Romans 6

Romans 6:1

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

(a) What shall we say then? On account of his grace, God keeps no record of your sin, and no sin can put you beyond the reach of his great grace (Rom. 5:20). But does that mean we should continue in sin?

(b) Are we to continue in sin, or should we discontinue sinning? What will you choose?

The devil wants you to think you have no choice. “I have a sinful nature. I can’t help what I do.” But Romans 6 declares again and again that you are free to choose.

(c) Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Preach grace and someone will invariably ask, “Is grace a license to sin?” Such a question reveals an ignorance of both sin and grace.

Your sinning will never affect God’s love for you, but it will surely affect you. Sin is destructive (Rom. 6:23). It is not God’s will for you to destroy yourself through sinful choices. God gives his grace so that we may enjoy whole and godly lives (Tit. 2:11–12).

Further reading: “Is grace a license to sin?

(d) Grace captures the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. Grace is supernatural aid that empowers you to be who God made you to be. See entry for the Grace of God.

Romans 6:2

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

(a) May it never be! Of course we shouldn’t continue in sin. Sinning is stupid. Jesus came to give you freedom and life, but sinning leads to bondage and death (Rom. 6:16, 23).

(b) We who died. The first step to being free from sin is realizing that you have died with Christ.

Every believer knows that Jesus died on the cross, but not every believer knows that they died too. In Romans 6, Paul bangs this drum again and again: “We have been baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3) and “buried with him” (Rom. 6:4). “We have been united with him in a death like his” (Rom. 6:5), “our old self was crucified with him” (Rom. 6:6), “he who has died” (Rom. 6:7), “we have died (Rom. 6:8). He repeats this message in his other letters: “You have died with Christ” (Col. 2:20), “You died” (Col. 3:3), “We died” (2 Tim. 2:11), and “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20).

Many Christians struggle to live the Christian life because they do not know what happened to them on the cross. You died with Christ so that you can be free from sin (Rom. 6:6–7) and so that you can walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). But you will never fully enjoy your new life until you realize what happened to your old one. It died.

(c) How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Living in sin makes no sense for the one who has died to sin. Why wallow in the clay pits of Egypt when the Promised Land awaits?

(d) We who died to sin. You died to sin, but sin did not die. Your old master sin still seeks to enslave and destroy you (Rom. 6:14). But any claim that sin had on you ended at the cross. The moment you came to Christ and were baptized into his death (see next verse), your bondage to sin came to an end.

Romans 6:3

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

(a) Do you not know? By now you should know.

The “do you not know?” phrase was one of Paul’s rhetorical trademarks. He uses this phrase four times in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 6:3, 16, 7:1, 11:2) and ten times in his letter to the Corinthians (see entry for 1 Cor. 3:16).

(b) Baptized into Christ Jesus. Every believer has been baptized or dipped or placed into Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:27). You have been joined to Christ (Rom. 7:4).

Some use this passage to insist that water baptism is essential for salvation, but water baptism is an outward act that re-enacts the baptism done to you by the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). See entry for Baptism.

(c) Baptized into his death. The moment you were baptized or dipped into Christ, you were baptized into his death.

Further reading: “What happened to me at the cross?

Romans 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.

(a) Buried with Him. The believer has been crucified,buried, and raised with him. See entry for Romans 6:8.

(b) Baptism into death. When you were placed or baptized into Christ, you were baptized into his death.

(c) So that. To give us new life is the answer to the question, why did Jesus come (John 3:16, 10:28, 1 Tim. 1:16). Jesus did not come principally to free us from sin or give us a new nature. He came to give us a brand new life which includes those other things. “I have come that they may have life” (John 10:10). When we preach the gospel, we are telling people about the new life that Jesus offers to all (Acts 5:20). See entry for New Life.

(d) Christ was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the reason you can experience victory in your battle against sin and walk in newness of life. See entry for Romans 6:9.

(e) Through the glory of the Father. How were you raised to new life? Because God is mighty. Jesus was raised from the dead by the glorious might and power of God the Father (see Col. 1:11–12). The same mighty God who raised Jesus, raised you (Rom. 8:11).

(f) Might walk in newness of life. New life is a fact; walking in it is a choice.

