Chapter Six

   At this point in the book of Romans, Paul has shown the Jews and Gentiles responsibile before God and guilty of sin. Both had lived under law even though different laws. The advantage of the Jew was one of service because through the Jews the Savior was to come. Neither could stand before God justified under the law to which each was amenable because they stood condemned by virtue of violations. The sins of both Jews and Gentiles established the need of a universal system of salvation. The system by which sinful man can be made righteous before God, or counted so, is one of grace, blood, law, faith, and obedience. This God-given way is sufficient. Abraham had been justified by a similar plan, at least in principle. Adam had brought sin into the world, but Christ had brought life and justification. What does all this tell us?

Verses 1-7

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

    Some may have concluded if sinning causes the grace of God to abound, then the more one sinned the more grace abounds. Sinning was, therefore, commendable, not contemptible. They may have even decided sinning was doing God a favor because it enhanced the value of His system. It seems rather unlikely that such an idea could be taken seriously, seeing the destructiveness of sin. But when men want to sin and wish to find some excuse for doing so they can come up with most anything. Paul had already dealt with this matter partially in chapter three when he dismissed any Jewish contention that might have been raised that they were being condemned unjustly in view of the fact that their sins only "commended" the righteousness of God. Paul's reaction shows such to be an absurd idea even on the surface. He said, "God forbid!" His reaction, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is equally forthright at any suggestion that one may or ought to sin in order to think grace would abound all the more. Again, we read, "God forbid!" It was ridiculous to think that those who had been separated from sin ("dead to sin") should live in sin any longer. They had seen that sin was that from which they needed to be separated. They certainly would not wish to continue in sin.
    Paul does not imply it was impossible for one who was separated from sin to return to a life of sin. The fact that he discussed it shows it was possible. If it had been impossible to return to a life of sin he would have simply dismissed the idea of sinning with the assertion that it was impossible to do anyway. However, he shows not the impossibility of sinning, but the incompatibility of sinning by the one who had been separated from sin.
    He goes further in verse three to emphasize this incompatibility by recalling what they had understood at the time they were baptized. They knew that when they were baptized they had been baptized "into Christ." Paul mentions this point in Galatians 3:27. Being "in Christ" is a definition of a spiritual condition and relationship to God. One is not condemned in that spiritual state (8:1). All spiritual blessings are enjoyed in that state (Ephesians 1:3). Salvation is in that state (Second Timothy 2:10). "In Christ" is where our spiritual needs are met and supplied. Out of Christ we are excluded from what Christ brought and offered. The question under discussion is the transference or the change of spiritual conditions from moving out to "in." This was accomplished when they were baptized. The Romans realized this. Notice, it is not that baptism is of any virtue in the mere act of being immersed by itself, or that there is power in the water itself that accomplishes the desired result. But the desired goal of entering "into Christ" where the benefits become reality is when one obeys the commanded action of baptism. The power, merit, and source by which the change of spiritual condition was made possible and real is God through the blood of Christ as chapter five, verse nine already noted.
    Only two passages in the Bible speak of how one gets "into Christ"(this one and Galatians 3:27), and both teach the same thing. We are baptized "into Christ." There is not another passage that speaks of this accomplishment any other way. This is significant to those who accept what the Bible teaches on the plan of salvation.
