Summer in Romans Part II

Romans 6:5-11 Alive to God in Christ Jesus!

Observation questions are in plain type. Interpretation questions are in italics. Application questions are in bold. (For a further explanation of how to do this Bible study, see here.)

Pray for the Holy Spirit to impress the truth of Scripture on your heart so you will consider yourself “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Read Romans 5:20 – 6:14.

Romans 6:5-11

1. “[I]f we have been united with [Christ] in a death like his,” what shall we certainly be?

2. Verse 5 begins with “For.” How is verse 5 connected to verse 4?

3. How does this verse correspond with the previous verses in chapter 5 about Adam and Christ?

4. What do we know?

5. Jesus told his followers “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The cross was not just an instrument of suffering; it was an instrument of death. When Paul says, “our old self was crucified with [Christ],” what does he mean? 

6. Why did our old self have to be crucified with Christ?

7. “Our old self” corresponds with “the body of sin.” What does it mean for that body to “be brought to nothing”? (The Christian Standard Bible translates this phrase as “rendered powerless.”) And how does this relate to “no longer [being] enslaved to sin”?

8. Why are we no longer enslaved to sin?

9. If we have died with Christ, what is also true?

10. What do we know?

11. Why is it that “death no longer has dominion over [Christ]”? What is true about Christ’s death and his life?

12. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. In what sense did he die to sin, and what is the significance of that death being “once for all”? See Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 9:11-14.

13. What does it mean that the life Jesus lives “he lives to God”?

14. In light of Jesus’ life, what must we consider ourselves?

15. Taking into account verses 5-11, what does it mean to consider oneself dead to sin?

16. What does it mean to be “alive to God in Christ Jesus,” and how does this phrase correspond to “[walking] in newness of life”?

17. Romans 6:1-11 describes what it is to be “in Christ” (no longer “in Adam”). If you are in Christ, you are “dead to sin and alive to God.” How can this knowledge help you in your daily fight against sin? Think particularly about the sin you’re praying about this week.

18. Take some time to pray that being dead to sin and alive to God would be a reality that you experience in your daily life.

*Questions for Romans 6:1-4 can be found here. New questions will be posted each Monday, Lord willing. Look for devotionals on Wednesdays.

See Keri’s inductive Bible studies.

Summer in Romans 6

Part 1 – Romans 6:1-4

Fighting Sin During a Pandemic

What was the book that caused St. Augustine to repent of his sins and become the theologian of the early church? What was the book that opened the eyes of Martin Luther and lit the Reformation ablaze? What was the book that motivated William Carey to cross the seas and become the father of modern missions? And what is the book that countless Christians go to for comfort in difficult times?

It’s the book of Romans. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is known as the most theologically comprehensive book in the Bible. It covers General Revelation, God’s Sovereignty, Election, Justification, Substitutionary Atonement, Salvation, the Work of the Holy Spirit, Sanctification, Ecclesiology, Christian Ethics, and some Eschatology.

But Paul didn’t intend for Romans to be a systematic theology. Actually, Paul’s letter to the Romans was a pastorally-oriented missionary letter. Paul’s desire was for the Roman church to be a gospel-centered engine for missionary outreach. (See Romans 15:14 and 16:26.) Paul wanted to spur on the church at Rome to be unified in their theology, fighting sin and contending for the gospel.

During this pandemic, the ordinary means of grace of meeting together, hearing live preaching and enjoying fellowship are not available for many of us. But God has given us his word, and this time of struggling is perfect for examining our hearts. So join me, as you’re trapped inside your home, in studying through Romans 6, a chapter all about the freedom that grace brings.

I encourage you to choose a particular sin that you struggle with and pray each day for the Lord to use what you learn in your study of Romans 6 to battle that sin.

There are three types of questions in this inductive Bible study. Observation questions are in plain type. Answer these questions directly from the text. Interpretation questions are in italics. These questions require deeper thought and analysis with the goal of understanding the meaning of the text to its original hearers. They are based on your observations of the text. Application questions are in bold. They are personal to you. Application questions will apply the meaning of the text to your heart and life today.   

Begin by praying for insight into the Scriptures and for the Lord to help you fight sin.  

Read Romans 5:18 – 6:14.

Romans 6:1-4

1. In Romans 5, Paul has emphasized the abundance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. What question does he ask about that grace at the beginning of chapter 6?

2. Why does he ask this specific question? What argument is he anticipating?

3. What is Paul’s clear answer to this question?

4. What question does he add?

5. Rephrase the second question into a declarative statement:

6. What were all who were baptized into Christ Jesus also baptized into?

7. According to verse 4, what happened in baptism?

8. What was the purpose of being baptized into Christ’s death?

9. Is Paul referring to physical or spiritual baptism in these verses?

10. How does the physical act of being baptized present a picture of us dying with Christ and being raised with him to new life?

