Romans 6:1-25

Romans 6:1-25

by | May 25, 2002 | Uncategorized

Romans 6:1 –The concept of God’s forgiveness through repentance and faith apart from works caused some to think that God gets even greater glory when great sin is forgiven.  So God receives greater glory when I sin greatly.  The argument that many Orthodox Jewish leaders make to this day in refuting the claims of Yeshua is that He and His followers taught that the Law of Moses was done away with.

The argument is given credence when Christians continually suggest that the law brings wrath and a curse and that Christians are no longer under the Law.  Does the grace of God give a person a free reign to sin? Can a person just go ahead and do what he wants expecting God to forgive him? Grace means God’s undeserved and unmerited favor. It means that God freely accepts and forgives a person’s sins; that He freely justifies a person by faith.

Grace seems to give free reign to sin, to put no restraint upon sin. These are often the thoughts of the common man, even believers. There is the feeling that if we are forgiven by grace and not by law and doing good, then sin does not matter that much. We do not have to worry too much about the law of God and righteousness, just so we do a fair amount of good. We can pretty much do what we want, for God is going to forgive us anyway. God is gracious and loving and good; therefore, He is going to forgive our sins no matter what we do. Christ died for our sins. All we have to do is ask Him and He will forgive us.

The believer’s position in Christ shows the utter impossibility of a true believer continuing in sin. The word “continue” means to practice or to habitually yield to sin. A true believer no longer practices sin and no longer yields to sin. We cannot live without sinning, not totally, but we no longer live in sin. A true believer is dead to sin, and a dead man can’t do anything: he can’t think, speak, or move.

Positionally, the true believer has died to self and has been placed into Christ to live for Him. He now possesses the divine nature, God’s very own nature (2 Peter 1:4). He is placed and positioned in Christ which means he is dead to self and alive to God. God’s grace does not bring a man to God so that he can be free to sin more; God’s grace brings a man to God so that he can be free from sin and its guilt and judgment. Grace does not give license to sin any more than a dead man is able to move about and sin.

(a)  It was adult baptism.  That is not to say that the New Testament is opposed to infant baptism, but infant baptism is the result of the Christian family, and the Christian family could hardly be said to have come into being as early as the time of Paul.  A man came to Christ as an individual in the early Church, often leaving his family behind.

(b)  Baptism in the early Church was intimately connected with confession of faith.  A man was baptized when he entered the Church; and he was entering the Church direct from paganism.  In baptism a man came to a decision which cut his life in two, a decision which often meant that he had to tear himself up by the roots, a decision which was so definite that it often meant nothing less than beginning life all over again.

(c)  Commonly baptism was by total immersion and that practice lent itself to a symbolism to which sprinkling does not so readily lend itself.  When a man descended into the water and the water closed over his head, it was like being buried.  When he emerged from the water, it was like rising from the grave.  Baptism was symbolically like dying and rising again.  The man died to one kind of life and rose to another; he died to the old life of sin and rose to the new life of grace.

Again, if we are fully to understand this, we must remember that Paul was using language and pictures that almost anyone of his day and generation would understand.  It may seem strange to us, but it was not at all strange to his contemporaries. The Jews would understand it.  When a man entered the Jewish religion from heathenism, it involved three things-sacrifice, circumcision and baptism.

The Gentile entered the Jewish faith by baptism.  The ritual was as follows.  The person to be baptized cut his nails and hair; he undressed completely; the baptismal bath must contain at least forty seahs, that is two hogsheads, of water; every part of his body must be touched by the water. The effect of this baptism was held to be complete regeneration; he was called a little child just born, the child of one day.  All his sins were remitted because God could not punish sins committed before he was born.The completeness of the change was seen in the fact that certain Rabbis held that a man’s child born after baptism was his first-born, even if he had older children.

Romans 6:2 – This passage doesn’t mean that sin is dead in us; nor does it mean, as some have taken it, that we should die to sin. There are movements and churches based on this idea. These groups teach that we ought to crucify ourselves, and die to sin. Paul is not saying this; he is telling us it has been done: We died to sin.