The Holy Spirit has made you brand new. Now it’s up to you to walk in the new way of the spirit. How do you do it? By no longer offering yourself to sin (Romans 6) or trying to improve the flesh (Romans 7). Walking in the spirit requires a total change of mindset (Romans 8).

(g) Newness of life. The life we receive from God is not merely an improved version of the old life we had in Adam. That old life is gone (Rom. 6:6). In Christ, we get to enjoy a brand new life marked by wholeness, freedom, and authentic fellowship with God and each other. The Bible calls it the blessed or abundant life, but it is really just Life with a capital L. It’s life as it was always meant to be. It’s living in step with the spirit instead of being a slave of the flesh. Paul describes this new life as being joined to Christ (Rom. 7:4) or being alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).

Romans 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,

(a) United with him. The original word for united (sumphutos) is a special word that means planted together. The closest English word is connate which means individual parts that are united to form a single whole. The best illustration of our connate union is the one Jesus gave us—a vine and a branch, two parts that combine to make an indivisible whole (John 15:5). Vines and branches cannot be understood in isolation. A vine that has no branches is not much of a vine, and a branch that is not part of a vine is not a branch. It’s just a stick.

What does this connate union mean for the believer? It means our lives cannot be understood in isolation from Jesus. Apart from him we can do nothing. We can’t bear fruit, we can’t grow, and we can’t live. But connected to him in connate union, we don’t need to do a thing to make this new life happen. We just receive it. To partake in his divine nature requires only that we live in the union that is already ours.

A married person who continues to act like a single person is going to miss out on many of the blessings of marriage. Similarly, a Christian who fails to draw from their union with Christ is going to miss many of the blessings of that union.

Further reading: “No more lonely love songs

(b) The likeness of His death. The believer has been united with Christ in a death like his death; see entry for Rom. 6:2.

(c) The likeness of His resurrection. If A, then B. If we have died with Christ, we have been raised with Christ. Since we have shared in the former, we have shared in the latter (see Rom. 6:8).

Many believers linger at the cross because they do not know they have been raised in Christ. Thank God for the cross, but Jesus is not there. He is seated at the right hand of God and so are you (Eph. 2:6). From this position of rest and authority, we get to rule and reign with Christ here and now (Rom. 5:17).

Romans 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; for he who has died is freed from sin.

(a) Knowing this. The key to walking in the new life is knowing that you have died with Christ and been set free from sin.

(b) Our old self was crucified. You don’t need to fix your old self because he is dead.

Your old self is the person you used to be, a child from Adam’s line, a born slave to sin. Your old self was selfish, covetous, and ambitious. He walked after the flesh and did what was right in his own eyes. Sure, he could put on a mask and fake kindness with the best of them, but deep down he lived for himself, and no amount of reform could make him better. The good news is your old self was nailed to the cross with Jesus and no longer lives. Watchman Nee called this the gospel for Christians. “The self you loathe is there on the cross in Christ.”

If the average believer could grasp hold of this truth—I died with Christ—half of our church programs would cease immediately. We would stop trying to reform our old self because the old self is dead.

(c) Our body of sin is our mortal body, a.k.a. our body of death (Rom. 6:12, 7:24). The body of sin is not a sinful nature or bad habits. Nor is it our body of flesh or the old self (see entry for Col. 2:11). The body of sin is our physical body, the battleground where we engage with sin and experience its deathly effects.

Your spirit is one with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17), but your body inhabits a world where sin resides (Rom. 5:13). Sin tempts us through our natural senses, and it is with the members of our body – our eyes, tongues, etc. – that we sin. Our members are not sinful, but they can be used for sinful purposes (Rom. 6:13). When the old desires of the flesh collide with the new desires of your spirit, the result is a war that is waged in your members (Rom. 7:23).

Although you may bear the scars of sin, you can be sure that your body is precious to the Lord. He will never cede this territory to the enemy, and neither should you. As far as the Lord is concerned, your body belongs to him (Rom. 12:1). It is his temple (see entry for 1 Cor. 6:19). Treat it as such.

(d) Might be done away with. A better translation might be “rendered ineffective” or “put out of business.”

Something happened (our old self was crucified), and now something else needs to happen (my body needs to be rendered ineffective as an instrument of sin), so that something else will happen (I will no longer be a slave to sin). The point is not that your body would be destroyed (you still need it!) but that you would not allow it to become an instrument of unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13–14).

