1What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Paul uses a lot of “if…then” statements (the “then” often implied). If we are united in Christ’s death, then we are united in his resurrection. If our lives of sin were crucified with them, then we are free from sin . . . and so on. Paul is careful about this order because we are so likely to misunderstand it, thinking that, since we are free from sin, we are free from having to worry about it. That can be a dangerous illusion, thinking that we are righteous because we are forgiven, and therefore we can be excused from the conduct in our own lives or our concern about our neighbor or hoping for a just society. Paul reminds us of the if: if God has done all of these things for you—living and dying as Jesus, incorporating you into God’s own life and mission—if God has done this for you, then you are forgiven, loved, and called to something else. What, then, are you going to do about it? We don’t get the “if” without the “then.”
God, lead us, help us, change us, so that we can become who you created and redeemed us to be, in the life of Jesus Christ. Amen.