Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle reading for this Sunday is Romans 6:1-11. Here the main idea is that we who are in Christ have died to sin. Sin no longer has permission to rule us, because we belong to Christ, who knew no sin. There are several ways we might treat this passage.
Many see in it the idea that baptism is the act of drowning the old man in the death of Christ, raising him to newness of life. It may well, as I believe it does, signify that there is much more than water in baptism, that the gift of life is given according to God’s Word in baptism. Certainly the idea of death and resurrection is present in baptism. It is also present if we consider it a symbolic passage, suggesting that by repentance we bury our sin and leave it behind. When we are later raised from the dead we will not have any sin remaining.
Regardless of our attempts to handle this text of Scripture, we find the central idea of Christ who died for his people and was raised from the dead. In a like way, we who believe him are dead to sin and alive to Christ. We believe there is a real resurrection.
Does that resurrection begin before our bodies die and await the resurrection of the dead? Yes it does. Christ has risen from the dead. We are therefore partakers of his resurrection even now. We can live to God, just as the risen Lord lives to God. This means we should quite naturally expect to see ourselves living a life of holiness, full of righteous works. We do not do those good works to earn salvation. On the contrary, they are the outcome of salvation.
What if we don’t see the good work naturally or easily? Does this mean that we are not believing Jesus well enough? Not necessarily. Every person struggles with sin in his mortal body. We are in the habit of letting the “old man” live. And he wants to live! What can we do, then? We remember that we are the baptized children of God, that we have been set free from sin, and that we are living to God in Christ.
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