Romans - Lesson 6

Chapter 6:1-23

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  • It’s time to begin the next section of our Romans study

    • In this section, Paul explores the ramifications of being saved by being declared justified, yet still living in a sinful body 

      • Paul is wading into topics that dominate the concerns of every Christian 

      • These topics arise out of the unique situation we all find ourselves in after coming to faith in Jesus and obtaining our salvation

      • We are justified before God, but yet remain sinful in our flesh

      • We have a new life in Christ but still feel drawn back into our old life of sin

    • And therefore, believers are likely to raise several concerns or questions about the consequences of our salvation

      • What should life look like for the one saved by faith and not by works?

      • If suddenly we’re declared justified by a faith in God’s promises and not by good works, then do our behaviors matter at all?

      • And if we are truly saved, why do I still have a desire to sin? 

      • Shouldn’t I be completely free of evil if I’ve been given God’s righteousness by faith?

    • Finally, if I’m declared justified by my faith in an instant, and yet I go on sinning thereafter, might my relationship with God change?

      • Could this salvation I obtained merely by faith be undone by my actions or those of someone else?

      • Or could I reverse the process in some way and end up perishing in the end?

  • Paul now moves to addressing these questions in three chapters that comprise our fifth block in the book

    • These three chapters are the consequences of our salvation by faith:

      • The consequences for our spirit

      • The consequences for our flesh

      • And the security of God’s righteousness, or we could say the consequences for eternity 

    • Each of these three parts is found in its own chapter

      • Chapter 6 is the consequences for our spirit

      • Chapter 7 is the consequences for our flesh

      • And Chapter 8 is the security of God’s righteousness 

  • Today we consider the first, the consequences for our spirit

Rom. 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Rom. 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom. 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Rom. 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Rom. 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
  • Paul begins the new section with his favorite rhetorical device…asking what shall we say then?

    • We could rephrase his question to be “what do we conclude from this”, referring to what Paul taught in the prior chapter

      • In Chapter 5, Paul taught that we received mercy from a God who acted for us before we even knew Him

      • And God’s act of mercy in Christ had the power to reverse the mistake that Adam made in placing all humanity in bondage to sin

    • So what do we conclude from this truth?

      • One of the possible answers to that question might be that our justification gives us license to sin as much as we want

      • And that if we continue to sin as we prefer, we are actually multiplying the amount of grace God is required to extend

      • Since God’s plan of redemption in Christ reflects glory upon Himself, then we are furthering God’s purposes when we give Him greater opportunity to cover our sin

      • The more we sin, the more God can be seen to be loving and merciful by extending us grace

  • That’s the first question Paul mentions at the end of verse 1

    • Are we to continue in sin so that God’s grace must increase to cover that sin?

      • Paul says no, that’s not the correct response to God’s grace

      • At this point, what reason could Paul give for fighting against sin?

      • He can’t tell us that we should fight against sin because our righteousness depends upon it

      • Because our righteousness doesn’t depend on what we do, otherwise that would be salvation by works

      • By faith alone in Christ, we are already 100% righteous before God

    • So what does Paul say to this comment?

      • He says we have died to sin, so we may not live in sin

      • Right away we reach the core idea of this chapter, the main point of teaching on the consequences of salvation for our spirit

      • Our old spirit was put to death with Christ and so it has ceased to exist

    • Paul uses the concept of baptism to explain what happened when we were saved by our faith in Jesus Christ

      • And to understand this comparison properly, we first need to understand the term baptism properly

      • The word baptism means a washing, and there are two baptisms described in the New Testament

      • One is spiritual, one is physical

      • One God does, one we do

      • One produces a death and rebirth, the other pictures a death and rebirth

  • The first baptism the Bible describes is spirit baptism or the baptism of the Holy Spirit

    • This is a baptism of spirit in the sense that a person is immersed by the Spirit of God

      • The Spirit of God comes to live inside a person, so in that sense the person is completely immersed by the Spirit

      • The baptism of the Spirit is the moment we are born again, as Jesus said to Nicodemus

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:4  Nicodemus  said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • This is the moment of our salvation, the moment faith comes and we are born again

  • At the moment of our spiritual baptism, something dies and something is brought to life

    • First, our old spirit is put to death

    • The spirit we inherited from Adam, the spirit that was fallen, ceases to exist

    • In its place, we receive Christ’s spirit, that is we receive a spirit that has descended from Christ

    • Literally, we have been born again spiritually, and the new spirit living in us traces its genealogy to Christ

