Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 63 (Holman) Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death
Paul is still refuting the preposterous notion that we should continue in sin in order to let grace multiply. Every believer renounced sin when Christ was accepted.
Any person who embraces Christianity does so for the very reason of desiring to turn from their sin. This truth is symbolically portrayed in the ordinance of baptism. Immersing a believer in water pictorially teaches renunciation of sin. It is an outer public manifestation of a prior inner private experience.
Baptism is a visible, double thrust of truth, viewing salvation from the face-to-face angles of cause and effect. Baptism pictures what had to happen to make salvation possible for us, and what has to happen to us as a result of salvation.
When we stand in the water to be baptized, we picture Christ on the cross. It testifies we desire to be numbered with the crucified Savior rather than with the people and the sins that crucified Him.
Identification is vital to baptism. Through baptism we identify ourselves with Christ and His followers. When Jesus was baptized, He identified Himself with the John the Baptist crowd versus the religious leaders. This was no small matter. A straight line can be drawn from Jesus baptism to His crucifixion.
By identifying ourselves with the crucified One, we picture our belief that at Calvary Jesus finished the work of removing our sin debt. The baptismal candidate is identified with Jesus death, and as a result partakes in its benefits.
Baptism reminds us salvation is personal. Jesus death for the whole world becomes a death for me. His righteousness is reckoned to my account.
And since I benefit from His death, I want to picture in my life all that His death involved. This means yielding myself totally to God for the destruction of sin.
We prove our release from sin by not habitually living in sin. We hate sin due to what it did to Jesus. Sin grieves believers. If we can sin without remorse, we had best search our heart. Sin with no regret is very dangerous, often bespeaking lostness.
Jesus renounced all selfish interests and poured out his life to end sin. Even so we too must lay down our own desires. The crying need of our hour is to learn what it means to die to ourselves. We hinder our Christian growth because we are concerned about our will, our convenience, our ease, and our plans.
We talk much about the abundant life it grows solely out of death. As our old self dies, our new life grows. As we say no to ourselves, we more and more say yes to God. What made it possible for Paul to be stoned to the point of death at Lystra, and then head to another city for more of the same It was not something he enjoyed. He had learned what it means to die to self.
What made young Daniel strongly determine not to defile himself Surely he loved wine and meat more than vegetables and water, but he had died to himself. His old desires and selfish attitudes had been buried.
When we received Jesus, a portion of us should have climbed the old rugged cross and died there. A missionary once sailed from Liverpool for the African coast. As his ship approached the fever-infested spot where he would pour out his life, a trader protested, If you go to that place you will die The man of God replied, I died before I left London. This is the secret to being baptized into his death.
Romans 64a Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death
As the baptismal candidate is lowered into the water, another great spiritual truth is presented. Due to our death with Jesus, we are buried with Him.
Burial is the final proof of death. It gives conclusive evidence life ended. Interment certifies a person is really and completely dead.
Unfortunately, people are sometimes buried alive. This is true physically, as in the Arizona at Pearl Harbor it is also true spiritually, as when a lost person is baptized. We bury many people in baptism who have not died with Christ, but these exceptions do not negate the intended message.
Burial declares all relationships in the previous world have ended. When a body is in the grave, it is finished with this world. Once Jesus died for our sin, He was dead to sin. It could touch him no longer. He was separated forever from the reign and rule of sin.
When we identify with Christs burial, we are confessing our belief that the everlasting consequences of sin can never again be brought against us. When Jesus was buried, He was totally separated from the reach of sins tyranny. Even so, when we believed, we were removed from sins dominion over us.
This is a beautiful picture of eternal security. Believers are as much separated from the realm of Satan as a buried corpse is from the realm of this world.
Before we leave this discussion regarding burial with Christ, let me offer two insights. One, a corpse is not welcome very long in his old world. Even so a believer should be poor company for old companions. Two, Jesus was buried in a tomb we need to find a grave for our own sins.
Romans 64b . . .that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory
of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Fortunately, Jesus death and burial resulted in a resurrection. Even so, in believers baptism, the candidate identifies not only with Jesus death and burial, but also with His resurrection. This is pictured when the candidate comes up out of the water.
Baptism pictures good news. Christ died, was buried, and rose again physically we do so spiritually. We identify with Christs death that we might partake of His powerful resurrected life.
At conversion, believers receive much more than only forgiveness of sin we also receive a new kind of life. We do not die and get our old life back again we receive a life that is new because it springs from a new source. The same power that lifted Christ from death has lifted us from death, and now animates us.
The past is renounced. And as Christs resurrection was the consequence of His death, even so a holy life will be the consequence of our dying with Jesus. Christs resurrection was proven by what happened in His body so is ours.
The resurrection of Jesus was an obvious, visible event. Everyone could see it literally happened. The world should be able to look at our outward conduct and without question see we have been made new, we truly are dead to sin.
We should walk in newness of life. Walking implies habitual behavior, forward progress, and advancing from one place to another. The purpose of Jesus death was to reveal the power of God through the dispensing of a new life. The same should be true of our death in Christ. The life we now live should demonstrate the power of God to overcome evil.