Some of us have a tendency to deal too much in the "past tense" of our lives. There is this intense focus on the "what ifs" and the "should haves" instead of the stuff which makes up our current picture. Maybe it is because our minds have this way of capturing those moments in living memory - "scrapbooking" the sadness of our past and continually dragging it out to dredge up these old memories in our present. There is one part of "past tense" we don't realize - what has been done doesn't need to be done again! Perhaps this is why God thought it so important for us to recognize the futility of continually living in sin when we have ALREADY died to it!
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (Romans 6:1-7 NLT)
Breaking it down for you, here is exactly what God said:
- Since we died to sin...this is not present tense, it is past tense. When death ensues, what we once were is no longer what we are now. As death occurs, the very life-giving source is cut off. When we died to sin, the life-giving source was cut off - we stopped feeding what only could produce decay and destruction in our lives. Since really means "in view of the fact that" - it is an established fact, already having been established, and inarguable. Once you spread butter on a piece of toast, it is on there. SINCE you spread butter on there, you cannot now "go back" on the decision to have butter on the toast - it is an established fact that butter is now in union with the bread! SINCE we died to sin, it is an established fact that this is no longer the present condition of our heart or mind!
- How can we continue to live in it...this is not a casual question, but rather a restatement of the SINCE statement. Our condition has changed. When a mother gives birth to her newborn, she is no longer pregnant, but she remains a mother. She is known as a mother, but she no longer carries around this growing, breathing life within. In terms of our own sin nature, we no longer carry around this sin within as a growing thing, but we do still have the "nature" which we are known by. It is this "nature" which seems to give us our mental and heart "tie" with the past way of living. We have to recognize that sin is no longer being "fed" from within - it may still beckon to us from without, but it is no longer connected to a life source within!
- We died with him...our "past" is no longer in existence. Our old man and those ways of doing business have ceased to exist as they once were. As a result of death we are no longer subject to those things which held us captive all those years. I have said it before, but it bears repeating - what is dead is dead - it develops a certain characteristic which makes it quite plain it is dead! Today, with modern science being what it is, we often make what is dead look very much alive! The entire embalming process even was designed to slow the process of decay so families could have a few extra days to dress up the dead corpse and say their good-byes. Don't think me crass here, but I think we might just try to dress up our dead corpses of sin so that we can stay connected with them just a little longer!
- We also may live new lives...note it is not OLD lives we are to live, but the new. There is no need to return to that which is dead - we don't dig up, wallow around in, and become familiar with that which is physically dead, so why do we do it with the stuff we had a connection with in our past? Why is it so hard to cut ourselves off from the past? Living is a choice. We must determine to take on our new identity and not continue to connect with the old. For those of you who don't know, I have been "single-again" for over 25 years now. If I continued to hold onto my old identity as married to my ex, I'd be trying to live in something which is now totally off-limits to me. There is no bond there, no tie which holds us together any longer. So, if I held onto it when it was declared to be "dead", wouldn't you declare me foolish? The "old" is dead and the "new" is what I have to live in today.
- Since we have been united with him...united with means we are made one with him. In other words, we are now living in agreement with him - adhered so as to be only ONE unit. We no longer function independently from Christ - therefore, he is there to walk us through the choices to sin or live rightly.
What we determined to connect to becomes that which is our source for every movement or continued action in our lives.
- Sin has lost its power...at the Cross nothing remains the same. We are no longer subject to it. When something exerts power over something else, there is a dominating influence which must constantly be countered. Since this dominating influence has been broken by the work of the cross, it has been rendered powerless over us. It is what we submit to which determines what we will produce. When power is cut off from one source and connected to another, the potential to live differently occurs. It is a matter of where we stay connected! Just sayin!