Radical Grace


By Johnny Tatum


The purpose of this study is to present four positional truths; and to know that all of them are tied to the Cross, the Tomb and the Resurrection, and that none of them require that we do anything.










In this series, we are looking at the biblical concept of grace, and explaining why we proclaim grace with no balance.


To review:  We—

q       Are not saying that sin is Okay.

q       Are not making light of sin when we stress grace.

q       Do not back off from the fact that grace means total freedomthat grace is freedom in two ways:

1.     Grace is freedom from punishment for sins — We are completely, utterly, absolutely forgiven; God will never punish us (believers) for our sins in this life or after.

2.     Grace is the freedom from the power of sin — The same grace that gives us freedom from punishment for sins also gives us freedom from the power of sin.


We will never totally fathom what that means.  In a broad sense, the first aspect of grace, which we saw in our previous studies of the review of Romans 1 through 5, is fairly simple to understand.  That is the grace that leads to salvation.  However, it is the second aspect of grace that is more difficult to understand, which is what we begin to see in Romans 6.  That is the grace that leads to sanctification.



Beginning in Romans 6, Paul explains the second aspect of grace: Grace that leads to sanctification.  What is sanctification?  In our lives, sanctification is actual holiness – obedience – separation.  Positionally, we are already 100 percent holy, but in our actual lives, we all fall far short.




1 What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?


2 Of course not!  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?


3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?


4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.


5 For since we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,


6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;


7 for he who has died is freed from sin.


This passage, beginning here in Romans 6 and extending through Chapter 8, is the very best passage in the Bible to understand how it is that grace frees us from the power of sin.  In Romans 1 through 5, Paul has made it clear that the basis of our justification is our identification with Jesus Christ. Beginning in Romans 6, Paul makes it very clear that the basis of our sanctification is also our identification with Jesus Christ.


Justification is an act of God whereby He declared us righteous by grace, and sanctification is a process of God making us righteous by grace.  When we were justified, God declared us righteous; as God sanctifies us, He makes us righteous.


Another Way To Look At It:

q       In Romans 1 through 5, God is our exterior decorator — He removed the guilt of our sin.  He washed our sins away so we can stand before Him spotless.  In fact, He wrapped us up in Jesus Christ.

q       In Romans 6 through 8, God is our interior decorator — By grace, and with our permission, God moves into our hearts through the Person of Holy Spirit, and then He actually cleans up our lives.  Really, it is an extension of the way He saved us.


Beginning in verse 1 of Romans 6, Paul is explaining that preaching grace is not synonymous with preaching there is license to sin.  He says:

What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?

Paul spends the rest of this chapter demonstrating that preaching grace does not lead to more sin — preaching grace leads to sanctified lives, because grace is the power that breaks the power of sin in our lives.  So in verse 2, he says:

Of course not! (Or, That would be ridiculous!)  How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 

Paul is using grace as the foundation to explain how we can have lives where the power of sin is broken.


I believe this passage, along with Galatians 2, presents the heart of New Testament life.  Unfortunately, however, Romans 6 is one of those chapters that we read and then we move on – very quickly.  We even forget that we read it.  That is because this is a difficult passage. This is definitely not milk.  This is meat; in fact, this may be the meatiest part of the New Testament.  It must be chewed; it takes work.  You cannot just read over Romans 6 and say These are five principles all beginning with the letter Z for our lives and then Next!  It takes work and, above all, we must have the help of Holy Spirit or we will never understand it.  If we would really work at understanding Romans 6, the blessing in our life would be unbelievable.  Our lives would be changed — they would never be the same again — if we would really assimilate what is here.


Another reason we read Romans 6 and then move on is that Paul appears to be saying things that are ridiculous.  He appears to be saying things that have no basis in reality in our lives, as we see in the following verses:

q       In verse 2, he says We died to sin.

q       In verse 6, he says So that our body of sin would be done away with.

q       In verse 7, he says We have been freed from sin.

q       In verse 11, he says Consider yourselves dead to sin.

It seems as if he is describing a level of life that has no bearing to reality.  Actually, this picture Paul paints is not even a picture of himself — that is, in his own natural self.



Let us take a moment to preview Romans 7 here.  In Romans 7, Paul is speaking about himself — not about an unbeliever.  In fact, he is speaking of himself as a mature believer.  Remember, this is the person who says in Romans 6 that he died to sin.  Now let us listen to what he says about himself in Romans 7.




15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.


18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.


Does that make you feel better?  Is this not a more accurate picture of our lives as a Christian?


q       Romans 6 is describing a person who died to sin, the power of sin has been broken, and

q       Romans 7 is a picture of the average Christian life.



[Back to: Romans 6.]

