Positional Sanctification - Page 2 of 5 (series: Lessons on Romans)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?


Or do you not know. At this point Paul begins to relate the secret of living a holy and sanctified life, a life which is characterized by being dead to sin. The secret of sanctification (see Sanctification of the Saints) is not found in some sanctimonious formula or some deeper or mystical experience with the Lord. The secret is found in three words:
1. know (vs. 3) (See “Know” in box below.). Or do you not know---This phrase means “a lack of knowledge or perception.” Here it denotes “ignorance” on the part of the Jews regarding the ordinance of baptism and its significance and symbolism.
2. reckon (vs. 11)
3. yield (vs. 13).
We must be vitally aware of these words as we seek to understand the relationship between justification and sanctification. The first key word in Paul’s presentation is KNOW. The other words will be covered under the next topic—Practical Sanctification. _______________________________________________________________________________
Know. Living the Christian life is so important that it comes with instructions. There are certain things we need to know. We need to know that when Christ died over 2000 years ago we were identified with him. We need to know that when He died, He took Tom Lowe there. I was the one who was guilty. He was not guilty. My sin put Him on the Cross, and your sin put Him up there. We were identified with Jesus Christ. That’s something that is very important to know.
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That as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus. Here he introduces the subject of baptism to show that it is morally inappropriate for believers to go on in sin. But the question immediately arises, “To which baptism is he referring?” So an introductory word of explanation is necessary.

To show the immaturity of those who would continue in sin after justification so that grace may abound, Paul introduces the subject of baptism as evidence that life in sin cannot coexist with death to sin. Baptism into Christ means to be incorporated into Him, to become a member of His body—“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13), and to share with Him those experiences which, although they were historically His, are in some sense ours (i.e., His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection). (Also see, “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized,” in the box below.).

When Paul speaks of baptism here, he is thinking both of our spiritual identification with Christ and of its portrayal in water baptism. By referring to water baptism, he reminds his readers how they were “buried” and “planted together” in the “likeness” of Christ’s death.

The New Testament never contemplates the abnormal situation of an unbaptized believer. It assumes that those who are converted submit to baptism right away. Thus our Lord could speak of faith and baptism in the same breath: “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Though baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it should be the public sign of it. ______________________________________________________________________________
Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized—The word baptize comes from the Greek word meaning “to immerse” or “to plunge into.” To baptize is to put into water and take out again. It involves immersion, submersion, and emergence—death, burial and resurrection. The word was used among the heathen Greeks for articles which underwent submersion and emergence, as in the case of the dyeing of a garment.
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Into Christ Jesus. Spiritually, the first moment of faith in Christ is the moment of resurrection. There and then the believer passes out of death into Christ. This is followed in experience by the ordinance of baptism. Water baptism is not the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit. The latter baptism places the believer in the body of Christ—“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13); it is not a baptism into death. The baptism into Christ means that in the estimation of God, the believer has died with Christ and has risen with Him.

Were baptized into His death? We are buried with him, by baptism, into death. Burial with Christ Jesus signifies that sin no longer has a hold upon us. The ordinance of Christian baptism beautifully portrays this burial into Christ, in which the old order of a death-controlled life comes to an end, and the new order of a Christ-controlled life begins. Therefore, having already been justified, a believer tells that fact to the world by submitting to the ordinance of water baptism.

Well then, what baptism is Paul talking about here; is it baptism into water or is it baptism into the Body of Christ (His church).To get the answer, we need to

look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For BY ONE SPIRIT WE WERE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." From these verses, we learn that all believers, the moment they believe, are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. The same subject is discussed in Galatians 3:26-28: “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In this third verse, Paul is talking about being baptized into the Body of Christ.

4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death. This statement alone makes the Scriptural mode of baptism clear. Burial is the natural consequence of death, and sprinkling is not a representation of being buried; only immersion depicts burial. The words “into death” go with the word “baptism” rather than with “we were buried.” This connection is confirmed by the close of verse 3, which states that we were baptized into His death; the death of Christ. (See note on Baptism) A person must have life in Christ in order to appreciate his death with Christ, and his identification with Christ in His resurrection; that is what the teaching of chapter six especially stresses. Receiving spiritual life in Christ, (which is imparted on the ground of faith) and the death of the person’s former state, happen simultaneously. In the act of baptism it is the one who has life in Christ, who expresses his identification with Him figuratively in the threefold way of death, burial and resurrection.

Water baptism gives a visual demonstration of baptism into Christ. It pictures the believer being immersed in death’s dark waters (in the person of the Lord Jesus), and it pictures the new man in Christ rising to walk in newness of life. There is a sense in which a believer attends the funeral of his old self when he is baptized. As he goes under the water he is saying, “All that I was as a sinful son of Adam was put to death at the cross.” As he comes up out of the water he is saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (see Gal. 2:20).

That just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. The resurrection of Christ is most frequently mentioned as the act of God the Father—“whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:24). The word “glory,” stands here for the excellence of God’s almighty power as evident in the resurrection of Christ. “The glory of the Father” involves a reference to Christ as His Son.

Romans 8:11 states, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The Greek word used here for “raised” is egeirō. The same word is used by Christ Himself (with reference to His resurrection as His act) when speaking to the Jews of His body as a temple, which, while they would destroy it, He would raise it up in three days—“Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). This fact makes clear the absolute oneness of the Son with the Father.

“by the glory of the Father” is a synonym for God’s power. Ephesians 1:19 states, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Paul’s wish for the saints is that they might have a deep appreciation of the power which God makes use of to bring about our salvation and sanctification. It is His power. It is great power; nothing less would be sufficient. It is exceeding great power, and beyond our understanding. This is the power which God used in our redemption, which He uses in our preservation, and which He will yet use in our glorification.
Even so we also should walk in newness of life. To walk in newness of life refers to our day-by-day living in the ordinary routines of life. If our old life, which is now dead and buried with Christ, was totally sinful, the new life which we rise to with the Savior, must be all together a holy life.

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