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Weeks 9 & 10 – Romans 5 – Holy Living!

The Gospel's Way to Holy Living: Rom 6:1-23

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 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.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Rom 6:6 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.
Rom 6:7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
Rom 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Rom 6:9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
Rom 6:10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Rom 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.
Rom 6:13 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.
Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom 6:18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Rom 6:20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom 6:21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What Paul had said at the close of chapter 5 — that grace abounded all the more over all man's sin — raises another question, and a very important one. Does the teaching of the gospel (salvation by grace through faith) permit or even encourage sinful living? The answer, a most emphatic NO, extends over chapters 6-8.

Here in chapter 6 the answer centres around three key words which we looked at a couple of weeks ago: know (vv. 3, 6), reckon or consider (v. 11), and present (v. 13). It will help us to follow Paul's argument in this chapter if we understand the difference between the believer's position and his practice.

His position is his standing in Christ - justified. His practice is what he is or should be in everyday life - Sanctified. Grace effectively puts us into the position being justified and then it teaches us to walk worthy of it - sanctification. Our position is absolutely perfect because we are in Christ. Our practice – the way we live each day, should increasingly correspond to our position. It never will correspond perfectly (there’s no perfection this side of heaven except in the mind of wives!) until we see the Saviour in heaven, but we should be becoming more and more conformed to His image in the meantime.

The apostle first sets forth the truth of our identification with Christ in death and resurrection, and then encourages us to live in the light of this great truth.

6:1 The Jewish objector comes forward with what he thinks is a clinching argument. If the gospel of grace teaches that man's sin provides for an even greater display of God's grace, then doesn't it suggest that we should continue in sin that grace may be all the more abundant? A modern version of this argument is as follows: “You say that men are saved by grace through faith, apart from the law. But if all you have to do to be saved is believe, then you could go out and live in sin.” According to this argument, grace is not a sufficient motivation for holy living. You must put people under the restraints of the law. It has been helpfully suggested that there are four answers in the chapter to the initial question, Shall we continue in sin?

  1. You cannot, because you are united to Christ. Reasoning (vv. 1-11).
  2. You need not, because sin's dominion has been broken by grace. Appealing (vv. 12-14).
  3. You must not, because it would bring sin in again as your master. Commanding (vv. 15-19).
  4. You had better not, for it would end in disaster. Warning (vv. 20-23).

