Brother Mike’s Message
SAVED FROM SIN
In Romans 6 Paul argues that if it is indeed faith through grace rather than works of law that justifies man (chapter 5), then man’s conduct must be in harmony with his faith. Paul divides this chapter into two points: First, one cannot practice sin because he has died to it (vv. 1-14). Second, man cannot practice sin because he is a servant of righteousness (vv. 15-23).
Paul has just stated that “the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased grace abounded all the more” (5:20). So, Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound” (6:1 KJV)? Paul answers, “Certainly not” (NKJV)! It is morally incomprehensible for one who is dead to sin to continue to sin. Paul explains that one dies to sin by burying the man who practices sin in baptism in likeness to the burial of Jesus. That person, having been buried in baptism, is raised a new individual. He has been “crucified with Christ” (v.6). He is no longer a “slave to sin” (one who practices sin v. 6).
The word “slave,” “servant,” or “bondservant” is not necessarily a derogative term (see Rom. 1:1). However, the word always denotes “compulsory service” (Kittel and Friedrich. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume; pg. 182). In Romans 6:6 it is obvious that Paul’s reference is that before they were “crucified with Christ” sin dominated their lives. But, when they were “crucified with Christ” they were “freed from sin” (v.7). They were exonerated and liberated from sin, justified by faith (5:1), and now stand in grace (cf. 5:2). This all takes place in baptism.
However, it is possible to return to the slavery of sin, because Paul cautions: “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (6:12, emphasis added). If one returns to the practice of sin, he has reverted to being a slave to sin. Paul explains, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey?” (6:16a). Therefore, Paul makes it plain that remaining in righteousness is a choice. So, he concludes saying, “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness” (v. 13a), because you have died to sin. But, offer yourselves to God (v. 13b). You have been raised to life; “you are not under law, but under grace” (6:14). “You became obedient from the heart . . .” (6:17), and have become “slaves of righteousness” (6:18).