Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | July 24, 2011

Sermons on Romans 6:1-11

You’re dead to me

  • Order of Service: Common Service (p15)
  • Lessons: Jeremiah 28:5-9, Romans 6:1-11, Matthew 10:43-42
  • Hymns: 294, 736, 737, 293

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

I know a husband who, while watching his favorite college football team lose to his wife’s favorite college football team uttered horrible words to his wife, “You’re dead to me.”  He spoke them in the heat of battle, but that doesn’t make them any less terrible.  To quote, “Them’s fightin’ words.”

When you say, “You’re dead to me,” that’s the nuclear bomb.  “I don’t want to know you.  I don’t want to see you.  I don’t want to hear you.”  Even though life and breath still flow through your body, to that person, they don’t.  On the scale of verbal brutality, nothing much outranks this.  You don’t just throw around, “You’re dead to me.”  It wasn’t okay for that husband to say it, even as a joke.  Especially about a football game.  Though, I can assure you that all was forgiven, I hope.

So, when Paul says, “You’re dead to me,” our ears have to perk up.  We ought to pay attention.  “Them’s fightin’ words.”  Used in an unexpected manner.  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?…  Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:2, 11).

“You’re dead to me,” Paul says.  It’s important to know who the antecedent of that pronoun is, isn’t it?  Who’s the “you”?  The Roman Christians?  Some anonymous heretic?  An ex-girlfriend?  We died to sin.  Count yourselves dead to sin.  The “you” is sin.  Paul says that it is good and right for the Christian to say to sin, “You’re dead to me.”  Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:7).

The monkeywrench.  Normally, when you say, “You’re dead to me,” or the even more cruel, “Drop dead!” you direct it at the other person.  They’re the corpses.  Not you.  Paul says, “Sin is dead to you because YOU’RE dead to sin.  Because you died!  Don’t you know that?  Don’t you get that?”

Don’t you?  I mean it, don’t you?  Don’t you get that sin stakes no claim to you anymore?  Because that’s the reality of Christianity and faith in Christ.  That’s the reality of Baptism.  Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:3-4).

Baptism killed you.  Faith kills you.  Because it connects you to Christ.  Christ died.  Your sin killed Christ.  Joseph and Nicodemus hustled that body into a tomb before the Sabbath rest could begin.  And then that body rose again from the dead.  As Paul said, He cannot die again.  He conquered death.  Which means He conquered sin.  The wages of sin is death.  As long as there’s sin clinging to you, to Christ, there’s death.  But a resurrected Christ means the elimination of sin, the removal of sin, the forgiveness of sin.  No more death.  Not for Christ.  Not for you.  You were baptized into His death.  You were buried with Him into death.  Your old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with (Romans 6:6).  But you were brought up out of the water too.  Just as Christ walked out of the tomb.  Alive.  No longer mastered by death, but rather the Master of life and death.  He put away the sin that clung to Him.  Your sin.  And in Baptism, by faith, clinging to Christ, you aren’t just dead, but alive.  Dead to sin.  Alive to God.  That we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), Paul says.  Because you died.  And in Christ rose again.  You’re dead to sin.  And sin is dead to you.

“But I’m not dead to sins,” you say.  “I keep living in it.”  Rightly you speak.  John says well that the person who claims to be without sin only deceives himself.  Next week we’ll hear about Paul’s titanic internal struggle with the sinful nature inside of him.  Luther said that Baptism drowns your sinful nature, but that that rascal can swim.  Too often we hear the splashing around us, don’t we?  Too often do we throw a life-preserver in?

Paul’s point isn’t to crush you with guilt because you still sin.  Though you should feel guilty when you sin.  Paul wants to devastate all those who say that it doesn’t matter if you sin, it doesn’t matter what you do:  “God is love and grace!  Get more of it by sinning!” they say.  “Sin boldly!”  Paul says, “By no means!  May it never be so!  Not because God can’t or won’t forgive, but because that’s not who you are anymore.  You died to sin.  Sin is dead to you.  You live in and with Christ.  Recognize the wonderful gift given to you by God, through the Spirit, because of Christ!  Be who you are!  Be what Jesus has made you – dead to sin!  Live for God apart from sin!”

Again, Christian’s aren’t people who don’t sin.  They’re people who know what to do when they sin.  Run to Christ!  Return to your Baptism, to the place where God killed you and brought you to life.  To place where God said, “You’re dead to me,” and those were the four most glorious words ever spoken.  To the place where God didn’t just make you an enemy of sin who hates wrong, but He put it to death.  The hands of sin have no life to grip you.  The tongue of sin is stilled.  The eyes of sin are shut.  Why would you open them? Why would you give them life?  Why would you put yourself back into that place with that thing, with that corpse?

That’s what sin is, but not what Christ is.  Christ is no rotting corpse, but alive and well.  And so are you, because of Christ, through Baptism, in faith.  Until Judgment Day it’ll be a battle.  That little sin-zombie inside tries to resurrect himself – and sadly succeeds.  But Christ has not left you without protection.  He gives you the words to say, “Sin, you’re dead to me.”  He gives you life time after time after time through the repeated forgiveness of sins.  He says it to you as you plead for it, “Forgive us our trespasses.”  He washes you with it as you return to those waters of your Baptism once more.  He feeds you with it when He feeds you with Himself, “poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  When sin seems to get some skin on its bones, you put it back to death again in Christ.

And this isn’t just for some of us, some super-Christians among us.  All of us who were baptized (Romans 6:1), Paul says.  Were you baptized?  Then that’s you.  Baptized into Christ’s death.  Baptized into Christ’s life.  As much as sin can no longer touch Him, so much He separates you from your sin.  It’s dead.  You’re alive.  By the love of God, this is who you are from now until eternity in heaven.  Amen.

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