Paul writes Romans - Part four
SYMBOLISM OF WATER BAPTISM
Paul anticipated the argument coming back at him for what he
had taught about grace and justification, that if his position
was correct, then people should practice MORE sin so grace could
be glorified even more. His fast and immediate answer to this
was, "GOD FORBID!" He said that those who had died to sin could
no longer live in sin. He goes on to explain this sentence.
It all has to do with water baptism, and what that rite
pictured or symbolized. Being baptized in water, immersed fully
under water, which correct water baptism does (the New Testament
Church of God knew no such practice as sprinkling a few drops of
water over someone to baptize them, even the large and very old
Roman Catholic church for many centuries of the Christian age,
baptized with full immersion. This fact can be found in the
Catholic Encyclopedia), pictures our dying with Christ. If we did
not come up from under the water we would die, and as it is done
in the name of Jesus, Paul says, "as were baptized into Jesus
Christ, were baptized into His death" (verses 1-3).
As Jesus was raised from the dead by the Father, so we are
raised from the watery grave so to speak, to have a NEW life that
we are to walk in. Jesus was raised to a new glorified life, and
as we have died in Him in water baptism, so we shall be one
day in the likeness of His glory (see 1 John 3:1-3 on that
matter, and 1 Corinthians 15 which we have covered in previous
chapters), which to Paul meant that Christians now have a new
life to live after they are baptized.
Verse six say it all. Our old man with its sins was
crucified or put to death in Him through water baptism. Going
under the water symbolized that we were willing to put the
old sinful man to death, to destroy sin, that we "might not serve
sin." It is as plain as the nose on your face as we say, that
baptism means we are willing to NOT SERVE sin any longer, that we
HENCEFORTH have a different mind-set, one that wants to go in the
opposite direction of serving sin. And by putting a few
Scriptures together we can understand the New Testament
definition of what sin IS - see 1 John 3:4; James 2:10-12.
We are then to have a mind-set of wanting to obey the Ten
Commandments (and we must remember that the Ten commandments are
amplified or magnified by the whole Bible, so it is indeed a
mind-set of doing what Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 - that is
"living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God").
Paul gives the illustration that if we be physically dead,
we can no longer sin. Then he proceeds to our being dead in
Christ. Our water baptism was as if we died with Christ on the
cross, and so being "dead with Him" in a figure, we shall also
"live with Him" in another figure of speech. As Jesus was raised
from the dead, and He died because HE took all our sins upon
Himself and died the penalty of sin for us, which penalty was
death. But now He is alive again, raised from the dead, in
glorified eternal life, death can never touch Him. He is
completely free from sin ever being able to tempt Him, let alone
perhaps sin (remember the Scriptures teach in the book of Hebrews
that Jesus was tempted in all points like us, but never sinned).
Now being raised from death to immortal life, Jesus is free from
even the temptation to sin. Christ died to sin, or for our sins,
once upon the tree, but now lives as God lives, never to sin or
even be tempted with sin. It is a life where sin is not even
there in any sense period (verses 4-10).
The following verses of Paul are so plain and so easy to
understand, when we know what sin IS, then even little children
can understand what Paul is clearly saying in verses 11-14. I
will quote them from the "New Living Translation" published by
"So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to
live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. Do not let
sin control the way you live, do not give in to its lustful
desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of
wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves
completely to God since you have been given new life.
And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for
the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you are
no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin.
Instead, you are free by God's grace."
God has through Christ delivered us from the law that
enslaved us to death, for the law had said to the judge that we
were guilty of breaking it, we had sinned, and were so condemned
or enslaved to have the penalty of law breaking applied to us. We
had gone through many red stop lights, and were now enslaved or
captured by the policeman's law radar detector, and were found
guilty of breaking the law, and so the penalty of breaking the
law was upon us. But the judge had given us grace, or mercy,
through his son, who had be willing to pay our law breaking fine
for us, in our stead. We were free by grace from the sin we had
committed, and so now we were to have a mind-set that wanted to
never break the law again, that wanted to never sin again. We are
now to yield our body and mind and life to being like an
instrument in God's hands that only produces the righteousness of
God (again see Ps.119:172 for one definition of righteousness).
