Read Romans 6:1-14
One of the reasons why the we can relate to the Bible is because its heroes aren’t pristine, perfectly obedient models for us to follow. In fact, with the exception of Jesus, every hero in the Bible is a filthy, rotten sinner! Moses was a murderer and had a bad temper. David’s lust for Bathsheba led to a cover up and murder. The apostles lied and deserted Jesus in his final hour. Noah got drunk, Samson lusted for Delilah, and Abraham surrendered his wife to Pharaoh. Bono, from the Irish rock band U2, explains: “That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me; now it is a source of great comfort.” On every page we find the story sinners—and boy, we can relate to that!
Paul’s letter to the Romans begins by explaining the scope of our sin problem. Sin has two main consequences. 1) eternal death because of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18), and 2) sinful behaviors that keep getting out of control (Romans 3:9-18). So far, Paul has explained that the gospel is the solution for the first problem—through what Jesus did for us on the cross, we have been justified (counted righteous) before God (Romans 5:19). But what about our sinful behaviors? Does the gospel offer a solution to this daily problem?
Paul’s answer is grounded in the reality of what it means to be “in Christ.” When Jesus died on the cross, He put sin to death and rose again for the glory to the Father. As Christians, we are united to Christ, which means we are also dead to sin and enabled to live in a way that gives glory to the Father. Douglas Moo writes,
“Christ’s death ‘on our behalf’ frees us not only from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin also. Justification — acquittal from the guilt of sin — and sanctification — deliverance from ‘sinning’ — must never be confused, but neither can they be separated.”
Isn’t that incredibly freeing? This means that we are no longer slaves to sinful behaviors, but in Christ, there is real power to stop sinning! In Romans 6:12-14, Paul commands us to not let sin reign in our bodies, but to use our bodies as instruments of righteousness. But he concludes by repeating the reality of what it means to be “in Christ”: “For sin will have no dominion over you.” This reality is not something that we earned, but rather it is a benefit of the grace God has given you. It is a result of the gospel!
Questions for study and discussion:
1) Read Galatians 2:11-14. (For more details on this incident, read Acts 15:1-35.) Notice how Paul says that Peter’s behavior was not “in step with the truth of the gospel.” How were Peter’s actions in opposition to the gospel?
2) In what ways does the gospel guide how we interact with one another?
3) What response do you typically have to temptation? Do you immediately give in, do you take time to consider it, or do you work hard to resist it?
4) The gospel tells us about our identity as children of God, how we have been set free from the power of sin and death, how the Lord is sovereign over all things and we can trust Him, and so much more. How can the reality of the gospel help you in times of temptation?