Romans 6 does not seem to make much sense, does it?  Paul is talking about a life where he died to sin.  That is the basis of the chapter.  Before we begin to study this passage in depth, we have to have some precautions.


First Precaution: There will be parts that we do not understand fully, meaning we will just have to accept them as facts, by faith.  Paul will tell us some things that are true, and yet when we look at our lives, what we see will not fit with what he says.  And that is when we have to believe it by faith.  We will never be able to process this information by natural reasoning.  That is precisely what makes these passages so difficult.  Is natural reasoning the process by which we process information?  When our eyes and ears take in information, before we can assimilate it with our mind, we have to understand it.  I believe that is true of the human brain.  We cannot assimilate something into our brains unless we have understood it.  That is the way it works in the natural world.  But the information here in Romans 6 is spiritual information.  It must be assimilated and processed by faith.


Second Precaution: We want to understand that Paul knew we would not understand what he meant when he says We who died to sin, because he spends the rest of the chapter explaining what he meant.  When Paul wrote that we died to sin, he knew that we would look at our lives and say Sorry, but I am not dead to sin.


Paul begins to explain in verse 3:

Or do you not know

He was being kind.  What he means is I know you do not know.  What do we not know?

that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death.


First, let us make it clear that Paul is not talking about water baptism.  When he talks about our baptism, he is referring to the fact that we have been identified with Jesus Christ.


Paul is saying that when Jesus of Nazareth was on the Cross, I was there with Him and you were there with Him.  God saw His Son on the Cross, and He saw you there too.


God has an infinite ability to see.  He did not see the church on the Cross with Jesus; He did not see thousands and thousands of people on the Cross with Jesus.  God saw you there, He saw me there; He can do it one at a time.  All He saw was you on that Cross with Jesus. As we know, that is what brought about our salvation.


What was your part in putting yourself on that Cross?  It is interesting that crucifixion is something you cannot possibly do to yourself.  Have you ever thought about that?


There are a variety of ways someone can commit suicide, but crucifixion is not one of them.  Oh, you could [possibly] nail one wrist/hand down, but then what are you going to do?  It is ridiculous to think that someone could crucify himself.  Something external has to be done to you; in fact, someone has to do it to you, and that is what God the Father did: God put you up on that Cross with His Son — you died [about] 2,000 years ago.


When He put His Son on the Cross, He put you there, He put me there.  That is how closely He identifies Jesus with you, with me.  He does not separate us in His sight.  He saw His Son on the Cross, and He saw you there in Him.  And that not only pertains to our salvation, it also is the basis of our sanctification.



Beginning in verse 3, Paul is going to tell us four positional truths that are essential for our sanctification; and we want to say the following two things about these truths:

q       All of them are tied to the events at the Cross, the Tomb, and the Resurrection.

q       For each of these items, which are essential for our sanctification, none of them require that we do anything.


There are four positional truths.  What are positional truths?  Positional truths in the Bible are statements of fact of who we are in Jesus, where we stand in Him.  What do we do with positional truths?  We just know them.  Whenever we have a positional truth in the Bible, we are just to know it as a fact – that is the totality of the application!


Again, these positional truths will be difficult to understand, to accept.  They are going to be contrary to what we see in our lives, but knowing them is important, because practically speaking, we are not going to experience sanctification in our lives if we do not know these things.  It is impossible.


First Positional Truth


[We have already seen it in this study.]  When Jesus was put on the Cross, you were put there too.  That is something that we are to know.  And that relationship between you and Jesus —me and Jesus— was so close that it extended beyond our death on that Cross.


I like pictures of an empty Cross.  [I do not care for pictures of Him on the Cross because He came off of that Cross.]  Whenever we see a picture of a Cross, instead of just thinking That is the Cross where Jesus died, we can also say That is the Cross where I died. 


Second Positional Truth


In verse 4, Paul says:

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death,

Again, in God’s minds this is not just symbolic; in God’s mind you were there —I was there— and then when Jesus was put in that Tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea (see Matthew 27:57-60); you went into that tomb also.


Whenever we see pictures of the empty Tomb, instead of just saying That is wonderful that He came out of the tomb alive, we can look at the picture and say I went in there and I came out of that tomb.


Third Positional Truth


From Friday to Sunday morning, Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and so were you; however, He did not leave us in the tomb.  On resurrection Sunday, He came out of that tomb and guess who He brought with Him?

Paul says:

in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.

He brought you out, me out; we were resurrected with Him. It is very important to know that it was the same Person who went in and who came out.  If that is not the case, we are not redeemed (saved).


Fourth Positional Truth


The key of this verse is newness of life.  Do you see our Newness of Life is based on the Resurrection, and not on something we do?


