“You are dead to me. You don’t live here anymore. You are buried. You are nothing.”
Dear people baptized into Christ Jesus,
“How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2). Listen to what sin says to you. “You are dead to me. You don’t live here anymore.” Something has happened to you. You have changed… drastically. The relationship is not the same as it was. It is over.
We might be used to hearing those words when someone does something extremely, radically, horrible, to such an extent that it completely breaks their relationship and severs all ties that once existed. What they have done is incompatible with the very definition of the relationship and destroys it. If there is unfaithfulness in a marriage relationship based on vows of fidelity; if there is abuse in a family based on nurture, then we might here these words: “You are dead to me.”
What has happened to you that you would hear these words spoken to you from one who used to be so close to you? What has happened that sin would say such things to you: “You are dead to me. You don’t live here anymore. You are buried. You are nothing.”?
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore 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” (6:3-4). This Baptism, your baptism, was such an act of violence toward sin, the sin in you, that your relationship with sin was destroyed. It has nothing more to do with you. You are dead to sin. You don’t live in sin anymore.
Because Jesus was baptized and you were baptized into Him, you have been united to Christ. He has nothing to do with sin. He is holy and pure, divine, full of love and compassion, just and righteous. It is no wonder that sin has nothing to do with Him, and because you have been united to Him, sin will have nothing to do with you either. You are dead to sin.
It sounds strange to say it like this, doesn’t it? As if, we should be upset about our relationship with sin being broken. But we are, aren’t we? There is that sinful nature in us that doesn’t want the relationship to be broken. We want to be intimate with sin again. We want to give ourselves over to it. We want to go back to the things that feel so natural and comfortable, and yet are so toxic and damaging. Sin is only comfortable because you’ve done it before. It doesn’t really give you any comfort. It takes all comfort away. It takes family away. It only gives you guilt and shame.
So go ahead and let sin rail at you: “You are dead to me. You don’t live here anymore. You are buried. You are nothing.” Those railing words of sin fit right in with what God’s Word has to say about it and what you know about the relationship. “We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (6:6). You are nothing… to sin. You are dead… to sin, dead and nothing to those things that you have done which have so greatly offended and hurt and even destroyed the relationships that you have with family and friends. You are dead to those things, dead to those sins. You are nothing to them. “For one who has died has been set free from sin” (6:8). If sin wants to say, “You are dead to me”, then you are free from sin. It has no more claim on you.
But you are something to someone. “You must consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11). Sin says, “You are dead to me”, but God says, “To Me, you are alive.” The people you have hurt and offended might say, “You are dead to me”, but God says, “To Me, you live.” It is that final and definite and absolute. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy.
We are alive to God in Christ Jesus because we are united to Christ in Holy Baptism. We are united to His life by His resurrection. We were truly dead in sin. Now we are dead to sin, but only by being united to the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. He died so that we could be dead to sin and He rose from the dead so that we could be alive to God.
God gave up His own Son to sin and death. Jesus stepped into the Jordan River in order to take on the sins of the whole world (Matthew 3:13-17) and to bear their full weight on the cross. That was the only way to fulfill all righteousness. Carrying all of the guilt of your sin, bearing the full penalty for what you have done to offend and hurt others, Jesus hung there and died. He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). There was no answer from heaven. No voice was heard to reply, “You are My beloved Son” as at His baptism (Matthew 3:17). No, on that Good Friday the heavenly Father said to His Son, “You are dead to Me.”
He truly was. The eternal Son of God died then and there upon the cross, bearing your sin and all that you deserve for it. It is you who deserve to hear God say, “You are dead to Me.” But because Jesus bore your sins, and you are baptized into Him, He took it for you. He suffered and died forsaken by His own eternal Father, so that you would be welcome in the family of God.
“We were buried therefore 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). Through baptism Jesus’ death on the cross was your death to sin, and His resurrection from the dead is your resurrection to new life, a life dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Sin says, “You are dead to me.” God says, “You are alive to Me.” Sin says, “You don’t live here anymore.” God says, “You walk in newness of life.” Sin says, “You are buried.” God says, “You are raised.” Sin says, “You are with Him now.” God says, “That’s right, you live with Me.” Sin says, “You are nothing.” God says, “You are no longer enslaved to sin.”
You are set free from the guilt and shame and the eternal punishment you deserve for offending and hurting your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends, and even your heavenly Father. You are set free from all of that ugliness that became a part of your relationships with them. You are set free from everything that severed the ties between you or threatens to do so. You are set free from it all because you are united to Christ in your baptism.
“Baptism works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe” (Luther’s Small Catechism. IV).
You are set free to live unencumbered by all of your sins and to walk in newness of life. You are set free to put all of those words and actions away and never turn to them again. You are set free to cherish and obey your parents, to love and honour your spouse, to help and serve your neighbour, to fear, love and trust in God above all things.
Don’t go back to your relationship with sin. It is dead. It is over. You are baptized into Christ. You are God’s own dear child. No matter how much sin may plead with you to come back, don’t listen. No matter how much sin may say that you belong with it and nowhere else, don’t pay any attention. Listen to the voice of the one who loves you, who gave His all to redeem and save you, who calls to you out of love and is willing to put all of your sins behind so that you can live forever with Him.
If you have anything to say to sin, let it be this: “Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me Since my Baptism did release me In a dear forgiving flood, Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?” (God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It, Lutheran Service Book 594).
Dear people baptized into Christ Jesus, listen to what God says to you: “You are alive to Me, not dead. You are not buried, but raised. You don’t live in sin, rather, you walk in newness of life. You are set free from sin. You are with Me now. You are My beloved child.”
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.