(e) Slaves to sin. There are two kinds of slaves. First, there are the unwitting slaves who live for their appetites and go along with the ways of the world. Then there are those who know that something is wrong with the world, and that some evil keeps us from being fully human. But no matter how hard they try they cannot break free. When Paul says, “I do the very thing I do not want,” he is describing a slave of sin (see entry for Rom. 7:20). Slaves of sin include both good people and bad, the high-born and the low, but what they all have in common is none of them is free.

(f) Sin. The word sin appears seventeen times in Romans 6, and on sixteen of those occasions it is a noun. We weren’t slaves to our sinning habits, but to a tyrant that desires to deceive, dominate, and destroy us. See entry for Romans 6:14.

Further reading: “Do Christians have a sinful nature?

Romans 6:7

For he who has died is freed from sin.

(a) He who has died. You do not have to die daily, because you have died once and once will do the trick.

Christians who do not know they have died with Christ end up living two lives. On the one hand they are trying to walk in the new life they have received in Christ, but on the other they are trying to reform the old life they inherited from Adam. The cure for double-minded Christianity is not to try harder or lift your game. It is believing the good news that your old self was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6).

(b) Freed from sin. You don’t have to listen to your old master sin anymore.

Some people think “I still sin, therefore I’m not saved.” You are not freed from sinning, but from sin. There has been a change of government. From time to time, we all stumble. The difference now is that when you sin, your new master speaks in your defence. “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

When you sin, accusations will come from everywhere – your conscience, the devil, even your church. Against this chorus of condemnation, Jesus speaks up to defend you. He does not do it to justify sin, but to justify you and to remind you that you have been freed from sin. You are a sinner no more, but a new creature, with a new heart and new desires to please the Lord.

Further reading: “The old has gone, gone, gone.

Romans 6:8

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

(a) We have died with Christ. A good preacher repeats himself for emphasis. Seven times in seven verses Paul hammers this nail: You died with Christ. Your inclusion in Christ’s death is an immutable fact to be acknowledged, celebrated, and never forgotten. See entry for Rom. 6:2.

“If we died with him, we shall also live with him” (2 Tim. 2:11). If you don’t know that you have died with Christ, you won’t really live. You will spend your life trying to die, dying to self, and dying daily. If you want to live with Jesus, let this truth take root in your heart: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)

(b) We believe. Our life with Christ is based on faith, not works.

To walk in the new way of the spirit is to walk by faith. It is resting in the persuasion that God is good and he longs to be good to us. This new life is not something we strive to earn with sweat and tears, but a gift to be received with praise and thanksgiving.

(c) We shall also live with Him. The cross marks the end of your old life and the beginning of your new one. See entry for Romans 6:11.

(d) With him. We have no life that is independent of Christ, but we have been crucified with him, buried with him, raised with him in order to live with him and reign with him (Rom. 6:4, 2 Cor. 13:4, Eph. 2:6, Col. 2:12–13, 2 Tim. 2:11–12). The believer’s life cannot be understood in isolation from Christ. See entry for Union.

Romans 6:9

knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

(a) Knowing that and knowing this (see Rom. 6:6) highlights the importance of knowledge in our faith walk. Faith is not blind ignorance. Faith follows facts.

(b) Christ, having been raised from the dead. At the heart of the gospel message is the supernatural resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, everything changed. You are no longer condemned to walk in the shadowy paths of death, but through Christ you can experience abundant life now and forever more.

(c) Never to die again. Jesus is the first-fruits of a new creation that will never die (1 Cor. 15:23). Christ’s deathless life guarantees eternal life for all who are in him.

(d)  Death no longer is master over Him. First Adam introduced death; Last Adam abolished death (2 Tim. 1:10).

Romans 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.

(a) The death that He died. Christ’s death was a never-to-be-repeated sacrificial death. His work was a finished work and anything we add only detracts from the sublime perfection of his matchless offering.

(b) He died to sin once for all. Christ’s death dealt with sin once and for all (Heb. 7:27, 10:10). Just as Jesus is done with sin, you can be done with sin (see next verse).

(c) The life that he lives is a new life untouched by sin and full of the power of the Spirit.

(d) He lives to God. Christ’s life is defined in relationship to God. Unlike fallen Adam who spent his lonely life pulling thistles on death row, Jesus sits at the right hand of God basking in his Father’s love and pleasure (Rom. 8:34).