To understand newness of life, we have to recall the events that happened after the Cross.  In fact, after the Resurrection, Jesus came out of that tomb that Sunday morning, and He did not ascend immediately to His Father.  He spent 40 days here on earth in His glorified condition before He went to His Father.  That is an aspect of His life we do not think of very often, but there were 40 days after His resurrection that He lived here on earth.


Remember, we identify with Jesus every step of the way, meaning we should see that same pattern in our lives.  In other words, after Jesus came out of the tomb, He lived right on earth for 40 days, and so there should be a similar pattern in our lives.  What is important is that when He came out of that Tomb, He came out with a different level of existence.


Jesus was the same Person, but He had a different type of existence.  Before the Cross, Nazareth was tied to Him humanity.  It was voluntary and He could have shed His humanity at any time, but He was bound by His humanity.  That is why He got hungry and that is why He got tired.  However, when He came out, He was glorified.  He had a higher level of existence.  It was a different life than before the Cross.  In fact, it was dramatically different.  That is why, until He started talking to people, normally, they did not know who He was.  And then once He started talking, they recognized immediately that He was the same Person.  The point is, after the Tomb, it was not the same kind of life that He had before the Tomb; and that is what has been enabled for us.


Since I was with Him on the Cross, I was with Him in that tomb, and I came out of the Tomb with Him.  However, the difference is that the person that comes out of the Tomb with Jesus comes out with a higher level of existence than the person who went in.  So when we came out of that Tomb with Jesus on Sunday morning, we stepped out into newness of life, a different level of existence.  In our case, the person who came out of the Tomb with Jesus is not even the same person who went in.  If we think about it, what we were before we were saved was so hopeless, God was not going to kill him and then raise up the same old loser.  What would that have accomplished?  That is why He had to kill us, so that a new person could come out.


What should be our focus?  We always talk about the life of Jesus as an example, and there is some truth in that. The problem, however, with Him as our example, is that He was sinless and we are sinful.  The pattern for our lives should be the life Jesus had during the time interval after He was Resurrected and before He ascended to His Father.  That is the newness of life; that is the picture of what is available to us; and that is what is called resurrection life.  Jesus lived that life after He was resurrected.


How is that resurrection life manifested in our life?  It is appropriated by grace, the same grace that saved us.  Obviously, there is a huge difference between Jesus and us.  The main difference is this: Jesus Christ was sinless before the Cross and after the Cross — that did not change.  We are sinful people before we are saved and we are sinful people after we were saved.  However, there should be a tremendous difference in our pre-Cross life and our life after the Cross.


Do we think the difference should be once we are Christians, that we do not sin quite as much, that we are better morally than we were before?  That is not the difference.  There are many people in cults whose moral lives put ours to shame, so that is not what He is trying to accomplish.  He is trying to give us resurrection life, and the power supply for that is not ourselves.  The power supply for that is the same power that pulled Jesus out of the Tomb.


Obviously, until we get rid of these bodies, we will be sinners; however, the big difference is that after the Cross, sin does not have to have absolute power over us anymore.


If we would ever understand that sanctification is the same as our salvation, that understanding alone would radically transform our lives.  Remember, salvation was a free offer, and all we had to do was let Him do it – and sanctification is the same process.


What is God’s plan for our lives?  The reason I ask that is – How many times have you heard on the radio the question Friend, what is God’s plan for your life?  Or how many books have you seen, or tracts, entitled What Is God’s Plan for Your Life?  They do not know what God’s plan is for my life.  They do not know me!  However, ultimately, God’s plan for our life does not involve merely which school we attend, or matters such as that.  God’s plan for our life is that we be resurrected from the level of life we are living, and that we simply let Him bring us into a higher state of existence as Jesus had, and that is newness of life.



Through verse 5, Paul has given us an overview of what he will cover in the chapter.  What have we seen?  First, we have seen that we died to sin.  That is a positional truth.  That is something we are to know.  Then he emphasizes the reality of that death—we died—to emphasize the reality of it and to show it is not just some fiction, it is not just a symbolic death; in God’s perspective, I was there on the Cross and so were you, and we died.  And then to emphasize the reality of that, he adds that not only was I on the Cross, in the Tomb, I was also Resurrected — I was Resurrected with Him to Newness of Life.


So far there are four positional truths that we are to know.  We will never understand them fully, but we are to know:

  1. I was on the Cross with Jesus,
  2. I went into the Tomb with Jesus,
  3. I came out of the Tomb (Resurrected) with Jesus,
  4. I came out of the Tomb with Newness of Life.

We are to know those things!


Beginning in verse 6, he is going to back up and cover the same territory, but give more details, because he is still explaining what it means when he says that we died to sin.




Next: Radical Grace #9) Romans 6, Part 2 – “Slaves To Sin”; More Roaches!


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