Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Positional Sanctification

 (20) Introduction to Chapter 6
“In Christ unto God.”

Verses 1-11. Being a Christian is a matter of life or death. Persons who do not understand the grace of God argue, “If God is gracious, then we should sin more so we receive more grace.” Those who trust Christ are identified with Him by the Holy Spirit in His death, burial, and resurrection, as pictured in baptism. The old life is buried! We can consider it dead (v. 11) and walk in newness of resurrection life.

Verses 12–22. Being a Christian is a matter of bondage or freedom. Who is your master, Jesus Christ or the old life? You are not under the authority of Moses (v. 15), but that does not mean you have freedom to break God’s moral law (8:1–5). Yield yourself to the Lord; He is the most wonderful Master, and the “salary” He pays lasts forever.

Verse 23. Being a Christian is a matter of rewards or wages. We quote this verse as we witness to the lost, and rightly so; but Paul wrote it originally to believers. Although God forgives the sins of His children, He may not stop the painful consequences of sin. The pleasures of sin are never compensated for by the wages of sin. Sinning is not worth it!
“Alive to God.” The most vivid illustration of Romans 6 is Lazarus (John 11). Jesus raised him from the dead and then said, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). Lazarus left the grave, got rid of the graveclothes, and began a new life (Col. 3:1ff.). God’s people are both “dead” and “alive” (v. 11) and by faith must live accordingly.

(21) Positional Sanctification
Romans 6:1-12

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised 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 united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts

What Paul had said at the close of chapter 5—that grace superabounded 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, an emphatic denial, extends over chapters 6–8. Here in chapter 6 the answer centers around three key words: 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. His practice is what he is or should be in everyday life. Grace puts us into the position, and then teaches us to walk worthy of it. Our position is absolutely perfect because we are in Christ. Our practice should increasingly correspond to our position. It never will correspond perfectly until we see the Savior in heaven, but we should be becoming more and more conformed to His image in the meantime.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

What shall we say then? After you experience God’s wonderful salvation, what can you say about it? Our only fitting response is hallelujah!

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  In every age there have been those who have denounced the doctrine of justification by faith on the incorrect supposition that this doctrine logically leads to sin. Paul had such objectors, but because of his past experience as a Pharisee, Paul was able to anticipate this particular objection of his critics. They asked, “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? Why should he be concerned about his sin or attempt to live a godly life?” 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. Paul anticipated this very attitude. Theologically, this belief is known as antinomianism. Paul’s answer is crystal clear. Just because where sin abounded grace super-abounded, the believer is not automatically drawn to immorality in his life-style. On the contrary, a mature understanding of justification by faith leads the believer to appreciate God’s grace, so that the end result is obedience to God out of a heart filled with gratitude.

2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Paul’s characteristic expression, “Certainly not” (God forbid in the KJV), shows how appalled he is at the mere suggestion of continuing in sin once we have experienced the grace of God.

We who died to sin refers to a definite occasion in our past, namely, when through faith in Christ we passed from death unto life.

Death to sin liberates a person from sin’s control, it brings him (or her) a new life, and it involves separation from sin and a desire to please God and to stop sinning. By asking this question, Paul makes it obvious that he understood justification to mean a declaration of righteousness; that it did not mean to make a person good, but to declare a person good. Justification means that the guilt and the penalty of sin is removed, not the power of sin in this life. However, we cannot continue in sin, that is, to continue to commit the same sin over and over again, because through our identification with Jesus Christ we are dead to sin. To die unto sin, means that we are dead to the guilt of sin. Sin can no longer make any legal claim on the believer because his sins have been covered by the blood of Christ.

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.

The proper response to God’s grace is gratitude. Such an attitude, which would lead a person to ask, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (v. 1) trifled with God’s grace and reflected a total lack of understanding of the New Birth. When an individual accepts Christ in faith, the sinful desires of the old nature are put to death and the believer receives a new nature through Christ’s resurrected life. God does not need more sins to reveal His grace; He desires more lives to reflect His righteousness and goodness.

Death, whether physical or spiritual, means separation, not extinction. Death to sin is a separation from sin’s power, not the extinction of sin. Being dead to sin means being set free from sin—“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18).