Being under the "grace" of the judge would mean we were willing
to put sin away, and never want to serve sin again, we would now
have the desire and heart to not obey sin, but just the opposite,
to obey righteousness.
Paul says in verse 15, that we "are not under the law but
under grace." How this phrase has been misused by so many over
the years is a classic example of the silly, Biblically
uneducated people, who claim to be guides and leaders in Bible
understanding and in the way of the Lord concerning salvation.
They are instead truly as Jesus said of the same type of
individuals in His day, "blind leaders of the blind" who both
shall fall into the pit.
Whatever Paul is saying here in this verse, it does concern
SIN! And he clearly says ONCE MORE, that in all that he has been
teaching, that if the argument is put forth that being under
grace means we can serve sin more and more, then he answers loud
and emphatically....GOD FORBID!!
Putting Scripture with Scripture, we have already seen what
sin IS. Breaking the law of God, the Ten Commandments, is
sinning. Paul is in this section of his epistle, making the point
that a Christian being baptized and starting on a new life, must
put away sin, must not serve sin, so he CANNOT be here in verse
15, stating you can have the mind-set to NOT obey the law of God.
It is obvious from the CONTEXT, that "we are not under the law,
but under grace" does NOT mean we can live and practice a way of
life that breaks the law of the Lord. The ONLY meaning of this
phrase can be that as we are delivered from the penalty of
breaking the law, which hung over us, as we are under or have
been given grace, mercy, forgiveness, of our sin of law breaking,
we cannot now go ahead and live a life of sin, or law breaking.
The judge in giving you grace or forgiveness for going through a
number of red lights, is NOT giving you the freedom to continue
to go through any and all red lights you come to, as you now have
Paul goes on to make what he has just stated about grace and
law and sin very easy to understand and never to mis-apply what
he is teaching on the matter. I will give you verses 16-23 from
the "New Living Translation."
"Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes
your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or
you can choose to obey God and receive His approval. Thank
God! Once you were slaves to sin, but now you have obeyed
with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. Now
you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become
slaves to your new master, righteousness. I speak this way,
using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is
easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of
impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves
of righteousness so that you will become holy. In those
days when you were slaves of sin, you weren't concerned with
doing what is right. And what was the result? It was not
good, since now you are ashamed of the things you used to
do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free
from the power of sin and have become slaves to God. Now you
do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal
life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of
God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
It is really simple to understand if you really want to
understand. The Bible tells us what sin IS and what righteousness
IS. I have given you those Scriptures that interpret for us sin
and righteousness. Paul is clearly saying that when we are
forgiven of our sins through the grace of God via the blood
sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we must have a new mind-set, which is
one of turning from living the way of sin and turning to obey the
righteousness of God. How people can try to say that Paul was the
teacher who abolished the law of God, the Ten Commandments, is to
me the hight of New Testament ignorance. Then again I know the
reason some have this theology. It is because they will not obey
the FOURTH of the Ten Commandments, and so will twist themselves
into every contortion they can possibly come up with to teach
others that the law of God is abolished under the New Covenant.
Paul now draws on a point of the law, the Old Covenant in
this case, not the law of the Ten Commandments per se, because it
has to do with marriage and re-marriage. He tells them that they
should know the law applies only to a person who is still living.
He illustrates with the basic law of marriage. In a general sense
the law bound a woman to her husband till death. If he died then
the laws of marriage no longer applied, she could re-marry, but
if she tried to do this when he was alive, she would be
Before we proceed with exactly what Paul was illustrating
with all this, I want to mention that the law Paul was stating
about marriage, was a GENERAL statement only.
