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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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
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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