11. Why would being baptized into Christ’s death mean that we’ve died to sin? What would you point to in the previous chapter, Romans 5:12-19, to explain your answer?

12. What does it mean to “walk in newness of life” and how is Christ being raised from the dead related to our walking in this newness of life?

13. How was Christ raised from the dead?

14. What does it mean the Christ was raised “by the glory of the Father”? And how does that phrase apply to our newness of life? See John 11:38-44 and 2 Corinthians 13:4.

15. How do verses 1-4 serve as a warning for women who call themselves Christians but are comfortably continuing in sin?

16. What particular sin are you praying about this week; and, if you are a Christian, how does knowing that you have died to sin in Christ’s death and walk in newness of life by the glory of the Father affect how you deal with sin in your life?

*Look for a devotional this Wednesday on Romans 6:1-4. Questions will be posted weekly on Mondays.

Pandemic Sin

Have you been irritable stuck in your home during this pandemic? Are you fearful about the future? Have you been reaching for food or drink to calm your anxiety? Fantasy or pornography to alleviate your loneliness?

Have you been making the most of your time at home, or are you drifting from God in complacency? Things are starting to open up. How is your heart?

In Dubai, we were under strict lockdown. One of us could leave the house every three days for groceries but only after obtaining a government issued permit. We couldn’t even legally walk around the block. Our flights to the U.S. were canceled. Our future plans were up in the air. We were waiting—in a holding pattern—with a son graduating from high school, a daughter graduating from college and another daughter with canceled summer plans.

We were finally able to get on a plane to move our son to America (after growing up in Dubai from the age of three). We made it through some precarious travel and things seemed to be going well. But then my son got a sore throat—doctors suspected COVID-19, so we got him tested. Now, we’re waiting again, quarantined. And often in our family of five, we’re rubbing each other the wrong way. We’re waiting, facing a lot of uncertainty like everyone else, and I can’t help but see patterns of sin.

I’m not surprised by the sin. It’s been my adversary for 54 years. I could euphemistically call it irritableness, but at root it’s anger that comes out in an unkind, sharp tone of voice toward my husband and kids and leaves them bruised. It happens when I don’t get my way—when I wake up tired to dirty dishes left around the house, when I’m interrupted while trying to get something done, when I’m disrespected or disobeyed. Anxiety makes it worse. These circumstances are like a petri dish where my ugly sin shows. Comfort, control, respect: these are the idols I worship.

In the goodness of God, I’ve been studying Romans. Chapter 6 is all about being transferred from bondage to sin to bondservant of God, obedience from the heart. So I’ve chosen a particular sin to work on while studying Romans 6—this sin that I regularly struggle with and that is particularly rearing its ugly head during lockdown.

What are your besetting sins? What are the patterns of sin in your life that feel like a broken record playing again and again over your days, months and years? The Bible teaches us that we all struggle with sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8, 10) so join me here over the next five Mondays in a Bible study of Romans 6 and use this summer and God’s word to fight that particular sin.

I’ll be posting an inductive Bible study each Monday with a related devotional the following Wednesday, beginning July 6th and continuing through the first week of August.

Glorious Justice at the Cross

The second article on God’s display of his character at the cross from The Good Portion: Christ.

How do you react when you go through trials you don’t deserve? What do you do when you witness the unfair treatment of another? In the current climate, what are you thinking about justice?

We often associate Jesus with mercy. A common theme in the Gospels is that he showed mercy to societies’ outcast. Tax collectors, those in poverty, and even lepers benefited from his compassion. We don’t have to linger long in the text to see examples of this aspect of Jesus’ character. But what does Jesus have to do with justice?

Scripture tells us Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and is the clearest revelation we have of the full character of God. Observing Jesus’ life, his death, and all that was accomplished in both pulls back the curtain so we can see clearly who God is and what he is like. In the last post, we considered that Jesus’ death on the cross revealed God’s holiness. But it revealed even more about God.

We know that because God is holy, he demands punishment for sin. Scripture refers to his demand for moral perfection as His righteousness and justice. These English words are how we generally translate the concept that God does not answer to any other authority for a code of conduct or moral standard. He does not answer to any lesser thing because he is the very definition of righteousness. No one and no thing is more morally pure than he is.