  • Paul says it this way elsewhere

2Cor. 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
  • When Paul mentioned “new creature” and “old things” he’s speaking about the spirit

  • We are literally something entirely new spiritually than we were

  • Obviously, God does this work, because we couldn’t do it to ourselves

    • We were dead in our sins, and a dead spirit cannot raise itself

    • As we learned in Romans 3, no one seeks for God

  • Following this moment, we are called by Christ to take part in a second baptism, one we perform ourselves by entering a body of water

    • Our second baptism is a physical act, not a spiritual act 

      • It’s a physical baptism with water that pictures our earlier spiritual baptism act

      • We do it in obedience to Christ’s word as a result of being saved

    • Water baptism pictures the dying of our old spirit and the coming to life of our new spirit

      • The water pictures a grave in the earth

      • So when we go down into the water, we are picturing our old spirit dying with Christ

      • And when we emerge from the water, we are picturing our spirit coming to life as Christ was resurrected

      • Obviously, the intended meaning of water baptism requires that the baptism be done through immersion, not sprinkling

    • Paul refers to this picture in vs.3-4 when he says we were baptized into Christ’s death

      • Spiritually speaking, our old spirit was buried with Christ

      • When Jesus died on the cross, He was taking God’s wrath for the sin of that old spirit

      • So spiritually speaking, Christ was acting in our place dying as our sinful spirit deserved to do

      • By our faith in Christ, the Father counts Christ’s death in our place

    • But then Paul adds that just as the Father raised Jesus from the dead, He has also raised us into a new life in the spirit

      • So by our faith in Christ, we are given Christ’s raised spirit

      • In v.5 Paul says we have become united with Christ in the likeness of His death and in the likeness of His resurrection

    • The term likeness reflects that we shared in those events spiritually, not physically

      • Obviously, you and I weren’t in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago when Jesus was crucified and resurrected

      • But spiritually we relived those moments when we were born again

  • So the consequences for our spirit of salvation by faith in Christ is profound

    • By the baptism of the Spirit, we became a new person spiritually, and our new person shares in the nature of Christ 

      • As much as you were like Adam before you came to faith, you are now just as much like Christ now

      • Your spirit is every bit as perfect and sinless as Jesus’ spirit is

      • It’s the same spirit, one came from the other

    • Every believer has a perfect, sinless spirit given to him or her by the Holy Spirit

      • If you ever wondered what Jesus Christ must have felt and thought as He walked the earth, you need not worry

      • You have His spirit now, so you possess the same source for your thoughts and feelings

      • The overused adage of “what would Jesus do?” suggests that we have to imagine or guess what Jesus might have done

    • In reality, you already know…but are you paying attention?

      • Though we have a perfect sinless spirit now, we obviously don’t act sinlessly

      • The reason we still sin is not because our spirit is flawed

      • It’s because we still have a source of sin apart from our spirit

      • That source is our physical body

  • Notice what Paul says in vs.6-11

Rom. 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
Rom. 6:7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
  • Paul says our old self (i.e., our old spirit) was put to death through Christ’s death so that our body might be done away with too

    • Our sinful spirit was due condemnation, and the day of our judgment by God is the day that our body dies, as Hebrews says

Heb. 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
  • So had our body died before we came to faith and our spirit was born again, then our sinful spirit would have been judged by God

  • It would have received the justice it deserved in eternity, which is the second death – eternal separation from God

  • But because of His love and mercy for us, God acted in Christ to put our sinful spirit to death before our body died

    • Our sinful spirit was condemned in Christ when He died in our place on the cross

    • And at the moment of faith, we experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit

    • Our sinful spirit was replaced with a new spirit made in Christ’s likeness

  • So now when our body eventually dies, our spirit will already be sin-free and without condemnation, so no judgment will follow

    • That’s what Paul means in v.6 when he says that our old spirit was put to death so that our body could be done away with

    • Our spirit is the eternal part of us, so by replacing our spirit before our body died, God did away with the penalty of death

    • Now the death of our body is of no concern to us, because our spirit is already right with God

    • Our spirit, our true identity, has already been perfected 

  • So in a future day, the Lord will put our body to death too, so that we will no longer be slaves to sin Paul says

    • In that future day the part of us that continues to sin, that is our fallen body, will also be taken away

    • Like our old spirit, it will be put to death

    • And when it dies, we will truly be freed from sin

  • In the meantime, our spirit has been freed from sin while our body continues to be enslaved to sin