3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Or do you not know.  At this point Paul begins to relate the secret of living a holy and sanctified life, a life which is characterized by being dead to sin. The secret of sanctification (see Sanctification of the Saints) is not found in some sanctimonious formula or some deeper or mystical experience with the Lord. The secret is found in three words:
1. know (vs. 3) (See “Know” in box below.). Or do you not know---This phrase means “a lack of knowledge or perception.”  Here it denotes “ignorance” on the part of the Jews regarding the ordinance of baptism and its significance and symbolism.
2. reckon (vs. 11)
3. yield (vs. 13).
We must be vitally aware of these words as we seek to understand the relationship between justification and sanctification. The first key word in Paul’s presentation is KNOW. The other words will be covered under the next topic—Practical Sanctification.

Know. Living the Christian life is so important that it comes with instructions. There are certain things we need to know. We need to know that when Christ died over 2000 years ago we were identified with him. We need to know that when He died, He took Tom Lowe there. I was the one who was guilty. He was not guilty. My sin put Him on the Cross, and your sin put Him up there. We were identified with Jesus Christ. That’s something that is very important to know.


That as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus. Here he introduces the subject of baptism to show that it is morally inappropriate for believers to go on in sin. But the question immediately arises, “To which baptism is he referring?” So an introductory word of explanation is necessary.

To show the immaturity of those who would continue in sin after justification so that grace may abound, Paul introduces the subject of baptism as evidence that life in sin cannot coexist with death to sin. Baptism into Christ means to be incorporated into Him, to become a member of His body—“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13), and to share with Him those experiences which, although they were historically His, are in some sense ours (i.e., His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection). (Also see, “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized,” in the box below.).

When Paul speaks of baptism here, he is thinking both of our spiritual identification with Christ and of its portrayal in water baptism. By referring to water baptism, he reminds his readers how they were “buried” and “planted together” in the “likeness” of Christ’s death.

The New Testament never contemplates the abnormal situation of an unbaptized believer. It assumes that those who are converted submit to baptism right away. 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 public sign of it. ______________________________________________________________________________

Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized—The word baptize comes from the Greek word meaning “to immerse” or “to plunge into.” To baptize is to put into water and take out again. It involves immersion, submersion, and emergence—death, burial and resurrection. The word was used among the heathen Greeks for articles which underwent submersion and emergence, as in the case of the dyeing of a garment.


Into Christ Jesus. Spiritually, the first moment of faith in Christ is the moment of resurrection. There and then the believer passes out of death into Christ. This is followed in experience by the ordinance of baptism. Water baptism is not the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit. The latter baptism places the believer in the body of Christ—“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13); it is not a baptism into death. The baptism into Christ means that in the estimation of God, the believer has died with Christ and has risen with Him.

Were baptized into His death? We are buried with him, by baptism, into death. Burial with Christ Jesus signifies that sin no longer has a hold upon us. The ordinance of Christian baptism beautifully portrays this burial into Christ, in which the old order of a death-controlled life comes to an end, and the new order of a Christ-controlled life begins. Therefore, having already been justified, a believer tells that fact to the world by submitting to the ordinance of water baptism.

Well then, what baptism is Paul talking about here; is it baptism into water or is it baptism into the Body of Christ (His church).To get the answer, we need to look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For BY ONE SPIRIT WE WERE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." From these verses, we learn that all believers, the moment they believe, are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. The same subject is discussed in Galatians 3:26-28: “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In this third verse, Paul is talking about being baptized into the Body of Christ.

4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death. This statement alone makes the Scriptural mode of baptism clear. Burial is the natural consequence of death, and sprinkling is not a representation of being buried; only immersion depicts burial. The words “into death” go with the word “baptism” rather than with “we were buried.” This connection is confirmed by the close of verse 3, which states that we were baptized into His death; the death of Christ. (See note on Baptism) A person must have life in Christ in order to appreciate his death with Christ, and his identification with Christ in His resurrection; that is what the teaching of chapter six especially stresses. Receiving spiritual life in Christ, (which is imparted on the ground of faith) and the death of the person’s former state, happen simultaneously. In the act of baptism it is the one who has life in Christ, who expresses his identification with Him figuratively in the threefold way of death, burial and resurrection.

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).

That just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. The resurrection of Christ is most frequently mentioned as the act of God the Father—“whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:24). The word “glory,” stands here for the excellence of God’s almighty power as evident in the resurrection of Christ. “The glory of the Father” involves a reference to Christ as His Son.

Romans 8:11 states, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The Greek word used here for “raised” is egeirō. The same word is used by Christ Himself (with reference to His resurrection as His act) when speaking to the Jews of His body as a temple, which, while they would destroy it, He would raise it up in three days—“Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). This fact makes clear the absolute oneness of the Son with the Father.