He is not teaching either that we are dying to sin. There are some people who take it that way. They say this means that the Christian is gradually changing and growing, and the more he does so, the more he is dying to sin, and that there will come a time when he will outgrow all this. In the Greek tense used here it means we died once for all: We died to sin. In Chapter 5, we saw the contrast with what we were in Adam, and what we are now, as Believers, in Messiah.

Adam has passed on the stain of sin and death as his heritage. And therefore, in Adam we all sin, But then we learn, “If we are in Christ (and the implication is clear that we are), we will not go on sinning.” In Romans 5:21 -Messiah cancels out what happened in Adam. If death and sin come to us from Adam, then life and deliverance come from Messiah.  What if a Believer goes on living in sin, claiming forgiveness, without any change in his life whatever? There are people who are doing that.

The answer in light of Scripture is that those people are revealing that they never truly have been justified by faith; they are not Believers. Paul and John say that they are deceiving themselves and deceiving others. Though they may do so with good intent, and with utter sincerity. (Ephesians 5:5-6) Paul repeats this in {1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV} The question we need to ask ourselves is, do I really hate sin, my own sin, the things you I do wrong and, choose to do that is wrong? Do I want to be free from it, to be delivered, and want the power of sin broken in my life? This can only come when we have a new heart and Spirit.

Romans 6:3-5 – We cannot experience the life of Messiah until we have joined him in His death, and we can’t experience the benefits of his death until The Spirit of God has made us partaker of His life. As Yeshua’s resurrection was the result of His death as the sacrifice for our sin, so a life committed to the Lord is only attainable as a result of our death to sin in Messiah. The New life referred to in v 4 is from a Greek word that denotes a newness of quality and character. Just as sin characterized our old life, so righteousness now characterizes our new life.

When we enter the New Covenant we receive a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:31), a new song (Psalm 40:3), and a new name (Revelation 2:17). We are called a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a new creature (Galatians 6:15), and a new self (Ephesians. 4:24). Our old life died, so a new one was born.  This is the believer’s position in Messiah.

He is immersed, buried, placed and identified with Messiah in His death. And having died, we no longer have to be under the rule and reign of sin and its judgment again. We have become a partaker in Messiah’s death, bound and united in His death; and because of that we are dead to sin and all its effects. This is only true in the person who truly believes, that is transfers his trust from himself to the work of Yeshua on our behalf.

Romans 6:6-7 – Our old self was crucified, that is, put to death. The word used here refers to something that is completely worn out and useless.  Paul tells us about this as well in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).  The son of Adam is no longer, now I am a son or child of God in Messiah.  Crucifixion does not mean suffering; it means death. To be crucified is to die.

In Colossians, Paul states that a believer’s putting off the old self is something that has already been accomplished. “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).  Paul is tracing this parallel. Jesus was crucified, and we were crucified too. Our old self, the old man, the man who was in Adam, the tie with Adam, has been broken by death. All that we were as a natural-born human being ended when we believed in Jesus.

Then Paul explains that Jesus was crucified in order that the sin, which was in his body on the cross, should come to an end, that his body was rendered powerless with respect to sin.  You response at this point should be “There was no sin in Jesus.” That is true. Scripture is very clear in declaring that in Jesus there was no sin. He did not sin; there was no sin in him until the cross. But one of the most amazing things about our Lord is that when he was on the cross “he was made sin for us,” {2 Corinthians 5:21}. Our sin is in our bodies and it was placed on His body for us.  That’s why his body died and why he was buried.  Why do we bury a corpse? We bury it because it is useless, inert, and inactive and it begins to stink. A dead body under Jewish Law would make a living person defiled.

That is why Jesus was buried — to prove that the sin in his body was ended.  Paul says that is what happens to us. When our spirit is joined with Messiah Jesus, then the body of sin is rendered powerless. What does Paul mean by the term “body of sin”? He means the physical body that is dominated and controlled by sin. In Adam, sin filled the whole of man — our spirit, our soul, and our body. Therefore, we had to sin. That’s why, before we were believers, even when we tried to be good, we couldn’t.

