Yesterday in our Romans series, I preached from Romans 6:5-7 on the subject of our union with Christ. Considered by many theologians as one of the central doctrines of the gospel—our union with Christ is essential for our position and our life of freedom. Without our union with Christ there is no true Christianity at all.
The word translated, united is the Greek term, “σύμφυτος” meaning, “to being associated in a related experience, or far from the divine, but growing up in the very midst of it; indeed, one might aver, growing up together with it.”  Verse five serves as the thesis statement for this section and verses six and seven serve as an explanation of the first half of verse five. Paul launches off into a statement about the believer’s union with Jesus in both his death and resurrection. As it pertains to his death, we were crucified with Christ. Not only does Paul mention our union with Jesus in his death, but then he speaks of us being crucified with Jesus. Why is this so vitally important?
For the Jew, the Roman cross and the system of crucifixion was a statement of finality. Nobody came home for supper after being crucified. Therefore, to state that our old identity in Adam was crucified with Christ—it’s like stating that we will never be the same again. We are now identified with Jesus completely and never will we be identified with Adam. Our old position has now been crucified and there has been a change of ownership that will never be altered.
Following that statement, Paul then moves on to demonstrate that while our position has changed through our union with Jesus in his death, we will still have an ongoing battle with sin since our body of sin is still alive. This will be a constant struggle until we are glorified. We see this in Romans 7:16-18 as Paul writes, “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
While the old self connected to Adam has died – our body remains alive and we live in the era between the already and not yet. Christ already rules and yet he hasn’t returned. We have died in Christ, but our sinful flesh remains. We anticipate a day when Christ will return and make all things new – including our sinful flesh – in a glorified body like Christ.
However, we must surrender to Christ and live for the glory of God. As Paul wrote elsewhere in Galatians 2:20-21, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” We are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). We are called to produce good works that bring glory to God and cause others to praise God (Matt. 5:16; James 2:26; Eph. 2:10).
A person who claims to be a follower of Christ and yet remains in a constant unbroken pattern of sin has no right to claim the name of Jesus. When God saves a person, he not only saves them from their sin, but he removes sin from them as well. Sanctification is the pattern of a life changed by Christ.
J.C. Ryle stated, “We must be holy, because this is the one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world… Jesus is a complete Savior. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more – He breaks its power.”
- William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 960.