“by the glory of the Father” is a synonym for God’s power.  Ephesians 1:19 states, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Paul’s wish for the saints is that they might have a deep appreciation of the power which God makes use of to bring about our salvation and sanctification. It is His power. It is great power; nothing less would be sufficient. It is exceeding great power, and beyond our understanding.  This is the power which God used in our redemption, which He uses in our preservation, and which He will yet use in our glorification.

Even so we also should walk in newness of life. To walk in newness of life refers to our day-by-day living in the ordinary routines of life. If our old life, which is now dead and buried with Christ, was totally sinful, the new life which we rise to with the Savior, must be all together a holy life.

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death. In other words, if we are united with Christ by being grafted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be united by growth—grafted, vitally connected—in the likeness of His resurrection. We actually share the life of Christ, somewhat as a limb grafted into a tree shares the life of the tree. The life of Christ is our life now. True believers are in Christ, and Christ is in the believer. The point of the whole passage is our identification with Christ.

The words the likeness of His death refer 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. What he is saying here is that no one can share in Christ’s resurrection unless he dies first.

Certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Just as we were buried into Him, we also shall be raised in the likeness of His resurrection. Therefore, we enter into His life and become a part of Him spiritually, yielding to Him our desires, our wishes, and ourselves. Just as His resurrection followed His death, so our union with Him in resurrection is the inevitable progression of our having died with Him. The phrase rendered in the likeness of goes, in the original, both with “His death” and “His resurrection.” The “newness of life” in verse 4 is expressed now in the phrase the likeness of His resurrection. This does not mean that they will have the identical resurrection of Christ; rather they will have a resurrection like His. In Baptism believers are united with the representation of His death. To be united with the likeness of His resurrection is a future hope that we can be sure of. Both of these facts (baptism and resurrection) point to a changed manner of life. When we are born again, Old things pass away and all things become new. We prove our faith by “walking in newness of life.”

We also shall be. —This does not merely refer to the future, though the future is included, but it expresses the inevitable consequence, both now and hereafter, of our identification with Christ in His death. This is confirmed in verses 6 and 7.

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). We not only go under the water; we come up out of the water, a likeness of His resurrection. The resurrection to a new life is the result of dying to the world with Christ.

6 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with,

Knowing this. These are things we know.

That our old man. Our old man (our former self) refers to all that we were as children of Adam—our old, evil, unregenerate selves, with all our old habits and appetites. Our old self died with Christ, and the life we now enjoy is the new divinely-given life of Christ Himself—“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

The Greek word for “old,” that is used here, does not refer to something old in years, but to something that is worn out and useless.

Was crucified with Him. When Jesus was crucified, He was judged by God to be guilty, and God dealt with Him as if He were a guilty sinner. Believers acknowledge that God’s judgment against sin was righteous, and they accept the death of Christ as being the carrying out of that judgment; He took our place—the Innocent died in place of the guilty—He was nailed to His atoning Cross, where He represented us. We confess in baptism that our old man was crucified with Christ. The old man referred to here is our old self, the man we once were before we were crucified with Christ.

That the body of sin. 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 that has the power to control the person. Sin is regarded as an organized power, acting through the members of the body, although the base of sin is in the mind. Every believer was under the power of sin before He was converted. Even Paul had to wrestle daily with the power of sin in his life—“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (v. 7:24). Paul recognized that he is in a helpless state of despair, because he cannot rid himself of his inclination toward sinning.

Might be done away with. The Greek word used here means “to render inactive.” The physical body is made inactive as the instrument of sin, as the result of the believer’s death with Christ. At conversion we put off the old man and put on the new man, as if we are exchanging filthy rags for spotless clothing. At the cross of Calvary a victory was won which provided the believer with the power not to live as he once did, serving his old master (sin), but to live eternally serving his new master (Christ).

That we should no longer be slaves of sin. A slave has no choice either of the kind or length of his service. Crucifixion would bring an end to all that, rendering the body useless for the purpose of sin, and this is how the believer is to regard his body in the matter of sin—the tyranny of sin over us has been broken at the point of salvation. Paul is not saying that the old nature is exterminated. He is saying that since the old man is crucified, the body of sin has been put out of business, so that from now on we should not be slaves to sin.

When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new man. We are regenerated, and a regenerated person is to be different from a person who has never been saved. As a new man, we become a partaker of the divine nature and divine life—“by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4). The Bible does not teach that the old man has been made over or, improved; or as we might say, “overhauled.” When we believe, the new man in Christ is formed in the believer.

