• Brian O'Kelly

30 - Romans 6 - Dead Man Walking


3. First half of today’s text

3.1. 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 [a]done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been [b]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, [c]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. 13 And do not present your members as [d]instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

4. Paul’s opening question

4.1. 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

4.2. Notice that this is a question. Paul is asking at the outset “shall”. Many commentators have taken the position that chapter 6 is providing a recipe for how not to sin. Yet Paul is asking a question at the beginning of the chapter. The question is “shall” which is a continuation of his question in chapter 3 verse eight: And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?

4.3. The idea is expressed in the statement, "I love to sin, and God loves to forgive - what a perfect arrangement!"

4.4. The Russian monk Gregory Rasputin taught and lived the idea of salvation through repeated experiences of sin and repentance. He believed that, as those who sin most require most forgiveness, a sinner who continues to sin with abandon enjoys more of God's grace (when he repents for the moment) than the ordinary sinner. Therefore, Rasputin lived a life of notorious sin, and taught that this was the way to salvation - an extreme example of the Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound idea.

5. Emphatically no

5.1. 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

5.2. At this point, Paul has much to explain about what exactly he means by died to sin, but the general point is clear - Christians have died to sin, and they should no longer live in it.

5.3. What he’s not suggesting here is that it’s impossible for Christian to live in sin as some have taught.

5.4. Notably, the Wesley’s, Charles, and John, who were sons of an Anglican priest and themselves joined the Church of England also as Anglican priests. John Wesley was the founder of Methodism movement that Charles embraced and helped him lead. Charles Wesley was the founder of a group called the “Holy Club” at Oxford. The “Holy Club” was something like the modern-day holiness movements. One of the features of the Wesley’s theology was that there was something called “entire sanctification” that was not only possible but expected of the Christian. Today the oneness Pentecostals headed by the Bollinger’s at the Apostolic Bible Church of Lansing Michigan are the center of gravity for the Holiness movement.

5.5. While the Wesleys never claimed to achieve entire sanctification, they insisted that it was possible. Occasionally, you will meet a Christian who claim they haven’t sinned in years. While I suspect that they and many other Christians are able to avoid some of the grocer sins I believe that it’s highly unlikely that upon examination we would find this to be true. I do believe that the longer and the closer we walk with Jesus the less frequently we will sin and the less serious our sins will become. As we discussed last week in the last half of chapter 5, the more important our relationship with Jesus becomes, the more important it is to us to not behave in ways that are offensive to him. Additionally, the closer we become to Jesus, the deeper our understanding of what he cares about becomes.

5.6. The view of “entire sanctification” was the idea that once converted the Christian was able to and obligated to live a life that was completely sin free. This idea in part was based on chapter 6 and especially this first half of it.

5.7. To be clear, I believe in holiness. I believe that every sin that we commit is in fact avoidable. Since sin is an act of rebellion it’s not possible to sin against God unless there is an opportunity not to. But saying this is different than having the expectation that we will be automatically able to accomplish this only through the act of conversion. The Holiness movement today including Bollingerism, use 1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As a justification for the idea that we have already been cleansed and have no unrighteousness in us. They will say that we don’t need to ask for forgiveness anymore as we have already been forgiven. Therefore, there is no sin in you.

6. Baptized into death

6.1. 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.

6.2. Paul is saying that in baptism we are symbolizing the death of sin’s reign in our life and entering into the resurrection. It also becomes clear that he didn’t consider baptism to be optional.

6.3. There are some churches and movements today who claim that until you are baptized you aren’t saved. In their view, it doesn’t matter if you profess Christ and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead, as Romans verses nine and ten tell us. They believe and teach that until you are baptized you haven’t died to Christ.

6.4. These groups are often reformed in their theology and will propose the idea that you have always been “dead”. Because you have been “dead in your trespasses and sins” you have been like all dead men unable to respond to stimuli. We need to understand that Jesus and Paul both use the word dead as metaphor.

6.4.1. Matthew 8:22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

6.4.2. Romans 4:19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead.

6.4.3. And let’s not forget the story of the prodigal son In Luke 15 and verse 14 where the father says “for this is my son who was dead and is alive again”

6.5. Well, when do you get buried? Are you buried alive? Was Jesus buried alive? Of course not, Jesus was buried after his death. We too, are buried after we die. The idea here is that baptism in the subsequent rising out of the water are a symbolic following of Jesus into the grave and resurrecting so that we can walk in the “newness of life”.

6.6. One place I find myself in agreement with these movements is in their sense of urgency about baptism. In the New Testament church baptism was something that immediately followed conversion. There was no waiting. There was no class to attend. There was no setting up of the hot tub or the baptismal in the church. There was no invitation to family and friends. There simply was no delay. In the New Testament church baptism was not considered something to be put off. It was an immediate step of obedience to Jesus and an immediate sign to those present, the family of God, that you are joining their ranks.

