August 20, 2023

Where He Goes, We Go (Romans 6:8-11)

Where He Goes, We Go (Romans 6:8-11)


Welcome to number four of eight sermons through the sixth chapter of Romans. As a theme, this chapter has been about how our relationship with Christ changes our relationship with sin and our relationship with God.

Namely, in Christ, we are dead to sin and alive to God. Now, as I have taught in previous sermons, being dead to sin through Christ’s death to sin, we have been separated from the ruling and condemning power of sin. And through Christ’s resurrection, we have been reconciled to God, giving us new spiritual life and the hope of new physical life at Jesus’ final return.

Now, I want you to remember the context of this chapter that was stated in verses 1-2. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” This is the foundation of this entire chapter.

Paul is defending against the claims that this Gospel of grace that he so passionately preaches is antinomian (or anti-law). He’s defending against the idea that because Christians are justified by grace alone and not through works of obedience that Christians can just sin freely. To this idea, Paul says, “May it never be!”

No, Paul is trying to communicate that, under the Gospel of Grace, the motive of Christian obedience is not our anxiety to fulfill the Law because of our fear of its condemnation, but rather our motive for obedience is our identity in Christ.

This is important because, in the works-based religion of the Jews, Anxiety drives activity. But when a person is born again in Christ, identity drives activity.

Namely, the Gospel transforms a person and changes their relationship to sin and to God, and because of that great grace extended to them, they obey because of gratitude and love.

They know that it is not their works or obedience to the Moral Law that makes them righteous before God but only the perfect work and obedience of Christ.

We are not good. We are lawbreakers. We are sinners. We are unrighteous. But by God’s grace, our sins have been transferred to Christ, punished on the cross, and Christ’s perfect record of Law-keeping is transferred to us by faith. That is the Gospel. It’s good news, and we would all do well to remember it.

In today’s passage, Paul goes on to emphasize this point of identity and how it ought to inform our activity.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 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.


Vs. 8: Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him

  • As he did in verses 5-7, Paul is highlighting the “if-this-then-that” nature of our union with Christ.
  • That is, if, through our union with Christ, His death to the condemning power of sin procures our death to the condemning power of sin, then Christ’s resurrection to new physical life must also procure our resurrection to new physical life.
  • Once more, Paul is illustrating that what belongs to Christ also belongs to us.
  • Now, as I mentioned over the past few weeks, Paul oscillates between the spiritual and physical meanings of baptism and resurrection in this chapter, making it difficult to know which one he is referring to.
  • Some commentators believe Paul is speaking to our spiritual resurrection here in verse 8, but I disagree because, as you can see, the first part of the sentence is past tense (we have died) while the second part of the sentence is future tense (we shall also live).
  • Regardless of which resurrection Paul has in mind here, they are both applicable. Spurgeon reminds us, “A Christian lives in two worlds at one time—the world of the flesh and the world of the spirit.”
  • Now, I want to point out Paul’s words “we believe that we shall live with Him.”
  • Paul is highlighting a fundamental of Christian confession. We believe, as Christians, that we will live with Christ—not just spiritually but physically. Not in some disembodied spiritual state but in a restored physical world. Because if Christ’s physical body was raised, we believe our physical bodies will also be raised.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
  • The 1800’s theologian Robert Haldane once said of the physical resurrection whereby believers will live with Christ, “All the glory of heaven could not make us happy without this truth.”
    • That is, heaven without the physical presence of Christ is not heaven. Heaven without access to Christ is not heaven. Heaven without closeness to Christ is not heaven.
    • Spurgeon: “Oh, to think of heaven without Christ! It is the same thing as thinking of hell. Heaven without Christ! It is a day without the sun, existing without life, feasting without food, seeing without light. It involves a contradiction in terms. Heaven without Christ! Absurd. It is the sea without water, the earth without its fields, the heavens without their stars. There cannot be heaven without Christ. He is the sum total of bliss, the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven, and heaven is Christ. You shall change the words and make no difference in the sense. If you were invited to a marriage feast, and you were yourself to be the bride, and yet the bridegroom was not there– do not tell me about feasting. Beloved, just to be with Christ is heaven– that bare thing. That bare thing, just to be with Christ is all the heaven a believer wants. The angels may be there or not, and the golden crowns and harps present or absent, but if I am to be where Jesus is, I will find angels in His eyes and crowns in every lock of His hair. To me, the golden streets shall be my fellowship with Him, and the harpings of the harpers shall be the sound of His voice. Only to be near Him, to be with Him– this is all we want. The apostle does not say, ‘to be in heaven, which is far better.’ No, but, ‘to be with Christ; which is far better,’ and he adds no description. He leaves the thoughts just as they are, in all their majestic simplicity. ‘To be with Christ; which is far better.”
  • So, I leave you again with verse 8: Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.”

