Romans - Lesson 27

Class discussion on Romans 6:1-23

Lesson 27
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Class discussion on Romans 6:1-23

Discussion on Romans 6:1-23

A. Student Question in Regards to Being Who We Are

B. Student Question Regarding the Spirit of God

C. Student Question Regarding Slaves verses Children of God

D. Student Question Regarding the Power of Sin Over Us

E. Student Question Regarding the Old Nature Being Common to the Christian

F. Student Question About Being Given Everything to Walk this Life With Christ

Class Resources

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Discussion on Romans 6:1-23


This transcript follows the main points of the speaker but is not always word-for-word.


A. Student Question in Regards to Being Who We Are: Would this be ontological in any way? What is Paul really saying here?


I am not sure I like to call it ontological. That brings in questions that aren’t easy to answer; what does ontological mean in this sense? I would prefer to keep the language Paul tends to use, like relationship, influence, lordship, and domination. As it is often put, become what you are; this is a broadly fair way of putting how Paul views the Christian life. It is not to become what one day you might be; there is a certain element to that. There is the not yet side of our experience. But basically in Romans 6, Paul is saying that here is what God has made you; he has put you in this new position. Now, you need to live out that new position. Take advantage of the power you really have. There is no single text of Scripture that gives us a full accounting of these things. When we deal with a Scriptural text, for example when I’m preaching Romans 6, I’ve got to adhere to what is there. I need to tell people that there is more to be said about the Christian life than this. Look at other texts and then go to Romans 8 eventually. I can’t use something like Romans 6 as a jumping off point to talk about all kinds of other things. My own view, we need to discipline ourselves as preachers to stick to what the text before us is doing. We need to make sure that people don’t get the wrong impression by sticking only to the text of course. Sometimes, we need to guard against misunderstanding that people might have. Sometimes, people are going to have questions that we want to try to answer in order to help them understand the text. I would hope that ultimately if I would be preaching through Romans, maybe Romans 5-8; they will hear about the spirit. And so, I don’t need to worry about bringing that in here. I might even like people to ask where the power comes from to do this.


B. Student Question Regarding the Spirit of God: We are talking baptism which is something that they have already experienced. At some point, perhaps Paul discussed the subject which possibly included teaching on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Is there power within the union with Christ within the resurrection?


Ultimately, the Spirit has to be brought in. Another way to put the matter; it is interesting that Paul doesn’t bring the Spirit in here. Why didn’t he see this problem; I think the answer is no, here is some stuff that even a part from the Spirit is powerful and provides us with the foundation and the situation and condition to do what he is telling us to do. Ultimately, yes, the Spirit is going to be also important, but we have to respect Paul’s choice and put ourselves under Scripture and say that he doesn’t bring the Spirit in here and so perhaps I shouldn’t make a fuss about it. He seems to be saying that what I am teaching here: a new relationship with Christ, no long being tied to the old nature or dominated by Adam; this has power in itself to give us the foundation for making these choices that we need to be making.


C. Student Question Regarding Slaves verses Children of God: You talked about the image of slavery, but I have always considered it to be like an illustration as well. For example, dying to sin with the old master but now having a new master, but Paul called himself a slave of the Gospel or slave of Christ; is there another place in the New Testament where Christians are considered slaves of God? Are there more places in the New Testament that talks about being children of God, instead of slaves of God? How much emphasis should we put on being slaves of God? The adoption or children language is used much more often than the language of slaves or servants


The language of adoption gets used and John uses the idea as well with children a lot. The language of slavery is broadly descriptive of Christians. Part of the problem here is how you translate some of the Greek words: slaves or servants. That is a very tricky translation question. This is part of the problem of knowing how to understand some of the passages and how certain language is used. It could go either way; whether it is called slaves or servants. If you bring slavery and servants together; I’m not so sure. Yes for slavery, but this is a frustration for a lot of us as we preach through books of the Bible, people will hear all of this. But people are transient; how much time do we have with an individual?  So that is a frustration in terms of trying to build this truth into people over a period of time. Even if slavery isn’t used a lot; it is used here and that is the image I am bound to be working with in faithfully proclaiming Romans 6. It isn’t the full truth but it is a significant part of the truth that needs to be heard.


D. Student Question Regarding the Power of Sin Over Us: Are you saying that Christ was completely human and he had power over sin and thus didn’t sin. Is the power of sin no longer there because we have suffered that in Christ for ourselves and ultimately we are so empowered that we no longer sin? Because we are in Christ, we are no longer in sin; we are dead to sin.