    But when one was baptized "into Christ," other implications were involved. Not that the other implications were in disagreement or contradiction with entering "into Christ," but that the blessings are expressed in other ways. One expression mentioned here is "baptized into his death." To be baptized into the death of Christ cannot mean His literal death. Such would make no sense. It means one is baptized into the blessings that can belong to man by virtue of the death of Christ; namely, salvation. It means the same spiritual benefit as being "in Christ." After all, Paul has already emphasized several times that the blood of Christ, which was shed in His death, is the atoning power God devised and provided. So the purpose of baptism is stressed here as entrance into the spiritual state of salvation, the benefits of His death, into a life separated from sin where it is incompatible to live in sin, and into the provisions of the grace of God. All who had been baptized enjoyed these blessings. Paul reminds them of this in answering any suggestion that they should live in sin anymore for any purpose.
    Verse four begins with an unmistakable reference to the act of baptism itself which is a burial. The same point is made in Colossians 2:12, "Buried with him in baptism." When one is baptized he is buried. The substitution by man of sprinkling and/or pouring is totally unwarranted by Biblical teaching. Men ought have more respect for the Word of God than to practice such things. God's book teaches baptism is a burial.
    Christians are "dead to sin" (separated from sin). How does this separation come about? It takes place when one is baptized into the death of Christ, or as stated in verse three, when one is baptized "into Christ."
    One "in Christ" is a "new creature" (Second Corinthians 5:17). Just as Christ died, was buried, and was raised, in like figure we die to sin being buried in baptism, and raised to "walk in newness of life." We are then to live, conduct ourselves, behave ourselves in a new manner of life apart from sin because we are in a new relationship with God.
    There is no entrance "into Christ" prior to baptism. There is no entrance into His death, or the benefits of His death, prior to baptism. One cannot be separated from sin apart from the blood of Christ, and it is in baptism that one enters that realm where His blood was shed, His death (John 19:34). The actual accomplishment of the separation from sin cannot be considered real until the power to cleanse has been applied. The power is the blood of Christ. It is applied when we obey baptism. In the action of baptism man is freed of the sinfulness of his condition and brought into the saved state. The Bible teaches no other way.
    Look again at the "newness of life." This is equivalent to the new birth taught in John 3:1-5. When one is "born again" he enters a new life. This is the same as the "washing of regeneration" of Titus 3:5. When one is baptized "into Christ" he becomes the new creature of Second Corinthians 5:17. Paul elaborates further in the following verses.
    Verse five teaches we have become conjoined, "planted together," united with each other, and united "in Christ." A two-fold oneness is accomplished in baptism.We are united with Christ since those baptized "were baptized into Jesus Christ." Baptism is in the likeness of His death and burial, and also in the likeness of His resurrection.
    In all this the "old man" of sin is put off. The "old man" is the former sinful man who lived in sin as presented in Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:9,10. The old man is "crucified" or put to death, separated from and destroyed. There is now "newness of life." Inasmuch as the question had been raised whether "we shall continue in sin," Paul affirms since the old man has been removed we should not return to him and should not serve sin. Having died to sin, separated now from sin by the blood of Christ in the obedient actions taken, man is freed from sin. He is spiritually free "in Christ." This freedom is not a freedom to do whatever one wants to do, but a freedom from sin that would otherwise destroy one spiritually. What a glorious deliverance is presented in these first seven verses of the sixth chapter.
    This paragraph presents a positive and a negative accomplishment in baptism. The negative is the separation from sin. Sin is washed away by the blood of Christ when one is baptized. The positive is the oneness created with Christ and the redeemed in a spiritual state of a new relationship with God, free from sin, and characterized by a life that stays away from sin because a sinful life would be incompatible with the new spiritual relationship with God.