Something always went wrong and we ended by fouling up in some way.  We were slaves to sin, and no matter how much we wanted to be different, we couldn’t be. But now that bond has been broken. In Messiah our spirit is freed and has been united with Jesus; it has risen with him, and just as sin could not hold Him it no longer can hold us.

What Paul makes clear in Romans 6 is that sin remains as an alien power trying to dominate and control our bodies and our souls.  Paul makes it clear that our spirits are freed from sin’s hold on us.  We now have the same Spirit, which raised Messiah from the dead.  The Holy Spirit now gives us the power to walk in a new resurrected life with power over sin.

From here on, we do not have to sin. If we do, it is because we allow it to happen. But we are no longer slaves to sin. The body is the means by which we are tempted to sin. There is nothing inherently sinful about our bodies, but as Paul will later explain there is an alien power in our bodies, and it is that power that causes us to be tempted all our life.   What we now must learn is how to surrender our bodies to God as slaves of righteousness, as bond-servants of God.

Romans 6:8-10 – Once we have reckoned ourselves dead to sin with Messiah, we walk in the new way that leads to life. Yeshua lives now, and he lives under the will and by the power of God, and the same thing is true in our lives.  His power is available to us. When we decide not to sin, we have the power to carry it out, because the Living Messiah in His Spirit is living in us.

Just as Messiah lived in obedience to God because He was fully alive and surrendered to God, so too are we.   We live in service to God through all eternity, beginning right now, from the moment of our conversion.  We have been placed into the resurrected life of Messiah.

Romans 6:11-12 we are like Lazarus who had been dead four days when Yeshua called him out of the grave. When he came out he was still wrapped from head to foot in his grave clothes (John 11:44).  We are in much the same condition when we come to faith.

We become alive spiritually when we trust in Yeshua as Savior and Lord, but we are still bound in some of the grave clothes of our old sinful life. The difference is that all of our old clothes do not come off immediately like Lazarus.  We are continually tempted to put the old clothes back on.  This is the continuing battle with sin and Satan that is discussed in Romans 6:11-14.

In chapter 7, using himself as the example, Paul deals more fully with our battle with the old sinful habits and inclinations. He confesses that, even as an apostle, he did not fully understand why, since he had died to sin, the battle against sin still raged within him. “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).  In this passage Paul again answers questions he knew we would wonder about: “If we have really been freed from sin by Messiah (Romans 6:7), why does it still give us so much trouble? If we are now holy before God, why are our lives so often unholy?

If we are righteous, how can our lives better demonstrate that righteousness?” Three key ideas help us with the answer Romans 6:11-14: know, consider, and yield. The first key idea is  “knowing” this is inferred by the expression  “in the same way”.  It is a transitional phrase referring back to the truths he has just given in the first ten verses of the chapter.

The idea is, “You must know and fully believe what I have just said, or else what I am about to say will make no sense.  Paul has just declared that, as believers, we are united with Yeshua in His death and have through Him had the penalty paid for our sin. We have risen with Him in His resurrection and therefore are able to walk in newness of life.

Because Messiah will never die again to sin, we will never die again to sin. In order for us to live out the fullness of this new life in Messiah we must know and believe that we are not what we used to be.  We must understand that we are not remodeled sinners but remade saints.  Understanding our identity is essential.  Hosea cried out to Israel that they suffered a similar problem, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).

Isaiah declared, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand” (Isaiah 1:2-3). Faithful living without divine knowledge is impossible. That’s why it is so important that we know God’s Word.

The second key idea is to consider.  This means having an unreserved inner confidence in the reality of what the mind acknowledges. While it has to do with the mind we actually think of it as being “heart felt.”  In Romans 7 Paul illustrates from his own life how difficult it is for a Believer to understand and appreciate that he is free from sin’s bondage. If we look honestly at our lives after salvation, it is obvious that sin is still very much with us.  It is hard at times to realize that the Holy Spirit indwells us and that we are God’s children.