Romans 6:11

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

(a) Consider. The original word, logízomai, is related to the English word logic. It means reckon, compute, calculate, or take into account. It’s not “pretend that you are dead to sin” but “appropriate the truth of your deadness to sin.”

(b) Consider yourselves to be dead to sin. Don’t be sin-conscious, but Son-conscious. You are as dead to sin as Jesus himself (see previous verse). Once you were a slave from sin, but then you died and your slavery came to an end (Rom. 6:7).

Christians do many things in response to sin; we confess our sins, we hold ourselves accountable for our sins, we discuss our sins. We pray against sin, preach against sin, and warn against sin. But when it comes to sin, there is one thing we must do, and that is reckon ourselves dead to it. When sin comes knocking, don’t open the door. When sin calls, don’t answer. A dead person cannot react and cannot be tempted by sin.

(c) But. If we read only the first part of the verse, we’ll remain at the prison gate going nowhere. It is not enough that we reckon ourselves dead to sin, we must also reckon ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.

(d) Alive to God. Real life beckons!

This is the answer to all our prayers. All we ever wanted was to feel truly alive. To be full of life, energy, and purpose. Not merely existing but connecting, thriving, and being everything God made you to be. To be alive to God is knowing and being known. It’s loving and being loved. It is seeing the touch of God in everything you do and in everyone you meet.

This new life begins with a revelation of God your Father and yourself his dearly-loved child. God delights in you. He rejoices over you with singing. You are the apple of his eye. When you know God is for you and not against you, it changes everything (Rom. 8:31).

(e) In Christ Jesus. There is no lasting life apart from Christ, but one with the Lord we are complete in every way.

Once upon a time, we were disconnected from the life that is in Christ (Col. 1:21). But now we enjoy fellowship and intimacy with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. In Christ, we find the deepest longings of our heart fulfilled.

Romans 6:12

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

(a) Therefore. Since you have died with Christ and are now dead to sin (see previous verse), your old master sin has no hold on you. You have been freed from sin (Rom. 6:7).

(b) Do not let sin reign. You can say no to sin.

Your old master sin does not want to let you go, and one of the ways he tries to subdue you is through guilt. “Look what you did. You sinned which makes you a sinner. You belong to me.” Don’t let that old bully push you around. You are a beloved child of the Most High and you remain so even when you sin. When the Accuser points the finger and declares you “Guilty!” you can shout back, “I am forgiven, accepted, and righteous in Christ!”

Another way sins tries to pull you back is by putting you under law. “You need to straighten up and fly right to earn God’s favor.” This lie caused the Galatians to lose their freedom (Gal. 5:1), and Paul will have more to say about it in Romans 7.

“Do not let.” What power is in those words! Many Christians see themselves as little hobbits hiding from the evils of the world when they ought to see themselves as mighty Gandalfs standing up to monsters. You are not a victim but a victor. You are more than a conqueror because the victory has already been won (see entry for Rom. 8:37). Jesus won the war; your part is to enjoy the spoils of his victory.

(c) Reign in your mortal body. Don’t yield the field to sin.

You are one with the Lord, but your body is the battleground where you encounter the temptations of this fallen world (see entry for Rom. 6:6). When you sin, you sin with the members of your body (see next verse).

(d) Mortal body. Like everything else in this world, your physical body will wear out and die. One day we will get resurrection bodies that last forever (1 Cor. 15:53–54). Until then, we wait for the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23).

(e) So that you obey its lusts. Don’t give sin the time of day. Don’t be fooled into thinking its lusts and desires are your lusts and desires. Don’t take ownership for every sinful thought that passes through your mind. As Martin Luther said, you can’t stop the birds flying overhead, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.

Romans 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.

(a) Do not. These exhortations can be misinterpreted as laws of the kind, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (Col. 2:21). Paul is not preaching law; he’s teaching us how to walk in the new way of the Spirit. What is the difference? The death-dealing law comes with penalties. “Do it or die.” In contrast, the exhortations of the New Testament bring life and freedom.

(b) The members of your body connect you to the physical world. You see with your eyes, feel with your hands, taste with your mouth, hear with your ears, and smell with your nose. Our members are not sinful, but they can be used for sinful purposes. “If your hand or eye causes you to sin.” (Matt 5:29). When we gaze with lust-filled eyes and curse with our tongues, we yield our members to sin.