6.7. If you call yourself a Christian and have not been baptized (and let me say this is charitably as I can) you are currently in a state of disobedience to God. This is something you should fix right away. Today. This doesn’t require a formal church setting or even a minister who is “trained” in the art of baptism. The only thing it requires is the presence of another believer and some water.

6.8. Recall the Ethiopian eunuch

6.8.1. Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

6.8.2. Philip didn’t recommend that the Ethiopian eunuch now take a baptism class at the local church took the class and agree to the contents he could be Baptized. The early church put no distance between the day of someone’s conversion in the day of their baptism. It was expected that once converted baptism would follow as immediately as possible.

6.9. In the Didache, a book of early church writings it says concerning Baptism “But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” By living water, they meant flowing water as in a river, just like Jesus. By other water, they meant still water, as in a lake. In the end they said whatever water you have is sufficient. Certainly, if given enough time anyone could find a river or some kind of flowing water even if it required some kind of a journey. The reason the Church fathers allowed for these variations was because of the urgency of the act of baptism. Putting off your baptism or the baptism of other converts is simply unbiblical.

7. The likeness of his death

7.1. 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.

7.2. The terms “likeness of his resurrection”, “old man”, and “body of sin” are related terms in this verse. While some individualize these terms, I don’t believe that Paul is referring to the individual man. This verse is not individualized to you or me. It refers to the body of believers as opposed to the body of unbelievers.

7.3. The “likeness of his resurrection” is the opposite end of the spectrum from the “likeness of Adam”.

7.4. The “old man” is a reference to the body of Adam which was a “body of sin”.

7.5. Notice that Paul says in verse five “united together”. Who is united together? It is the “we”. The “we” is the body of believers, Paul himself and the Roman church to whom he is writing, as well as the rest of the broader church.

7.6. So now the end of verse six “we should no longer be slaves of sin”. This is the same “we”. And notice that it’s a “should” not a “will”.

7.7. The entire sanctification movement sees the word “are” or “will” in these verses where Paul actually says “should”.

7.8. The idea of being a slave of sin is that a slave obeys his master. But not perfectly and sometimes even over the objections of the conscience of the slave. However, the propensity and likelihood the slave being obedient to his master is extremely high. When one has been in bondage to a given master for a long time, even when freed it is often habit to be obedient to that master, to those habits, or to those circumstances. It’s kind of like them people we hear about who have been imprisoned for a long time and are then freed out into society who subsequently reoffend for purposes of going back into prison where they are comfortable. For those who are free from bondage there is often a transition period in which the former slave adjusts to the newfound freedom.

7.9. In the case of the Christian, it is the idea of being freed from the bondage of sin, but not for freedom of self-determination. Instead it is a transfer of ownership from being a slave of sin to being a slave of Christ. Just as it when one is a slave of sin the obedience to that slave master is imperfect. The slave to sin occasionally does something honorable, just and good. In the same way a slave to Christ also obeys the new master imperfectly and occasionally does something dishonorable, unjust or displeasing to Jesus.

8. Freed from sin

8.1. 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.

8.2. It is our participation in the death of Jesus is what ensures our participation in the life of resurrection. We are free from the result of sin as well as from a compulsion to sin.

8.3. Ultimately the choice is offered to leave the bondage of sin and going to the bondage of Jesus. A great number of people reject the change in master which is why Paul says “if we died with Christ” as he is aware that many or possibly most people will not voluntarily make this change in who their master is.

8.4. Jesus was victorious over death. Death no longer has dominion over Jesus or over mankind which is why Paul says in verse seven, “we believe that we shall also live with Him”.

8.5. He says, “the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Speaking of Jesus. Jesus is now living his life to God and we also now are supposed to live our life to God.

8.6. Some misuse verse 7 “freed from sin” to indicate that we are now perfected. This is not right. We won’t be perfect, but we are perfectly immune to the death that would have come from our sin.

9. Do not let sin reign

9.1. 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.

9.2. Paul says here to “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed”. When we reckon ourselves, this is to evaluate ourselves. We are to view ourselves as dead to sin and to view ourselves as alive to God. A reckoning is an accounting, calculation, or something we depend on. For example, “I reckon they’ll be here about five in the afternoon” the idea here being this is when I’ve calculated or understood that person will arrive. But Paul is asking us to do is to calculate or evaluate ourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God.

9.3. The “do not let sin reign” is an instruction not as statement of fact. If Paul had the idea that it wasn’t possible to allow sin to reign this is an instruction that would’ve been a waste of time and ink.

10. More instruction in behavior

10.1. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

10.2. Presenting ourselves is an act of our will. Paul is telling us how to present ourselves. Not as instruments of unrighteousness, but as instruments of righteousness. And then he offers the reason why. Because sin no longer has dominion.

