Romans 6 – Baptism, Sin and Righteouness

Romans 6:1-14 – The beginning of Romans 6 has always been a favorite passage of mine ebcasue of the way it illustrates what happens during baptism. Baptism has been an overlooked sacrament in much of the Evangelical world, and frankly over emphasized in Church of Christ circles.
The baptism that Paul describes is a powerful, transforming event:

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

In baptism, we participate with Christ in His death and resurection. Just as He laid His life down to take up another, more glorious one, we too lay down our own lives in baptism and take up a new, more glorious one made possible through Jesus.
But Paul’s point was not instruction on baptism. Rather, he wanted to remind them of what it meant to be baptised into Jesus in regards to sin. As far as sin is concerned, we are dead. If we are dead, how can we participate in it?
Paul was convinced that they simply didn’t understand what they had become a part of. they had died, voluntarily offering themselves in baptism just as Jesus had offered himself on the cross. And since he’s already died, death has no more power of Him. Since, through Jesus and through baptism we have died as well, we are dead to sin.
Simply put, we are dead men with Christ through baptism and dead men can’t sin.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:6-7

But we don’t really get it, we find sin’s power impossible to resist. We still live as though we are a part of this world and its rules. Paul says, when sin calls you can ignore it. It has no power over you, so don’t grant it any. As dead men, we live under different rules.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans6:12-14

Amazing, heady stuff. Oh that I could grasp the reality of this resurrection in full! What if I could clear my head of the earthly fog and see me and my life’s reality as God does? What would that life look like? How would live? What would I do?
Romans 6:15-18 – So, if we’re under grace, then obedience isn’t a big deal, right? What?! Did you hear what he just said? Don’t you get what has happened to you?
Here’s the thing – we cannot be simply free. We either involuntarily serve sin or, through the freeing sacrifice of Jesus, we are allowed to serve righteousness. Once Jesus has freed you, why would you choose sin?

Awesome 80’s Flashback

I was into Styx big time in HS and college, collecting all their albums and following the band member’s solo careers. Mr. Roboto was the song that started it for me, believe it or not.
I’ve got a couple of Dennis DeYoung’s and Tommy Shaw’s solo albums as well as a three Damn Yankees albums with Tommy Shaw. I even have James ‘JY’ Young’s first solo album with Jan Hammer of Miami Vice fame (not good, at all). Tommy Shaw was the only one to have any real musical success outside of Styx with the Damn Yankees, who were awesome. I always thought that although Dennis was seen as the leader of Styx, it was Tommy who made the band a big success in the 70’s.
The Kilroy was Here tour was pretty cool, at least I thought so (I only saw it on VHS tape after teh fact). It opened with a movie made by the band that told the story of how Rock and Roll was banned and ‘Kilroy’ was a rocker who was imprisoned because he wouldn’t stop. He overpowers a Mr. Roboto (Japanese servant robot thing) and uses it as a disguise to escape. He then organizes a protest/concert in the old Paradise Theater. That was the end of the film and the start of the concert. At the end of the show, the ‘authorities’ break in and drag the band off stage.
Dennis DeYoung (lead singer) was always interested in the Rock Opera concept and this was his baby. Yeah it was cheesy, but it was 1983, everything was cheesy.
I later saw them on the Edge of the Century tour int he late 90’s and they put on a great show.
Thanks to Jared at the Thinklings for the video.

Romans:5 – While We Wre Still Sinners

Romans 5:1 – “… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now there’s good news!
Romans 5:2-5 – Paul says more than rejoicing in the “hope of the glory of God”, we rejoice in our sufferings. Rejoice in suffering more than in hope? What? But look at what he says though: Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces what – hope. the suffering is important because it leads to a deeper realization of the hope that is already a reality.
Romans 5:8 – “While we were still sinners.” We still run around trying to please God by our goodness when he was pleased to rescue us while we weren’t worth rescuing. He declared through Christ that we were valuable to Him, whether we saw it or not, how are we going to somehow make ourselves more valuable after that?
Romans 5:17 – Much is made in this passage (Romans 5:12-21) in regards to sin entering the world. I think (not sure, actually) that this is one of the passages used to support original sin. Adam sinned, bringing sin to everyone. Yet verse 12 says that death spread because all sinned, not because Adam did. I guess one could say that Adam started it, not making all of us guilty but exposing us to something we could not master – sin.
In that regard, verse 17 says that death reigned because of what Adam did, and everyone who would come after him are subject to it. However, Jesus came and offered anew way of life and all who would follow him would no longer live under death’s reign. Because of Jesus, we can escape the inescapable – death. Sin reigned through death, now grace reigns through righteousness (verse 18).

Cash For Clunkers Doesn’t Pass the Common Sense Test

Hemmings reports that the ‘cash for clunkers’ bill that’s been bounced around is going to be included as part of an environmental bill called American Clean Energy and Security Act. Take a look at the Hemmings post for lots of links to info about the bill.
As an old car enthusiast, I stand against this kind fo thing because it takes old cars that may be desirable and sends them to the crusher. Even if they aren’t restorable, they may have valuable parts that could be used to restore another. But even without my special interest in keeping neat old cars on the road, the idea makes little sense to me. I won’t pretend that the following is the result of a lot of research and reading, it’s not. It’s just my thinking.
So what good can come from giving people a few thousand dollars (Hemmings says $4,500, but I don’t know what the final is) toward a new car if they junk their old?

  • You get older, perhaps polluting, perhaps less efficient cars off the road
  • You give the car companies and dealers a boost by spurring sales.

