In beginning the study of the sixth chapter of Romans, it must be remembered that we have but a continuation of the fifth. The subject of that chapter is superabounding grace, and the gift of life and righteousness by grace. As sinners we are enemies of God, but are reconciled, that is, freed from sin, by receiving the righteousness of Christ's life, which has no limit. No matter how greatly the sin may abound, grace does much more abound.
Crucified, Buried, and Risen "With Christ" Romans 6:1-11
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up 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 planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man in crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
An Important Question. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" The student will doubtless recall a similar question in the third chapter, verses 5, 7, and the answer in verses 6, 8. It is another form of the question, "Shall we do evil, that good may come?" The answer must be apparent to all, "Not by any means," for this is really the force of the words improperly rendered, "God forbid."
Although grace superabounds where sin abounds, that is no reason why we should willfully pile up the sin. That would be most emphatically to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 Cor. 6:1.
The Reason Why. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" It is simply an impossibility, and there is really no question as to whether or not we may do it; for it is certain that if we are dead to sin, we can not live in it at the same time. A man can not at the same time be both dead and alive.
Now the previous chapter has emphasized the fact that we are reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and are saved by his life. Reconciliation to God means being freed from sin; so that being "saved by his life" means that we have "passed from death unto life." The life of sin that was enmity has been ended in the life of Christ.
"Baptized into Jesus Christ." Baptism is the symbol of putting on Christ. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Gal. 8:27. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles." 1 Cor. 12:12, 13.
Where Christ Touches Us. It is in death that we come into contact with Christ. He touches us at the lowest possible point. That is what makes our salvation so sure, and so sure for every one without any exception. Sin and sickness are tributary to death. Death is the sum of all the evils possible to man. It is the lowest depth, and it is there that Christ comes in contact with us. We become united to him in death. As the greater includes the lesser, the fact that Christ humbled himself even to death proves that there is no ill possible to us that he does not take upon himself.
Baptized into His Death. "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death." And what is it to be baptized into his death? Verse 10 tells us: "For in that he died, he died unto sin once." He died unto sin, not his own, because he had none; but he "bare our sins in his own body on the tree." 1 Pet. 2:24. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." Isa. 53:5. Since in that he died, he died unto sin, it follows that if we are baptized into his death, we also die to sin.
A New Life. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more." "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." It was impossible for the grave to hold Christ. Acts 2:24. Therefore, just as surely as we are baptized into the death of Christ, so surely shall we be raised from a life of sin to a life of righteousness in him. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
Crucifixion with Him. As Christ was crucified, therefore, being baptized into his death means that we are crucified with him. So we read, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20. Crucified, yet living, because crucified with Christ, and yet he lives. Christ said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." John 14:19. How can we live a new life? We have no power at all of ourselves; but Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; and in his prayer to the Father he said, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them." John 17:22. Therefore, the power that raised Jesus from the dead is exercised to raise us from the death of sin. If we are willing to allow the old life to be crucified, we may be sure of the new.
"Our Old Man" Crucified. We shall be in the likeness of his resurrection. If we are crucified with Christ, our sins must also be crucified with Christ, for they are a part of us. Our sins were on him as he was crucified, so of course our sins are crucified if we are crucified with him.
But here is a difference between us and our sins when crucified. We are crucified in order that we may live again; our sins are crucified in order that they may be destroyed. Christ is not "the minister of sin" (Gal. 2:17). It was the life of God that raised him from the dead, and in that life there is no sin.
A Separation From Sin. The reader will notice that the separation from sin is in death. That is because death is in sin. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:15. Therefore nothing less than death will effect a separation. We could not separate ourselves from sin, because sin was our very life. If it had been possible for us to effect the destruction of sin, it could have been only by the giving up of our lives, and that would have been the end of us. That is why there will be no future for the wicked who die in their sins; their life having been given up (or rather, taken from them), they are out of existence. But Christ had the power to lay down his life, and to take it again; and therefore when we lay down our lives in him, we are raised again by his endless life.
Remember that he does not give us our own life back again, but that he gives us his own life. In that life there never was a sin; and so it is that our crucifixion and resurrection with him is the separation of sin from us. This thought must be borne in mind when we come to study the next chapter.
Living with Him. When shall we live with him? Why, as soon as buried and risen with him, of course. Our life with Christ in the world to come is assured to us only by our living with him now in this world. We are separated from sin, by death with him, in order that we may be joined to life in him. The reader is asked to bear this in mind also until we come to the study of the next chapter.
"Buried with Him by Baptism." Baptism, therefore, is burial. If people were content to follow the plain reading of the Scriptures, there never would be a question concerning "the mode of baptism." No one from reading the Bible could ever get any other idea than that baptism is immersion. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Col. 2:12. Baptism represents the death and resurrection of Christ, and by it we show our acceptance of his sacrifice; and the very act is an actual burial, in order to make the lesson the more impressive.
Why the Change in Baptism? How is it that there has been a change from Scripture baptism to sprinkling? The answer is very easy. Baptism is a memorial of the resurrection of Christ. But "the church," by which is meant the bishops who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God and who wished to curry favor with the "better class" of the heathen, adopted the pagan sun festival. And in order to appear to justify themselves in so doing, they claimed that the rising sun which was worshipped by the heathen was a symbol of the resurrection of "the Sun of Righteousness," namely, Christ, and that by observing Sunday they were celebrating his resurrection.
But they did not need two memorials of the resurrection, and so they dropped the one that the Lord had given. In order, however, not to appear to throw baptism away, they claimed that the heathen sprinkling with "holy water" which they very naturally adopted with the heathen sun festival, was the baptism enjoined in the Scriptures.
