The Rescue Story
Read This Week: Romans 6
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 6:8-11, 23 NIV
Stories of rescue and endurance seem to capture our imagination and attention. Because we understand and value our lives more in the shadow of death, we are fascinated by the pursuit to stay alive and by the things that threaten our existence. Our spirits naturally cling to life, and our hearts become moved by narratives that highlight survival, especially when we know from what someone has been saved. The rescue is always enhanced by the peril overcome.
In Romans chapter 6, Paul refers to death in different iterations 16 times and to life in various forms 14 times as he describes our salvation from sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Justification by faith in Christ’s finished work is the ultimate rescue story in human history. It is the meta-narrative; the conclusive triumph of life over death.
Without it, we were and are living under the threat and oppression of sin and death. Verse 23 tells us that the result or penalty for sin is death. Our only fate, apart from Jesus, was and is condemnation. But with Christ and faith in Him, a new life of freedom and redemption begins. We experience rescue from judgment. We can be made righteous before God, claim power over sin, and have eternal life. Paul writes in verses 8-11:
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In this passage, Paul describes how the rescue took place and what life is like on the other side of liberation. He makes it clear that what Jesus did was sufficient, permanent, and effective for a life with God in the present and for an eternal destination in His presence.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the believer’s rescue story. It is the rescue story of all-time. When the Bible says in verses 6-7 that we know our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, we see that something has been done for us that we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves.
When we count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ, we recognize that we’ve been rescued from the place of death to the place of life. From the place of sin to the place of grace. From the old self to the new self. From the old habits and patterns to new, healthy ones. From destructive actions to favorable ones that glorify God. We know that we’ve survived an imminent and powerful threat and live to tell about it.
In Romans 6, this is what God was saying to me: “Don’t think because I give grace to you it gives you permission to keep living a sinful life. If you believe that your position in Jesus is settled because of what He did, then the motivation of holy living is gone. Once you are saved your relationship with sin is permanently changed. If you died to sin then you should not live any longer in it. If you have not spiritually died and risen with My son, Jesus, just being baptized will not accomplish it for you. Being saved changes your life. You can no longer be a slave to sin.
The new person you are is instinctively obedient and pleasing to me. Your inner being has desires and impulses and passions, that are played out in your mind, your will, and your emotions. The flesh is what acts out in you. Daily you have to make your flesh dead to sin. If you allow your flesh to be influenced by old habits, the world, and the devil, your flesh will exert a powerful pull towards sin. If you don’t then the battle will be less intense. With your new life, you live to Me. You live to please Me and honor Me.
What this said to me is in order to make my flesh dead to sin, daily I have to spend time filling my mind with God’s word and in worship, to give me the weapons I need when I am tempted. I have to bring to the surface, my “junk in my trunk”, to be freed up to move forward and let God in to heal me.
This is a practical and tremendous view of sanctification and living for God in the Spirit, Kathy. We as believers need a better understanding of the fact that the faith that saves is the faith that sustains. Salvation’s power is effective for righteous living and obedience to God and his truth. This section from your post sums this up well:
The flesh is what acts out in you. Daily you have to make your flesh dead to sin. If you allow your flesh to be influenced by old habits, the world, and the devil, your flesh will exert a powerful pull towards sin. If you don’t then the battle will be less intense. With your new life, you live to Me. You live to please Me and honor Me.
May we seek and worship God so that His Spirit can fill us each day to die to our flesh and with our new heart, live to please and glorify God.
God was sharing this with me from Romans 6: “When you gave your life to Me, You became My daughters and sons. I have set you free because I love you. You don’t have to listen to sin, tempting you to listen and respond to old ways of doing life without Me; living a life that is not good for you. As you spend time with Me, you will learn who you are, my child, I will teach you how to think and act in ways that are pleasing to Me and to others.
I have good plans for you, as you learn how to respond to My love, listen, and obey. You will know who you are, that you are no longer a slave to sin or bad fear. Good fear, positive fear will lead you in the right direction, back to Me to help you. I want you to know that I am right with you to help you through anything and everything. Will you trust Me? I love you.”
What that means to me is that God set us free from the old way of living, We must depend on God for everything. Fear is positive when it causes us to turn to the Lord. God gives us a new day to desire to live a life with Him. He set us free, every day we get to live in His presence. We get to ask Him to help us, and we get blessed when we worship Him. He fills us with what we need. God gives us wisdom and knowledge so we don’t make bad choices.
He gave us the best gift of eternal life with Him through Jesus Christ. When we really care how God feels and seek Him with our whole heart, we learn how to apply His will, His ways over ours and the worlds. It turns out good through trusting Him and relying on Him. We get victory over and over. Good fear is learning to know what happens when we do things that don’t bring honor to God and we choose not to. Good fear leads you to love and obey. All we have to do is ask God to help us, listen, then obey!
God’s power is released when you ask Him for help. He gives you the ability to do the right thing. He gives you the ability to learn daily, to go and sin no more. We need to daily surrender to God.
I really appreciate your deep insight from Romans 6 this week, Heidi. I especially benefited from your perspective on “good fear” or the awe and reverence of God that leads us to honor and obedience. It is hard to rebel against and live in enmity with someone that we revere and seek to honor. These lines stood out to me:
Good fear, positive fear will lead you in the right direction, back to God to help you. Good fear is learning to know what happens when we do things that don’t bring honor to God and we choose not to. Good fear leads you to love and obey.
When we were apart from God in our sin, we didn’t even acknowledge Him must less honor him with our lives out of reverence and fear. Your comments took me back to the reality of Romans 6:20-22:
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 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.
It is of great benefit both in this life and in eternity to live in awe of God and in doing so, honoring and obeying Him with our lifestyles, choices, relationships, and good works.
This week in Romans chapter 6, God gave me a few songs. The first one is called, “Free of Sins”:
Once we were sinners, sinners of the world
We did not know then we met God
Who loved us all and freed us of our sins
We are special gifts from above
No more slaves of sins but slaves of God
A gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ
We are free of sins, free of sins
Free of our sins. Amen.
Thank you, God, for your forgiveness so we can be free from our sins.
My second song in this chapter is called, “Living in our Spirit”:
We are living in the spirit, living in the spirit,
Living in God’s spirit
Every day is a new day spending time with Jesus
Letting our hearts be filled with hope, joy, and love
Forgetting our sins, living in our new nature
No longer having fear of our old nature
We are living in the spirit, living in the spirit,
Living in God’s spirit. Amen.
God is so good that we don”t have to live in the past. He forgives and forgets, so let’s live for today and hope for a better tomorrow. Remember, He is with us always! Thank you, God.
Beautiful and touching stuff out of this week’s chapter in Romans, Alma. Your first song, “Free of Sins” took me back to the truth of last week’s study in Romans 5. I immediately thought of and was thankful for the reality of verses 6-8:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Your second song, “Living in the Spirit” took me to the truths of Romans 6 and brought back an Alvin Slaughter song called “Holy Spirit Rain Down” and these lyrics that remind us, as you did, that we don’t have to live according to our old nature with the help of God’s holy spirit:
Holy Spirit rain down
Oh, comforter and friend
How we need Your touch again
Holy spirit rain
Let Your power fall
Let Your voice be heard
Come and change our hearts
As we stand on Your Word
Holy Spirit rain down