In Romans 6:1-11, the Apostle Paul says this:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is [freed] from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.”
In this passage, Paul raises the issue of lawlessness, or continuing or living in sin, then brings up the impossibility of lawlessness, and the implications for living.
In verse 1, we see the issue of lawlessness. Paul has just said that, where sin increased, the undeserved favor of God abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so, grace would reign through righteousness for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, he raises a possible question, which is natural question, by saying, if grace abounds where sin increases, so grace will reign through righteousness, then shall we say that we are to continue in sin so grace may increase? In other words, he is asking, shall we just keep on sinning so God’s undeserved favor will keep increasing so it will reign through righteousness?
In verses 2-7, he answers this question by explaining the impossibility of lawlessness for believers in the gospel. He begins by saying that believers in the gospel are beyond lawlessness, which is why he starts by answering the question of whether we are to continue in sin so grace may increase with “may it never be!” To put it in common language, it’s as if he’s saying, “No way! That’s absolutely ridiculous!” Why? Because, he asks, how shall those who died to sin still live in it? When he uses the word, “sin,” he is referring continuing in sin, or living in sin.
In verse 3, he gives another reason that believers in the gospel are beyond lawlessness: they have been baptized into the Lord’s death. He expresses this truth by asking the rhetorical question, don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ, the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus, have been baptized into His death? Although there is a spiritual reality of being immersed, or baptized into union with Christ, and into His death, I believe that Paul is also referring to water baptism, seeing how his audience consisted of people who were baptized immediately after trusting in the gospel, as was the norm for the early church. Therefore, we can see Paul as teaching that baptism symbolizes the spiritual reality of being united with Christ, and with His death.
In verse 4, Paul gives two more reasons that believers in the gospel are beyond lawlessness: they have been buried into the Lord’s death, and brought into the Lord’s resurrection. He expresses these truths by beginning with “therefore,” indicating that he is introducing a logical conclusion from the previous idea. To put it another way, he’s saying that, since he and his audience have been baptized into Christ’s death, then they 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 they too would walk in newness of life. In other words, through their baptism, they were buried with Christ into His death, so that, just as He was raised from the dead through the Father’s glory, they would live their daily lives in newness of life.
In verses 5-7, Paul explains how this can be so: he and his audience were butchered into the Lord’s righteousness. He begins by implying that, he and his audience were buried with Christ through baptism into His death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the Father’s glory, they too would walk in newness of life, because, if they have become united with Christ in the image of His death, they shall certainly also be united with Him in the image of His resurrection. Why does he say this? Because he knows this: their old selves were crucified with Christ, so that their bodies of sin would be done away with, so that they would no longer be slaves to sin, since he who has died is freed from sin. So, how were they butchered into the Lord’s righteousness? By being united with Christ in His resurrection, since their old selves were crucified with Him, so their evil human nature would be done away with, that they would no longer be slaves to sin. Why again? Because those who have died are freed from sin, or lawlessness.
In verses 8-11, Paul finishes this passage with implications for living. The first implication is found in verses 8-9, and is believing that he and his audience died and live with the Lord. He begins his explanation of this belief by saying that, if he and his audience have died with Christ, then they believe that they shall also live with Him. Why? Because, he says, they know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again, so death no longer is master over Him. Thus, since they have died with Christ, then they also live with Christ, who will never die.
In verse 10, he explains why this is true: because the Lord died to sin and lives to God. In other words, the reason why he and his audience know that Christ will never die again, and that they live with Him, is that, the death He died was a death to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. What does Paul mean when he says that Christ died to sin, since Christ never sinned, and had no ability to sin? What he means is that, when He was on the cross, His Father treated Him as if He was sin by forsaking and killing Him for sinners. Therefore, when Christ died, He had finished His work of being treated as a sinner, and died to sin once for all. Also, He committed His spirit into the hands of His Father, since He resumed living to God, having died to God when He was punished for people’s sins on the cross.
In verse 11, Paul gives the last implication for living from the impossibility of lawlessness: believing that one is dead to lawlessness and alive to God. In the same way that Christ died to sin once for all when He died on the cross, having been treated as if He was a lawless sinner by God, and in the same way that He now lives to God in His living, Paul commands his audience to consider themselves to be dead to sin, or lawlessness, but alive to God as spiritually united with the Anointed One, Jesus. As a result of being dead to sin, they are no longer dead to God, but alive to Him because they are spiritually united with Christ. As spiritually united with Christ, they have died to sin with Him, and live to God with Him. Thus, Paul commands his audience to believe that they are dead to lawlessness and alive to God.
So, do you say that we are to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Have you died to sin, or are you living in it?
Have you been baptized into Christ Jesus?
Are you walking in newness of life?
Do you have an old self that was crucified with Christ, so your body of sin would be done away with, or are you a slave to sin?
Do you believe that you shall live with Christ, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again?
Just as Christ died to sin once for all, but lives to God, do you consider yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus?
Do you understand what it means that Christ died to sin once for all? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousnessof men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13