Session 4 - Alive with Christ Romans 6:8-11

Lesson 4 

Alive with Christ

 Romans 6:8-11


Introduction


Our reminder: the primary focus of Romans 6/7 is -  how can we live our lives here on earth in a manner that approximates our righteous standing before God in heaven? So the real issue in these chapters is Change or how to move from where we are to where we ought to be.

Illustration: Two old fellows were walking along the shoreline of a lake when a frog came hopping up to them.

Creaking with age, one of the old-timers slowly bent down and scooped up the frog in his hands. As he stood there gazing at the frog, fascinated by its ugliness, the frog croaked, "Hey, mister! I'm not really a frog. If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." 

Startled, the old man slipped the frog into his pocket and headed on down the shoreline. For the longest time he and his friend trudged along in silence. 

"Well?" his buddy finally blurted out. "You gonna kiss it?" 

"Naw, I guess not," the first codger replied. "At my age, I think I'll have more fun with a talking frog." Bonne Steffen, editor; source: Roby Mitchell, Christian Appeal


A. We are permanently joined to both the death and resurrection of Christ 8 


Understanding our connection to Christ is so crucial to living a godly life that Paul, in v 8, restates what he said in v 5-7.  Remember, two conditional clauses drive vs 5-11. They are located at v 5 and v 8. They are both fulfilled conditions (first class). In other words, in v 5, if we have become united with Him with the likeness of his death we should add the thought, and we have. And in v 8, now if we have died with Christ we should also add, and we have

This has actually happened. And it is true of all believers, not just of an elite class of believers. We are each united to Christ. We are not directed to die or rise with Christ. This is a settled fact of salvation history. Perhaps you didn’t know that about yourself!


B. Christ’s resurrection is an irrevocable fact of history 9-10


Is our clinging to Christ a tenuous hope? Are we at risk? Absolutely not! We can conclude several things because His resurrection is a fact of history.

  1. Christ will never again die 9b
  2. Christ will never again be ruled by death 9c (it can be said that he was “mastered” by death in that he carried our sin to the cross and thus had to die).  Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  3. Christ will never again be related to sin 10a (again, it can be said that he had an association with sin in that he took our sin to the cross).  2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  4. Christ will always live intimately with the Father 10b

Of course the unspoken declaration is that because we are intimately and intricately united with Christ we can also claim certainty regarding our relationship to sin and death as it works out in our present life here on earth. 


C. Before acting, we must carefully consider what we know about our relationship to God 11  


Paul now begins to tell us how we must respond to these redemptive facts. That is the thrust of v 12 ff - the good stuff. This is often his style – doctrine followed by practice. However, v 11 is a summary of sorts. Take a breath, sit back and look at what we have learned.  What can we conclude? The “even so” sets this tone - “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

According to this verse, here is what we must conclude: before we act we must think! We must clearly comprehend this teaching about our relationship to Christ. Mull it over in our minds. This is foundational. Only by continually seeing ourselves as having died to sin, will we ever be able to live out a new life. This consideration comes first. 

The focus is on the command “consider” logi,zomai. Lexicons use terms like “calculate” or ‘reckon” or “count” or ‘evaluate” or ‘reflect on” or ‘think” to capture the emphasis of this verb.  It is the word for “imputation” of righteousness.  It is built on logoj. Perhaps the basic meaning is to “think according to logical rules” (Friberg). It is used 19x by Paul in Romans alone. Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 8:18 ¶ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Illustration: A little boy once told his mother that he was six feet tall. When she doubted the statement, he assured her that he had just measured himself. His calculations were right but his ruler was not; it was only about six inches long. This is the sort of rule by which many Christians measure themselves. A.B. Simpson in A Larger Christian Life. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no.

So, as a believer considers life choices he must accurately take into account his actual position in Christ. This requires careful thought. Knee jerk decisions won’t do. Decisions made on the basis of the moment are not acceptable. Being driven by feelings is disastrous. Rational thought must trump subjective feelings no matter how we feel! 

How desperately we need to learn the lesson of engaging our minds before we act. Everywhere God seems to assume this. 

  1. He sends the Holy Spirit, not to whisper quietly in our ear, but to teach the truth to us. John 16:13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak… John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
  2. He unites believers in local churches in which he has placed pastors who are charged with the responsibility to teach the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
  3. He makes himself and his mind known to us by means of the written Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
  4. The apostles majored on teaching. Philippians 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
  5. The Word itself is to be the frame of reference for how we conduct our lives. James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
  6. Feelings have a place; the caboose, not the engine. Genesis 4:3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.