(c) Your body to sin. We sin with our physical bodies; our spirits cannot sin (see previous verse).

(d) Instruments of unrighteousness. Like tools, our bodies can be used for good and bad purposes. Our tongues can be fountains of fresh water or bitter (Jas. 3:11). When Adam and Eve saw the forbidden tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, they were using their bodies (their natural senses) for unrighteous purposes (Gen. 3:6).

(e) But present. You have a choice. Slaves don’t have a choice, but you are not a slave. You can decide whether your body will serve sin or God.

(f) Present yourselves to God. Present your body as a holy and living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1).

You have been bought with a price and your body is now part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15, 7:23). Honor God with your body (1 Cor. 6:20), not because you have to, but because it’s the smart thing to do.

(g) As those alive from the dead. A prisoner who has been freed from death row will always be grateful to the one who freed him. We don’t present ourselves to God grudgingly, but with humility, gratitude, and joy.

(h) Your members as instruments of righteousness. Use your tongue for building up instead of tearing down. Fill your mind with pure and noble thoughts. Gaze on things that are lovely and inspiring. Run after righteousness, pursue love, and desire the spiritual gifts.

Romans 6:14

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

(a) Sin is a tyrant that desires to rule and ruin your life.

Many people think of sin as bad behavior, but there are two words for sin and in Romans the original word is often a noun. Paul personifies sin when he says sin reigned (Rom. 5:21), sin kills (Rom. 7:11), and sin has been condemned (Rom. 8:3). This thing called sin has an agenda. It has lusts (Rom. 6:12), and desires to master you (Rom. 6:14). Sin wants to enslave you (Rom. 6:6, 17, 20, 7:14), deceive you and kill you (Rom. 7:11).

Who is this person called sin? Is sin another word for Satan? Paul never says, but everything the Bible says about sin is true of Satan. Both sin and Satan seek to devour us (Gen. 4:7, 1 Pet. 5:8) and kill us (Rom 7:11, John 8:44), and both have been defeated by Jesus (Heb. 9:26, John 12:31). When we yield to sin we yield to Satan.

(b) Sin shall not be master. Even though you have been freed from sin, you can lose your freedom and become enslaved again.

Sinning won’t cause God to kick you out of his family, but it will rob your freedom for we are slaves to whoever we obey (Rom. 6:16). You have been given the mind of Christ. You have a new heart with new desires. The only reason for heeding your old master is you don’t know how good you’ve got it in Christ.

(c) For you means because. Because you are not under law, sin shall not have dominion over you.

When we put ourselves under law, perhaps in a misguided attempt to earn God’s favor, we unwittingly invite sin to rule over us, for the law empowers sin (Rom. 7:8). But when we surrender to grace, we slam the door on sin because God’s grace empowers us. We should have no doubt about this: living under law leads to sin; living under grace leads to godliness (Rom. 7:5; Tit. 2:12).

(d) Not under law. Rules are no substitute for relationship.

Paul has been talking about being freed from sin and walking in newness of life. One thing that hinders freedom, is a misguided allegiance to the law. “The law teaches me how to overcome sin and please the Lord.” It sounds good, but this sort of mindset perversely keeps us enslaved to sin (Rom. 7:8–11). Paul will have more to say about this in Romans 7.

(e) Law. The word law means different things to different people. Although Paul was referring to the law of Moses (Rom. 5:20), people put themselves under all sorts of law including the so-called commands of Jesus, along with the rules and regulations of their churches and denominations. But for the believer there is no law. “The law is not made for a righteous person” (1 Tim. 1:9). We are to be governed by grace and led by the Spirit. “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18).

(f) Under grace. If living under law means trusting in ourselves and our works, living under grace means trusting in Jesus and relying on his finished work. It is walking in the new way of the spirit instead of the old way of the law (Rom. 7:6).

(g) Grace; see entry for Romans 6:1.

Romans 6:15

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

(a) Shall we sin? Does grace give us a license to sin? Paul repeats his rhetorical question of Romans 6:1, as if to say, “Are you getting this? Do you see how foolish it is to suggest that grace is a license to sin? Did God give us freedom just so we might become slaves again? Of course not! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

(b) Sin. The original word for sin in this verse is a verb (hamartano). This is the only time in Romans where the word sin is an action rather than a noun.