The people trusted in the "fathers" instead of reading the Bible for themselves, and so it was very easy to make them believe that the Bible was obeyed. It is true that there are some who follow the word in regard to immersion, who also observe Sunday; but the two practices are inconsistent. The word is neglected in one particular (observing Sunday) in order to provide a memorial for an event which they already celebrate in accordance with the word (baptism). Scriptural baptism is falling into disuse among [many] who observe the first day of the week. It must be the case that sooner or later they will wholly give up one or the other.
Instruments of Righteousness Romans 6:12-23
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh; for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Reign of Sin. In the fifth chapter we learned that the reign of sin is the reign of death, because death comes by sin. But we also learned that the gift of life is offered to all, so that whoever has Christ has life. Instead of death reigning over such, they themselves "shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ." The exhortation, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body," is therefore equal to an exhortation to abide in Christ, or to keep his life. We gained the life by faith, and so we are to keep it by faith.
Whose Servants Are We? That is very easy to answer. "To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey." If we yield ourselves to sin, then we are the servants of sin, for "whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." John 8:34. But if we yield ourselves to righteousness, then we are the servants of righteousness. "No man can serve two masters." Matthew 6:24. We can not serve both sin and righteousness at the same time. No man can at once be both a sinner2 and a righteous man. Either sin or righteousness must rule.
Instruments. We have in this chapter two terms to describe people, namely, servants and instruments. It takes both to illustrate our relation to sin and righteousness. Sin and righteousness are rulers. We are but instruments in their hands. The kind of work a given instrument will do depends entirely upon the one who uses it.
For instance, here is a good pen; what kind of work will it do? It will do good work if it is in the hands of a skillful penman, but in the hands of a bungler its work will be poor. Or, in the hands of a good man it will write only what is good; but in the hands of a bad man it will exhibit that which is evil. But man is not a mere tool. No, not by any means. There is this difference between men and ordinary instruments: the latter have no choice as to who shall use them, while the former have full choice as to whom they will serve. They must yield themselves, not once only, but all the time. If they yield to sin, they will commit sin. If they yield to God, to be instruments in his hands, they can do nothing else but good so long as they are yielded to him.
A Parallel. In the nineteenth verse we are exhorted to yield ourselves as servants of righteousness just as we have yielded ourselves servants to sin. This being done, we are assured in the following verses that just as surely as the fruit was sin and death when we were yielded to sin, so surely will the fruit be holiness when we yield ourselves servants to righteousness. Yea, even more sure; for "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Righteousness is stronger than sin, even as God is stronger than Satan. God can pluck out of the hands of Satan the soul that cries out for deliverance; but none can pluck God's children out of his hand.
Not under the Law. Many people are fond of quoting this expression, thinking that it forever absolves them from any observance of the law of God. Strange to say, this expression is used as a cover only for non-observance of the fourth commandment. Repeat the fourth commandment to a man who objects to keeping the sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day, and he will say, "We are not under the law." Yet that same man will quote the third commandment to a man whom he hears swearing, or the first and second against the heathen, and will acknowledge the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. Thus it appears that men do not really believe that the statement that we are not under the law means that we are at liberty to break it. Let us study the whole verse, and its different parts.
What Is Sin? "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. This is definite; let us hold it well in our minds.
What Is Righteousness? Righteousness is the opposite of sin, because "all unrighteousness is sin." But "sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore righteousness is the keeping of the law. So when we are exhorted to yield our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, it is the same as telling us to yield ourselves to obedience to the law.
The Dominion of Sin. Sin has no dominion over those who yield themselves servants to righteousness, or to obedience to the law; because sin is the transgression of the law. Now read the whole of the fourteenth verse: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." That is to say, transgression of the law has no place in them who are not under the law. Then those who are not under the law are those who obey the law. Those who break it, are under it. Nothing can be plainer.
Under Grace. "Ye are not under the law, but under grace." We have seen that those who are not under the law are the ones who are keeping the law. Those therefore who are under the law are the ones who are breaking it, and who are therefore under its condemnation. But "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Grace delivers from sin.
Distressed by the threatenings of the law which we have broken, we flee for refuge to Christ, who is "full of grace and truth." There we find freedom from sin. In him we not only find grace to cover all our sin, but we find the righteousness of the law because he is full of truth, and the law is the truth. Ps. 119:142. Grace "reigns" through righteousness (or obedience to the law), unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Wages of Sin. In the second chapter we learned that those who reject the goodness of God are treasuring up to themselves wrath. Now wrath comes only on the children of disobedience. Eph. 5:6. Those who sin are laying up wages for themselves. "The wages of sin is death." Sin has death in it, therefore "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." There can be no other end to sin than death, because sin is the absence of righteousness, and righteousness is the life and character of God. Persistent and final choice of sin is therefore choice of complete separation from the life of God, and so from all life, since he is the only source of life. Christ, who is the wisdom of God, says, "All they that hate me love death." Prov. 8:36. Those who suffer death at last will be only those who have worked for it.
The Gift of God. But we do not work for eternal life. No works that we could do would make the smallest part of payment towards it. It is the gift of God. True, it comes only through righteousness, but righteousness is a gift. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (prepared) that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:8-10.
"O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that
fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the
sons of men!" Ps. 31:19. When people sin, God gives them only what they
have bargained for. But if any yield themselves as servants of righteousness,
he provides the righteousness for them, and gives them eternal life
with it, all as a free gift. "The way of the transgressor is hard," but
the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden is light.