Verses 8-11

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    The word "if" does not convey any doubt that what is said is true, but is best understood as "since," or "inasmuch as what has been said is certainly true," certain things naturally follow. Since we are dead to sin (separated from sin), and are with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him. In fact, our earthly lives must be lived with Him.
    The life to be lived may have a twofold application. First, we are to live with Christ here on earth in the sense that we are not to live in sin, but are to pattern our lives according to the way of life He exemplified. We are to live in His fellowship which demands living as He directs. This cannot be done if we pursue a life of sin. Secondly, the idea must be embraced of the eternal and future life that the redeemed shall enjoy in heaven. Those who live with Christ here will live with Christ eternally. This eternal life is most important, indeed the prime portion of the spiritual benefits offered to man through Christ. He died never to die again. By His resurrection He demonstrated power over death, and death no longer must be dominant over man. Death cannot be dominant over the one who lives "in Christ." Life is assured the faithful because Christ conquered death. Our assurance is even more certain in that He shall die no more. Death cannot destroy the One on whom we rely. We could not have relied on such a one as Lazarus, or others who once were raised from the dead, because they were raised only to die again. But not so with the Son of God. He died for payment of the penalty for sin, but was raised to die no more. He is the "firsfruits" of them that slept (First Corinthians 15:20). Herein lies the foundation of our hope.
    Note Paul asserts here as in Hebrews 7:27 and 9:26 that He died "once." Once was all that was necessary, and once was all that He would die. He died, but now lives. The life He lives is totally "unto," looking toward, given to God. For that same reason we are to count ourselves as separated from sin, and are to live this "newness of life" unto God through Christ.
    In answer to the question of verse one, "Shall we continue in sin?" Paul has answered with a resounding,"No," for two very powerful reasons. One reason is because of what Christ has done for us in bringing deliverance from sin, and the other, because of what we have done in obedience to appropriate the deliverance Christ brought.

Verses 12-14

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

    Being spiritually alive "in Christ," one ought not allow sin to be a part of his life. Just as Paul has stated earlier in the chapter, God forbid that we should live any longer in sin. Our bodies should not be used for sin. Sin should have no place in our activities. We ought not obey lust. We have died, become separated from sin, and are now alive in the "new man" state, a "new creature" in Christ. Therefore, all of this is reason enough to terminate the practice of sin.
    We are not to yield our members, our bodies, to be used as tools for doing things unrighteous. We are, rather, to be tools in the hands of God like spiritually alive people should be, and are expected to be. Either the devil or the Lord will use each of us. The Christian has made a commitment that he will be used by the Lord for righteousness rather than by the devil for evil. Sin is not to have dominion over us, but we are to make sure that it does not. Sin cannot have dominion over us as long as we choose to walk uprightly with the Lord. We do not live under the bondage of condemnation that is pronounced upon us by law, but we live under the system of grace by which God has offered release from sin.
    It is both a comforting thought as well as a heavy obligation imposed upon us by the phrase, "for sin shall not have dominion over you." It is a statement of determination. When we were out of Christ we were under the dominion of sin, but not so once we are "in Christ." What a blessing! At the same time, we are under obligation not to follow a life of sin. We need to remember where the blessing goes, so goes the obligation!

Verses 15-18

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

    What is the conclusion that is to be drawn from all this? Shall we sin because the condemnation of the law is no longer upon us, and we are under the blessings of grace? The answer is, "Absolutely not!" Just the opposite ought abide. Because we are under grace and not law, grace having released us from sin, we ought not sin. Again, for the third time (3:6; 6:2), Paul uses the strong sentiment expressed by the word, "God forbid!"
    He now asks a question in view of what he has said, and answers it. "Do you know you are servant of the one you obey, whichever one it is, whether God or the devil, sin unto death or obedience unto righteousness?" What a powerful way to assert we serve what we obey. It is noteworthy how Paul makes it plain we are always servants, either of one or the other. We never are completely "free" in this life. We always have a master. We can choose our master, but we shall always be under one or the other. The one we obey is the one we serve.
    Christians once had been servants of sin. But now, because of the grace of God to whom thanksgiving ought be given, they had obeyed that which had been delivered to them. The King James Version renders verse seventeen in a way that some think is misleading, but not necessarily so. It sounds to them as if Paul said they had obeyed what had been delivered to them. While this is true (because they could never have obeyed something never delivered to them), the American Standard Version makes it sound like the Christian is the one who has been delivered rather than the message delivered. What difference it makes escapes me! The message certainly had been delivered to them and they had obeyed the message. When they did the Christian was delivered from the bondage of sin which they had obeyed in times past. Their obedience to the "form of doctrine" which was delivered them brought about their deliverance from sin. Actually, a teaching had been delivered them (First Corinthians 15:3).
    What had they obeyed? They had obeyed a "form," a representation of something. Of what was it a "form"? It was a "form" of a doctrine or teaching. The only doctrine by which men can be delivered from being servants of sin is the gospel of Christ (1:16). So the gospel had been preached to them and they had obeyed it. Upon their obedience, they were made free from sin. They became servants of righteousness.
    More specifically to the "form," we refer again to First Corinthians 15, and learn Paul had delivered the gospel which includes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It was by this gospel they were saved. What "form" of that doctrine is more appropriate and precise in the representation of it than what Paul had just reminded the Romans that they had obeyed; namely baptism?
    In baptism one dies to sin. He is buried and raised to walk in newness of life. The phrase, "newness of life," corresponds to the phrase, "servants of righteousness." One who has obeyed the command to be baptized walks as a new creature in a new life, no longer a servant of sin, but a servant of righteousness. The "form" they had obeyed was baptism which is a representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Obedience to this "form" changed their spiritual servitude because of the blood of Christ reached in that transaction.
    As in chapter one and verse one (when Paul called himself a servant of Christ, as one not only in the employ of another, but one who was the actual property of another, or a slave), so the term "servant" is used here. Christians are the actual property of Christ as well as in His employment. First Corinthians 6:19, 20 can be studied in this connection because it emphasizes the same truth.