No, I am not saying that. I think Paul is very clear about the reality that Christians will never be free from the temptation to sin and will inevitably commit sin until the resurrection of the body. I am not saying that being dead to sin means that Christians will no longer sin. I think Paul teaches otherwise.  In regards to continuing in sin; this is where I think again, especially from a pastoral view; we wish we had some quantification in Scripture that we don’t have. I think what Scripture does say is that those who have come into a genuine relationship with Christ have died to sin’s power and are brought into the union with Christ; his new life affects and empowers our life so that the genuine believer will be moving away from sin. There will be an obvious upward trajectory in the genuine believer’s life. We see the non-Christian at a certain point, full of sin. From the moment of conversion, there is an obvious movement away from those things. The problem is two-fold: one, we recognize there will never be a neat straight line. It is sort of like the stock market having its ups and downs, but for those of us who have a portfolio for retirement, we hope that the starting point will be, even if it has its ups and down. So, in a Christian life, once a person comes to Christ, they are brought into union with Christ; they have died to sin and they are no longer slaves to sin. There needs to be an upward trajectory. I think the problem we face as pastors, is how steep does that line have to be. How do we quantify it? We often deal with people who have made some progress but perhaps with certain sins, they haven’t made any progress at all or haven’t made a lot of progress. So how much upward progress does a person need to show in order to validate the reality of their Christian profession? Scripture does not give any neat answers to that. I think what we need to do on the one hand: preach the truth that we have in the New Testament that if you are a genuine believer, this must be happening in your life. If it isn’t, you need to ask whether you have had a genuine conversion experience at all. This needs to be part of our preaching to gather congregations that claim to be believers. If this isn’t happening and you are not becoming holy the way God wants you to, you have to ask whether or not you are a Christian.


When we deal with particular people, this needs to become also an issue. When people come to us committing sin over and over again, why has this happened again? I am not claiming that you can’t be a Christian, but ask why is this happening? Have you died to sin? Do you belong to Christ of not? We can’t judge that ourselves, but we have to encourage other people to do some fairly serious self-evaluation.


E. Student Question Regarding the Old Nature Being Common to the Christian: I see this old man carrying this back pack; he takes it off and put it on. So this is where I am at now. This is the spiritual reality that you are facing and we are going to expand the empowerment side. The old man has always been a monkey on my back. I am not sure whether that is common to the Christian.


I think this is fairly common because this view is very wide-spread. The idea that we are fighting this battle between the old and new nature is due to not taking seriously the definitive change that happens when we first come to Christ. Our old man has been crucified with Christ. This is fairly strong imagery we have to deal realistically with. In response to this then is to have people arguing this view. I remember very well reading a book by David n Neeham in the late 80s or early 90s. He was really unhappy with this two nature view and was arguing this view. I remember the moment where I realized that his argument was becoming imbalanced. He used the illustration saying that because he was a new creature in Christ, when I go to a beach, I am not even tempted to look at the women. At that moment, he lost me; for at that moment I said that I was still tempted to look. I still have to fight that battle and most of the Christian men that I know are also still fighting that battle. It is something wrong with this view that treats temptation as something that isn’t going to happen anymore. This doesn’t ring true to my experience; more importantly it doesn’t ring true to Scripture. You have the imbalance going both ways. As long as we are talking about the nature inside of us, here is the problem we have; we cannot do justice to all these texts in Scripture. An illustration: Martin Lloyd Jones, preacher in West Minister Chapel in London has published a lot of his sermons and has seven or eight volumes on Romans 5-8. He says at this point in Romans 6 to picture the typical English countryside with their stone fences. There are two adjoining fields, each surrounded by a high stone fence. All of us begin in one of those fields, we start there. It is a field whose walls are far too high for us to climb over and it is a field that is dominated by the devil who has his way with us.


So, what happens upon conversion, God picks us up and takes us out of that field by his grace and puts us in the adjoining field. This is a field dominated by Christ. There is a definitive new situation that we are in; not an internal change, not something that is subtracted from us or added to us. It is a new environment we are placed in. But we can still hear Satan calling from the other field, from across that wall. Our old master still is trying to get our attention. There are things in us that still want to listen to our old master. We are no longer in his field, in the devil’s field for we have been definitively transferred to a new place but we can still hear his voice. I would add to Lloyd Jones illustration to say that perhaps the key to the Christian life then is to move further and further away from the wall that separates the field so the devil’s voice becomes fainter and fainter. So, the Christian life involves a deliberate use of God’s resources to move away from a place where can continue to hear and respond to the devil who wants to exercise his mastery over us. He wants to continue to disrupt our new life that we are living.


F. Student Question About Being Given Everything to Walk this Life With Christ: Is that what he means that we are given everything that we need to promote life and godliness and that we are also invested with his new nature?


There is truth in that imagery obviously in terms of the reality of the battle we fight; the reality of temptation and of sin. If we do it like a monkey trying to reach out and affect us rather than one on our back. The Imagery of the back is still a fundamental part of me. That pushes too far in regards to the lack of change in us. It is a finely balanced thing here to try to unpack reality of our already/not yet situation as Christians. We need to tell people not to be surprised when they are tempted to sin. Don’t think because you have sinned, you are not a Christian. On the other hand, there is a very obvious reality that a union with Christ is going to produce a new life and if that new life isn’t seen or if there is no upward graph in your life, you have to ask whether you are a Christian or not. I don’t think we ask that question often enough sometimes. I am not standing in judgement over them but proclaiming what Scripture is saying. It is a union with Christ, belonging to Jesus has necessary implications in the way a person lives and if a person isn’t changed in the way they live, then you have to raise the question about the reality of their experience.