A Matter of Life and Death: Notes
Romans 5:1 – 6:12
A Matter of Life and Death
“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom 6:2b).
Paul must have heard in his day what we hear so often in our time: You Christians teach love and grace and forgiveness. So, the only thing you can say to people who break God’s moral law is this: “That’s okay! God loves you, so don’t fret over it. God accepts everybody – just as they are. So, he’ll forgive you. Shucks, he has already! He’s in the ‘forgiving business,’ so just get on with your life, however you want to live it.” This was the apostle’s response to that sort of moral permissiveness: “Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?” (Rom 6:1-2a, The Message).
The first major section of Romans has stressed the impurity and degrading behavior (1:24), shameful lusts (1:26), and depraved minds (1:28) that always follow when humans turn away from God and the truth he has made known to them. Having just affirmed God’s faithfulness in bringing Christ Jesus to redeem us from such moral and spiritual chaos, Chapter Five opens with this contrast: Those who trust what God has done through the Lord Jesus Christ are given grace, hope, and peace in him!
How would you explain what Paul calls “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” to someone wringing his or her hands over some moral failure? Weeping over the harm caused to someone he or she loves because of some sinful behavior? Hands or whole body shaking from addiction or fear?
Do you know the Hebrew term shalom? Why is it such an important concept in both OT and NT?
Please read Rom 5:9-11 aloud. Then read it out loud a second time – slowly. Finally, say aloud in your own words the central message of this text to your life at this very moment in time.
Read Rom 5:13-21 closely Paul says that death “reigned” from Adam to Moses to us. What does this mean? How has Christ made it possible for grace to “reign through righteousness to bring eternal life”?
Chapter 6 ties the death and resurrection of Christ to a death and resurrection in a believer’s life. To what did Christ die? To what die he rise? How is this supposed to be a model for our lives?
At the top of this page, the opening two verses of Chapter 6 are quoted from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Read these two verses from two or three other translations available to you. What is the critical point of this text? How does it challenge you? Is The Message a helpful reading for you?
What does this text teach about the meaning of baptism? Can you recall your baptism? What has been the long-term implication of that event for you?
As you end your study of this text, don’t overlook the contrast Paul makes between “slavery,” a “body ruled by sin,” and “death” on the one hand and “set free,” the body as “an instrument of righteousness,” and “life” (especially in 6:5-12). What does this mean about the nature of discipleship to Christ? Re-read the “Open” segment at the top of this page. Pray for greater faith/faithfulness to follow our Lord.