    • And this in-between state of existence requires we adopt a new attitude and perspective 

Rom. 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Rom. 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
Rom. 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Rom. 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Notice in this passage Paul says “we” have died with Christ

    • We know our spirit has died with Christ but our body has yet to die

      • Therefore, the “we” here must refer to the spirit in us, not to our physical death

      • Therefore, we need to read v.8 this way:

      • “Now if our spirit died with Christ, we believe that our body will  live with Him too”

    • Jesus saw His spirit condemned on the cross and His body died as well

      • Then His body was raised from the dead never to die again 

      • Therefore, Paul says, death is no longer a master over Him

      • Christ no longer lives with the concern of a future death, no worry, no weight of that burden

      • In v.10 Paul says Christ’s death was a selfless act in service to all of us who needed that payment

      • But having put death behind Him, now Christ’s sole purpose in life is to serve God

  • Then in v.11 Paul gets to his point…our faith in Jesus means that our spiritual life will follow in Jesus’ footsteps

    • Just as Christ died on the cross, our spirit was put to death when we believed

      • And just as His body was resurrected, so will our body one day be raised new

      • And just as death ceased being a master over Christ, death is no longer a concern for us either

    • Therefore, just as Christ could live solely to serve God, likewise we must adopt that attitude as well, Paul says 

      • We must consider ourselves to be dead to sin also

      • To consider means to think in this way

      • We must consider who we are

    • When we speak of ourselves, we are speaking about the spirit, not the body

      • You are not your body, because that body is going to die one day, but scripture says “you” never die

      • Furthermore, your spirit is perfect and sinless, like Christ, so “you” never sin in the spirit

      • But you do sin, of course, so the sin you commit is not of “you" 

      • Your sin originates in that which is destined to die, that which is not you, that is your body

    • Therefore, since concerns of death are behind us, we should consider our life to be lived in service to God hereafter

      • As the great philosopher, Bob Dylan, once said…

      • “You gotta serve somebody”

      • You could spend your new life serving useless causes like trying to earn your righteousness (i.e., doing good works)

      • Or serving the devil out of fear of death, as Hebrew says

Heb. 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb. 2:15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
  • Obviously, Christians don’t need to work for salvation nor live in fear of the devil

    • But regrettably, many Christians still choose to live for another purpose rather than serving God

    • They live to serve their own dying body

Rom. 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
Rom. 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Rom. 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
  • Paul says we should not allow the sin in our dying body to rule over our perfect, eternal, sinless spirit

    • When we let it decide our choices, we are obey its lusts

      • This is completely backward to the reality of who we are in Christ

      • We’re letting that part of us that is going to die control that part of us that is going to live forever

      • We’re letting the part that is not us control us

    • We are presenting the members of our body to sin, Paul says, but present ourselves to God and our members as instruments for righteousness

      • To understand what Paul is saying, we need to understand terms he is using

      • When Paul uses the second person pronoun, he is referring to our eternal sinless spirit

      • When Paul uses the term sin, he is describing the sinful nature of our physical body 

      • And when he says the “members” of our body, he’s describing our life of service in the body

    • So the choices we have that Paul is describing is this:

      • Either we (our spirit) presents (or dedicates) our life in this body to serving our sin nature leading to unrighteousness

      • Or we (our spirit) presents (or dedicates) our life in this body to serving God leading to righteousness

      • You serve either God or you serve your own body

      • Your sinful body will always lead you to sinful choices

      • God will always lead you to righteous outcomes

  • Sin (your sinful body) is no longer master over you, you are no longer under Law but under grace

    • Here again, these terms need defining

      • Sin refers to your sinful body, 

      • “You” refers to the part of you that is eternal, your new perfect, sinless spirit

      • Law refers to the condemnation that sin deserves under God’s law

      • Grace refers to the salvation we have in the New Covenant, made possible by Christ’s death in our place

    • So Paul is saying that we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps in this too

      • Christ died according to the requirements of the Law, though He Himself never violated the Law

      • In dying He paid our penalty in His body, so we are no longer under that penalty

      • So the Law no longer condemns us, it no longer rules us by dictating what we must do to be righteous

      • So now having been saved by grace, we are free to live for God and not for our own sake

  • Some in Paul’s day probably heard that they were no longer under law and would have been aghast at the thought

    • They react much as some Christians still do today when we say that the Christian is not bound by the Law, not even by the ten commandments

      • They say how can this be…

      • Are you suggesting it’s OK for me to lie, or steal, or murder???

