April 14, 2020

United with Christ: In His Death

Devotional by: Chase Selcer

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” ~ Romans 6:5

I don’t know about you, but I think the Bible has plenty of commands. Whether you look at the 613 laws of the Old Testament (no, really—a Jewish rabbi actually counted!) or prefer the shorter version, that is, to love God and love people (Matt. 22:36-40), the Bible gives us detailed instruction for godly living.

Yet, all too often, we find ourselves faced with seemingly countless daily decisions for which there is no chapter and verse to tell us what to do. Think about it—have you ever been faced with a decision, opportunity, or situation where you’ve asked yourself, “How close to the line can I get before it becomes sinful?” Many of us ask this question genuinely, seeking the wisdom of God and striving to please him. If we’re honest, though, we’ve probably also asked this question knowingly, pushing the limits of disobedience. This is the dilemma of Christian obedience.

In Romans, Paul would address this dilemma of obedience by asking the question, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:2). Similarly, Martin Luther once observed the human will is free to act only in accordance with its nature. In other words, our desires always line up with our nature—with what’s really in our heart. Paul and Luther alike addressed the dilemma of obedience by talking about the believer’s nature.

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re a Christian, God the Father has united you to Christ the Son. And to be united with Christ, Paul says, is to be united with him in his death (Rom. 6:5a). Our union with Christ has rendered us “crucified” with him so that our “sin might be brought to nothing” (Rom. 6:6).

The death of our sinful nature in Christ is the ultimate answer to the dilemma of obedience. Before Christ, when we were alive to our sinful nature, our will was bound only to sin (Rom. 8:6-8). But now, because of the death of Christ and defeat of sin, we are dead to sin and its power.

Your union with Christ has secured your death to sin. This defeat is decisive and irreversible. Now, as you navigate life and face the dilemma of obedience, keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Invite Christ, who is the wisdom of God, through his Spirit, to provide the strength and wisdom his death has secured for you.

Passages for Further Study
Matthew 22:36-40
Romans 8:1-11
Galatians 5:16-26
1 John 5:1-12