We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Identifying with Jesus
In this chapter Paul is arguing that justification does not produce immorality or sin because of the omnipresence of God’s grace. The familiar idea of the old sinful material self dying so that the individual may experience rebirth, renewal, into a new, vibrant, glorious life in Christ is expanded. Not only will the old self die, but it is to be identified with Christ in his crucifixion and resurrection: “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” Thus the “old self” was “enslaved to sin,” and thus the dying of this self is a release from sin, a freeing of the individual to life in death. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
In the previous verses, Paul asked, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” The idea of baptism as rebirth is extended to include Christ’s death and resurrection. Before resurrection must come the death of the sinful being and the baptism, the rebirth and renewal, and ultimately freedom from sin and justification with God. According to Wayne Meeks in The Writings of St. Paul, the word translated “is freed” is the one elsewhere translated “is justified,” so this passage explains the parallels of baptism, freedom, and justification, or the right relationship with God. By identifying with Christ in his journey, one is freed from enslavement and justified with God. What a powerful message Paul provides for the Romans of his time and for all Christians thereafter. Agony, suffering—therein lies freedom from enslavement and justification with God.
Prayer: Christ Jesus, help us to find freedom in you. Give us that right relationship with God, through the forgiveness of sin, and the grace that only God can give. Amen.