Romans 6:5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

The crucifixion-and-resurrection of Jesus comes to us as a package deal – we can’t have one without the other.  Throughout all his writings, the Apostle Paul consistently makes this clear (cf Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Philippians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; etc.).

Being ‘united with him … in his death’ means that we inherit all the benefits of his death.  This is what grace is all about: When we turn to him in faith as our Saviour, we realise that he died in OUR place; he died the death WE deserve for all the sins we have committed and will yet commit – and we GO FREE; death has no hold on us; the Law of God cannot touch us.  ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!’ – I can contribute nothing to ‘earn’ this free gift from God (cf 6:23).

But the package includes being ‘united with him in his resurrection.’  Think about it: if we are ‘united with him in his resurrection’, reunited to fellowship with the living God who is righteous and holy, we not only inherit eternal life, but we CANNOT do otherwise than desire to walk in holiness before him in ALL we do and say.  This is the point Paul is making in Romans 6 – we become ‘slaves to obedience which leads to righteousness’ (verse 16).  We don’t live godly lives SO THAT we will go to heaven; but we DO live godly lives BECAUSE we are going to heaven!

In other words, if I am striving to live a godly, holy life IN ORDER TO EARN GOD’S APPROVAL and, therefore, hopefully deserve a place with him in heaven, I have missed to whole point of what it means to be saved BY GRACE through FAITH alone, as Paul describes in Ephesians 2:8-9, and I am doomed to FAILURE (cf Galatians 2:16 – ‘by observing the law no-one will be justified’); more than this, instead of gaining a place in heaven I will have been ‘ALIENATED FROM Christ’ (Galatians 5:4).

If, on the other hand, I am NOT striving to live a godly, holy life, then I can have NO assurance that my professed faith in Christ is genuine and I am running the risk of being among those Paul describes in Philippians 3:18-19: “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.”

How important it is to get this right!