So, we can add a third tool to our Toolkit for Lasting Change:


Tool #3 - Know this: Lasting change only happens when Christians carefully consider known facts regarding their spiritual situation, 6:11. Do this: Act on facts first, feelings last. In other words, before we can act right we must know right. In fact, true understanding of our status propels us to right action. This is tough. We are not naturally inclined to be command oriented. So it was said of God’s people… Hosea 11:7 “So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, None at all exalts Him.” 


Ask the class: Our assignment for this week was to recollect a time when you gave into feelings rather than following the dictates of Scripture or when you resisted feelings and followed the dictates of Scripture. Does anyone want to share?

Or Ask the class:  We need to apply this tool to specific issues that are common struggles for Christians. The specific area I would propose today is loving your spouse  - one spouse says (or both say) “I no longer love her or him.” So, the question to the class would be, “This may be only perceived reality, but now what? How can we apply the tool, “Act on facts, not feeling”, to this situation?” 


{First, here are some common “First Steps for Change” to be applied to all situations. Questions to ask:

  1. What have I done or not done? (Be specific)
  2. What does God say? (Bible)
  3. Is this sin? (If so, seek forgiveness and make restitution when possible.) 

4. What must I do? (Be specific)}

 

Then, we should list specific actions suggested by the tool(s) germane to the issue at hand. If we don’t do this we have missed the point. God demands that we become slaves to righteousness; that we don’t allow sin to reign.  Thus, this means that we must then ask what we can do to make it less likely that we will repeat this conduct in the future. In other words we must be farsighted.


Points I would mention this issue of acting on facts not feelings if not brought up by class members would be:

a. Fact: we need to remind ourselves that love is action not feelings. Therefore we can learn to love.

b. Fact: Feelings follow behavior not vice versa - act right, feel right..

c. Fact: God speaks clearly - love your spouse; keep your covenant word.. Therefore no choice.

d. Fact: Following our feelings often results in catastrophe. 

It is true that developing a command orientation to life rather than a feeling orientation will only happen as we take one day at a time. Don’t give into feelings today or in this one situation. And then another. And then another. That is the way we form habits. 

I want to challenge you to pick an issue (sinful or not) with which you struggle. Whatever it is, this model can be applied to any situation that needs changing – whether sins such as anger, lying, impure thoughts, immorality, drunkenness, lack of self-control, bitterness, quarrellings, laziness, speech, cheating, and even sins of omission or whether just nagging issues such as procrastination, pessimism, organization, improvements such as being a better spouse, parent, grandparent, servant of Christ servant, and etc.  


Executive Summary of Full Study Lesson 5 Serving God


D. In light of what Christ has done here is what we must do: Serve God 12-14


This is the first of three commands (imperatives). Two negative, one positive. We must do this. 

  1. Sin must not rule us 12
  2. On the one hand, we must not serve sin 13a
  3. On the other hand, we must serve God 13b
  4. Genuine believers will not be ruled by sin 14


Conclusion


Illustration: One of the great tragedies of our day is that Christians ignore facts in favor of feelings. Typical is the man who reasoned that God wants him to be happy; he wasn’t happy with his wife; so it must be okay with God for him to get a new wife.

As might be obvious to you, this whole discussion is predicated on the value of knowing your Bible. As you approach change in specific areas of your life, you must know what God says about it.

That is the thrust of “even so’ of 6:11. We must understand that we are not what we used to be; we are not under the vice grip of sin; we are united with Christ. Knowledge is the key assumption to exhortation. It precedes it. And this is gracious of God. He could have merely laid out his directives and we would have been obligated to obey. However, he takes the time to patiently and repeatedly explain why! Therefore we must first “know.” If we actually do consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, I believe there will be some practical results.  

  1. We will know, in advance, that we really can resist temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 
  2. We will be assured that, no matter how grievous our sin, our position in Christ will not be severed John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
  3. We can confidently face death. John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"
  4. We can deal with the stuff of life because the God we are connected to is in charge.  Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


Assignment:


Study 6:12-14. 

And our ongoing assignment: Chose one personal specific issue/area that you want to change. Then work out how to use this week’s tool to help bring about change with the chosen issue. (This will be the issue/area that you will focus on for the duration of the class unless you arrive at the point of making satisfactory progress on the issue. If so, then tackle another issue.)”


© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2017. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.

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