By Harry Bultema
The Book of Romans deals with thoughts which form an outline of the massive whole Book. They are:
- The sin of the whole world, Jew and Gentile. The whole of mankind is leprous with sin. The picture of Romans 1-3 presents a gruesome picture to contemplate but it tallies perfectly with the facts recorded in all of our modern news day by day.
- In Chapters 3-5, salvation is set forth; the great theme is summed up in the 5th chapter with the grand contrast between the two Adams, the representative heads of the Old and New Humanity.
- The third subject is sanctification which is presented with marvelous beauty in Chapters 6, 7, and 8. This study is taken from this sublime Epistle where he deduces sanctification from a union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The fourth subject is the Second Coming of Christ in order to restore Israel who is so sinful. The great theme of Israel’s past, present, and future is treated in Chapters 9, 10, and 11.
- Service is the fifth theme in the order of the Epistle and is treated in the remaining Chapters, 12-16.
- Before the inspired Apostle brings the letter to a close, he brings in the person of Satan. His pen was about to write the benediction when the Holy Spirit seemed to remind him that in his great system of theology, he neglected to mention the great enemy, Satan. In the 20th verse, we read: “And the God of Peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Here he gives us in one word the fulfillment of the Protevangelium or mother-promise, which speaks volumes.
- Finally, in verse 25, he added another word revealed unto him by the Lord concerning the Sacred Secret, the revelation of the Mystery which had been kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest.
Our text, Romans 6:3 & 16 and 7:1 presents many things that should be known by every Christian. It is a great trick of Satan through the training and modern trend of things to make believers emotional and get them so full of thrills that they finally dislike to gather knowledge. Doctrinal preaching is not emotional and peppery enough, and all taboo because it requires a little thought. But when you read carefully that which the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote in his last Epistle about doctrine, it will be noted that in the last hard days of this evil age, sound doctrine is the only safeguard against declension. It is a sad day for the Church when even so many fundamentalist preachers give in to the howl of – no doctrine! Think of the importance of knowledge when even Christ Himself said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life that ye may know Thee and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.” We are saved by the knowledge which is a part of saving faith. There is not a single great theme of truth where knowledge has not been emphasized.
“I do not want you to be ignorant brethren concerning the hardening of Israel the pleroma of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25). “I do not want you to be ignorant of the brethren that have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:13), and nor do I want you to be ignorant of the perilous times that are upon us.
The first truth of our text that the Apostle would have us know is that of our baptism. Even at this time we know that the Christians were divided over baptism and extremely touchy in regard to its discussion. God did not hold His mouth concerning it and neither did the Apostle; this should be our great paragon example in creed and conduct. He tells us that we should know that our baptism constituted our union with Christ (Rom. 6:3). We were baptized not in any element or church, but into Jesus Christ Himself and in His death. Oh, the pity of pities to have forgotten this—INTO JESUS CHRIST, the mystical union which not only rules our theology but even our whole life and conduct.
Second truth: In order to understand this great chapter on sanctification, we must draw a rigid distinction between Israel and the Church, the Body of Christ. With respect to Israel, God was always “Immanuel” meaning God with Israel. On the other hand, the Church is always regarded as “with Him” – with Him in His resurrection since we arose with Him, in His ascension and session at the right hand of God, since He “made us sit with Him in heavenly places.” This union with Christ in His death and resurrection regulates and governs our whole life for we are crucified to the world.
This pointed question, “Know ye not?” of the Holy Spirit never seems to have entered even the consciousness of the Church as a whole. Very few could answer this pertinent question in the affirmative with a wholehearted, “Yes, Lord, we know that we have been baptized into Thy death, buried and risen with you.” The sad results of this lack of knowledge is seen throughout the entire world.
We should know that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be paralyzed. The verb translated “destroyed” does not mean annihilated or extinguished, but so worked down that it has no power left. The Word of God furnishes absolutely no ground for the empty doctrine of eradication. This would only be a logical doctrine if the eradicated could never stumble and fall, for it is sure that the new man in Christ does not stumble or fall. Christ did not and does not fall into sin and we are in Him; therefore, if the believer does fall into sin, it must of necessity be the old man and the new spiritual—Spirit energized—new man in Christ. We are no longer a slave for sin—Satan’s power and dominion over us has been broken. Christ went to the Cross, treated as the old creation, but He arose in triumph as the Head of the new Creation, the new Adam, the federal and representative Head of the new Creation. What does the Christian do now when he day-by-day wrestles against the old man. In unbelief he stabs away at Christ’s Cross where He not only died for sin, but to sin.
