Romans 6:1-11 says:
"1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
We walked through this passage in Small Group tonight and had a great conversation around it. The thing that struck me has to do with the reason that Paul encourages us not to sin. Of course the way of Jesus is about so much more than sin-avoidance. But that is part of the picture. so we must deal with it.
So why avoid sin? One might expect Paul to say that if we want to join God's band, it is a natural expectation that those in God's band behave in a manner consistent with the values and precepts of the One we follow. But he does not say that.
One might also expect that Paul would say, because Jesus paid such a high cost for our salvation by sacrificing himself on the cross for our sins, it would be the height of ingratitude and insult to go on living the kind of life that made his sacrifice necessary. But Paul does not say that either.
So what reason does Paul give for followers of Jesus to avoid sin at all costs? So what is his reason? You are dead! And dead people no longer do the things they did before they were dead. That's kind of a thing about death. All pre-death activities stop.
But he does not end it there. He also says that we are now alive (Paul's born-again-like statement) to God in Jesus. This is why dead people, or formerly dead people have such a good reason to dance and celebrate. They are to consider themselves to be alive and made new new. But again, why?
The thing is, considering ourselves dead to sin and therefore living a new and holy (set apart) life for God is not something we do our of obligation or duty or even as a thankful response. Elements of each of these may be present and appropriate in our future actions. but they are not the reasons we avoid sin and live a life set apart. The reason we do that is because that...is who...we are!
We are dead to the person we used to be, and our life is now defined by the life, mission, purposes, priorities and ways of Jesus. This is Good News! This is who we are!
May you discover for yourself that only in death can real life begin. May you see yourself as set apart for God, because that is now your identity. May this new identity allow you to see sin as the flat, gray, bland, pale, uninteresting, shallow, uninspiring way of life that it is to the resurrected ones who know what it means to be made fully alive with Jesus!