Christmas Challenge: Romans, Chapter 6
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
Thanks for joining me on Day 6 of Deacon Alfred’s Challenge to read Romans: A chapter a day, each day, to Christmas. I’ll post the Chapter, then a short reflection at the end. Whether you are following every chapter, stopping by occasionally, or just reading this one time, I pray that God will bless you through His Word. Today, while considering what Paul is saying in Chapter 6, I’m reflecting on the horrific school shootings. I pray for the families of the victims and hope that somehow God’s word can ease the pain we all feel in our hearts at this unthinkable crime.
Here’s Romans: Chapter 6
6 What 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, 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. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
My thoughts: It’s very difficult to offer encouraging words, given the news about the school shooting in Connecticut. But, perhaps sin, death, hell, and the gift of eternal life are helpful topics to consider today.
Paul basically says that believers must die to sin and live to God. Because we are baptized in Christ, we have a union with Christ. We are alive to God and free from the dominion of sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Regarding the school shootings, my first thought is a visual image of that man who shot those kids being grabbed by demons and dragged into hell like how it was done in the scene from Patrick Swayze’s movie, Ghost. But God is that young man’s judge, not me. On the other hand, maybe it’s better that we replace that image, with an image of the children who were killed, all together in Heaven, celebrating this Christmas with Jesus. Like this:
Maybe they get a real life look at the stable scene…
For sure, Jesus will love them. Jesus will care for them. So, in my heart, I have comfort that Our Lord, Jesus will take care of those babies. The pain and suffering remains here on earth, in the hearts of their loved ones.
When I was fifteen, I lost my beloved six-year-old sister to a horrible death. Knowing I was losing it, a friend took me to church to talk to the pastor. I asked him questions about death and where my sister was.
I’ll never forget his words, “She’s with God, our Loving Father, and He’s the best caretaker there is.” Those words really helped me at a time when I thought I couldn’t go on. I had been her caretaker. I found comfort knowing she was okay, more than okay. I needed to hear that. So, I determined that if she was okay, then I would be okay, too. God helped me through those days, continued to be with me, and has never left me. I look forward to the day I see our Lord and my sweet sister Amy again.
Bringing Romans 6 back into this topic. Paul says, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
We have been brought from death to life, everlasting life. Sin, whatever sin we struggle with, can not be our master. But it’s not a sin to grieve. Grieving is a God-given emotion. We should grieve and I pray that all those grieving the horrific loss of their child or loved one, will find comfort during their moments of grief. I pray God will soften the pain, give them strength to go on, and guide them closer to His heart.
Considering what Paul says to the Romans, even though we may struggle and suffer from the consequences of the horrible sins of others, we can’t let the sin of hate, guilt, anger, or whatever enter our hearts or turn us from God. These kinds of sins or any other sin, should not dominate our thoughts or lives. God didn’t make this happen. He gives humans free will. But God will deal with that shooter and all others who harm the innocent. The Bible assures us of that. As for us: We have been united with Christ in a death (He died for our sins) we shall be united with Him in resurrection (new life in Heaven).
On a final note: One day, while driving to the grocery store, my youngest son, Nick (four at the time), out of the blue asked me this question: “Mom, what happens when we die.” While I pondered, wondering about this profound question and how best to answer it to a preschooler, he said, “Never mind, Mom. I know. Jesus comes and takes our hand.” Bingo! That is an image I want to keep in my mind.
Jesus holds our hands now, during our difficult times and He will take all of our hands one day and lead us to verdant pastures. Let His Peace comfort us all now. Dear Father, in the Name of Jesus, please embrace the victims of this shooting into your loving arms. And, be with and bless each person who grieves the loss of a loved one during this Christmas season. Amen.