That’s it. Sounds good, though, doesn’t it? i don’t think it’s really going to deliver on those things and it creates other problems.
Stick it to the Poor
To illustrate what’s wrong, let me start with a couple of my recent clunkers.

  • In 2000, I traded a 1988 Grand Caravan with 180,000+ miles on our late model (at the time) Honda Odyssey. It was rusty, rattly and worn, but the engine was only 35K old and the tranny only 80K. Still, I got only $500 on trade. I’m sure it went to auction and eventually someone who needed a cheap car ended up with a solid van for around $1,500, maybe less.
  • In 2006 I got my new 2005 Mazda3. It replaced another rusty and worn car with 180K+ on the clock, a 1993 Escort. The car ran great, but the clutch went out. I gave it away to a mechanic who put a clutch in it ($100 or so in parts) and either drove it or sold it, I don’t know. Even if it was sold, I doubt anyone paid over $1,000 for it, not bad for decent transportation.

Both of those cars had decent life left in them and whoever bought them got solid transportation for under $1,500. For a poor family, good, cheap transportation is sorely needed.
If cash for clunkers had been in place, well, the extra $4,000 on trade for the Caravan may have put me in a new Odyssey instead of used and $4,500 for the Escort would have been phenomenal. That would have been more than 25% down on my Mazda. But, that would mean that those two families wouldn’t have had those sub-$2,000 cars available (the law says they must be crushed). Even if I hadn’t taken advantage of the cash for clunkers, someone would have likely given me substantially more than market price fore each, maybe over $2,000 each, so they could turn it into $4,500 off a new car.
I wonder what effect cash for clunkers will have on the cheap car market that the working poor relies on? If every old car is suddenly a $4,500 coupon toward a new one, the price of basic transportation is bound to go up.
But We’re Helping the Environment, Right?
But this is about the environment, getting old, inefficient polluters off the road. (My Escort was far from inefficient, averaging 34.6 MPG over the 10 years I owned it, but never mind that.) That is true, one of the purported benefits is getting old cars off the road and encouraging folks to get into more efficient and less polluting vehicles. Older cars may not meet current emissions laws and are more likely to be poorly maintained and therefore polluting more.
But, as I stated, the law as I understand it requires that the clunkers be destroyed. They cannot even be parted out to help keep other clunkers on the road. (Another hit to the poor who rely on cheap, junkyard replacement parts) Junkyard parts are a not insignificant part of keeping the environment clean. Giving these parts a new lease on life keeps them out of the landfill for a few more years.
What impact on the environment will disposing of hundreds of pounds of scrap metal and plastic, not to mention the fluids, have? Where is it all going to go?
It seems that we’re trading one environmental problem for another.
It’s Going to Help the Industry
Yes, for now. We’re creating an artificial environment where new cars are more affordable, when that environment is gone, then what? Folks who are going to look for a car, are going to take advantage of this program and buy before it’s over. Once it’s up, I bet sales tumble for a time. So we’re setting ourselves up for a short boom then another bust.
Have We Learned Nothing From the Housing crisis?
I heard Ben Stein sum up the mortgage crisis something like this. “Democrats wanted to give a mortgage to anyone with a pulse and Republicans wanted to let the banks do whatever they wanted with no regulation.” So, at the urging of the Democratic congress (I’m sure there were other reasons too), banks lowered their lending standards and the Republicans lowered oversight. Folks saw a house, a bank now willing to lend and a payment they could afford (now anyway), and took on more than they should have.
Now, we are hanging another big carrot of folks heads. A new car! Look, here’s $4.500 for your hooptie, just sign up for $12,000+ in debt. Doesn’t anyone else feel a little deja vu here? How many folks are going to get sucked into loans they cannot afford? At least now the banks are so scared to lend that maybe they’ll actually turn some of these people down.
But isn’t the message a little off? Times are tough, go borrow money to replace a car that was serving you fine until we waved a $4,500 check in your face.
I’m sure there are other reasons that people smarter than me can come up with, but cash for clunkers looks a lot like a program that will cost more than it gives us. It raises prices on the poor, hurts the environment as much as it helps it, provides only a temporary boost for the industry and sends the wrong message. The only people it is really good for are congressmen who get (again) to look like they’re doing something while actually making things worse. There’s that Deja Vu feeling again.
Not to mention the neat old cars that will be gone forever.

Romans 4 – Faith

Romans 4:1-12 – Obedience to any law of God without faith is of no value. The power is in the faith, not the deed. Abraham was an example of this. He sought God and believed in him. He did not try to reason with Him or question Him, he simply believed Him.
Faith is about us worshiping God and acknowledging Him as almighty and we as subservient. The mindset of obedience says I’m am sufficient and God must accept me if I obey. The mindset of faith says that I am inadequate, but God has promised therefore I am accepted.
The reward of obedience is at the end of a long, difficult road that we cannot travel, the gift of faith is received at the start of the journey and makes straight the path ahead.
Romans 4:18-21 – The familiar story of Abraham believing God when told he would have many offspring at 100 years old. “Fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised” is what it says in verse 21.
What about us? Aren’t we “as good as dead”, broken by sin and defeated? Yet God primisses us new life, now and forever. Do we believe Him? Do we live like we do?
I for one am tired of living as if I am still shackled. I am not. Imagine a prisoner set free, yet he remains in his cell, staring at the open door, not feeling that he’s ready to leave. Crazy? Yet that’s how I too often live.
God promised me freedom, in fact it is already mine. Why am I content to stay in my cell? I refuse to act as if I am still tied down by sin.

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