Paul explained to the Romans that ‘[Jesus’ death] was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins’ (Rom. 3:25). In what sense had former sins been passed over prior to the cross? In the Old Testament, God showed a tremendous patience toward his sinful people. In scene after scene of the Old Testament, God did not deal with sin as it deserved. His people both corporately and individually disobeyed him, and yet God continued to spare them. At times his wrath would burn hot, and He would send a plague, famine, or neighboring army to punish the people for their wickedness, but the problem of sin was not comprehensively addressed on the scale which it warranted. Their sins were often (but not always) punished, but their Sin was not. ‘The times of ignorance God overlooked’ is how Paul explained God’s patience in addressing sin (Acts 17:30). In His mercy, God continued to allow His sinful people to live. Even the prophet Micah laments the wickedness of the people and asks the legitimate question, ‘Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression…?’ (Micah 7:18). In praise the Psalmist repeats this truth about God, ‘He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities’ (Ps. 103:10). These questions highlight God’s mercy, but how can a God who doesn’t punish sin be just?

But What about Justice?

After David’s infidelity with Bathsheba and his wickedness toward her husband Uriah the Hittite, the prophet Nathan rebuked King David, who in turn confessed his sin before the Lord. And then astonishingly Nathan responds, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die’ (2 Sam. 12:9-13). A first-time reader of this passage should gasp. David took another man’s wife and then had that man killed in battle, and the Lord just ‘put away’ his sin? Where is the justice in that for Uriah, or even Bathsheba? How can a good God not punish wickedness? One might be tempted to think God could just look away and disregard sin as irrelevant or unimportant whenever He wanted to, but that would mean He is unjust and does not treat sin as it deserves. The sinner would surely appreciate such mercy, but what about the victim? Where is the justice for the innocent?

God could not simply ‘put away’ sin and maintain His justice at the same time. He could not be a God of righteousness without comprehensively addressing the problem of sin. His patience toward sinners should not be mistaken for apathy toward sin. Back to what Paul wrote to the Romans: ‘[Jesus’ death] was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.’ Jesus’ death on the cross displayed God’s perfect righteousness and justice. The sin, like David’s, that had been passed over for centuries was finally given the knock-out blow it deserved. All the sins for all God’s children for all time were laid on Jesus when He died, and all the world could see the glory of God’s righteous character on display as His wrath poured out for this sin.

The other way in which God’s righteousness and justice are clearly seen in the cross is by observing the lengths that God went to maintain this part of His character. The Father was willing to send His only Son into the world to die a humiliating death in order to punish sin in the way His justice required. For God to be a righteous and just God, sin could not be ignored. It had to be confronted. And punished. Jesus Himself was willing to suffer and die – even taking the punishment on Himself – in order to address sin in a way that upheld the character of God.

In recounting God’s faithfulness to generations, Asaph said of God, ‘He restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath’ (Ps. 78:38). It is a myth that the God of the Old Testament is wrathful and angry, but the God of the New Testament is not. Just like it’s a myth that the God of the New Testament is loving, but the God of the Old Testament is not. In episode after episode, God shows Himself incredibly patient with, and merciful to, sinners for generations and generations. God waited to deal with sin as it deserved. At the cross, we see God’s glorious justice enacted toward sin as the God-man Jesus bore the punishment for the sins of His people.

What about Me?

Do you ever consider God’s justice when you take account of your own life? Do your trials ever seem ‘unfair?’ We can be confident that a God who goes to such great lengths to protect His justice is a God who is always acting in a just and right manner. We cannot complain that our circumstances are unfair when we look at the cross. Jesus is the only person in history who was punished when He deserved none. Would you reconsider your accusation against God as being unfair for the trial you find yourself in? Whatever the current trial you are experiencing, it has been designed by a just God to bring about your growth in righteousness–to make you more like Christ.

And yet, because we see Jesus’ death proclaiming our God who displays justice perfectly, we know we too should be people who care about what is just. We should be people who fight on behalf of those who are weak and treated unfairly. Our reputations should be that we stand up for justice when it is lacking, whether in the lives of individuals, corporations, or nations. As those in Christ, we should reflect the heart of our Savior – loving mercy and demonstrating justice.

Subscribe to this blog to receive Jenny Manley‘s next article on God’s display of his character at the cross. Read the first article here. These articles are excerpts from Jenny’s new book, The Good Portion: Christ.

Holiness Displayed

When I was a toddler and my older brother Matt was in first grade, he rode the school bus each morning to school. One particularly memorable spring morning, the bus full of children arrived at its usual stop while my mom was still urging my brother to put down Batman and hurry to the bus stop. By the time my brother reached the bus, its doors had just closed, and the other neighborhood children were already finding their seats. I’m still not sure if the bus driver did not see my brother or just wanted to teach him a lesson about timeliness, but he drove away toward the next stop while my brother was still trying unsuccessfully to pry open the doors. My mom, watching this all unfold from our front door, saw my brother’s superhero self-assurance take over, as he decided he could catch the moving bus – whose wheels were taller than he was.