Vs. 9-10 “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.” 

  • Paul offers the ground of our assurance that we shall live with him. And that ground is that Christ has been physically raised from the dead and is never to die again.
  • You see, the resurrection of Christ is two things for the believer:
    1. It is the satisfaction of divine justice:
      • Namely, it is the evidence that Christ was sinless. Because the wages of sin is death, yet Christ had no sin, the eternal resurrection of Christ is a declaration of His sinlessness. The death He died was to atone for the imputed sins of His people, and when divine justice was satisfied on the cross, Christ was vindicated by God through His resurrection.
    2. It is the guarantee of our own resurrection
      • 1 Corinthians 15:20: “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
      • As I said earlier, our union with Christ conveys to us all that is Christ’s. If Christ is righteous, we are righteous. If Christ dies to (or is separated from) the condemning power of sin, we, in Christ, died to (and are separated from) the condemning power of sin. If Christ conquers death through resurrection, we will conquer death through resurrection. If Christ was glorified, we will be glorified.
      • This is why Paul can say in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
  • But then Paul makes two remarkable statements in verse 9: The first is that Christ “is never to die again,” and the second is that “Death no longer is master over him.”
    1. You see, several people in the Scriptures have been resurrected from the dead. But all of them died again. Christ’s resurrection differs in that He and His body will never die again. This is important because His resurrection is the model and pattern for our own resurrection. At the final coming of Christ, our souls will be reunited with our resurrected bodies, never to die again.
    2. This second statement, “Death no longer is master over him,” requires more discussion because it implies that death, at one point, had dominion over Christ. So let me briefly address this:
      • Christ is fully God and fully man. In theology, this is called the Hypostatic Union.
      • He needed to be fully God to withstand the wrath of God, and He needed to be fully man to be a valid substitute for mankind.
      • Now, we all understand Christ’s divinity. We all understand that, as God in the flesh, Jesus is without sin, perfect, and holy.
      • But Christians often have a misconception about the relationship between Christ’s humanity and the Law, sin, and death. So, allow me to make a few important points:
      • First, Christ united Himself to a fallen world through the incarnation.
        • 2 Cor. 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
        • Heb 2:9: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
      • Second, Christ placed Himself under the Law and in order that the righteousness that’s given to us by faith would be true righteousness. And, in order for it to be true righteousness, Christ had to have had real temptation, real opportunity to sin, and real perfect obedience.
        • 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
        • Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
      • Third, Christ submitted Himself willingly to the power of death that through His death for our sins, He would fulfill the consequence of death on our behalf.
        • So, when Paul says, “Death no longer is master over Him,” we must keep in mind that Christ submitted Himself to death on our behalf.
        • John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
        • John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
  1. The point that Paul is trying to make here is this: Death is a consequence of sin. But Christ conquered death through The very weapon that Satan used to defeat humanity. Christ used to defeat Satan’s power.
  2. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
  3. Sinclair Ferguson: “Imagine, for a moment, the reaction of Hell to the death of Christ. Jesus was bound with the bands of death. What celebration and joy! God was defeated! Vengeance was the Devil’s. But they reckoned without the wisdom of God. For Christ could not be held down by the bands of death. In fact, through death He was paralyzing the one who had the power of death, and He was setting His people free. What seemed to be defeat was actually victory. The resurrection morning was Hell’s gloomiest day. Satan saw the wisdom of God and tasted defeat.”
  4. And that conquering of death, both spiritual and physical, is yours in Christ.

And that is exactly what he says in the next two verses (10-11):

Vs. 10-11 “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.”

Paul again returns to redirecting the motive for obedience to our identity in Christ. He wants us to see how our identity should produce conformity to Christ.

As I said at the opening of this sermon, the whole drive of this section of Scripture is to demonstrate the force behind Paul’s opening question in verse two: How can we who died to sin still live in it?

If you’re a born-again Christian, united to Christ by faith, you are in union with Christ, who has overcome the condemning power of sin. How can you still be entertained by filth? How can you still look at inappropriate content online, how can you still get drunk, how can you still yell at your family, how can you still refuse to submit to your husband, how can you who died to the power and influence of sin still live in it?

Again, what Paul is telling us here is that: His relationship to the Law is your relationship to the Law, His relationship to sin becomes your relationship to sin, and His relationship to death is your relationship to death. What belongs to Christ also belongs to us.

So, if you’ve realized you’re not good, and you’ve repented of your sin, and you’ve realized that you’re not righteous but need the righteousness of Christ applied to you by faith, recognize who you are in Christ. You are no longer a slave to sin but a slave to Christ.