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  • Writer's pictureRick Zumpano

Only the Dead Will Live

The Bible contains many paradoxes and difficult teachings which the student must learn to sort out and interpret. “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Here we want to consider that “he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). On the surface, we can easily see that a person whose spirit has left his body and whose corpse has been placed in a grave would be free from sinning. He or she is unable to function and can do neither good nor evil.

On the other hand, if we understand the teaching of the Word, we are reminded that the judgment follows death at some point, and we are to be judged by the deeds done in our body. Therefore, a dead person is not free from the responsibility and thus consequences for his sins. So, we conclude that Paul is not discussing physical death. Freedom from sin would not be accomplished by diving from the roof of the nearest tall building. So, how else can a person die?

Well, what has Paul been discussing? Please read our scripture. What is in view is a death with Christ, a spiritual death, if you will. He says that those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death. Jesus shed His blood in His death on the cross for the sins of all people. When we are baptized into Christ’s death, we are washed by His blood - the only effective means to remove sin and thus receive forgiveness! (Acts 22:16)

Also, we see that this baptism is a burial, a submersion in water which mirrors Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. The person who believes in Jesus willingly submits to be buried (baptized) with Him in the likeness of His death and raised out of the water like He came out of the tomb. But note, this is not mere symbolism. Paul says that we were “buried with Him” and we were “crucified with Him.” This is spiritual reality - how a person dies in order to be freed from sin. Sprinkling or pouring of water won’t do. We must die and be buried with Christ in order to live. Remarkable!

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