1 - 7 Baptism
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 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. 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, 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; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
V1. First I would like to ask a question. Have you ever been baptized? If not, I hope you will be baptized soon. In the verses now before us, the meaning of baptism is explained. If you have already been baptized, it is still profitable for you to think about it again.
Those addressed here were Christians who had already been baptized. Some of them had forgotten what baptism meant. Their thoughts were quite contrary to what they had shown in their baptism. Therefore Paul reminds them of their baptism. And you too need such reminders. I’m sure you’ve been amazed at the abundance of grace God has shown you through Christ. The greater the sin was, the more abundant the grace became.
V2. But does this mean you can continue to live in sin? If you think this way, you don’t have much understanding of Christ’s work and of what God has done with sin. Do you remember what God has done with sin? In Christ He judged sin, that is, the source from which our evil deeds come; you have also died in Christ under God’s judgment. That you have died to sin is as certain as Christ having gone into death. Doesn’t this make it impossible to continue to live in sin?
V3-4. Paul points to baptism to give additional support for this reasoning. One who gets baptized recognizes and declares in being baptized that death was God’s only solution for sin. God can only proclaim the judgment of death over someone who is living in sin. By being baptized you recognize this and are symbolically buried with Christ. It is the same as with physical life. Someone who has died must be buried. His life on earth is over, and after the burial nothing is left of him to be seen. The same holds for you, if you have been baptized. In picture it is all gone, your old life in sin. The life you live from now on is one lived in newness of life.
To make this possible the glory of the Father descended into the grave of the Lord Jesus and raised Him from among the dead. Now you belong to that glory. You have been made one with Him in His death.
V5. You also have been made one with Him in His resurrection. You can show you have changed to a world around you that hasn’t changed. You live now in a new and different way. The world in which you used to feel at home has nothing to offer you anymore. How can you please someone who has died? It is useless to offer something to a dead person because he cannot accept it, or can anything be expected of him. He is unable to perform any task.
V6. Christ’s work at the cross is very radical. Our “old self” or our old man was crucified with Him and our body of sin has been annulled. The ‘body of sin’ refers to everything in your existence that sin could use to manifest itself. Wasn’t everything you did when you were still a sinner in sin’s hands? Didn’t you live only for yourself? Hence, all of your existence was crucified with Christ. Now sin can no longer lay hold of your life to use it, because everything concerning sin has been annulled or done away with. You’re no longer serving sin because you have died.
V7. Everyone would agree that we shouldn’t expect anything from a dead person. Spiritually, it is the same. If someone has died, no valid accusation can be brought against him. Such a person is rightfully free from sin.
You may now say: ‘All right, that’s how it’s written here, but I am still aware that sin can make use of me.’ Paul will deal with this experience later. For the moment it’s important to accept in faith that what has happened with Christ when He was crucified, died and buried, has also happened to you. God judged you in Him. You should believe this just the same as you believe that your sins, your sinful deeds, have been forgiven by His blood.
Now read Romans 6:1-7 again.
Reflection: How important is it for you to be baptized? Why?
8 - 14 Live for God!
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 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. 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. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
V8. So, you have died with Christ! Keep this in mind. This is the way God looks at you. Believe it. Whatever you see or experience of yourself, don’t let it trouble you. You have died in God’s eyes.
One more thing you can believe – you can know for sure – is you will live with Christ. God is looking at you as completely one with Christ in the past, when He died. He also is looking at you as completely one with Christ in the future, when you shall be with Him.
V9. You can be assured of this because Christ didn’t remain dead. He was raised from the dead. He has left death behind. Nevermore will death have any power over Him. He will not die again. “Death no longer is master over Him.” In death He has once and for all dealt with sin. Never again will it be necessary for Him to die.
V10. Christ came to earth to solve the problem of sin. Every day of His earthly life He had to deal with sin and come into contact with it. He was surrounded by it. But He didn’t sin (1Pet 2:22), didn’t know sin (2Cor 5:21), nor was sin in Him (1Jn 3:5). On the cross, however, during the three hours of complete darkness, He was made sin and put away sin by His sacrifice. So His dying was with respect to sin. Nothing needs to be added to it. And now, as to His life, He lives with respect to God.
V11. What the previous verses mean for you stands out in verse 11. This verse tells how to find strength for a life with God. It starts “even so” which means in the same way. Look at what Christ has done for sin and what He is doing in His life. Has He died? Then I too have died. This needs to be made evident in the life of a Christian. Therefore, it is a responsibility in daily practice to keep yourself dead to sin. God looks at you as having died with Christ. Well, look at yourself in the same way! You’re not told to die, but that you have died. It has happened. Consider this and don’t live as if you haven’t died.