6:2 Paul's first answer, then, is that we cannot continue in sin because we have died to sin. This is a positional truth. When Jesus died to sin, He died as our Representative. He died not only as our Substitute—that is, for us or in our place—but He also died as our Representative—that is, as us. Therefore, when He died, we died. He died to the whole question of sin, settling it once and for all. All those who are in Christ are seen by God as having died to sin. This does not mean that the believer is sinless. It means that he is identified with Christ in His death, and in all that His death means. 6:3 The first key word in Paul's presentation is KNOW. Here he introduces the subject of baptism to show that it is morally incongruous for believers to go on in sin. But the question arose just a couple of weeks ago, “To which baptism is he referring?” So an introductory word of explanation is necessary. When a person is saved, he is baptized into Christ Jesus in the sense that he is identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. This is not the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit, though both occur simultaneously. The latter baptism places the believer in the body of Christ (1Cor 12:13); and it is not a baptism into death. The baptism into Christ means that in the reckoning of God, the believer has died with Christ and has risen with Him. When Paul speaks of baptism here, he is thinking both of our spiritual identification with Christ and of its portrayal in water baptism – we deduce this because of the language that he uses here. But as the argument advances, he seems to shift his emphasis in a special way to water baptism as he reminds his readers how they were “buried” and “planted together” in the “likeness” of Christ's death. The NT never contemplates the abnormal situation of an unbaptised believer. It assumes that those who are converted submit to baptism right away, as they did in those times. Thus our Lord could speak of faith and baptism in the same breath: “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Though baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it should be the invariable public sign of it. 6:4 Water baptism gives a visual demonstration of baptism into Christ. It pictures the believer being immersed in death's dark waters (in the person of the Lord Jesus), and it pictures the new man in Christ rising to walk in newness of life. There is a sense in which a believer attends the funeral of his old self when he is baptized. As he goes under the water he is saying, “All that I was as a sinful son of Adam was put to death at the cross.” As he comes up out of the water he is saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (see Gal 2:20). This passage could never be properly understood unless it be borne in mind that the primitive baptism was by immersion – not sprinkling! The apostle moves on to state that the resurrection of Christ makes it possible for us to walk in the newness of our life in Christ. He further states that Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. This simply means that all the divine perfections of God—His righteousness, love, justice, etc.—demanded that He raise the Lord. In view of the excellence of the Person of the Saviour, it would not have been consistent with God's character to leave the Saviour in the tomb. God did raise Him, and because we are identified with Christ in His resurrection, we can and should walk in newness of life. 6:5 Just as we have been united together with Christ in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. The words the likeness of His death refers to the believer's being put under the water in baptism. The actual union with Christ in His death took place nearly 2000 years ago, but baptism is a “likeness” of what happened then. We not only go under the water; we come up out of the water, a likeness of His resurrection. While it is true that the phrase in the likeness is not part of the original text in the second part of this verse, it must be supplied to complete the meaning. Just as we have been united with Christ in the likeness of His death (immersion in water), so we are united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection (being raised out of the water). The clause we shall be does not necessarily indicate futurity. Hodge says: The reference is not to what is to happen hereafter, but to the certainty of sequence, or causal connection. If the one thing happens, the other shall surely follow. 6:6 We confess in baptism that our old man was crucified with Christ. Our old man refers to all that we were as children of Adam—our old, evil, self centred selves, with all our old habits and appetites. At conversion we put off the old man and put on the new man, as if exchanging filthy rags for spotless clothing (Col 3:9-10). The crucifixion of the old man at Calvary means that the body of sin has been put out of commission. The body of sin does not refer to the physical body. Rather, it means indwelling sin which is personified as a tyrant, ruling over us. This body of sin is done away with, that is, annulled or rendered inoperative as a controlling power. The last clause shows that this is the meaning: that we should no longer be slaves of sin. The tyranny of sin over us has been broken. 6:7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. Here is a man, for example, who is sentenced to die for murder as was the case when the commentary that I have been using was written!. As soon as he dies, he is freed (literally “justified”) from that sin. The penalty has been paid and the case is closed. Now we have died with Christ on the cross of Calvary. Not only has our penalty been paid, but sin's stranglehold on our lives has been broken. We are no longer the helpless captives of sin. 6:8 Our death with Christ is one side of the truth. The other side is that we shall also live with Him. We died to sin; we live to righteousness. Sin's dominion over us has been shattered; we share Christ's resurrection life here and now. And we shall share it for all eternity, praise His name! 6:9 Our confidence is based on the fact that the risen Christ will never die again. Death no longer has dominion over Him. Death did have dominion over Him for three days and nights, but that dominion is forever passed. Christ can never die again! 6:10 When the Lord Jesus died, He died to the whole subject of sin once for all. He died to sin's claims, its wages, its demands, and its penalty. He finished the work and settled the account so perfectly that it never needs to be repeated. Now that He lives, He lives to God. In one sense, of course, He always lived to God. But now He lives to God in a new relationship, as the Risen One, and in a new sphere, where sin can never enter. Before going on, let us review the first ten verses. The general subject is sanctification—God's method for holy living. As to our standing before God, we are seen as having died with Christ and having risen with Him. This is pictured in baptism. Our death with Christ ends our history as men and women in Adam. God's sentence on our old man was not reformation but death. And that sentence was carried out when we died with Christ. Now we are risen with Christ to walk in the newness of life. Sin's tyranny over us has been broken, because sin has nothing to say to a dead person. Now we are free to live for God. 6:11 Paul has described what is true of us positionally. Now he turns to the