You have already transitioned! Romans chapter six begins a new section of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. For five chapters he has presented the gospel of grace and the inability of the law to save. But does that mean that we have no more relationship to the law? Are we to conclude that we no longer bear any responsibility to keeping it?
Justification to Regeneration and Sanctification
Paul begins this new section by reminding his Christian readers that they too have already transitioned. Having your sins forgiven and your penalty paid is only half of the story. In fact, it’s only half of the cure.
Remember that sin causes a double curse on us. First, we become guilty of sin – of having broken the law of God – and are therefore responsible for its due penalty. Second, we are infected by the disease of sin. It infects our spirit AND our physical body. Paul refers to this as our flesh. This renders us cursed with the second part – powerlessness over the sin in us. God’s response (grace) is to provide us with a double cure.
First, we are forgiven – we have our penalty paid on our behalf – through faith in Christ. Second, we are re-created – born again, regenerated – and given a new spirit. However, this new spirit must continue to dwell in a still-corrupted physical body (i.e. the flesh). At least for a time.
But more than that, we are also granted the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Why? Because His presence gives us the power to overcome the sin that continues to dwell within our flesh. But how and when did this happen?
You transitioned from diseased (cursed) to surgery (justified and regenerated) to the road to recovery (cured/sanctification) in your baptism (Romans 6:3-7). How does this happen? Through faith in the working of God (Colossians 2:11-12). Reminding of us this reality is Paul’s point in these first verses of Romans six.
In Ephesians 4:5, Paul makes the declarative statement that there is “one baptism.” Not two, not only spiritual baptism, but one baptism that includes both physical water and Holy Spirit (see John 3:3-8; Acts 2:38-41; 8:34-39). The idea that there are two different baptisms – one water and one spiritual – is completely foreign to the Bible. Paul affirms this reality here in Romans 6 and elsewhere (e.g. Eph 4:5; Col. 2:12).
- Baptism: A Biblical Study – by Dr. Jack Cottrell