There are a number of reasons we find it difficult to accept that we are now free from sin’s bondage. Most of us can accept that God now as forgiven and reconciled to God.  Yet we also tend to think that our basic relationship to sin is the same as it always was and that it will not be changed until we enter heaven.  While we accept that we have a new nature,  we believe that the old nature remains fully operative, and that our lives now are a battle between these two  natures.  This perspective makes salvation an “addition” rather than a “transformation.”

A second reason Believers find it hard to believe that they are free from the rule of sin is that Satan does not want us to believe it.  If he can make us think he still has power in our earthly lives, he weakens our resolve to live righteously by making it appear hopeless.

A third reason why we find it difficult to believe we are free from sin’s rule is that the reality of the new birth in Messiah is not physically observable or verifiable.  It may or may not be accompanied by physical or emotional experiences.  Finally, the most common reason why we find it hard to believe they we have been set free from sin’s rule is that as long as we are on this earth is that this continuous battle with sin seems to contradict this truth.

If they I have a new nature and sin’s control has truly been broken, why am I still so strongly tempted and why do we so often succumb?  When Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. He was not speaking of a psychological mind game, or eastern mantra by which we keep affirming this truth over and over until we are convinced against our natural reality that it is true. We know we are dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah because God’s Word declares it is so.  There are truths of faith and they must be affirmed by faith.

Until we accept the truth declared in God’s Word that sin’s power has been broken in my life, I will never experience the victory because I really don’t think that it is possible.  God’s Word declares that we have been given Messiah’s righteousness and so the enemy has no rights over us.  His accusations have no sway before God because God see in us His beloved Son.

We can have confidence in the midst of temptation, knowing that since sin’s rule in our lives has been broken we can successfully resist it in God’s power (1 Corinthians 10:13). We also have confidence that we cannot sin our way out of God’s grace. Just as we have been saved by God’s power, we are kept by His power we learn this in Romans 8.

Romans 6:13-14 Though our eternal destiny is forever beyond sin’s reach the only remaining beachhead where sin can attack us is in our body. One day our body will be glorified and forever be out of sin’s reach, but for now it is subject to corruption and death. It still has sinful desires, because the brain and our thinking processes are part of our natural body. Satan uses those lusts to lure us into sin in whatever ways he can.

Paul touches on this truth in Romans 8:22-23, Philippians 3:20-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:53. The keys for gaining the victory over sin is to first know the truths of God’s word, then considering them by placing them in the heart and then yielding to them.  However, reckoning this into reality means examining our will.  When we consider and then know the truths of God’s Word we are giving ourselves the knowledge to exercise our will against sin: but we do not have the power to obey. This knowledge, when combined with God’s power, prevents us from yielding to sin and thus allowing it to reign over our body. Once we know the truth that our fleshly bodies are still subject to sin, Paul tells us not to present our bodies as instruments of this unrighteousness.

He speaks of this truth in Romans 7:18, 22-25.  This creates a battleground between our body and the sin that so easily entangles us. It is because our warfare with sin is waged in our bodies that we are called to offer our bodies to God in Romans 12:1; and to buffet our bodies so that they may be servants of God, 1 Corinthians 9:27.  Because our body is the battleground, sin can win there. It can “reign” in our bodies, but it does not have to.  For a sin to have power over us it must first pass through our will. This idea is touched on in Philippians 2:12-13.

God’s will can be active in our lives only as we yield our will to His. When we do this our actions lose that sinful taint: our actions are then righteous. When we yield the members of our body to sin, we are doing the same “type” of action. Those members which we submit to sin’s power become instruments of unrighteousness. However, when in obedience to the knowledge we have gained from the Word and by yielding ourselves to our heavenly Father power (“our “will”), those same members become holy instruments of righteousness.

