At the beginning of Romans 6 Paul has explained that we cannot continue to live in the realm and power of sin because baptism symbolizes our death to the old life and raising up to a new life serving God. The rest of Romans 6 is going to further explain this important point. Paul’s lesson is about saying no to sin. But we should not think of the Christian life as a list of “do not’s.” The sin life is the negative and the new life in Jesus is the positive. We often have an odd way of looking at this world, as if we are really missing out on engaging in the things of this world. Paul is telling us that this is not proper thinking. We were slaves to sin. We were under its power and might. We were under its vices and control. Sin enslaved us. But Jesus is giving us a new life. This is what Paul is talking about in verses 6-7.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6; ESV)
Notice the end result of what God is doing for us. “We would no longer be enslaved to sin.” The rule of sin has been broken! This is exciting, wonderful news. We do not have to be enslaved to sin. There are a lot of slaves in this world. Satan has done an excellent job in enslaving the human race. People are enslaved to sexual immorality, the desires of the flesh controlling their actions. I have tried to help people with this enslavement. We are not able to be very productive because we cannot keep our minds off of sexual things for very long. The person cannot use the computer for good, but also for gratifying the desires of the body. The person cannot look at other people without thinking about lustful thoughts. You are enslaved to sin. People are enslaved to alcohol. People are enslaved to their work, believing that their worth and value comes from who they are in their work. People are enslaved to money. People are enslaved to having new things. People are enslaved to drugs, legal or illegal. There are so many worldly things that we become enslaved to in life. But life does not have to be like this. Our lives do not have to be enslaved.
Do we see what Paul is saying? Paul is not being redundant. There is a progression described in verse 6. We crucify the old self with Jesus. We take on the attack against the old way of living and the sins we committed. We kill that old way of life so that the body of sin might be brought to nothing. I think many writers miss the great news Paul is teaching. We can break the body of sin. We can break the power that our sinful bodies have over our lives. If you are enslaved to the desires and the sins of the body, you are not in a hopeless situation. The body of sin can be brought to nothing. We are not hopelessly lost to the power of sin. That is what Paul is telling us in verse 6. Crucify the old self so in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. The body does not have to be controlled by sin.
We must see that this is a positive thing, not a negative. Crucifying the old self is not God being a wet blanket, telling us that we cannot have any fun anymore. God is trying to fix us and heal us. Our body of sin is exerting control over our lives so that we are unable to do the things that know we should do or should not do (Paul is going to explore this in chapter 7). Do we think Tiger Woods woke up one morning and decided to have a number of mistresses? I don’t believe so. I am sure he cares about his family. The problem is that he is enslaved to his lusts. He is enslaved to the power of his body. He is enslaved to sin. The power of the body of sin is strong and it can control and exercise dominion over our thinking. But that does not have to be. God is offering freedom from that enslavement. God is not prevent us from enjoying life. He is trying to restore us and redeem us from our enslavement to sin. Paul teaches us to break this enslavement to sin by crucifying the old self. Paul is going to explain how to crucify the old self later in this text.
For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:7; ESV)
Paul is not making a statement of the obvious, that is, that dead people do not sin. Paul is not saying that only when you are dead will you be free from sin’s power. To believe that this is what Paul is saying contradicts all the hope that he has given us in chapter 5 and here in chapter 6. Paul taught that sin does not reign in us any more and that we reign in life. In just the last verse (Romans 6:6) Paul said that we would not longer be enslaved to sin. The NLT renders this idea properly, “For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:7; NLT). The death that Paul has been speaking about is dying with Christ. Look back at Romans 6:5 where Paul taught that we must be united with Jesus in a death like his. When we die with Christ we will be set free from the power of sin over us. Paul is offering hope for us. When we died with Christ, we were set free from sin’s power and rule. This is not presented in the negative: “Do not sin.” Rather, see this is a blessing: “You can be set free from sin and no longer be enslaved to it.” Die with Christ and be set free from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8–11; ESV)
Verse 8 parallels verse 5. When we crucify the old self, putting an end to the old manner of life, we believe that we will also be made alive with him. Paul has used the figure of baptism to show that we are united with Jesus. What is happening with Jesus is also happening with us. Verse 8 is reminding us of this important connection that we have with Jesus. If we die with him, then we are united to him. If we die with him, we will live with him. Paul is going to explain this thought further.