In Christ’s death for sin, He stood all alone; there was no one with Him. He did it all, O wondrous love! Even God the Judge was against Him, but in His death to sin, we are ONE with Him. We MUST know that our old man was crucified with Him: nailed to the Cross. Thank God, He did not say we should feel this, for we do not feel anything of it, but we should know it by simple faith because God says so. We were baptized into His death. It is not a feeling, but faith; the truth of the fact is grasped by faith. The reason for the “why” the Church as a whole has not grasped this simple reasoning of the Apostle is because it has added a material element to it—an incongruous material element added to this deeply spiritual truth. We would insert a quotation here of the late Dr. Griffith Thomas.
“It is at least significant that the ideas of death, burial and resurrection in this passage are all purely spiritual and are considered quite apart from literal ordinances; so that to be consistent in our interpretation, the baptism should also be spiritual. Besides, whatever the passage means, the burial is not expressed in symbolical language, but as taking place by or through baptism. This, if made to apply to the ordinance, introduces very serious difficulties into the Apostle’s thought.”
The third object of our knowledge has reference to our resurrection with Christ. There must be a death before there can be a burial, and so death precedes necessarily also the resurrection. It is a marvelous truth that we have been raised with Christ. It is of supreme importance to bear this in mind since this also is a governing factor in our certainty and in our spiritual life in general. Life in general can die and does daily, but not so the resurrection life.
¨ That is a life that is deathless. It is a life different in quality and quantity from all other life.
¨ It is a life that cannot be under Law, that cannot be under bondage, and neither under man-made regulations, rites or ritualism.
¨ It is a life not subject to gravitation, time, space or any circumstance.
¨ The resurrection life is not dependent on food or locomotion.
¨ This life enjoys a three-fold liberation: 1) it is free from the condemnation of sin; 2) free from the reign of sin; and 3) the fruit of sin.
Fourth object: Since we have been raised up with Christ, we are called upon to seek the things that are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God the Father and at the same time removing our affections from things of earth. Our new life is still hid with Christ in God but when Christ “Who is our life shall appear, then also we shall [politically] appear with Him in Glory.” Glory to His precious Name!
The fifth and final thing that we should know is that the Law is not our husband. He was here, undoubtedly, thinking of Jewish believers primarily since the Law was given to Israel and not to the Gentiles. He makes the appeal to the known fact that the Law only has power over the living and not over the dead. We have no time to enter into the question of the two husbands, but suffice it to say that the Law was once a husband, just and holy but altogether lacking in mercy and help for the weak and wayward.
Death came not to the Law but to Christ and the believers and the Law has not a word to say in regard to the new resurrection life in Christ Jesus. How our hearts should beat high with gratitude to God for His wondrous grace—that we were crucified, buried, risen and now seated with Christ—our lot and life being inseparably and unbreakably joined to His. When He appears in His beauty and regal majesty, we shall appear with Him to share His judgment and dominion forever.
Christian friend, “yield yourself unto God” (Rom. 6:13) as the Word exhorts you to do. The word “yield” is translated “present” in Romans 12:1, which translation better explains the meaning of the word. Yielding is done involuntarily and unconsciously by the ground that yields her increase; the vineyard yields its fruitage; the fig tree yields its figs; and the fountain yields its waters.
God wants you to consciously yield your bodies and your all unto Him. God never forced man to disobey Him and neither does He force man to obey Him. The believer should present themselves to God even as a babe yields itself to its mother; as a patient yields himself/herself to the Doctor.
Make a present of yourself to God even as Hannah of old presented her only son to Him. Oh, Christian, reckon yourself dead unto sin but alive unto God—yield your all to Him.
And, unsaved friend, will you not hide yourself in Him? Find in Him your refuge and safe retreat. Believe in Him—in his finished work on the Cross of Calvary in His death, burial, and resurrection—just for you! Receive His atoning work as your very own by Faith. Do it NOW, for tomorrow may be too late.