When you were saved, when you came to Jesus Christ and put your faith in Him, by some divine miracle you were placed into Jesus Christ and you were taken back 2,000 years and you died and you were buried and you were buried so that the old life could die and that you could rise to walk in what? Newness of life.
A death took place. And what comes out of that grave is something very different than what went into that grave. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. So the purpose for you dying to sin was so that you might live to God.
Now, beloved, I think this is a very simple truth. Christians are different. And so when you ask the question, well, let's just go on sinning, no, no, no, you can't do that.
It is not that you don't have permission. It is that you can't do it because you're in a different sphere. You can't go on living in sin. You can't have the constant same habitual remaining in sin that characterized your former life.
It's going to be different. As Christ, look at it in verse 4, was raised up from the dead by the glory and the glory there refers to the sum of all God's perfections, His majesty, His power, His excellence. As that was displayed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even so you're raised out of that grave to walk in newness of life. Notice it says there, even we also should walk in newness of life. It isn't the should of obligation. It is the should of divine accomplishment. You can put there in order that we will walk in newness of life.
We do walk in new life. You know, I'm a Christian. I'm different than I used to be. That's right. And somebody simply said it this way, I'm not what I ought to be, but I'm sure not what I was.
Right? And that's the whole point. I'm different. So when somebody comes along and says, well, I'm just going along my same old life, but I just brought Jesus in. You don't add Jesus like some divine salt to your human activity. This is a tremendous truth that when you come to Christ, you are immersed in His death and you rise to walk in new life.
You are totally different. We die in Christ in order to live in Christ. We share His death in order to partake of His life. We are justified to be sanctified.
They are inseparable realities. Charles Hodge, that great theologian said, there can be no participation in Christ's life without a participation in His death. And we cannot enjoy the benefits of His death unless we are partakers of the power of His life. We must be reconciled to God in order to be holy and we cannot be reconciled without becoming holy.
End quote. So as Christ died and rose, so His people die to sin and rise to God. As Christ's resurrection life was the certain consequence of His death, so the believer's holy life is the certain consequence of His resurrection and death to sin. And now we walk in newness of life.
What is that? What is newness of life? Kinos, not neos, not new in terms of chronology, new in terms of quality. A new kind of life. A new quality of life. Not like the old life. Righteousness now becomes our pattern and whereas in the past it was all unmitigated sin, now there is the pattern of righteousness. Oh, albeit sin crops up here and there, doesn't it? We'll find out why, by the way, when we get to chapter 7.
So hang on. But we have a new life, a holy life. Something has happened. The Bible speaks of this in such beautiful terms. Ezekiel 36 calls it a new heart. Ezekiel 18 calls it a new spirit. 2 Corinthians 5 calls it a new creation. Galatians 6, 15, a new creature. Ephesians 4, 24, a new man. Revelation 2, 17, a new name. Psalm 40 says we have a new song. Everything is new. And notice what it says. We walk in newness of life.
Listen now. It isn't just a new creation. It is a new creation that lives differently. What does the word walk mean in the New Testament?
It is the word for what? Daily spiritual conduct. When you become a Christian, you begin to walk in a different kind of life. And what kind of life did Jesus have?
Holy life. If the old life was the quality of evil, the new life is the quality of righteousness. Now Paul affirms this great truth in verse 5 by using another analogy to sum up his thought. For if we have been, I love this, sum fatas, if we have been grown together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
I just can't tell you what that term does to me. The word means to grow together. If we've been grown together with Jesus Christ.
Later on in chapter 9 of Romans, he talks about branches being grafted in. If we've been growing together, John talks about the vine and the branches. If we've been growing together with Christ, if it is his life in us, if it is him in us, if it is his power in us bearing fruit, if it is him with us, we have been moving together, growing together. If we grew together in his death, we grow together with him in his resurrection.
Bishop Moles said, We have received the reconciliation that we may now walk, not away from God as if released from a prison, but with God as his children in his Son. Because we are justified, we are to be holy, separated from sin, separated to God, not as a mere indication that our faith is real and that therefore we are legally safe, but because we were justified for this very purpose that we might be holy. The grapes upon a vine are not merely a living token that the tree is a vine and is alive.