As we read this, it is important to realize that Paul is making a parallel. It is not an exact parallel, as we will see, but it is a general parallel. Back in verse 4 of this chapter Paul did the same thing. Jesus died, was buried, and then raised from the dead. The parallel is not that we physically die, are physically buried, and are physically resurrected in verse 4. The parallel is that baptism is the parallel. We are joined with Jesus death, burial, and resurrection when we die to sin, are buried in water, and rise from the water to live a new life. Paul makes a similar type parallel here. The first point: Death no longer has dominion over Christ. We know that Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is the shattering of the power over sin and death. But what Paul means by this is explained in verse 10.
The death that Jesus died he died to sin. Carefully read that point again. Notice that the text does not say that Jesus died for sin. Jesus did die for sin, but that is not Paul’s point here. Rather, the point is that Jesus died to sin. Jesus did not live under the power of sin. Jesus was not enslaved to sin. Jesus did not allow his body to come under sin’s dominion. He crucified himself to sin. The life he lives is for God. God is the rule of his life. Jesus gave his life in submission to God, not to sin. Jesus followed the will of God, not his fleshly desires or his self will. The God’s Word translation probably renders the verse well when it reads:
When he died, he died once and for all to sin’s power. But now he lives, and he lives for God. (Romans 6:10; God’s Word)
Because this is the example of Jesus, we are to do the same. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” As Christians we are to consider ourselves or count ourselves in two ways. There are two ways we are to think about ourselves. We are to think of ourselves as dead to sin. We need to remember that sin is not to be the rule of our lives. Jesus died to the power of sin and we also must die to the power of sin because we have been united with Christ. If we are joined with Christ, and Christ died to sin, so we must also be dead to sin if we are truly joined with him. The first part of crucifying the old self so that the body of sin can be put to death is to think properly. We need to think rightly about sin. We must think of ourselves as dead to sin. We no longer live under sin’s power and no longer live under sin’s rule. We have a new master and no longer give our allegiance to sin. Second, we must think of ourselves as alive to God. We live for God through Jesus who has set us free from sin. The fight begins with our mental disposition. Breaking out of the power of sin begins with the mind that understands that we are not to live for sin, but live for God.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:12–14; ESV)
Don’t let sin be in charge of your life. Don’t let sin run your body. We must fight against sin taking over. Paul is revealing how easy it is for us to become enslaved to sin. Sin will make you obey its passions. We have already noted the many vices and sins that we become enslaved to because we cave into sin. Don’t let sin be in charge. One must deliberately resist these passions. We do not live in the country of sin any longer, but sin still threatens us and tempts us. If we allow sin to reign, then we will return to slavery. Breaking out of that slavery is very difficult, but possible through the power of Jesus. If you give into your desires and passions, you will become a slave to those passions. Do not let sin reign or you will shackle yourself to that which Christ has freed you.
Further, we need to present ourselves to God, not to sin. Notice again that sin is personified, described as a ruling master or king. Do not present yourself to sin. Present yourself to God. We are to be at God’s disposal, not sin’s. Particularly, notice that Paul calls for us to consider all the parts of our body. Every body part is to be instruments for righteousness. Are our tongues an instrument for righteousness or a weapon for unrighteousness? Are our eyes used for purity or impurity? Do we use our ears to listen to filth or clean words and music? Do we use our hands as instruments for holiness or for sin? Do we possess our sexual organs for purity and self-control or for wickedness and impurity? Is our mind used for God’s glory or for selfish thoughts and sexual fantasies? Paul is telling to not let any member of our body be given over to impurity. If we do, we will be slaves to sin. Sin will be our master.
When sin is our master, then we are not joined with Christ because when we joined with Christ we became dead to sin. It is not compatible to say that we are joined with Christ but are still serving sin. These two things do not work together. We must consider ourselves dead to the power of sin. God must rule our lives. Jesus must be our example. The body cannot be in charge.
But praise be to God that grace has come. Before Jesus came, the law showed us sin, made us its slave, and gave us no hope for release. The law showed us that we are miserable sinners deserving of God. Jesus has come and now we are under grace, meaning that we have been set free from the law. Now we can be free from sin’s slavery. Jesus has redeemed us. Jesus gives us hope. Jesus makes it possible for us to leave sin’s power and come under God’s power.
- Identify our personal weakness.
- Recognize the things that tempt us
- Stay away from sources of temptation
- Practice self-control and restraint
- Consciously invest our time in good habits, service, and praise
- Rely of God’s strength and grace (pray, get help from your Christian family)