7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

For he who has died, has been freed from sin (Has been justified or declared righteous.). Here is a man, for example, who is sentenced to die in the electric chair for murdering a police officer. As soon as he dies, he is freed from that sin. The penalty has been paid and the case is closed. Our identification with Christ, as the One who endured the penalty for us, removes the legal sentence from us and thereby delivers us from a condition of bondage to sin. There is both the removal of the penalty and the deliverance from the power.

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. Why? A dead person cannot act in the daily events of life. Anyone who has died to sin will not respond to the pattern of sinful living. There is no legitimate method of terminating sin’s claims except by death. Death both snaps all bonds and annuls all obligations. (See Freedom: No More Bondage.)

In verse 7, the believer is pictured as a criminal who has paid the penalty for his crime; He was guilty, he deserved death; he was sentenced to death; he died—and now there is nothing against him! He is “freed from sin”! When we grasp this tremendous truth we can say:

“Now I do believe
that Jesus died for me;
And through His blood, His precious blood,
I am from sin set free!”


FREEDOM: NO MORE BONDAGE. In both Old and New Testaments, freedom refers to liberation from slavery, whether in a political sense (see Joseph’s imprisonment, Gen. 39:20–23), a spiritual sense (Gal. 4:21–5:15), or with regard to our mortality (Heb. 2:15). Given this context, our freedom—whether political or spiritual—depends on God’s initiative—“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). When Adam and Eve sinned, God came to them (Gen. 3:8) with the promise of freedom from sin’s curse—“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).    This promise was fulfilled when God sent His Son to be the Way to eternal freedom—“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19). We do not have to be slaves of sin—“Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34), for the Truth (that is, Christ) can make us free if we will accept the price of deliverance—“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). In actual fact, we are freed from sin’s bondage for a purpose: to become “slaves of God”—“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22). We are free from the judgment of God—“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9) and, at the same time, free for service to Him and others—“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:13, 14). Ultimate freedom, which is, being ransomed from the slavery of sin, is vital to any understanding of redemption through the blood of Christ (Rom. 6:15-23).


8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

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! Living with Him is the inevitable result of our having died with Him. There can be no other consequence of this, than that we live with Him now, and shall do so forever. This is confirmed in the next verses. Life with Christ, upon which the believer enters when he is born of God, never ceases. Its continuance has nothing to do with our efforts, any more than salvation by grace does.

9 Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Knowing—this is something else we ought to know.

Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. This is the third time Paul has used the word know or knowing. These three instances teach that we have been baptized into Jesus Christ, that our old man is crucified with Christ, and that because Jesus died unto sin once, He never shall die again—“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:18). Death is a completed transaction by which we have once and for all passed into the resurrection life of our Lord. Jesus Christ can never die again. When we died with Him to sin, we never die to sin again.

Death no longer has dominion over Him. The Greek word used for “dominion” means “to have the power of a lord over another. To this power of death, Christ voluntarily submitted Himself. Death did have dominion over Him for three days and nights, but that dominion was shattered by His resurrection. Christ can never die again! When He went to the cross and paid the debt in full for our sin, death could no longer claim Him or those who died with Him. Therefore, sanctification is knowing what Christ has already accomplished for us through His death. It is not primarily a matter of striving to live holy, but of knowing that we are holy in Him.

It has already been pointed out that all true believers are united to the Body of Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we share the death of Christ by believing in His finished work, we share His life through our union with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. The death of Jesus Christ on Calvary completely and entirely fulfilled the Law and answered every demand of righteousness. Jesus died on the Cross, and with His own shed blood He paid the penalty for sin “ONCE FOR ALL.” “Who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 7:27).

Dominion is mastery, control, or domination.

10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

At this point, let’s 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 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.

For the death that He died, He died to sin—In His death he dealt with sin. As the sinless One who had refused all the claims of sin, He could stand-in for us as our representative and deliver up His life—to set us free. The prominent thought in the statement here is separation from sin.

Once for all. When the Lord Jesus died, He died to 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—“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many…” (Hebrews 9:27-28). He died one time, but He is alive today. And He ever lives to make intercession for those who are His. Because of this, He can save you right through to the uttermost. The fact that Christ died “once for all,” stands in opposition to the Catholic doctrine and practice of the so-called perpetual sacrifice of Christ in the Roman Catholic mass.

