Romans Chapter 6

Chapters six to eight of the book of Romans in a unit. Here is a summary of Romans six to eight.

In Rom 6 Paul says that, under the New Covenant, we can be free from the power of sin. Therefore, we should strive to overcome sin.

Then in Rom 7:1-6 Paul explains why we should overcome sin. His point is that we do not overcome sin because we are still under the Law, and specifically, still under the law of sin and death (i.e. if you sin you will die). In fact, he says that we are no longer bound to the Law. We are to obey the Law because we want to express love for God not because we want to be saved from spiritual death. That is, we serve in the newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter of the Law. But that begs the question of whether the Law then is bad.

Therefore, in Rom 7:7-13 Paul addresses the question: “If the Law results in death, is the Law bad?” His answer is that the Law is not bad. We die because of our flesh.

Then in Rom 7:14-25 Paul describes the problem that the flesh causes to us. Specifically, even when we want to obey God we cannot do it in peace because of the temptations through the flesh. It is a struggle, a constant battle until the day we die. So the next question is: “how can we ever get rid of this flesh?”

In Rom 8 Paul answers the question of how and when we will be rid of the flesh. But first, he addresses the question of whether we die spiritually if we cannot overcome the flesh in our struggles with it. He says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ even if they sin. This is because they are no longer under the law of sin and death but under the law of the Spirit, which is the law of life in Christ Jesus. That is, you are saved, not because you keep the Law but because Christ died for you.

In Rom 8:4-14 Paul describes what it means to be in Christ Jesus. It means that we must desire to stop sinning and the proof of our desire is that we fight against the flesh when tempted to sin.

In Rom 8:15-39 Paul talks about what is in store for those who are not condemned. He talks about our hope. We hope that when Christ returns we will receive a glorified body that will not even be tempted. That is when we will get rid of the flesh. That is wonderful. Therefore, Paul says, don’t let anyone condemn you if you belong to Christ. Nothing (except yourself) can separate you from the love of God.

Now let us look at these chapters verse by verse.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

In Chapter 5 Paul talked about how grace increases as sin increases. He now addresses the question, “Since grace is a good thing, and we want more grace, should we therefore sin more?” After all, the more we sin, the more we make God look good because God extends more grace to deal with more sin.

2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Paul’s answer is a resounding ‘No’. His argument: we can’t live in sin (i.e. desire to continue to sin) because we died to sin (i.e. we decided to stop sinning).

Picture a two story house. Living in sin is like living on the first floor. Living an overcoming life is like living on the second floor. If you’ve decided to live on the second floor and are doing everything you can to climb up and reach the second floor it is impossible for you to be content living on the first floor.

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

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.

Paul explains what baptism is all about. He says that baptism is like dying to one thing and rising to another thing. We die to sin (i.e. doing what is wrong) and rise to righteousness (i.e. doing what is right).

In this context, to die to something is to decide to stop doing it even if we have to suffer for it. To rise to something is to begin doing what we did not do before even if we have to suffer for it.

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,

Jesus didn’t just die physically on the cross, and spiritually for the payment for our sin. He also died to sin. That is, He overcame every temptation by suffering in His flesh (Heb 5:8).

Heb 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learnt obedience from the things which He suffered.

If we suffer in our flesh (i.e. fight against temptation) then we too will surely be raised from the dead without a flesh to tempt us.

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;

Our ‘old self’ refers to the part of us that wanted to continue in sin. As long as the old self is alive we are in a state of unrepentance. Paul says that we should know that part of becoming a Christian required us to crucify our desire to sin. That is, repentance was a requirement for becoming a Christian.

A person is a slave to sin in a certain area if he sins in that area every time he is tempted to sin in that area. To stop being a slave to sin you have to fight against the temptation to sin.

When you fight you have to endure that uncomfortable feeling that comes. Peter calls this ‘suffering in the flesh’ in 1 Pet 4:1. Paul calls it ‘crucifying the flesh’ and ‘dying to sin’.

To repent is to want to stop sinning. Baptism is a step further – it is an admission that you are willing to suffer whatever it takes in order to stop sinning. It is like putting your money where your mouth is. That is, you don’t just say that you want something but you actually take every step you need to in order to make it happen.

1 Pet 4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

The fight is not done in an instant but is usually a slow, long drawn out thing – like crucifixion.

Baptism is our public statement that, when tempted, we are willing to suffer in the flesh (i.e. endure that uncomfortable feeling) because we want to overcome sin.

7 for he who has died is freed from sin.

To die to sin in a specific area is to come to a point where the temptation in that area no longer has any power you. For example, if you were addicted to alcohol, dying to sin would be the same as acquiring the ability to say no to that first drink under any condition – in which case you would be free from the sin of alcoholism.

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

Paul repeats here what he said in verse 5 – a person who is dying to sin by crucifying his flesh will surely be raised just like Jesus, who always put His flesh to death, was raised from the dead.

9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master 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 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The way to overcome spiritual death is fight the temptation to do wrong and increasingly do what God wants you to do. Jesus was our perfect example in this and this is where we must all follow Him.

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

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.

Jesus showed that this could be done. Therefore you can do it.

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Grace is not ‘undeserved merit’ as most people think. Grace is ‘help in time of need’. The time of need is the time when you are tempted. We see this in Heb 4:15-16 where it tells us we need to go to the person who is an expert in handling temptation (i.e. Jesus) to find grace in our time of need (i.e. when we are tempted).

Heb 4:15-16 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The way to overcome sin is to get help from God (grace). When Jesus was on earth as a man He too sought help from the Father to overcome sin (Heb 5:7) and God heard (and answered) His prayers because of his ‘piety’.

Heb 5:7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

This word ‘piety’ refers to a hatred and avoidance of sin because it would displease the Father. Jesus wanted to not sin at any cost because it would displease the Father, and that is why the Father helped Jesus to overcome every sin every time.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

Having made his argument, Paul reiterates the point he made in verse 1 and verse 2.

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?

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,

18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Slavery is a sensitive topic – no one likes to admit that they are slaves of anyone or anything. So Paul goes back a bit to explain this concept of slavery to sin. Paul reiterates that if you obey your flesh then you are a slave to your flesh.

With God’s help, we need to turn from being slaves of sin to being slaves of righteousness so that whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to do what is right we eagerly do it.

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.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

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.

22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

As you are sanctified (i.e. separated from sin) you acquire the nature of God (i.e. eternal life).

The state of being a slave to nothing is not a state of equilibrium. If you are in that state at some point you must decide which state to go to. If you don’t then, because you have a flesh that constantly tries to pull you down, the chances are good that you will end up back as a slave to sin.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When all is said and done, there are two outcomes that matter: spiritual death and spiritual life. You have to choose. If you allow yourself to be a slave to sin you will reap spiritual death. If you pursue a life of overcoming sin then you will reap spiritual life.

In summary, in Romans Chapter Six Paul tells us that after we are born again we must strive to master sin. That should be our main focus. Paul says that this is possible because Jesus showed that it is possible and we now have access to the same grace, or help from God, that Jesus had. Striving to overcome every sin we are aware of is the best way of ensuring that we will attain to the resurrection of the righteous and receive the free gift of eternal life.

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