practical outworking of this truth in our lives. We are to RECKON ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. To reckon here means to accept what God says about us as true and to live in the light of it. Ruth Paxson writes: [It means] believing what God says in Rom 6:6 and knowing it as a fact in one's own personal salvation. This demands a definite act of faith, which results in a fixed attitude toward “the old man.” We will see him where God sees him—on the Cross, put to death with Christ. Faith will operate continuously to keep him where grace placed him. This involves us very deeply, for it means that our hearty consent has been given to God's condemnation of and judgment upon that old “I” as altogether unworthy to live and as wholly stripped of any further claims upon us. The first step in a walk of practical holiness is this reckoning upon the crucifixion of “the old man.” We reckon or count ourselves dead to sin when we respond to temptation as a dead man would. One day Augustine was accosted by a woman who had been his mistress before his conversion. When he turned and walked away quickly, she called after him, “Augustine, it's me! It’s me!” Quickening his pace, he called back over his shoulder, “Yes, I know, but it's no longer me!” What he meant was that he was dead to sin and alive to God. A dead man has nothing to do with immorality, lying, cheating, gossiping, or any other sin for that matter. Now we are alive to God in Christ Jesus. This means that we are called to holiness, worship, prayer, service, and fruit bearing. 6:12 We saw in 6:6 that our old man was crucified so that sin as a reigning tyrant might be knocked out, so that we would no longer be the helpless captives of sin. Now the practical exhortation is based on what is true positionally. We should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies by obeying its evil desires. At Calvary the reign of sin was ended by death. Now we must make it so practically. Our cooperation is needed. Only God can make us holy, but He will not do it without our willing involvement. 6:13 That brings us to the third key word in this chapter—PRESENT or YIELD. We must not present the members of our body to sin, to be used as weapons or tools of wickedness. Our obligation is to turn control of our members to God, to be used in the cause of righteousness. After all, we have been raised to life from death; and, as we are reminded in 6:4, we should walk in the newness of life. 6:14 Now another reason is given why sin shall NOT have dominion over us as believers. The first reason was that our old man was crucified with Christ (6:6). The second reason is that we are not under law BUT UNDER GRACE. Sin does have the upper hand over a person who is under law. Why? Because the law tells him what to do but doesn't give him the power to do it. And the law stirs up dormant desires in fallen human nature to do what is forbidden. It's the old story that “forbidden fruit is sweet.” Sin does not have dominion over the person who is under grace. The believer has died to sin. He has received the indwelling Holy Spirit as the power for holy living. And he is motivated by love for the Saviour, not by fear of punishment. Grace is the only thing that really produces holiness. As Denney says, “It is not restraint but inspiration that liberates from sin; not Mount Sinai but Mount Calvary which makes saints.” 6:15 Those who are afraid of grace would insist that it gives license for sinning. Paul meets this error head-on by asking the question, then flatly denying it. We are free from the law but not lawless. Grace means freedom to serve the Lord, not to sin against Him. In 6:1 the question was, “Shall we continue in sin?” Here the question is, “Shall we sin just a little?” The answer in both cases is a horrified “Certainly not!” God cannot condone any sin at all. 6:16 It is a simple fact of life that when we submit ourselves to someone as our master we effectively become that person's slave. Likewise, if we sell out to sin, we become slaves of sin, and eternal death lays waiting at the end of that road. If, on the other hand, we choose to obey God, the result is a holy life. Sin's slaves are bound by guilt, fear, and misery, but God's servants are free to do what the new nature loves. So why be a slave when you can be free? 6:17 “Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.” (NLT). The Roman Christians had given wholehearted obedience to the gospel of grace to which they had been committed, including all the doctrine that Paul teaches in this Letter. 6:18 Right doctrine leads to the right kind of duty. Responding to the truth that they had been set free from sin as master, they became slaves of righteousness. Is that where you are today? The phrase free from sin does not mean that they no longer had a sinful nature. Neither does it mean that they no longer committed acts of sin. This particular context shows that it is referring to freedom from sin as the dominant power in life. 6:19 In verse 18 the apostle spoke of slaves of righteousness, but he realizes that those who live righteously are not actually in bondage. “Practical righteousness is not slavery, except when we speak after the manner of men.” Those who practice sin are slaves of sin, but those whom the Son sets free are free indeed (John 8:34, John 8:36). Paul then explains that, in using the simile of slaves and master, he is speaking in human terms – human values; that is, he is using a familiar illustration from everyday life. He does this because of the weakness of their flesh—in other words, because of their intellectual and spiritual difficulty in understanding truth when it is stated in general terms. Truth often needs to be illustrated in order to become intelligible. You see, before the came to Christ these believers had surrendered their bodies as slaves of all kinds of uncleanness and to one kind of wickedness after another. Now they – they were under grace and should dedicate those same bodies as slaves of righteousness, so that their lives would be truly holy. 6:20 When they were slaves of sin, the only freedom they knew was freedom from righteousness. It was a desperate condition to be in—bound by every evil and free from every good! And now in…. 6:21 Paul now asks them (and you and me) to make an inventory the fruits of an unsaved life, fruits in those activities of which believers are now ashamed. Marcus Rainsford has drawn up such an inventory, as follows: 1. Faculties abused. 2. Affections prostrated. 3. Time squandered. 4. Influence misused. 5. Best friends wronged. 6. Our best interests violated. 7. Love outraged—especially the love of God. Or to sum it up in one word—SHAME. The end of those things is death. 6:22 Conversion changes our position completely. Now we are free from sin as our master, and we become willing slave to God. The result is a holy life now and everlasting life at the end of the journey. Of course the believer has eternal life now too, but this verse refers to that life in its fullness, including the glorified resurrection body. 6:23 The apostle summarizes the subject by presenting these vivid contrasts: There are two masters—sin or God. There are two methods—wages or a free gift. And two aftermaths—death or eternal life. Notice that eternal life is in a Person, and that Person is Christ Jesus our Lord. All who are in Christ have eternal life. It's as simple as that!


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