(c) Not under law. Many believers are uncertain about their relationship with the law. They shouldn’t be. “We are not under law.” This is such an important truth, that Paul says it twice (Rom. 6:14–15).

You have no business with the law. The law is not your friend, your guide, or your teacher. We were bound to the law but those who have died with Christ have been released from what bound them (Rom. 7:6). “I died to the law, so that I might live to God” (Gal. 2:19).

(d) Under grace; see previous verse.

(e) May it never be! Of course we shouldn’t sin; sinning is destructive. Freely offer yourself to a tyrant and you will lose your freedom (see next verse).

Romans 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?

(a) Do you not know? By now you should know; see entry for Romans 6:3.

(b) Slaves for obedience. When you surrender your will to another, you become their servant or slave.

(c) Slaves… of sin… of obedience. You can’t choose your parents, but you can choose whom you will serve. Choose wisely.

There are two voices speaking into your life. One is the voice of the Lord who speaks to you through your spirit; the other is the voice of sin or Satan who speaks to you through a fallen world.

(d) Resulting in death. Heed the siren song of sin and you will sow death into your life and relationships.

We have been taught that sinning is bad because it makes God angry. It doesn’t. It makes him sad (Eph. 4:30). And we have been told that God is watching us and recording our sins in his book. He isn’t (2 Cor. 5:19). If we eliminate these manmade caricatures of a judgmental deity and replace them with the heavenly Father that Jesus revealed, what is to stop us from sinning? We stop because we realize sin incurs a terrible cost (Rom. 6:23).

When it comes to sin, there is no such thing as a free pass. The world says, “if it feels good, do it” and “as long as it’s not hurting anyone,” but these lies belie a harsh reality. Sinning is addictive and destructive. Go down that dark path and you will lose your way and eventually lose yourself.

(e) Resulting in righteousness. Heed the call of the Spirit, and you will be right with God. Walk in the new way of the spirit, and you will sanctify your conduct and be free (see Rom. 6:19).

Romans 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,

(a) Thanks be to God. All the credit for your freedom goes to the One who called you out of darkness into the kingdom of his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). You have been justified by grace alone (Rom. 3:24).

(b) Slaves of sin; see entry for Romans 6:6.

(c) Sin is a tyrant that desires to enslave and kill you. See entry for Romans 6:14.

(d) Obedient from the heart. Your turning to God was not mere lip service but your repentance came from the heart (Rom. 10:9).

(e) That form of teaching is the message of Christ. The gospel, in other words. Paul says we are to heed or obey it, while John said we are to abide in it (2 John 1:9). We are to make our home in the good news of Christ.

(f) To which you were committed. To which you surrendered. You heard the good news of grace and were persuaded. You believed in it with your whole heart.

Romans 6:18

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

(a) Freed from sin. You are not free because you kept the law or did the right thing. You are free because you have died with Christ (Rom. 6:7). You remain free by reckoning yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).

(b) Slaves of righteousness. There has been a change in government. Just as you once heeded sin, now you heed Jesus the Righteous One.

The story so far: You were captive to sin. Then you heard the good news of Jesus and put your faith in him. Having been placed into Christ by the Holy Spirit, you were included in his death, severing any relationship you had with your old master. Now that you have been raised to new life, you have a new master, the Righteous One who redeemed you and to whom you now belong. Your old master was a tyrant who ruled with fear and condemnation, but your new master is a Good Shepherd who leads you with peace and gentleness.

Romans 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.

(a) I am speaking in human terms. I am using familiar terms like slave and master to illustrate a spiritual truth.

Inspired by Paul’s metaphorical language, many teachers have compared Christians to the emancipated slaves of the southern States. Once the civil war was won, the slaves were free, yet some continued serving their old masters out of ignorance or fear. For similar reasons, some Christians continue to serve sin. They have been freed, but they are not free. They’ve stayed on the plantation because they don’t fully appreciate what Christ has done for them.

(b) Because of the weakness of your flesh. Because of your inability to understand, I am speaking figuratively. See entry for The Flesh.

(c) You presented your members. When we sin, we sin with our bodies – our eyes, our tongues, our hands, etc. (see entry for Rom. 6:13).