Let’s tie this into our past discussions about God’s law. The law “is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). But the law is weak and cannot break sin’s penalty or its power.  It shows us God’s holy expectations. The result is that it has the ability to rebuke, restrain, and condemn man. When we died with Messiah we were released from the condemnation of God’s law, and are now under the redeeming power of His grace.  It is in the power of that grace that we are called to live, no longer submitting ourselves to the sin.

Romans 6:15 – Once again Paul anticipates the false conclusions that his enemies would come up with that believers “are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). To them, the idea of no longer being under law but under grace was tantamount to being free of all moral restraint. “If the law no longer needs to be obeyed, and if God’s grace covers all sins,” they would argue, “then believers are free to do as they please.”  The Orthodox Jewish leaders taught that obedience to God’s law was the only way of salvation or in some cases the only way to keep Israel from God’s judgment.

Once again Paul gives the same forceful denial he gave in verse 2. The suggestion that God’s grace is a license to sin is self-contradictory. The purpose of God’s grace is to free man from sin. How then, could grace possibly justify continuing in sin? Grace not only justifies us but transforms us. A life that shows no sign of transformation gives no evidence of salvation.  This is what James is getting at in his letter in James 2:18ff.

Romans 6:16 – Paul here  uses the illustration of the master and servant. Whatever we yield to becomes our master. Before we were saved, sin was our master and thusly we were servants of sin.  Now that you belong to Messiah, we have been purchased to serve a new Master.

Romans 6:19 suggests that we ought to be as enthusiastic in yielding to the Lord, our new Master, as we were in yielding to our old master, sin.  The unsaved person is free from being righteousness (Romans 6:20). But this freedom is in reality bondage to sin and only leads him deeper into slavery. It becomes harder and harder to do what is right.

The Prodigal Son is an example of this (Luke 15:11-24). When he was at home, he decided he wanted his freedom, so he left home to find himself and enjoy himself. But his rebellion only led him deeper into slavery. He was the slave of wrong desires, then the slave of wrong deeds; and finally he became a literal slave when he took care of the pigs.

He wanted to find himself, but he lost himself! What he thought was freedom turned out to be the worst kind of slavery. It was only when he returned home and yielded to his father that he found true freedom. (John 8:32)  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Ultimately, we have two choices: either to sin, which is to disobey God, or to act in obedience by our choice and be righteous.

The end result of a life characterized by obedience reflects God’s will and demonstrates who our real master is.  The end result of slavery to sin is both physical and spiritual death. When our slavery is to righteousness, it results in eternal life. Yeshua taught us that we can not be a slave of two masters in Matthew 6:24.  The idea that we are master of our own lives and destiny is a delusion that Satan has foisted on mankind ever since the Fall. It was by that lie, in fact, that Adam and Eve were drawn into the first sin.

Many people resist the Messiah because they are afraid of having to give up their freedom.  The real truth is that he is indeed a slave of sin, for it is the only thing he can do.  Actually, of course, they have no freedoms to lose. The unsaved person is not free to do good or evil as he chooses. He is bound and enslaved to sin, and the only thing he can do is to sin. The only choices he has are: when, how, and to what degree he will sin.

Romans 6:17-18 – Paul here gives thanks to God that believers were no longer subject to slavery that leads to death.  It is a work completely of God on their behalf.  Paul is not speaking of an outward righteousness but rather obedience from the heart. Faith and obedience are unavoidably related. There is no saving faith in God apart from obedience to God, and there can be no godly obedience without godly faith. Obedience does not produces or maintain our salvation, but it is a characteristic of those who are saved.

Belief itself is an act of obedience, made possible and by God’s grace, yet it always involves the will of the believer. Our journey from slavery in Satan’s kingdom of darkness to slavery in God’s kingdom of light happens with our wills involved.  Genuine faith is not only in God’s Son but in God’s truth (John 14:6).  We never fully comprehend all of God’s truth. Even the most mature and faithful Believers only begin to fathom the riches of God’s truths in this present life. But the desire to know and obey God’s truth is one of the marks of genuine salvation.  One of the strengths of the early church was its devotion “to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42).