Verses 19-23

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Paul addresses them in a manner to which they would be accustomed, "the manner of men," according to the thinking of men. He speaks to them in a way they would understand. He uses the physical concept of slavery to describe the spiritual conditions of being in sin or salvation. He does this because their grasp of spiritual things was somewhat limited. They had lived in sin, and had demonstrated the weaknesses of the flesh. In this manner he impresses upon them the point that they once yielded to serving uncleanness. They went from iniquity to iniquity. Now, in contrast to that, as Christians they were to yield themselves unto a holy, sanctified, and set apart life. They once were slaves to sin. But they obeyed God's righteousness and were made holy. Whereas they once were servants of sin, no longer was this the case with them. When they served sin they were "free" from being righteous. The term "free" may seem a bit peculiar because usually one thinks of freedom as something to be desired. We usually seek freedom from what harms us. But here Paul uses the term in the sense of being removed from righteousness.
    We are always servants either of God or the devil. When in bondage to one we are free from the other. So he is consistent in presenting these contradictory spiritual conditions this way. When you serve sin you are "free" from righteousness. When you serve God you are free from sin.
    What did that former manner of life produce for them? Now, being "in Christ," they were ashamed of what their former life had produced. Well they might be, because it produced sin. The end result of the life they formerly lived produced spiritual death, separation from God, and condemnation.
    Now, free from the dominion of sin that brings spiritual death, and being servants of God, their fruit was different. In fact, it was opposite to the former state. The fruit of this new life is eternal life. While they lived here their life would produce that which is holy and good.
    In a summary statement in words of contrast, Paul notes that the wages, payment, of sin is spiritual death. How foolish man is, while pursuing sin and enjoying its pleasures for a season, that he does not take time to consider the end result and inescapable wages of his life of sin. Ultimately it produces eternal, spiritual separation from God. On the other hand, servitude unto God produces eternal life, a gift from God, not something earned or accomplished by good works alone or by ourselves without Christ, but a gift received on the merit of Christ and His blood when certain conditions are met through obedience to the gospel commands.
    There is a significance in naming Christ as "our Lord." The word "Lord" whether capitalized or not, means "master." We may have many masters even here on earth, but there is one spiritual Master, who is Christ. He is Lord of all. It is by and through Him that we enter, and can remain, in the blessed spiritual servitude to God of which Paul has written. We are presented the choice of two spiritual masters, Christ or Satan. Salvation is "in Christ." Christians accept Jesus, the Son of God, as both "Lord and Christ," (Acts 2:36).

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