But the life that He lives. This phrase suggests all that is involved in Christ’s life; its fullness and power. How would Paul sum-up the life of Christ? He might say something like this. “Jesus’ life was lived in the realm where sin and death had established their dominion, and He was in close contact with them.” If “sinlessness” means refusing to go along with sin, then it is fair to suppose that Paul would have regarded Jesus as sinless. If it means, as it is often thought of as meaning, virtual separation and aloofness from sin, and, therefore, freedom from temptation and struggle, it is highly unlikely that Paul would have ascribed it to Jesus. Paul, states in his letter to the Hebrews, quite explicitly, the answer that he would probably give—“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). In modern language, Paul would answer the question we raised like this: “Jesus was One who was tempted in every respect as we are, however, He never sinned.”

He lives to God. From the time of His death, He lives only for God, that is, for God’s benefit and glory. And He lived exclusively for God before His death. Now that He lives, He lives to God. In one sense, of course, He always lived for 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.

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves. Knowing what has been accomplished on our behalf at Calvary is not in itself sanctification. It is only the first principle in the process of sanctification. Paul couples to that principle a second one—Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.

The word “reckon” means that we know something is true, and then, moment by moment, day by day, we consider it to be true, and we live like we know it’s true. We take as solid truth what God has promised. 

“This ‘reckoning’ is no vain experience but one which is morally fruitful, because the Holy Spirit has come to make effective in believers what Christ has done for them, and to enable them to become in daily experience, as far as may be in the present conditions of mortality, what they already are ‘in Christ’ and what they will fully be in the resurrection life” (F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p. 139).


 To “reckon” here means to accept what God says about us as true. Ruth Paxson writes: “[It means] believing what God says in Romans 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.” 

To be dead indeed to sin. The Greek word for “dead” is nekros. Here it describes the permanent spiritual condition of believers in relation to sin. The condition is not merely freedom from the penalty for sin; rather it amounts to the believer’s whole attitude toward sin. Whenever the old master claims our service, we are to reckon ourselves corpses. However, Paul does not suggest that the motivations to sin will no longer lead us to sinning, because we have the bad experience of responding to temptations. The fact that we must continue to reckon ourselves dead to sin, shows that the possibility of sinning is always there. 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.

But alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The phrase “in Christ Jesus” expresses the believer’s spiritual and eternal position due to his identification with Christ. And because of our position we are called to holiness, worship, prayer, service, and fruitbearing. No man can be alive to God, unless he is in Christ Jesus.

This verse sums up the complete first section of this chapter. It describes the significance of baptism, and it makes a case against the preposterous idea of continuing in sin. When we daily count ourselves to be dead to the penalty of sin and alive unto God, there will be no temptation to continue in sin, because we will refuse that temptation out of thankfulness to God for counting us and treating us as if we were righteous. By God’s grace and power, we who are saved have been born again, and we actually possess a new life in God; because it’s God’s own life, we have been partakers of “divine nature.”

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body. The body is identified as being mortal, not simply because it is certain to be subjected to death, but because it is the organ in and through which sin carries on its death-producing activities. We saw in 6:6 that our old man was crucified so that sin as a reigning tyrant might be knocked out, and so that we would no longer be the helpless captives of sin. Now, due to our position in Christ, Paul is urging us not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (like it did before we were saved) by obeying its evil desires. When sin reigns in people’s lives, and bodies, they obey its evil desires. Sin enslaves making a person subject to his own desires. At Calvary the reign of sin was ended by death.

That you should obey it in its lusts. The word “lusts,” is used for a good desire only in two places in scripture. Everywhere else it is used in a bad sense. Here it refers to those evil desires which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity. They are “the desires of the flesh”—“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” (Gal. 5:16, 24)—a phrase which describes the inner emotions of the soul, and the natural tendency to do evil. Such lusts are evil if they are inconsistent with the will of God. Lust is not only evil; it is dangerous, for several reasons:
1. Lust can destroy any normal desire. Craving or lusting is more than inappropriate sexual desire. It is an unnatural or greedy desire for anything (sports, knowledge, possessions, influence over others).
2. Lust can lead to bad decision making. Sampson is a good example. He allowed his desire for Delilah to cloud his thinking, and he ended up as a captive of the Philistines, as the result.
3. Lust itself is a sinful behavior. Jesus said that the desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse is mental adultery, and therefore sin.
4. Lust is often used as an excuse for further sin. Some people think that if lustful thoughts are sin, why shouldn’t a person go ahead and do the lustful actions too. There is great potential for harm when lustful thoughts become lustful actions—it causes people to excuse sin, rather than to stop sinning, it destroys marriages, and it is deliberate rebellion against God’s word, and it always hurts someone else in addition to the sinner.




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