Paul began his letter to the
Romans by giving them an
overview of their great need for
a Savior. A Savior Who would
bring a reign of righteousness
to everyone who would believe,
both the Jews and the Gentiles.
We considered this righteousness
in our study last week as
we discussed the concept of
justification. This is actually called ‘imputed
righteousness’, and it is put within us as
we are brought into a right
relationship between us and God.
When we choose to believe in the gospel of Jesus
Christ, it is credited to us as righteousness just as
Abraham took God at His word and it had eternal
consequences for him and all of us. In our study
for this week, Paul moves into a series of topics
about what happens in our lives after we have
experienced God’s forgiveness and are then
declared righteous in God’s sight. Perhaps we
have heard it said that “God accepts us as we
are, but He loves us too much to
leave us where we are”.
When we accept God’s gift of justification we
begin a journey of learning more about Who Jesus
is and who He calls us to become as we grow in
spiritual maturity. We call this ‘sanctification’
which is a term that is defined as the lifelong process
of transformation into the likeness of Christ.
Justification and sanctification are definitely
related concepts since they describe what God is
doing for us, as well as in us. One commentator
put it this way, ‘any justification that does not lead
to sanctification is a sham, and any sanctification
that is not founded upon justification is an
exercise in legalistic futility.’ Both are important
and both represent the work of the One Who is
making His righteousness available to us.
This week, as we dive into chapter 6, we will
see Paul’s use of a very powerful metaphor.
In this study he will compare the death, burial
and resurrection of Jesus to the ordinance of
baptism. When we are baptized, it is like we are
dying to our previously sinful self, buried as
being dead to sin, then being raised up to walk
in the new life that is from Jesus. This may
seem difficult to understand, however, it is my
prayer as we study this passage this week, that
it will become a wonderful source of hope and
joy as we continue to live in the grace of Jesus.