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Romans 6:1-11

  • What makes you you?

  • If you like (if someone is brave enough!), someone in the group could volunteer to be described. Go around the circle and name one attribute that makes this person unique. Then repeat the activity with another volunteer.

  • What sort of attributes do we tend to name when we're describing someone like this. Do you think we have wise, helpful frameworks for forming our identity and identifying others? Why/why not?

As Christians, we have been given a new identity in Christ. This is not just an extra attribute to add to all the others - we are given a whole new identity.

Distribute the following verses, giving each to at least one group member.

Read your verse and consider what it says about our new identity in Christ.

  • John 3:3-8

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17

  • Galatians 2:20

  • Ephesians 4:22-24

  • Colossians 3:3

  • Colossians 3:9-10

Pair up with someone who read a different verse to you, and:

  • Explain to your partner what your verse says about having a new identity in Christ.

  • What is similar in your verses? What is different?

Share your findings with the whole group.

  • What were the common themes and ideas that you discovered? What overall picture did you build up?

  • Is this new identity something that you have experienced in your own life? If so, share a story about it: what did you say or do that was markedly different to you old life?

Read Romans 6:1-11

  • What misunderstanding of the gospel is Paul arguing against in these verses? [1]

  • How does Paul's argument here compare with the verses we looked at previously?

  • Why is baptism a helpful framework for considering these things?

  • How does our identity in Christ overflow into our lifestyle, behaviour, attitudes, etc.

  • Why doesn't this change in behaviour happen automatically? Why does Paul need to instruct his readers to count or consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God (v. 11)? [2]

Spend some time in prayer and reflection:

  • What does it mean to you that you are 'united with Christ' in his death and resurrection?

  • What does it mean to you that you have a new identity in Him?

  • What specifically could change in your life if you draw deeply from your true new identity? Spend some time praying and asking God to help you conform to the new you that you already are in Him.

[1] F. F. Bruce describes the attitude found in verse 1 with the historical example of the famous monk Rasputin:

A notable historical instance may be seen in the Russian monk Gregory Rasputin, the evil genius of the Romanov royal family in its last years of power. Rasputin taught and exemplified the doctrine of salvation through repeated experiences of sin and repentance. He held that, as those who sin most require most forgiveness, a sinner who continues to sin with abandon enjoys, each time he repents, more of God’s forgiving grace than any ordinary sinner.

[2] N. T. Wright explains the meaning and significance of the word translated as 'count' or 'consider' in verse 11 (logizomai):

The word he uses is a word used in bookkeeping, in calculating accounts, in working out profit and loss figures. Now of course when you do a calculation you get an answer which, in a sense, didn’t exist before. But in another sense all that the calculation does is to make you aware of what in fact was true all along. It doesn’t create a new reality. Until you add up the money in the till, you don’t know how much your day’s takings were worth. But adding it up doesn’t make the day’s takings a penny larger or smaller than they already are.

Paul is telling us to do the sums, to add up, to work out the calculation — not to screw up our spiritual courage for a fresh leap of faith in which we imagine ourselves to be actually sinless. And here is the point. It is often hard to believe the result of the calculation. But faith at this point consists, not of shutting one’s eyes and trying to believe the impossible, but opening one’s eyes to the reality of Jesus and his representative death and resurrection — and to the reality of one’s own standing as a baptized and believing member of Jesus’ people, those who are ‘in the Messiah’. That is the challenge of verse 11. We need to remember who we really are, so that we can act accordingly.


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