Dead to Sin



Romans 6:1-14

Since February, we have been studying our way through the book of Romans. We come now to the sixth chapter. As a reminder, here is a brief outline of the book of Romans:
Romans 1-3:20             -         Sin
Romans 3:21-5             -         Salvation
Romans 6-8                  -         Sanctification
Romans 9-11                -         Sovereignty
Romans 12-16              -         Service

From the middle of chapter three through the end of chapter five, we have been looking at justification by faith, otherwise outlined as "Salvation." As we begin in chapter six, chapter five has just finished arguing that the more sin increased the more grace abounded. This is the result of justification by faith. We are saved, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy. (Titus 3:5)

In view of this free salvation, a question comes to mind, and Romans 6:1 asks that question. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”

Romans chapters six through eight deal with this question as they speak of our sanctification. What has become of sin in our lives? Having been justified by faith, how then should we live? What change should it make in our lives? How should being justified change us?

The book of Romans, up to this point, has argued strongly that we are not saved by works, by keeping the law or by any righteousness of our own. It has just argued that that the law was given so that transgression would increase. The law made sin obvious, and, rather than decreasing sin, only served to increase sin. However, in response to this increase in sin, grace overflowed to the forgiveness of our sins and to our receiving eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, it seems natural that if more sin results in more grace, we should sin all the more in order to increase grace.

This sort of thinking is natural, in other words, unspiritual and ungodly.

This is why the immediate, strong negative is given, “By no means!”

The next twelve verses, verses three through fourteen, will respond to this question giving us something we should know, something we should consider and something we should consider that would result in each of us presenting ourselves to God, our Maker.

Here are these three things in outline form:
1.       We should know that “we have been baptized into Christ Jesus.” (Verse 3)
2.       We should consider ourselves dead to sin. (Verse 11)
3.       We should present ourselves to God. (Verse 13)

Returning to the question, “What shall we say then?” the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul, asks two questions of His own. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” and “Do you not know?” (Verse 3)

These two questions point out both the absurdity of this kind of thinking, and the expectation that all Christians should know better. In other words, there is knowledge here so basic to our faith that every Christian should know.

Here is that basic knowledge laid out in the words of Romans 6:3-4:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. (Romans 6:3-4 ESV)

These verses are a description of what happens when we are born again. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are “baptized” into Him. This is not speaking of water baptism.

Remember when people went to John the Baptist to be baptized in water, he said:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11 ESV)

Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire. It is not by any works, such as baptism, done by the hands of man that we are born again. Rather, we are born again by the power of God in the person of the Holy Spirit. It is He who unites us with Christ, baptizing us INTO Christ. We are united with Christ. We are made one with Christ. Thus, we have new life, eternal in duration and quality. As described in Romans 6:4, we were buried with Him and rose with Him so that we might walk in newness of life.

This is something every Christian should know. This is the essence of what it means to be born again. This is one of the basic truths of the gospel.

The truth of our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection has ramifications for our daily lives, and this is where the discussion moves to in Romans 6:5-11. There is something we are to consider. This section of the chapter deals with the ramifications, or the meaning of, our union with Christ.

Verse 5 starts out by saying:
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. (Romans 6:5 ESV)

This is the underlying truth of what we are about to be told to consider.

The word consider shows up in verse 11 at the end of this section and means to count, think or conclude. It is variously translated: think, consider, count, reckon, reason, decide or conclude. The implication of these words is that we are to take the basic facts that we know and see what they add up to. We are to reason through to the conclusion of the matter. This is precisely what verses five through eleven do. These verses lead us through the reasoning that follows from our union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.

The first part of this reasoning is that the old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be done away with. This is what Galatians 2:20 is talking about when it says, “I am crucified with Christ.” In Ephesians 4, when talking about how we were taught to live in Christ, the Scriptures say:
…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Ephesians 4:22 ESV)

The “old self” is said to belong to our former manner of life, and it is also said to be “corrupt through deceitful desires.” This “old self” is obviously who we were before we were born again. This old self is done away with. However, this does not mean our personalities change or that our tastes, preferences or uniquenesses are lost. Rather, we are given a new heart, one that desires the things of God and is no longer a slave to the passions or desires of the flesh. Before this happened, we were slaves to sin with no choice as to whether or not we obeyed the dictates of the flesh. This is what verse seven of Romans 6 is getting into when it says, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 7 will explain this more when it uses the analogy of marriage to explain how we have been set free from the law. However, the point here is that we are given new life, and this new life is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The promise of verses eight and nine is that we have a new life that is in Jesus Christ our Lord and as such, it is eternal in both duration and quality. Our joy, freedom and the richness of this new life can hardly be expressed in words, since it has to do with our being seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.

Because of these things, verse eleven leads us to the conclusion that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This “considering,” or thinking, is essential to our Christian life. We must both know the truth and think it through to its logical conclusion. However, it does not stop there. We must take the next step and act upon the truth. It is important here to distinguish between being saved by our works, and being freed from our sins. We are not saved by what we do, but we are freed from the rule, dominion and slavery of sin. As Romans chapter 6 starts out, why should we who have died to sin still live in it? Why would we want to? What profit did we have in those things that lead only to death?

Therefore, verses twelve through fourteen show us that we must present ourselves to God.

Being dead to sin does not mean that we cannot still let sin rule in our bodies. We must first consider ourselves dead to sin, and then verse twelve tells us:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (Romans 6:12 ESV)

We still have the option of obeying the passions of our body. Death does not mean annihilation. 

Before we are born again, the Bible describes us as dead to God and righteousness. This does not mean that we do not have a spirit and a soul, but it does mean that we are separated from God. In addition, there is an imprisonment or bondage in regard to spiritual things. The Scriptures speak of death and the grave as being equivalent. In Hosea 13:14, the Lord says, “I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death.” And in Revelation 20:14, the Scriptures speak of death and Hades being thrown into the lake of fire. In these references, both Sheol and Hades are references to the grave or the place of the dead. The grave is seen as a place of confinement. A soul is thus kept from life and from God. Therefore, not only does death imply a separation, it also implies a confinement or removal from the presence of life. Jesus used a parable where He spoke of souls being thrown into outer darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). Here again there is a removal of the soul from life. However, the soul still exists and is conscious. In regard to our death to sin, this should make us aware that sin, which was a part of us, is now separated from us, and it has been confined in that its power to dominate us is broken. Therefore, as Romans 6:14 says, “...sin will have no dominion over you...” Since we have died to sin, we are separated from sin and sin is confined, it has no power over us.

For this reason, Romans 6:13 says:
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. Romans 6:13 ESV

Sin still exists. We can still present our members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but we have no obligation to present ourselves to sin. We are now free to present ourselves to God. We are no longer separated from God. We are united with Christ, and therefore we can present ourselves to God. Presenting our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness is what it means to walk in newness of life. Before we were baptized into Christ, this was not even possible.

We have seen that it is necessary for us to know that we are baptized into Christ, to consider that we are dead to sin and then to present ourselves to God.

Is there anything keeping you from enjoying this grace which has been given to us?

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