“We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
The book of Romans deals with a variety of topics, from the hopeless state of sinful humanity to the future redemption of Israel. Another key concept in the epistle is that of the justification of the believer. Does justification come by works, or is it through grace by faith? And what does justification mean for us as believers? Does it mean we can do whatever we want, or are we still held to a high moral standard?
The believers in Rome were apparently dealing with a controversy concerning this very question. Some people were insisting that, because believers are justified, they can do whatever they please, since God will forgive them regardless. Paul, however, was not pleased with this idea. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” he demanded (6:2). When we put our faith in Christ, He saved us from sin. Why would we ever want to return to what we were saved from? If our motive behind being saved is so we can sin without reaping the consequences, we need to take a step back and discern if we’re really looking for salvation.
Our sinful natures have destroyed us. We’re in sin from the moment our lives begin, and our constant disobedience to God prevents us from having the perfect relationship with Him that He intended. We cannot obey Him, because our very nature cries out in us to do wrong. But God in His mercy has provided a way for us to escape that horrible reality. When we put our faith in Christ, He saves us from our sins. We can finally do what’s right, having died to our old self and receiving the ability to walk in the beautiful new life God has planned for us. This is what it means to be justified: we’re saved from sin not so we can keep sinning, but rather so we can finally do what we were created to do.