      • Of course, they ask the question to mock the idea that we are no longer bound to the law

    • Paul asks the question in that same spirit as if to mock his own suggestion

Rom. 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Rom. 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom. 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
  • Are we now allowed to sin all we want since we’re no longer under the law?

  • Since our spirit is now without condemnation, can we do whatever we please?

  • Paul says the same things I say to those who ask me that same mocking question…of course not!

    • We have presented ourselves to Christ as His slave, indebted to Him for the ransom He paid for us with His blood

    • Since He bought us, we are now His slaves, so we must present ourselves to Him, obeying His desires

    • Since Christ is inside each of us, His Spirit living in us, then we must obey that perfect sinless spirit

    • If we are to be good slaves, we must obey that Master Who bought us

    • Just as we once were slaves to our sinful nature and obeyed it without question

  • That should be your goal in life…to obey your new master, your sinless spirit, as consistently as you once obeyed your previous master, your sinful spirit

    • Before you came to faith, you were a perfectly obedient slave

      • You did everything your master wanted you to do

      • The problem is, that master was evil and everything it required was unrighteous

    • Now you have a perfect, sinless spirit inside you, one that is Christ’s spirit, and it only directs you into righteousness

      • Paul says thanks to God that He has made you obedient from the heart, to the teaching to which you were committed

      • To a form of teaching

    • This form or pattern of teaching that directs us now is very different than the law men previously followed

      • The previous pattern of teaching men followed was one written on stone, speaking of the Law

      • But it only brought condemnation and had no power to break the master that ruled over men’s hearts, which was sin itself

    • But the Greek word for form is tupos, which means die or stamp 

      • There was something stamped or impressed on our hearts that compelled our obedience and formed our commitment 

      • It was the gospel of grace that now rules us from our hearts 

      • And we have become 100% obedient to the new law written on our hearts, it is our new master 

      • Where before you were a slave to sin, you have been freed 

      • Now, you are a slave to righteousness

  • So we were entrapped by sin and a slave to it until God freed us by making us obey the call of the Gospel

    • And that, Paul says, made a slave to righteousness in our spirit

      • Now the question is whether you will obey that spirit with equal conviction

      • Where before you only had one voice directing you, now you have two

      • You have the voice of the spirit and the old voice of your flesh

    • Which one will you obey?

      • In human terms, we sense we have good days and bad days

      • We feel as though we are doing well at times and then at other times we feel as though we are losing ground

      • In reality, the spirit in us remains 100% sinless, while our body remains 100% sinful

    • But the intersection of these two brings opportunity for a battle, and in that battle one side will be strengthened and one side will be weakened

      • So in human terms, we feel the waxing and waning of our sanctification

      • Paul speaks of this feeling next:

Rom. 6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Rom. 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom. 6:21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
Rom. 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, 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.
  • The weakness of our flesh refers to our inability to perfectly discipline the lusts of our flesh

    • We are imperfect in containing our lusts, because we are spiritually weak, like a muscle that hasn’t been exercised enough

      • Before we came to faith, we spent our entire existence presenting ourselves as slaves to our sin nature

      • We were slaves to impurity and lawlessness 

    • Now at this point, we can continue down that path by remaining weak, or we can consciously choose to serve our spirit

      • That will involve a struggle

      • It will require we begin to act in new and different ways

      • It means going against a lifetime of training in unrighteousness

    • This is a simple application of the rule of slavery 

      • You can’t be slave to two masters 

Matt. 6:24  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
  • Billy Graham told a story about a man going to a dog fight, and it was revealed that whichever dog the owner fed, that was the dog he bet on to win

  • It’s a good analogy here – the winner is the side we feed

    • We either feed the spirit through the disciplines which grow us spiritually eg. Bible study, prayer, fellowship

    • Or we indulge in the lusts of the flesh

  • Paul says, but now having been freed from that slavery, you have
    an opportunity 

    • You can derive a benefit from acting according to your new master 

      • Your old master demanded a behavior that led to death

      • Your new master demands behavior that leads to sanctification, eternal life, glory

      • Which one is the better master to serve, then?

    • Paul ends with one of the most powerful verses in all the Bible

      • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life

      • This is a summing principle for the entire chapter 

    • When we obey the master of sin, we disobey the master who saved us

    • You don’t fight sin by stopping your sinning, you fight sin by strengthening your spirit

      • Fasting is a good way to discipline the flesh and strengthen the spirit

    • We have a perfect spirit waiting to take us away from sin – let us listen to Him instead of our body