JohnSWilson3 Blog

“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.”
October 10, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: L Letter to Romans

Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome is an incredible letter! Chapters 5 to 8 seem to bring everything together from Paul’s previous letters to help us understand our identity with Jesus.

In chapters 1-4 Paul brought together both Jew and Gentile to help them both in the church realize that there is now “no difference” in that all people no matter who they are “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Every Christian has “been justified through faith” and has “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” What an awesome statement!

Paul had written to the churches in Galatia a few years earlier and told them that he had “been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” and told them that they were “all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” He also told them that because we “are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” And because we are “sons of God” we are a “family of believers” and together are brothers and sisters who “serve one another in love.” And lastly Paul tells the Galatians that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

To the church in Corinth Paul tells the Christians how they “were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” and now “are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” And in his second letter to the same church he tells them that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” and that “we are the temple of the living God” and not only that but a bride who is to be presented to Christ “as a pure virgin to him.”

Amazing statements, amazing declarations! All of these statements of who we are is because we are “in Christ!” We now have “access by faith” to God Himself because He lives in us! No wonder we can “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Paul said to the Galatians that “Christ lives in” him and this life specifically is lived “in the body” His church. How are we living “in the body”? God wants His glory to be manifested through His body!

We are called to “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…(and) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulnness, gentleness and self-control…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” and later Paul describes how brothers and sisters help each other to live by the Spirit, ultimately by carrying “each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fufill the law of Christ” and to “not become weary in doing good.”

To the Corinthians Paul tells them that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” and that “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body…(and) do not become slaves of men.” Paul tells them that in everything we do “do it all for the glory of God” so that you “do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews or Greeks or the church of God…(and seek) the good of many, so that they may be saved” and therefore “follow the example of Christ.”

How is the glory of God being manifested in the body? Paul says to “follow the way of love…do everything in love.” Is our focus on ourselves, our gifts, our talents, how much money we have, how much control we have over others? In his second letter Paul describes this manifestation as “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” and as a “letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show you are a letter from Christ…(and that) whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” and as a “treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” God’s power. His glory wants to be displayed, not me, not us.

Paul in everyone one of letters describes his hardships in preaching the gospel in Galatia, Macedonia, and Greece and makes the point that because Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” we are to “also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” For Paul, being crucified is part of the Christian life. It is because only through crucifixion do we find resurrection! Paul lived what Jesus said “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Paul was focused on this singular goal. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”! “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Because “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.” How are we, as the body together, living the “new life”? Is Jesus really in control when we come together? Have we crucified our self and loving one another as Christ loved us? Paul says that “we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him…(we are to) count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Our focus is now no longer on what we should not do, because we have been set free from sin, but now our focus is on living for Jesus, letting Jesus live His life through us! Because “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” His eternal life wants to shine through us!

So “we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Do we struggle with sin? Absolutely! Even Paul said he did, but Paul also proclaimed “what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Recognizing this struggle, means how important it is to know who we are in Christ! “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” and we are now to “live according to the Spirit” to “live in accordance with the Spirit (and) have our minds set on what the Spirit desires…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Amen!

Jesus has given us His life to His body! He desires for His life to come out and be made manifest through His body! Are we letting Jesus live His life through us to His body, to others, being salt and light, so that God would be praised instead of ourselves? “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Jesus lives in us! We called “by the Spirit… (to put) to death the misdeeds of the body… (so that we) will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed in us.”

We don’t have to rely on ourselves individually, our bodies our weak, He is strong! God wants to encourage us through one another! “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” The Spirit is living in His Body, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us! We are to no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus who died for us and rose again! “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

How is Jesus being manifested through us when we come together? How is Jesus living His live through us with our neighbors? How is Jesus living His life through us with our co-workers? How is Jesus living His life through us with our friends and family? “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Do we really know who we are in Jesus? The family of God, the body of Christ, a new creation, the temple of the living God, sons of God, children of God, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, etc! We can deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus! No matter what happens to us, good or bad, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”!

Go ahead! Make Jesus’ day! Live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us! Live in His new way, the way of love! Let Jesus show Himself through us! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” No my brothers and sisters “in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”!

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