(d) Resulting in further lawlessness. Sin begets more sin. Just as Jesus releases grace upon grace (John 1:16), sin releases iniquity upon iniquity. The fruit of sin is more sin then death.

(e) So now present your members. Since you are a slave of sin no longer, present your body as a holy and living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1).

(f) Slaves to righteousness; see previous verse.

(g) Resulting in sanctification. Walk in the new way of the spirit, and your life will be whole and healthy.

If you don’t know that you are 100 percent righteous and holy in Christ, you may act like the person you used to be. If you don’t know that you have died to sin, you may act like the slave you once were. But live for the Lord, submitting your mind and body to his righteousness, and your speech and conduct will become sanctified. We don’t make ourselves holy by acting holy, but behavior follows identity.

Romans 6:20

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

(a) You were slaves of sin when you were in the flesh and disconnected from the Spirit of God (Rom. 7:5, 8:9). But Christian, you are not a slave any more (Rom. 6:7).

(b) Slaves of sin; see entry for Romans 6:6.

(c) Free in regard to righteousness. For as long as you were serving sin, you had no opportunity to obey Jesus, the Righteous One.

Many unbelievers are decent people, but even our best deeds fall short of the righteousness that God requires and freely supplies. Imperfect flesh is incapable of walking in perfect righteousness.

Romans 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.

(a) What benefit? What good did it do you? You know from bitter experience that sin exacts a high price.

(b) The things of which you are now ashamed? All those wasted years and foolish decisions have left you nothing but scars and regrets.

(c) For the outcome of those things is death. Sinful choices lead to dead ends and failure. Sin ruins lives, sinks relationships, kills friendships. Sin can literally put you in the grave (Rom. 6:23).

Romans 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.

(a) Freed from sin. For the third time in this chapter, Paul reminds us of this wonderful news: we have been freed from sin! We are slaves no longer (Rom. 6:7, 18, 22).

(b) Enslaved to God. Paul is speaking figuratively (Rom. 6:19). You are a son, not a slave (Rom. 8:14–17). He’s saying that just as you once belonged to sin, you now belong to God (Rom. 8:9).

(c) You derive your benefit. Free from sin, you can now have a better life.

Your new life in Christ is one of acceptance, confidence, and security. By the grace of God, you can be free from fear and worry. You can rest knowing that you have nothing to prove. You can be comfortable in your own skin. Your marriage can be rock-solid and your friendships worth more than gold.

(d) Resulting in sanctification. Walk in the new way of the spirit, and your life will be whole and healthy. See entry for Romans 6:19.

(e) Eternal life. This good life never ends.

You used to live in the valley of the shadow of death, but you need not fear death anymore. One day you will shrug off your mortal body, but you will never die. One with the Lord, his future is your future.

Romans 6:23

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

(a) The wages of sin. Sin is its own punishment.

Religion tell us that sinning is bad because it displeases God, while the world tells us that sinning is good because it brings pleasure. Both lies do incalculable damage.

God hates sin because sin hurts those he loves. Sin hurts us, diminishes us, and kills us. Sin ruins our marriages, harms our children, and destroys our world. God never intended for us to live with suffering and death. See entry for Sin.

(b) The wages of sin is death. On account of Adam’s sin, all die (1 Cor. 15:22).

The world is a hospice, a home for the terminally ill. It makes no difference how decent and moral you are, the end result is the same: all die (Heb. 9:27). But the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Jesus is the Savior who saves our souls from death (see entry for John 3:17). Jesus is the unsinkable ark of our salvation (see entry for Heb. 11:7).

(c) Eternal life is not merely endless life; eternal life is divine life. It is Christ’s glorious life which we can enjoy here and now. Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus. See entry for John 3:15.

(d) In Christ Jesus. Eternal life is one of the many blessings we receive as a result of being in union with Christ. See entry for Philemon 1:6.

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  1. Great explanation! In my initial Christian life I was taught the opposite for almost ten years! But now I know. I don’t struggle with sin neither do I fight it, I only recon that am dead to it and then walk in freedom. These truths sounds simple to many legalistic Christians but very profound once understood, I have tested it myself and to other christians too, it works! Thank you brother Paul.
    John (Uganda)

    1. You have I typo oat Rom 6:14 that needs correction. It should say (and link to) 1 Timothy 1:9, not 1 Timothy 2:9. Otherwise, the commentary for Romans 6 is very helpful!

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