My father heard the commotion from my mom and came out of his bedroom just in time to see Matt running down the middle of the street dangerously close to oncoming traffic and a moving school bus. This would be a dilemma for any loving father. But unfortunately for everyone involved, the problem was compounded because my dad was in the middle of getting dressed.

In the following split second, my dad made a decision that would become folklore in our small hometown. Without hesitation or trousers, he darted out the front door running after my brother. By the time my dad caught up with Matt, the neighbors had come out of their homes, alerted to the unfolding drama by my mom’s horrified screams and a nearly-naked grown man running down the street. Fortunately, before my brother caught up with the school bus, my dad scooped my brother into his arms and carried him safely home. The neighbors were speechless as they watched my dad, far more concerned about his son than he was about the public appearance of his underwear.

Prior to this episode, my father had said things to my brother, older sister, and me like, ‘I would do anything to protect you all.’ We heard him say this, but we had not seen the lengths to which he was actually willing to go for us. After the episode of his running down the street in his underwear, we understood our father was willing to sacrifice his own good (and pride) if it meant protecting us. That spring morning’s activities were a clear demonstration of this aspect of his character. He loved us and was willing to fiercely protect us, even at his own expense. Along with his underwear, we all saw my dad’s character on display in dramatic fashion.

For centuries, God had been revealing aspects of his character to his people that they had not yet fully seen demonstrated. But it was at the cross that God’s character was seen dramatically and clearly. All creation could see God’s holiness, righteousness and justice, as well as his grace and love displayed in powerful clarity at the cross of Christ Jesus. Today, we will look more closely at how the cross of Christ displayed the holiness of God. In the following few weeks we will consider how Jesus’ death displayed other aspects of God’s character.

Holiness Displayed

The holiness of God is perhaps his most defining characteristic, and while God ensured his people knew of his holiness in the Old Testament (Exod. 3:1-4, 17; Exod. 19:16-24; 2 Sam. 6:1-11), the cross provides a significantly clearer picture of it. God’s holiness encompasses his moral purity, although there is a second use of the word in Scripture we must keep in mind. Scripture’s use of the word holiness usually refers to being separate or intentionally set apart for God’s use. God met Moses in a burning bush and even the ground around the bush was set apart as holy. Aaron was ‘set apart’ as the first high priest to make offerings to God and pronounce blessings from God (1 Chron. 23:13). His lineage became the priestly line, separate from the rest of the tribes of Israel to keep the holy worship of God according to God’s command. The center of the tabernacle was set apart as the Most Holy Place (Lev. 16) because that is where God’s presence dwelled. No one could walk into that room nonchalantly and live.

Unholy people cannot be in fellowship with a holy God. They have not been set apart for God’s use, and they have no right to his morally pure presence. Our sin keeps us separated. The cross then is the only answer to the question of how a holy God can be reconciled to an unholy people. Through a perfectly holy mediator our sin can be paid for and we can be declared righteous. We can be set apart to be in the presence of God.

The only acceptable form of payment for treason against a holy God is a perfectly holy substitute for us. Our guilt is punished in Jesus, and he transfers to us his righteousness so that we can be made right with a holy God. Through this exchange of our sin for God’s righteousness, God upholds his holy character by punishing sin and declaring his people holy in Christ. This does not compromise God’s own holiness and righteousness. Instead, he removes our dirty sandals and gives us new metaphorical shoes so we can stand on his holy ground.

This great exchange – our sin for his righteousness – is what Paul boasts about to the Corinthians when he writes, ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor. 5:21). If you are in Christ, his righteousness now belongs to you. In theological terms, it has been imputed to you. This exchange rate is unbeatable. We trade in our sin and – in return – we get the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Cloaked in the righteousness of Christ, we are able to freely enter the most holy place. At the death of Jesus, the curtain in the temple separating the outer court from the Most Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom, signifying that sin would no longer separate God’s people from Him. Those who enter through Christ enter into the very presence of God (Matt. 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). Our perfect high priest has already made eternal atonement for us, and our sin no longer prevents us from approaching the holy God.

The Riches Found at the Cross

How foolish of us to brush past an enormous truth like this without meditating on the richness of it. At the cross, your biggest problem has been solved, and you contributed nothing to its solution. Your greatest boast has been accomplished, and your contribution? Absolutely zilch. In God’s vast wisdom, he simultaneously revealed his holy character and accomplished salvation for his people. I can think of other routes that God could have taken to clearly reveal his holiness, but they all end in eternal punishment of man. Only through the cross of Christ was God able to fully reveal himself as holy and altogether separate from sin, and yet also accomplish salvation for his people. Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33)

Subscribe to this blog to receive Jenny Manley‘s next two articles on God’s display of his character at the cross. These articles are excerpts from Jenny’s new book, The Good Portion: Christ.