Most people are unaware of the principle of "general
statements" in the Bible. There are dozens and dozens of them. An
example would be this; the New Testament states "It is given unto
men to die once, and after this the judgement." This is a general
statement, for we know that a number of people in the Bible were
raised from the dead to physical life again (the famous example
is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead), hence those people died
TWICE. Another general statement is that which has perplexed
many, found in the book of Proverbs; "Train up a child in the way
he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
This is also a general statement, because it is a fact of life
that some parents have trained very well their children or child
in the way of the Lord, the way they should go, when they were
children, but the child or children, never accepted that way in
which they should go, and died (young or old) as un-converted
none Christians. The frustrating problem that many parents have
had over this verse is put to rest and peace, when we understand
that it is a general statement only. It does not apply in every
So this example of Paul here about what many claim is THE
ONLY law of marriage and re-marriage - death of one of the
parties. Such is not the case, for Paul was taking his example
from "the law" - the Old Covenant, and the fact is the Old
Covenant under Moses DID ALLOW for DIVORCE and RE-marriage is
certain situations. This can be easily seen from reading the
ENTIRE Old Testament. What Paul was doing was giving a general
statement example in marriage. To cover the exceptions to the
general rule would only have clouded what Paul was illustrating
for his main point, which was not really anything to do with
marriage and re-marriage per se.
Now to what Paul was getting at. He explains in verses 4-6.
And once more here is where many have very badly not understood
Paul. Many say this is another section where he "abolishes" the
law of the Ten Commandments. Of course if such people would
read verses 7-25, and see that Paul in his mind-set ready did
want to obey the law of God, and admitted it was holy, the
commandments were holy, just and good, then they would seek for
the true understanding of verses 1-6.
From verse 4 to 6 is Paul's explanation of verses 1-3.
Before you died in a figure with Christ on the cross, you were
held in the power of the law. Now what power does the law have?
Can the law talk to you? No, it cannot. Can the law say you are
innocent if you break the law? No it can not. Can the law show
mercy to you for transgressing it? No it can not! The only thing
where the law has power over you, is to condemn you for breaking
it. You then before dying in a figure with Christ on the cross,
were held in the condemnation power of the law, in this case of
humanity, it is the penalty of death that the law demands from
you for being a sinner, for breaking the law. You were held under
that power of condemnation, but when in a figure you died with
Christ on the cross, you paid the penalty, it held no more power
over you, you were free from it's power of death, free to marry
another, be united with someone who was raised from the dead to
glorious immortal righteous life. That someone who you can now
also be united with in the same kind of life of righteous living,
is Christ Jesus.
The sinful life is gone, it is dead. You have died through
Christ to that old sin that hung over you, and the penalty which
the law demanded you pay. It's all taken care of, it's all paid
in full, because you died in figure through Jesus' death on the
stake. And now you are free from condemnation to be married to
Him that was raised from death to glorious life that can only
live righteously with God. We are now in a new marriage, with
a new husband, with a new fresh start and with a new mind-set of
leaving behind the husband of sin and death, and being joined to
a husband of perfect righteousness, so we also can as a result,
produce good fruit, good deeds, a good way of living for God.
I will add words in brackets to amplify the "New Living
Translation" of verses 5-6.
"When we were controlled by our old nature (our husband in Paul's
example) sinful desires were at work within us, and the law
aroused these evil desires that produced sinful deeds, resulting
in death (the law stood and beamed a light on sin, even
magnifying it, and then we could see where our desires of sin had
led us to sin, and so then condemned us to death). But now we
have been released from the law, for we died with Christ
(released from its condemnation and penalty, for that is Paul's
context. We in the person of Christ died on the cross, the law's
power of death paid in full, so we are free from that powerful
old husband), and we are no longer captive to its power (yes, the
context of Paul is the law's power, the old husband's power of
death over us). Now we can really serve God (our new husband) not
in the old way by obeying the letter of the law (we may have had
a partial observance of God's law in certain ways - many people
do not murder, or bow before a stone or wooden idol in their back
yard - our old husband may not have been totally evil, but we
were still far from obeying God as He would want us to obey Him),
but in the new way by the Spirit (Jesus came to magnify the law -
see Isa. 42:21. We saw how he magnified it when we went through
the "sermon on the mount" as it is often called - Mat.5,6,7. We
are now married to a new husband - God, and He demands a walk of
life that is in Spirit and in truth - John 4:24. He demands a
serving of Him in a much deeper way than the way we lived under
our old husband)."
GOD'S LAW REVEALS OUR SIN
This is the way the "New Living Translation" heads verses
7-13. I will give you their translation.
