Gospel Meditation

The Main Thing of Obedience - Doing or Being?

In our pursuit of a warm and close walk with Jesus we often and easily forget what is central. We are a culture of achievers, more accurately 'over-achievers' who need to feel a sense of accomplishment tethered to something we 'do'. In contrast with this the Bible calls us repeatedly to pursue what we 'do' not for its own sake, but rather to 'do what we do' because of who we are in Christ. The book of Romans is particularly enlightening in this area. 

For example, look at Romans 6:1, it begins with a question about sin and the believer's relationship with it, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" This was a question Paul repeatedly received as he proclaimed the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith (Romans 3:21-24, 28). As he traveled from town to town, inevitably someone would come along and say, "Hey Paul, if what your saying is the case, if I'm really saved by grace "apart from works of the Law", then logically I should 'sin-it-up' so that grace will flow even more fully towards me. Right?" The Bible's short answer to this question is simply, "No." In the following verses Paul moves to thoroughly refute this antinomian (against - law) postition. But even more striking, notice how the Apostle's response does not begin with a focus on 'doing' but instead with a clear emphasis on "identity" or who the believer is in Christ. Look at how many times the preposition 'in' or 'with' is used in verses 2-4, "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

Paul's focus on the believer's union with Christ doesn't end here. He goes on in the very next phrase (verses 5-10) using the preposition 'with' again and again saying, "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God."

Paul then distills his entire argument down to the main theme of this section of Romans, the one central truth by which all believers are to fight sin - Our Union with Christ. Think about it, the main weapon against sin is not determination or will power, it's not even sorrow over sin or accountability with other people. Our union with Christ means we are already dead to sin. If we are in fact dead to sin, (and we are) then it cannot rule us. We will never fully grasp or apply this truth unless we take radical action. What is that radical action we are commanded to take? Look at verse 11, "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Our union with Christ is an established real position achieved by Him, but it will only affect the way we live if we consider it, think on it, meditate on it, ruminate on it and allow the reality of it to seep fully into our hearts and minds. Then we will live our lives differently, not simply because of what we 'ought to do' but because we are living out the reality of who we really are in Christ.


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