10.3. I want you to notice two things:

10.3.1. The first is that sin is personified. We can “present ourselves” to it in the same way that we can “present ourselves” to God. God is a person while sin is not.

10.3.2. In verse 14 Paul says that this personified sin “shall not have dominion”

10.4. Why is it that sin shall not have dominion? Because we are not under law but under grace.

10.5. The Holiness movement and a call to holy living are often called legalism and with good reason. These are often groups with rigid demands on their members who are following the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. Some of these of modern-day Judaizers that we find in the Hebrew Roots movement.

10.6. The opposite of this the “hyper grace” movement that would indicate that it doesn’t matter what we do it all since we are “under grace”

10.7. let me just say this, that everywhere we find a discussion of judgment we find it being connected to works. God is extremely concerned with our behavior and its “rightness”. We should be striving for holy living and not pursuing sin because we are under grace but neither should we expect that we will be sinless and perfect.

11. Part 2

12. Text: 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 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. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

13. From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God

13.1. Paul reiterates his point in verse 15

13.2. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

13.3. What Paul is asking is should we be concerned about sin? Since we are under grace, it’s no big deal, right? He answers in the next verse.

14. Presenting Ourselves

14.1. 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

14.2. We choose what to be in bondage to. Paul is indicating we can choose to be in bondage to righteousness. It is this choice that Paul is encouraging. It is not a completed fact that he is claiming.

14.3. The fact that Paul is claiming here is that we do have a choice which is why in verse 17 he says “yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered”.

14.4. Doctrine is a word that means teaching. So Paul is saying you obeyed the teaching that you heard.

14.5. Verse 18 “And having been set free from sin” by the obedience of this same teaching.

15. Weakness of your flesh

15.1. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

15.2. Paul explains here that he is using the slave metaphor as an illustration.

15.3. Jesus warned us not to enter into temptation

15.3.1. Matthew 26:41 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

16. Fruitfulness comes from obedience to the right master

16.1. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

16.2. Fruit will happen

16.3. Paul is here making the point I made earlier when he says “you were free in regard to righteousness”. Even a slave of sin could have made a righteous choice. But we did not make those righteous choices and we are ashamed of it because it was fruitless and ultimately lead to death.

16.4. Many are in bondage to things which bear no fruit. They don’t see the bondage or the lack of Godly fruit. Too often the measures of fruitfulness are the measures of the world. Money, fame, status, or recognition are measures of success. However, when we look deeper at people who have all of these things, we frequently find a life that is unfruitful and is in fact leading to death. No one needs look any further than Hollywood or professional athletics to find that having all of the worldly trappings of success does not lead to a balanced or fruitful life.

16.5. Further, if one looks at the lives of Christians in extremely humble circumstances, perhaps in the Third World or in the poorer areas and communities in more developed countries we often find Christians living joyful, victorious, and balanced lives. We have countless stories of Christians not the least of which was the apostle Paul who have found themselves imprisoned or persecuted for the sake of the gospel and yet have borne grapefruit for the kingdom.

16.6. I’m currently reading John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” again. Bunyan was arrested for the crime of “preaching” something different that the official church of England and was imprisoned for 12 years since he refused to give up preaching. It was during those 12 years of imprisonment that he wrote his spiritual autobiography “Grace Abounding the Chief of Sinners” and began the book quote “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. While Bunyan’s life could not have been measured in terms of the success of the world, he definitely bore fruit for the kingdom.

17. You will pay or be forgiven

17.1. 22 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. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

17.2. As a slave of God will bear godly fruit and such slaves will receive everlasting life.

17.3. However, if you insist remaining a slave of the old master, you can expect the old master to pay you in the currency that pays everyone who remains under his control.

17.4. Yet we watch and see every day that people who are the worst kind of sinners don’t die from their sin. Of course, many do, but there are others who don’t seem to have any negative effects whatsoever because of their sins. One need look no further than the current President of the US or Vladimir Putin or the Kim’s who have ruled North Korea for two decades. These men in fact seem to prosper because of their sin.

17.5. That currency is death. I’ve observed, and perhaps you have too, that we live in a culture of death. That death is nearly worshiped while life continues to be devalued.

17.6. Sin is ultimately an act of self-worship. When one worships themselves or their “God is their stomach” or their appetites, one soon finds that the object of worship is lacking in sufficiency. This ultimately leads to despondence. Finding no satisfaction in the act of self-worship, the self-worshipper does what all true believers do, they do more of what they believe. And so they continue to ramp up their self-worship. It probably heard the saying “the difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys”.

17.7. And just like that we are right back to Romans chapter 1 and verse 25 “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”. Men worship them themselves instead of God and this is reflected in how they spend their time and money.

18. Next week

18.1. In chapter 7 Paul will expand even more on this concept that sin no longer has dominion and what the consequences are if we remain under the bondage of sin. It’s really not until chapter 8 where Paul begins to offer the remedy.