"Well, then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of
course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that
showed my sin. I would never have known that coveting is
wrong if the law had not said, 'Do not covet.' But sin took
advantage of this law and aroused all kinds of forbidden
desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have
that power. I felt fine when I did not understand what the
law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had
broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. So the good
law, which was supposed to show me the way of life, instead
gave me the death penalty. Sin took advantage of the law and
fooled me; it took the good law and used it to make me
guilty of death. But still, the law itself is holy and
right and good. But how can that be? Did the law which is
good, cause my doom? Of course not! Sin used what was good
to bring about my condemnation. So we can see how terrible
sin really is. It uses God's good commandment for its own
Ah, yes, this is exactly what I have been bringing out to
you. Paul interprets himself. He knows the law itself is good,
holy, just, and did you notice he said that where there is NO law
there is no power. Obviously if there is no law you cannot break
it. For some to say that the law of God was abolished at the
cross is to say that since the cross there has been no sin, hence
you and I are not sinners, and we need not a Savior. How silly,
how il-logical are some of the reasonings of some Christian
teachers. The law cannot possibly be "done away with" for it is
the law that tells you what sin IS, as Paul has just shown us.
He personifies sin here. Personification is taking an
object, a thing, and making it into as if it is a person. Sin
became a person in a figure of speech, and sin looked at the
law of God and said, well I can take this holy and good and
righteous law, and use it to smash over the head every person,
for if they know the law or if they do not know it, no person has
ever observed it perfectly, they have broken it in one way or
another, and I can use it to condemn them all to the law's
penalty - death. So sin stood before the judge and with a holy
and good law (the law of stopping at red lights is a good law, it
protects us as we travel around the roads. Just think about our
roads not having red and green lights at intersections - what a
mess of accidents and death and injury there would be) said,
"Look all these people have broken this holy law, and so I demand
the penalty for breaking this good law be applied to them. I
demand they all be put to death." Sin as a person used God's holy
law to its own evil end - to condemn us all.
Paul then goes on to say in verse 14, "The law is good then.
The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold
into slavery, with sin as my master" (New Living Translation).
He goes on to say:
"I'm somewhat baffled and amazed, for what I should do I
often don't do, and what I hate I often find myself doing.
If I'm then doing what I should not do, then I have to admit
the law is good. Then I know it is not really the deep
mind-set I have towards good, but it is the nature of sin
that still remains in me. Of myself, in my natural flesh
there is no real help, for I have the right mind-set towards
good, but how to perform it I find not in my natural nature.
For the good I should do, I do not, and the evil I should
not do, I often do. It is the natural sinful self that pulls
me towards doing what I should not do. It is then like an
invisible law, that when I want to do good, evil is still
present with me. In my deep mind-set I delight in the law of
God after the inner heart. But then I see another invisible
law inside of me, making war against the law of my mind's
delight, and it brings me into captivity to the law of sin
that is still inside me. I often feel wretched.
Who shall deliver me from this sinful law of death? I thanks
God through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is my victory. So it
is with my new mind-set that I serve the law of God; but
with the natural flesh I still serve the law of sin" (my own
paraphrased rendering of verses 15-25).
Paul, as a Christian, under the New Covenant, with Jesus as
Savior, wanted to go the right way, he wanted to SERVE the LAW
(sure did not believe it was abolished) and do what was righteous
and good. At the same time he still had what we often call "human
nature" inside of him, and it was like a law of gravity that
pulled towards doing and going the WRONG way, the way of sin.
There were then TWO gravity laws so to speak, inside of him, each
pulled against the other. And without help from someone, the law
that pulled towards evil often won the battle. But he finished on
the positive....he has someone that can give him victory over the
pulling law of sin, and that someone was Jesus Christ. We
can now put this with that great verse of Galatians 2:20.
Jesus lives in the true Christian and we live by the faith
OF Jesus, His faith IN us, and He within us gives us the victory
in the main (we do as Christians fall at times - see 1 John 1:8
to 2:6) over the law of the pull towards sin.
It is very clear that the whole CONTEXT here shows the LAW
of God, the Ten Commandments has NEVER been abolished.
And being in Christ, or as Paul has said, Christ in us,
leads to no condemnation.
TO BE CONTINUED