Romans 6:3-11
One with Christ

Truth Contenders Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 09 February 2003

Handout: One with Christ [.pdf, 7KB]


Green: on hand out

Ink: to be filled in on hand out

Blue: term from the text to be defined or discussed

Gray: comment made by class member


Pragmatists & Puritans

"We Americans are pragmatists to the max. We want results. And we want them yesterday. We want them simply. We want them without too much pondering and too much pain. And in the church, we have developed all kinds of Christ-coated remedies that are shallow and short-lived. We are not, by and large, the deeply grounded saints that some of our forefathers were.

"J. I. Packer compares the old English Puritans who lived and suffered from 1550 to 1700 with the Redwoods of California. They were giants whose roots were incredibly deep in the Bible, and whose branches reached to the heavens, and whose trunks were so strong and durable they could endure forest fires that scar them but don't kill them. But then Packer looks out over the pragmatic American landscape of our quick fixes for life's problems and our impatience with depth and complexity and pain, and says, 'Affluence seems for the past generation to have been making dwarfs and deadheads of us all.'1

"Here's the difference between the pragmatists and the Puritans: pragmatists do not have the patience to sink the roots of hospitality and brotherly kindness and authentic love in the deep rock of Romans 6-8. We want to jump straight from justification to the practical application of chapter 12. Just give us a list. Tell us what to do. Fix the problem at the immediate surface level, so it goes away. But the Puritans were different. They looked at the book of Romans and saw that life is built another way. Being a sage, being a Redwood, being unshakable in storm and useful in times of indescribable suffering that does not come quickly or easily. Romans is not two chapters long. It is 16 chapters long. It does not skip from chapter 5 to 12. It leads us down deep into the roots of godliness, so that when we come up, we are not people with lists, but people with unshakable life and strength and holiness and wisdom and love."

   —John Piper2.


  • There is no break in the flow of thought from 5:12 through 6:11. What was said about the headships of Adam and Christ provides the framework for understanding our unity with Christ.
  • The topic of chapters 5 through 8 is: What it means to be justified by faith in Christ.
  • Since we were born into Adam's family [everyone snaps fingers and sings The Addams Family theme song], we suffer the effects of the family curse, and carry out the sentence passed on Adam for his disobedience, which, by proxy, is also our own disobedience.
  • Our last name was Adams; but by faith, it has now become Christs [i.e., Christ's].
  • By faith we have now been born again into Christ's family, enjoy the effects of the family blessing, and are freed from the curse and the absolved of the guilt, not only of Adam's sin, but also of our own.

v. 3 - Baptized into Christ

The word for baptize is used in a variety of ways, both literal and figurative. The most literal meaning is immersed, placed all the way into. It was used of dying cloth, and of purification rites involving bathing or hand washing. We have been immersed into Christ, including His death (and resurrection).

v. 4 - United to Christ in His burial

  • We are buried with Christ so that we may live in newness of life. Eph. 2:10 "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The new life is not like the old life, as "the gift is not like the trespass." (chapter 5)

    "...Union with Christ is not only the key to understanding justification getting right with God by faith alone. Union with Christ is also the key to understanding sanctification becoming a new kind of people, who don't continue in sin, who are no longer enslaved to sin, but who walk in newness of life." - John Piper3.

    Paul is not done talking about justification yet, but he's introducing the topic of sanctification.
  • We don't lead a double life, with the old life continuing and the new life tacked on. You can't have new life until the old life is dead.
  • The same power that raised Christ from the dead empowers us to live in a way we couldn't before our spiritual baptism. How? "The glory of the Father" raised Christ from the dead, and that same "glory of the Father" empowers our new life in unity with the risen Christ.

v.5 - United to Christ in His Death

We are united to Christ in His life, death, and resurrection. Paul often uses the shorter phrase in Christ to mean the same thing.

"1 Corinthians 1:30 says, 'But by [God's] doing you are in Christ Jesus.' God establishes a union between believers and Christ, in a way that makes it fitting for him to count Christ's death to be our death... This death is something historic and once for all. It is applied to us now through our faith, but since Christ died in history only once, and verse 5 says we were united to that, our death happened, in God's way of seeing things, on the day Christ died." - John Piper4.

"He creates the union by his grace. We embrace it and experience it by faith (Galatians 2:20)." - John Piper5.

"You might think at first that 'likeness of his death' refers to baptism. Our going under the water is 'like' his being buried. But that idea won't work in the second half of the verse which refers to 'the likeness of his resurrection.' That would have to refer to baptism as well as we come up out the water but notice that this is future tense in verse 5. It hasn't happened yet. 'If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.' This is a reference to some future resurrection that is certain because of our union with Christ." - John Piper6.

If I was united with Christ in the likeness of his death, I will also certainly be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom 8:11). You are in Him, in His death and resurrection. That's baptism. It's a permanent state; the future resurrection is certain.

"The Christian life is an already and a not-yet experience of this sinless position and identity in union with Christ." - John Piper7.

v. 6-7 - Dead to Sin: completely and finally

Destroyed, done away with: Greek katargejw, katargeo [Strongs G2673], literally, deactivated, made idle, put to rest, made to cease, taken out of service, put out of commission. Used of farmland that was left to lie fallow for a time.8 A modern example would be unplugging an electric powered machine.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin
He sets the prisoner free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me

   -Charles Wesley

  • When I, by faith, saw the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, and was united with Him in death, Christ's crucifixion was applied to whom? David Finnamore Adams. Who was born? David Finnamore Christs. Newness of life!
  • Therefore, my sin nature can never again enslave me. It can no longer make me fulfill its desires. It had power over the old me, but not over the new me.
  • Freed, Greek dikaiojw, dikaioo [Strong's G1344], is the word for justified, vindicated, acquitted, cleared of charges, the penalty for charges being satisfied; it's never translated "freed" anywhere else.9 [Ruben Depeña pointed out that the common Spanish translation of the Bible uses the word for justified rather than the word for freed at this point.] Through unity with Christ in His death, we are freed from the guilt of sin. Guilt can make us feel hopeless, as if it doesn't matter anymore—we already screwed up. Guilt feelings don't always match actual guilt. We can overcome guilt feelings by considering ourselves dead to sin in Christ.
  • Because we died with Christ, we are free from the power and the guilt of sin. Justification goes to the root of the problem.

    "In our truest position and our truest identity we are completely and finally dead to sin both its guilt and its power. This is decisive, unrepeatable, and unchangeable. This is the foundation for all our warfare against sin, and all our progress in holiness." - John Piper10.

vv. 8-11 - United to Christ in His Resurrection

  • We can be certain that we will live forever with Christ if we are in Christ.
  • Just as Christ's death was once for all, so our death with Christ was a one-time event. It is accomplished and it is complete. Death is no longer master over us. We are alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    "Baptism is an ordinance performed only once in the Christian's life and signifies our dying and rising with Christ by faith. The Lord's Supper is an ordinance performed over and over in the Christian life to signify that we never stop living by the spiritual nourishment that comes from the death of Jesus for our sins." - John Piper11

The Search for Jesus: 8 Weeks of Debate from Leading Christian Thinkers. Start with a Free Sample.

Recommended reading:

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL