Romans chapter six saved my life.
It happened many years ago. As a new believer, I was still struggling with old habit patterns—the behaviors that had caused a horrible mess in my life. Deep inside I wanted to change, but old habits have a way of wrapping their tentacles around you a squeezing tight. Someone challenged me to memorize Romans chapter six, and everything changed. I am fairly convinced that I would not be alive today had I not experienced the life-change that this chapter brought to me.
Have you ever longed for something so badly that you ached for it? Your soul and body responds to your desire and you can feel it to the core of who you are. The longing effects the way you act and react and make decisions. You begin to order your life around that thing that you want. This is the way it is with someone who is born again. The more we see the beauty of God’s holiness, the more we must have it in our lives. God promises to give us a new heart, to put His Spirit inside us and cause us to follow Him (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
But that’s not all He does. God also sets us on a highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8). There is a freeway of freedom that has been constructed by the death and resurrection of Jesus. This freeway rambles through all the practical areas of our lives and it gives us power over sin.
When I came to Christ, someone led me through what is sometimes called the “Roman road to salvation”. These are verses that help someone understand why they need salvation and how it comes to us through Christ (Romans 3:23, 5:1, 6:23, 10:9-10). But I have come to understand Romans chapters five through eight as the “Roman road to sanctification”.
Sanctification is a fancy word that means that I am becoming more like Jesus in my character and actions. Once we know that we need to be born again and that the grace of God and the work of Jesus on the Cross make salvation possible (see Romans chapters 1-5), then God takes us up the “on ramp” of this Highway of Holiness.
Romans chapter five teaches us that although sin had a terrible effect on my relationships with God, with others, with myself, the effect of grace is even greater.
In chapter six, we understand that sin’s power over us is broken. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead and death has no power over him, even so we were buried with him and raised with him to newness of life. Sin will not have power over us. I resist sin, not in my own power, but in the power of the cross of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit that lives in me.
Chapters seven and eight assure us that Jesus Christ is our deliverer and that the power of sin is broken as we walk daily in the Spirit that dwells inside of us.
Does this mean we never sin? Of course not. We still have to “put off the old man, and put on the new”, renew our minds and set out hearts on things above. And we have to repent when we fall short. But it means that we are never without the power to overcome the sinful tendencies in our lives.
I don’t know what my life would have been like without the knowledge of this freedom over sin. Day by day, he is filling up this hunger for holiness inside me. I’m loving this highway He has me on!