Tuesday, October 10, 2006

United with Jesus

The Christian has a special relationship with God because of Jesus Christ. Our relationship with God is not based on anything that we have done, not by our merit, but solely on what Jesus has done. We are able to enjoy a relationship with God because we have been united with Jesus.

The first part of Romans 6 reveals three areas in which we have been united with Jesus:
1Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? 2Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? 4For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. 6Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life. 9We are sure of this because Christ rose from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. 11So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 6:1-11; NLT
First we see that we are united with Jesus in His death (verses 1-3). This is made possible through baptism. This is one of the passages in the New Testament which remind us that the ritual of baptism was a very important part of the believer’s life. So what does this mean? Why do we want to be united with Jesus in His death? Jack Cottrell commenting on this passage wrote:
“Since Jesus died for the express purpose of taking our guilt upon Himself and paying the eternal penalty for our sins, when we are united with Him in his death our guilt is removed and our status before God is such that our penalty is considered paid. The blood that He shed in His death is applied to our guilty souls and becomes our shield to protect us from the deserved wrath of God. Thus because of this union with Christ we are forgiven or justified” (Baptism: A Biblical Study; p. 81).
It is this union with Jesus in His death which guarantees that our sins are taken care of. We have put our faith in Jesus and His death to cleanse us from our sins.

Second we see that we are united with Jesus in His resurrection (verses 4-6). Jesus may have been crucified and killed, but He did not remain dead. The power of Jesus is ultimately seen in His resurrection, not His death. The death of Jesus means nothing without the resurrection.

When we are united with Jesus in His resurrection means that we have a new life. Whoever we were before our baptism no longer exists, and now we have a new life. Even though we still live in the flesh, when we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and live a life of faith, our lives change. It is a process that continues to happen as long as we live in our current bodies, but our hearts shift from being selfish to selfless, and we begin love God with our entire beings.

Not only are we given new lives, but being united with Jesus in His resurrection also guarantees that when we die, physically, that we will be raised to spend eternity with God. When we are united with Jesus we have hope of eternal life.

Third we see that we are united with Jesus in His freedom (verses 7-11). Sin no longer has control over us. We now have a choice on how we will live. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life wrote; “On the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes a stepping-stone rather than a stumbling block when you realize it is just as much an occasion to do the right thing as it is to do the wrong thing. Temptation simply provides the choice” (p. 201). No longer do we have to follow our sinful desires, but we have a choice. Now we have the option to follow where Jesus leads.

The commands of God are not restricting, rather they help us to avoid the enslaving nature of sin. Jesus understood this freedom during His time on earth. He was perfectly obedient to God’s will, and thus Jesus escaped being enslaved by sin. When we are united with Jesus we are given the opportunity to experience the freedom from sin as we live a life of faith and obedience.

Christians are united with Jesus and this gives us a special relationship with God. Since we have been given this wonderful opportunity we need to take advantage of it and discover the life God has planned for us. We need to live a life which will reflect the glory and love of the One who has given us so much.

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