They are the product for which the vine exists. It is a thing not to be thought of that the sinner should accept justification and then live to himself. It is a moral contradiction of the very deepest kind and cannot be entertained without betraying an initial error in the man's whole spiritual creed. In other words, he says you can't have justification without sanctification. It's just exactly what Ephesians 2 says when it says you're saved by grace through faith, right? Not of what works, lest any man should boast. But you are God's workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus, and it is ordained that you should walk in good works, right, as a result. You don't get saved by good works.
You get saved to produce them. It's a marvelous concept. Let me summarize now. A Christian is new, brand new.
He has become something he never was before. It is not addition. It is transformation.
File that somewhere because we're going to come back to that. It is not addition. It isn't that you get something you didn't have and you keep what you did have.
It is transformation. Being a Christian is not getting something new. It's becoming someone new. It means we have died to sin in our new nature. Sin no longer is the abiding power in our life.
Marvelous. And all of this is more than something God says about us. It's something God did for us.
This is where we have to start. Charles Wesley's words in the great hymn, Can It Be?, is a fitting conclusion. Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night. Thine eye diffused a quickening ray. I woke the dungeon flame with light. My chains fell off. My heart was free.
Now comes the punch line. I rose, went forth, what? And followed thee.
See, that's the key. See, Wesley knew that justification led to sanctification. If you came to Christ, you've been saved unto holiness. You're not the same. You're different.
And if you're not different, you better examine yourself to see whether you're in the faith. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John has been our featured speaker since 1969. He's also chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. The focus of his current series and the title, Freedom from Sin. John, this is a lengthy series, and we're not even going to be able to cover everything you said about this passage in three weeks' time on the radio. But the doctrine Paul spells out in these two chapters, Romans 6 and 7, is so critical for properly dealing with sin that we've published a new book that's going to be a big help to our listeners, and we're excited about it.
Share it with us. Yeah, just to comment on what you said about this is a long series, three weeks. I would just remind our listeners that your entire life as a Christian depends on how well you understand Romans 6 and 7. For the sake of the rest of your life and the flourishing of your spiritual life and the growth and sanctification, you could well spend a lot more than three weeks looking into these profound chapters.
So it's correct. We do have a new study guide, and it's a wonderful new edition in the series of study guides that we've begun to re-release after a number of years of having them out of print. And the title of this one, fittingly, along with the series, is Freedom from Sin. It is a detailed study guide. I think it probably has a couple hundred pages in it. It covers Romans 6 and 7. It gives you an outline for each message that is going to be in our current series. There's the content of each sermon.
Essentially, it's ten full sermons in book form. And for many years, we produced these study guides. They were extremely popular. At one time, we had 150 of them in circulation.
Everybody loved them, so we brought them back. And I think I would say safely that this is one of the most important of all the study guides we ever did, Freedom from Sin. And we're excited to get it into your hands. What it allows you to do is to read and, in a sense, be prepared when you listen to the broadcast for what you're going to hear, because it'll build on what you've read, or even to follow the broadcast looking at the study guide or use the study guide after the broadcast to refresh and renew. It takes you verse by verse through an amazing portion of the Bible that shows you that even though sin is always a reality this side of heaven, if you're a Christian, you have been freed from sin's power, from its grip, from its dominance. And you can experience the blessing of that freedom even now. This is a substantial resource, and it has questions for group study, individual study.
The price, by the way, very reasonable, and we ship for free in the U.S. So order a copy of Freedom from Sin, the study guide today, and maybe several copies for your Bible study group. That's right, and friend, when you understand that it really is possible to overcome sin, you'll discover spiritual strength and usefulness like you've never known. To see what it takes to experience freedom from sin, pick up the new study guide by that name today. Call 800-55-GRACE or order the Freedom from Sin study guide at GTY.org. We also have study guides for other series, including Spiritual Boot Camp, The Believer's Armor, and Complete in Christ. To pick up those books or the newest study guide called Freedom from Sin, call 800-55-GRACE or go to GTY.org. Also, while you're online, I'd encourage you to download the Grace to You app. Wherever you take your iPhone or Android device, this app gives you access to all of John's sermons.
That's more than 3,500 total. Our website also has a regularly updated blog featuring articles from John and from the staff in which we discuss issues vital to the church today. And if you're curious about what John is currently preaching at his home church, you can download his latest sermons as well. Thanks also for remembering to pray for John and the staff. That is really your most important ministry to us. Pray for us. And now for John MacArthur and the entire staff, I'm Phil Johnson with a question for you. What does the Bible mean when it says the Christian's old man has died? John considers that vital theological question tomorrow with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
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