January 2, 2024

JD Wilhelm
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
Romans 6:1-4

The rhetorical question asked by Paul is one we have all used in our lives at some point. From a purely natural viewpoint, grace is dangerous. Because if you tell people that God saves and accepts them apart from what they deserve, they will have no motivation to be obedient. But Paul here tells us that this is flawed logic. If we have died to sin through Christ, then how can we still live in it? The image Paul uses here is one of drowning. Baptism is our old self dying and through Christ being raised to walk in newness of life. So often, we say we don’t want to give up the stuff we do; we just want to add to it with this Christianity stuff. Paul tells us that this isn’t an option. When we accept Christ, we get the death and the life. It’s not a choice. 

It was hard to understand what this passage meant for my life until I saw this lived out. When I was in college, I guided a backpacking trip for a recovery program, and each night of the trip, they would hold an AA meeting. What I experienced during those AA meetings helped me to apply Paul’s words. I saw four things on that trip that help us take this passage and make it real for us. The first was the willingness of these men to admit their identity. For us, this requires the humility to admit our identity as sinful and broken people in need of a savior. The second was community and accountability. This is the only way for us to walk in the newness of life that Paul promises in Christ. The third was confession and seeking forgiveness. We need to be willing to confess those lingering sin areas in our lives and seek forgiveness from those around us. Lastly, these men were focused on staying sober one day at a time- moment by moment. They knew they would stumble and fall today if they focused on a year from now. They had to decide they were not going to drink or use today. We must invite the Holy Spirit in and allow Him to change us from the inside out moment-by-moment because I am tempted by the sins of my past every day. Let this new year be marked by new habits that help us live into this new identity Jesus has given us.