Note from author: This is a continuation of “Love for Enemies”.
Last week, we learned that living by faith means giving up our pursuit of happiness.
When we live by faith, loving God, our neighbors as we love ourselves, even loving our enemies, God fills us with joy that cannot be explained or taken away. This joy God gives us is the kind that helps us move forward with hope. Hope is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we are to grow in (Galatians 5). Everything we do is by the Holy Spirit’s power, not from us (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:7).
Although loving our enemies may not change their hearts and the way they act towards us, we are to continue living as Jesus lived.
Jesus never changed the way He loved people just because of how other people treated Him. He continued to love and honor God in everything He spoke, did, and thought.
As Christians, we are also to follow Jesus’ example (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Let’s turn to Romans 6:1-4 (NIV):
“Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
1 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.”
When we read this, I want you to understand something important. Paul wrote that when people sin, God’s grace abounds even more (Romans 5:20).
Some people misunderstand it to mean that they can live however they like and sin even more just so they can receive God’s grace more and more.
However, Christ very clearly said that there are two kinds of people: there are people who love God, and there are people who do not love God.
People who love God will obey Him.
People who do not love God will not obey Him.
Which type of person received God’s grace: the one who keeps sinning, or the one who chooses to obey Him?
Let’s turn to John 14:23-24 (NIV):
“23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
So let’s go over each verse of Romans 6:1-4.
Romans 6:1 – “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Paul makes people rethink by asking this question. I want you to answer honestly.
Would God’s grace rescue you if you continue to curse your enemy even after learning that God wants us to bless them?
Would God’s grace cover for you if you choose to ignore your enemy if they’re hungry or thirsty, even after knowing we are to love them by giving them something to eat or drink?
Why should God give you grace if you do not give grace to others?
2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Paul pointed out that it makes no sense for people who received Jesus as their Lord and Savior to continue living in the way they want to.
Rachel pointed out last week, that if her enemy continues to be mean even after she showed love for them, she would not be happy. But we also learned that we are not to live our lives in a way that makes us happy.
In this world, we all will always have trouble. Happiness is temporary, but joy that God gives goes far deeper than feelings of happiness.
Paul called this contentment (Philippians 4:11-13).
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Paul goes on to question the way people think about God’s grace. People think they can freely receive God’s forgiveness, but don’t want to forgive other people.
Paul is asking us: what does God’s grace really mean to you? Is it only for you or is it something we need to share with other people?
If we truly received God’s grace for you through Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross, the way we view our life and how we treat other people will be completely changed.
In other words, people who have received God’s grace will make choices every day to fulfill God’s command to love Him and other people.
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.”
Paul also mentions that for Christians who are baptized into Christ Jesus, are also baptized into his death.
Some time ago, I mentioned there are two kinds of baptism: spiritual and water. Spiritual baptism is when the Holy Spirit comes upon people and works in their hearts (Acts 1:5; Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15; Acts 19:6).
Water baptism is what Christians do to show they choose to receive Jesus and become part of God’s family (Matthew 3:6; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:47-48). Physical baptism is done with water.
Paul is talking about both types of baptism. Here, Paul uses the water baptism to help people better visualize what is happening spiritually.
When you are baptized with water, you are completely immersed in water. This shows we die to our old way of living and sin.
After being immersed, we are raised up again. Being raised up from water shows that we are a new person and will follow Christ.
Paul is helping us understand that Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross broke the power of sin.
Christians who receive Jesus no longer are under the power of sin, but are made alive in Jesus, which is why he wrote at the beginning of the chapter “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ” (Romans 6:1). God’s grace for us, which we received through Jesus is why we extend grace even to the worst of our enemies.
Let’s live as God has made us through Jesus when we received Him! We are alive in Christ!