The True Basis for the Christian Life

This is second in a series of Sermons on “How to Grow in Christ” going through Romans 6 – 7 – 8

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The True Basis for the Christian Life

July 25, 2010



What is the basis for the Christian life?


Just as there are false ways to become a Christian there are also false systems to live the Christian life. All false systems concerning justification or sanctification always focus on the effort of man in contradistinction to a Christ-centered focus. The truth of the Bible concerning both justification and sanctification always places the emphasis on Christ finished work alone by means of grace and faith alone to the glory of God alone.


Only in Christianity do you have an objective, legal, outside of you basis for knowing the God of the Bible and fellowshipping with the true God of Scripture. God causes the elect unbeliever to focus on the objective work of Christ alone to establish a legal, eternal relationship with him. Similarly, the Holy Spirit causes the elect believer to return to the same legal ground with reference to the finished work of Christ for growth and fellowship. The logic of God is unmistakable. He wants us to focus on what Christ has DONE i.e. all that He has accomplished for us concerning both justification and sanctification.


Col 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,


Antichrist teachers want you to focus your belief away from Christ alone to your subjective obedience as the basis for salvation and sanctification.


Sound Christian doctrine focuses out attention away from us to Christ finished work alone and His resurrected life as the basis for maturity and the source for living out this moment by moment legal relationship. Paul in Romans 6 begins his argument for the only basis on which we are to begin our growth in our Christian life.


Purpose: To learn from Scripture alone the legal basis for our Christian life and all that God the Father has accomplished through His Son and His Holy Spirit so that we can live godly, overcoming lives.

  1. Romans 5 established the legal ground for our justification. The understanding of your legal ground for your justification is the beginning of a mature Christian mind and the basis for your growth in Christ. The doctrine of legal, objective, outside-of-you justification is the death blow to all heart-centered subjectivism.


Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Rom 5:2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.


  1. In Romans 6 Paul reintroduces the same legal ground for our sanctification.


Rom 6:7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.


Freed in the former sentence is the Greek word for justified. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, is telling the Roman Christians that in the same manner that they were legally set free from all their sins now this same justification sets them free from the dominion of their sinful natures.


  1. Now let us begin an exegesis of the objective nature of the basis of our Christian life.


Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?


Paul is now going to make a transition from the doctrine of justification to the doctrine of sanctification. Paul is going to move from the doctrine of Substitution i.e. Christ died for me to the doctrine of Identification i.e. I died with Christ. Paul anticipates his reader’s objection to the doctrines of grace. Therefore, he takes them back to Romans 5:20.


Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,


The objector is saying in essence if sin is the occasions of the manifestation of God’s grace why not continue to live under the dominion of our sinful natures so that grace may flourish.



4. Paul’s response to this objection to the doctrine of grace is God forbid!


Rom 6:2  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?


a.    Certainly not! This expression is the strongest language in the Greek to assert an aversion to any thought of this kind.

How shall we—It is very important to understand the import of this pronoun we.



“Such ones as we” = “hoitines”, relative pronoun of characterization which has in view all believers with an emphatic force because of it’s primary position at the beginning of the phrase. [William R. Newell states, “ROMANS VERSE ~ BY ~ VERSE” Kregel Classics, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1994, p. 201]:

”’Here we have… “such ones as we” (hoitines). This is more than a relative pronoun: it is a pronoun of characterization, ‘placing those referred to in a class’ (Lightfoot). Paul thus has before his mind all Christians, and he places this pronoun at the very beginning: ‘such ones as we!’ ”’ 

“sin” = singular = old sin nature. Scripture indicates that no believer will be sinless in this life. 

1) [Compare 1 Jn 1:8, 10]: 

(v. 8) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 

(v. 10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 

The plural word, ‘sins’ refers in Scripture to acts of sin. The word sin here, (singular) refers to that which is in man which generates those acts of sin = the ‘sin nature’, the ‘flesh’, the ‘old man’. 

“who died to sin” = having become dead, i.e., inactivated relative to the authority of the sin nature in the believer’s life. Sin is singular and refers here to the capacity or nature within man which compels him to commit acts of sin, i.e., the sin nature.

The verb “died” is “apethanomen” in the Greek which is in the aorist tense denoting a completed action and not an ongoing one. Thus it cannot refer to an action as ongoing or prolonged such as a lifestyle of not sinning any more or one of gradually decreasing of acts of sin. Since it is a completed action it must refer to no longer being under the control of the sin nature such that the believer does not have to sin any more. Since believers are exhorted not to continue committing acts of sin in this passage indicating that they indeed can sin, a state of ongoing sinlessness cannot be in view. Thus the action in ‘died to sin’ is an aorist completed action. Hence we are looking at the believer being separated from the absolute authority over him of the sin nature within the believer such that when he was an unbeliever, everything he did was motivated by the sin nature – even the human good he did.

Previously, in verse 5:21 we learned that the old sin nature in the individual reigned in death in the unsaved man’s life, but now the believer is no longer under that reign; he has died, i.e., become separated from the rule of death of the sin nature through the grace of God through the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to the believer when he believed and such position of righteousness is maintained by God.

[Newell, cont.]:

“He [Paul] characterizes all Christians as those ‘who died.’ The translation, ‘are dead’ is wrong, for the tense of the Greek verb is the aorist, which denotes not a state but a past act or fact. It never refers to an action as going on or prolonged. As Winer says, ‘The aorist states a fact as something having taken place.’ Note how strikingly and repeatedly this tense is used in this chapter as referring to the death of which the apostle speaks: Mark most particularly that the apostle in verse 2 does not call upon Christians to die to sin, but asserts that they shared Christ’s death, they died to sin!”

Previously, in verse 5:21 we learned that the old sin nature in the individual reigned in death


5. Paul introduces how every Christian died to the dominion of their sinful natures.

Rom 6:3  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?