And Jesus made it clear that those who obeyed His word were the true believers (John 8:31; 14:21, 23, 24; 15:10). The word “form” was a word used to describe the molds into which molten metal for castings was poured.  Paul’s point here seems to be that the true believer is that when God makes us new, He casts us into the mold of heavenly truth.  J. B. Phillips in his translation gives us this sense in Romans 12:1 “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within.”  The Believer who obeys God’s Word becomes conformed to the truth of that Word and becomes a living model of the gospel and so become a reflection of our Lord.

Romans 6:19 – Paul here changes the focus from position to practice, we are called to make our living correspond to our new natures. Although it is still possible for us to sin, we are no longer in bondage to sin.  We are free not to sin, and we need to exercise this divinely provided ability in obedience to our new Lord and Master. Before we were transformed we were like the rest of fallen mankind, having no other desire or ability but to follow our natural propensity to go our own way which contradicted God’s way.  We should now present our bodies as slaves to righteousness.

And just as a life of sin leads to further sin, so a life of righteousness leads to further righteousness. We cannot stand still, just as it is in business so too is it true in the life of faith, if we are not moving forward we are moving backwards. God’s purpose in redeeming us from sin was not to give us freedom to do as we please but freedom to do as He pleases, which is to live righteously. When God commanded Pharaoh to let His people go, He also made clear His purpose for their deliverance: “that they may serve Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 7:16). God delivers men from enslavement to sin for the sole purpose of their becoming enslaved to Him and to His righteousness.

Romans 6:20-22 – When we were in bondage to sin we were unable to attain or bear fruit of righteousness.  We did not have the desire or the ability to meet the requirements of God for righteousness.  We were ruled by sin, sin was our master whom we were bound to serve.  That is why unregenerate men cannot bring true reform to their lives or to others.  God must first transform our lives.  In fact before we came to faith and a relationship with God most of us did not think our lives needed reformation, much less transformation.

Many of us thought of ourselves as decent, honest, law-abiding, helpful, and often very religious people. But Paul tells us that apart from salvation through Yeshua the Messiah, we were all slaves of sin and ignorant and separate from God’s standard of righteousness.  In another passage of Scripture our good works and religious accomplishments before being made alive in Messiah are described as rubbish, or dung (Philippians 3:8).  In God’s sight, there is no benefit from the things we do apart from salvation.

In fact one of the marks of true salvation is a sense of being ashamed of our lives before coming to Messiah. Whether our lives before was filled with immorality or a form of godliness.  To be free from sin does not mean that we are no longer capable of sinning but rather that we are no longer enslaved to sin.  When we place our trust for righteousness in Yeshua we are freed from sin’s domination and enslaved to God.

Romans 6:23 – This verse expresses two essential truths. The first is that the wages of sin is death. Spiritual death is earned. It is the compensation for a life that is characterized by sin, which is the fruit of a life apart from God.  As a laborer receives his wages, so sin receive wages. Just as it would be unjust not to pay the laborer, it would be unjust not to pay sin for its work.  If sin did not receive its just punishment, it would be a gross injustice (Ezekiel 18:20).

But the greater truth is that the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.  Eternal life cannot be earned by our works, by being good, by religious ritual, or by any other thing that we can do. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  If we want what we deserve, eternal death, God will give us that as our just wages. But if we want what we don’t deserve, eternal life, God offers that to us as well, but as a free gift, by transferring our faith in going to heaven from our own efforts to the work of Yeshua on the Cross.

Yeshua is the only way from sin to righteousness, from judgment to life. As Peter boldly proclaimed before the Sanhedrin shortly after Pentecost, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved”. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

Jesus calls to Himself those who are willing to be inwardly transformed by Him, who desire an entirely new nature that is created in His holy likeness. He calls to Himself those who are willing to exchange their sinfulness for His holiness. He calls those who are willing to die with Him in order to be raised with Him.  We can only come to Him on His terms and when we do He transforms our lives as we yield our lives to Him.

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