Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:8-11).
Death and life.
That’s what salvation is most fundamentally about.
God gave life to humanity (Gen 2:7), and then we sinned and died (Gen 2:17). Now humanity needs life again—everlasting life (John 3:16).
Yes, Jesus died, and believers died with Him. But did Christ stay dead? No. He was raised to life. But if we’re immersed (baptized) into Christ, what does His life imply for us?
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Why should you believe that you will live with Christ? Because you were immersed into Him, joined with Him in both His burial and His resurrection (cf. vv 4-5). We know that Christ defeated death. He will never die again. As Paul says:
knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all;
Jesus entered into the domain of mortality, death, and sin, defeated the powers that be, and came to life again—
the life that He lives, He lives to God.
The reason why you should believe that you will live with Christ, is because, as Paul has argued, if you are immersed into Him, then you’ve been joined in the likeness of both His death and resurrection:
As Watchman Nee said:
I am “baptized into his death,” but I do not enter in quite the same way into his resurrection, for, Praise the Lord! His resurrection enters into me, imparting to me a new life. In the death of the Lord the emphasis is solely upon “I am in Christ.” With the resurrection, while the same thing is true, there is now a new emphasis upon “Christ in me” (Nee, The Normal Christian Life, p. 95).
So believe that about yourself:
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We focus so much on Jesus’ death that we sometimes overlook the importance of Jesus’ life. As Major Thomas used to say, “The Lord Jesus Christ therefore ministers to you in two distinct ways—He reconciles you to God by His death, and He saves you by His life” (Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ, p. 15). Jesus is alive to God, so you should reckon yourself to be alive, too. Believing that truth is essential to living it out. As Zane Hodges remarked, “The first step to walking ‘in newness of life’ is to consider this to be so” (Hodges, Romans, p. 174).
Paul is not asking you to pretend that it’s true but to reckon that it’s true. These are matters of faith, not feelings. But for some reason, people find it harder to believe they have risen with Christ than that they have died with Him.
Paul implies that we find it easier to believe we have died with Christ than to believe we have risen with Christ. Why is this? It is because we get discouraged by our feelings of weakness. We are not so sure that we are risen with Christ. But Paul says, they are two sides of the same event. If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him (Eaton, Living Under Grace, p. 53).
You might not feel alive to God. You might feel the exact opposite—as if you’re very much alive to sin and still under its dominion.
And you’d be wrong.
Instead of believing your feelings, believe what God says about who you are in Christ. Grasp those precious truths no matter how you might feel at the moment.
He died, so you died.
He’s alive to God, so are you.
God says it, but do you believe it? Do you see what He’s done for you?
The secret of holiness is to come at it indirectly…I am not trying to accomplish something; I am rather seeing what has been accomplished for me (Eaton, Living Under Grace, pp. 58-59).