Heb 6:2  of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.



The word “baptize” (from the Greek baptidzo) means “to identify” or “to be made one with”. In early Greek, the word had both religious and secular meanings. In general, it refers to the act of identifying one thing with another thing in such a way that its nature or character is changed, or it represents the idea that a real change has already taken place.

As a reference to identification, “baptize” means to place a person (or thing) into a new environment, or into union with some one or something else, so as to alter his (its) condition or relationship to the previous environment.



There are seven types of baptism mentioned in the Bible. Four of these are real baptisms and three are ritual baptisms:

 4 Real Baptisms


A baptism is called “real” if it involves actually identifying a person with something or someone.

– The Baptism of Moses

The baptism of Moses was a double identification, the children of Israel are identified both with Moses and with the cloud (Jesus Christ) as they passed through the Red Sea. There was no water involved (remember, they went through the sea on dry land when the waters were parted). 1 Cor. 10:1,2.

– The Baptism of the Cross (or Cup)


Jesus Christ “drank” the Cup filled with our sins. Another way of expressing it is that all the sins of the world (i.e. God’s elect) were put into one cup and poured out on Christ while He was on the Cross. God the Father judged our sins while they were on Christ. Christ was identified with our sin and He bore our sins on the cross. He was made sin for us.

2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24.

In Matt. 20:22 Jesus speaks of the cup he is to drink as he makes a reply to the mother of Zebedee’s children. In Matt. 26:39, He prays to the Father to “let this cup pass from me”. Nevertheless, He determined to drink from the cup, as seen in John 18:11, “the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink from it?”

– The Baptism of the Holy Spirit


The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a real baptism. When a person accepts Christ as Saviour, he is placed into the body of Christ. He is identified as a believer.

The mechanics are given in 1 Cor. 12:13.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit did not occur in Old Testament times. The first occurrence was on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit placed the new believers into the body of Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the basis for Positional Truth. Believers are place “in Christ”, and in this position have access to many kinds of privileges and blessings. Ephesians 1 has a good description of what it means to have “all blessings in heavenly places in Him.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was prophesied by John the Baptist, Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16. And it was prophesied by Jesus Christ, John 14:16,17; Acts 1:5.

The implications of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for all believers in the family of God, are given in Gal. 3:26-28.

The principle of retroactive identification with Christ is brought out in Rom. 6:3,4 and Col. 2:12.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience. It is notaccompanied by speaking in tongues or any other kind of feeling or behavior. The things that happen to believers at the moment of salvation are accomplished by the Holy Spirit,not by us, and these things are not experiences.

– The Baptism of Fire


There is a judgment coming at the 2nd Coming of Christ when all nonbelievers are taken from the earth. They will join the rest of the unbelievers in Torments (Sheol-Hades-Hell) to wait for the Last Judgment (The Great White Throne Judgment of Rev. 20) at the end of the Millenium. This removal of unbelievers for judgment is the baptism of fire. 
Fire is a symbol for judgment all throughout the Bible. Examples are the fire which burned the sacrifice on the Hebrew altar, and the fire from God which burned the watered down sacrifices of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
The doctrine of the baptism of fire is stated in Matt. 3:11,12; Luke 3:16,17; and 2 Thess. 1:7-9.

The Lord Jesus taught several parables regarding the end times when believers and unbelievers will be separated. The believers are to go into the millenium, the unbelievers are “cast off” into fire. These parables are analogies to the baptism of fire.
Wheat and tares – Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.
Good and bad fish – Matt. 13:47-50.
The wise and foolish virgins – Matt. 25:1-13
The sheep and the goats – Matt. 25:31-46

 3 Ritual Baptisms


A baptism is called a ritual baptism, or a ceremonial baptism, when water is used as a symbol for something else. It is a representative identification. The individual is placed in the water, which means, symbolically, that he is identified with that which the water represents.

– The Baptism of John Matt. 3:6-11.

Here the water is symbolic of the Kingdom of God which John was preaching. When a person was baptized by John, he was testifying to his faith in the Messiah and his identification with Christ’s kingdom. The new believer was “identified” with the water, but the water represented a spiritual identification.


– The Baptism of Jesus Matt. 3:13-17


When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, the water was symbolic of God’s will in salvation, namely that Jesus would go to the Cross.

– The Baptism of the Christian Believer Matt. 28:19

In believer’s baptism the water represented the Lord Jesus Christ and symbolizes positional truth. The real baptism of the Holy Spirit places a believer into Christ. Water baptism is a ceremonial representation of that face, a picture of Spirit baptism.
Christians have a real identification with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. See Romans 6. Water baptism issymbolic identification with the person and work of Christ.
   Martin Lloyd Jones strongly advocates that this is spiritual baptism. He says;

“Indeed I go further and suggest that to argue that the Apostle as water baptism in his mind in any shape or form here is to give a prominence to baptism that the Apostle Paul never gives to it. . . .The conclusion therefore at which I arrive is that baptism by water is not in the mind of the Apostle at all in these two verses; instead it is the baptism wrought by the Spirit. It is the plain, explicit teaching of I Corinthians 12:13, and indeed in the whole of the chapter, as it is in other places where the Apostle treats of this particular aspect of truth. And I argue further that the use of this term ‘planted together’, in verse 5, supports what I am saying. All are agreed that the idea of planting has nothing to do with baptism at all; it is rather the idea of grafting a shoot into a tree. ‘Planted together’ – in unity, identification – that is the meaning of the term. Paul is not using the figure of baptism in any shape or form there, but is still emphasizing this unity. That also is the work of the Spirit.13

13 An Exposition of the Epistle of Romans, Ian R. K. Paisley, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London, 1968, p87.



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