With Christ’s life it is the same as with His death. Is Christ alive and does He live for God? Yes! Likewise, you too are alive in Christ Jesus for God. This is how God looks at you.
V12. Sin no longer has any claim to your body. No longer is there any reason to obey the lusts of your mortal body because you have died. Therefore say ‘No’ to sin if satan tries to make use of you.
V13. Do not permit the members of your body to be sin’s tools for working unrighteousness (evil things). Do not let your mouth swear or lie. Do not let your eyes look at uncleanness. Do not let your ears listen to any ungodly music of this world.
The members of your body are no longer at sin’s disposal. Your body is now an instrument of the life from God to be used for Him. You can use your hands to help others. You can use your mouth to speak kind and comforting words. You can use your eyes to admire the beautiful things in God’s creation and to read beautiful things about the Lord Jesus. Your ears can listen to what others want to say, maybe about their problems or maybe about their life with the Lord. Your members retain their proper function, but they have become tools to be used by God to work righteousness (good things).
V14. Give yourself to God in these ways because you’re not under the law, but under grace. There is an immeasurable difference between the law and grace. The law proved you to be a sinner and trespasser. It showed you couldn’t live up to its demands. Grace, on the contrary, doesn’t demand but gives! God has done everything and even gives the strength to live for Him.
He has put an end to your former life in sin by letting you die in Christ’s death. Because of this, sin no longer reigns over you. You have died; sin exercised its power over you through the law, but you now have nothing to do with the law. You’re standing under grace now. Grace means you expect nothing at all from yourself and surrender completely to God. Only under grace can you have the strength to live for God.
Now read Romans 6:8-14 again.
Reflection: How do you think you can put the members of your body into God’s service?
15 - 23 Serving Under Grace
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 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. 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. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
V15-16. Knowing that you’re now no longer under law doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like. Do you know what has happened to you? Your ‘boss’ has changed. You used to be a slave; in fact, you’re still a slave. A slave has no right to anything for himself. He lives all the time for someone else who tells him what to do.
There is not one person who is really free. Everyone is a slave, but whose slave are you? If you put yourself in sin’s service, to obey sin, you are a slave of sin and your life will end in death. If you put yourself in service to do what God says, this will be manifested by your life. In your life you will respect God’s will and you will show this by doing things that are right and positive before God. So it is one of the two, either a slave of sin or of righteousness.
V17. You can thank God that being a slave of sin has all passed. You can thank God the Lord Jesus has come to take its place. He is the “form of teaching” you have been taught. He is your example, telling you how a slave of righteousness should behave.
In the previous chapters you read all that God has done through Him. This has impressed you and for this reason you have become more obedient. This is not obedience to some law, but obedience to a divine Person to whom you have given your heart. You have been set completely free from sin.
V18. In the world people have to fight for freedom. Those who are oppressed long for it. They feel relieved when the time comes when they are at liberty to go where they like and do what they want without fearing the rulers. This is even more true with sin. Sin no longer has power over you because you are now a slave of righteousness.
V19. Once, you used to do unclean things, living in lawlessness. Lawlessness means you did not recognize authority or listen to anyone. You were living for yourself and determining your own values. Although you thought you were free, you were a slave nonetheless to sin, just as everyone without God still is.
Now you may serve righteousness. The object is your sanctification which means that you live set apart for God in this world. Living in sanctification is not walking around with a halo over your head. Sanctification simply means you’re no longer going with the world, but now you’re God-centered.
V20-21. As a slave of sin you didn’t do what God wanted. You couldn’t please God. You followed your desires and lusts. Thinking back, you can only feel deeply ashamed. The only result of that life was death. Thank the Lord, God didn’t execute this judgment over you, but over the Lord Jesus. It was this way that you were freed from sin and made a slave of God.
V22. Now a completely different fruit appears from your life. This fruit does not bring about shame but joy. This fruit is sanctification. If you live as God’s slave, you live completely dedicated to God, turning your back on sin and the world. God is looking for this fruit of sanctification in your life. The more this fruit becomes visible, the more easily you will see the glorious end of the eternal life to be enjoyed perfectly when you’re in heaven.
V23. This verse summarizes the previous thoughts in a few words. (Memorize it!) With sin, you get what you deserve. Everyone, without exception, deserves death. God offers the alternative to this. It cannot be earned. It is a gift of grace to which no right exists. This gift is “eternal life”! God gives it “in Jesus Christ our Lord”. Everything that God has given is in connection with the Lord Jesus. Through Him all blessings from God’s heart come to you. He has taken away all your hindrances and sees you in connection with Christ. For that reason, God can give you the great blessing of eternal life. Eternal life is the very life of Christ: He is “the true God and eternal life” (1Jn 5:20).
Now read Romans 6:15-23 again.
Reflection: What can you say about your sanctification?