In chapter five of Romans Paul outlined the magnificence of God’s grace in Christ. This grace justifies unworthy sinners, and it is the defining aspect of Christian identity. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more! Now, in chapter six, Paul addresses those who might be tempted to abuse God’s grace. If grace increases where sin increases, some might say, then I’m free to go on sinning! Paul’s reaction to this sentiment is an emphatic, “No!”
Christians can’t go on sinning, Paul will say, because they have died to sin. This is a new idea that that tells us something new about the work of Christ in the Christian’s life. In chapter five we learned that Christ died for us. In chapter six we learn that we died with Christ. More than that, we share in his resurrected life! Paul’s argument will go something like this: Christ died to sin and now lives to God. Therefore, Christians have died to sin and are called to live to God. This is a profound mystery. In the same moment that the work of Christ extends to us, it also defines us. We who are justified are also sharers in Christ’s death and resurrection.
The key for us Christians is to take the spiritual truth of dying and rising with Christ and make it a practical reality. This is the meat of the Christian life – dying to sin and living to God. When we do this, we share in the risen life of Christ.