Chapters 1 and 2 of Romans are about the fact that we’re all sinners who are liable to God’s wrath and curse. But then, in chapters 3 and 4 are about how we’re justified — pardoned and accepted by God — through faith in Jesus Christ. And chapters 5 to 8 are about the assurance of glory. Since we’ve been justified through faith, nothing will prevent the believer from being glorified in the presence of God one day. Nothing will prevent us. Death won’t stop us. Sin won’t stop us. The law won’t stop us. Nothing at all will separate us from God who is working out his plan to bring sinners like us into his glorious presence one day.
And so, in chapter 5, Paul teaches us that death came into the world through Adam, but life has come into the world through Jesus Christ. Because of Adam’s sin, we all die. But because of the Lord’s perfect obedience to his Father, all who believe in him will live. For those who belong to Adam, there’s only condemnation and death, but for those who belong to Jesus Christ, there’s justification and life.
And then in chapter 6, which we began to look at the last time, Paul was responding to an objection. So we can imagine someone saying to Paul:
Paul, you’ve just said that where sin increased, God’s grace increased all the more. Where sin abounded, grace super-abounded. Does that mean, then, that I can go on sinning? Does it mean that I can continue to sin, because God is bound to forgive me? In fact, if what you’re saying is right, then my sin will surely magnify God, and make him seem all the greater, because the more he forgives me, the greater his grace to me appears?
And so, in verses 1 to 5, which we studied the last time, Paul explained that whenever a person first believes, and is united with Christ who died and was raised, then it’s as if our old life of sin died and we were raised to begin a new life of obedience. Since Christ our Saviour died, it’s as if we too died with him. And since Christ our Saviour was raised, it’s as if we too were raised with him. So, by no means are we to go on sinning, because that old life of sin is dead and buried.
Verses 6 and 7
That’s where we got to last time. Today, we’ll move on to think about verses 6 to 14. And in verses 6 and 7, Paul elaborates what it means to say that the believer has died with Christ. And then in verses 8 to 10, he refers to the Lord’s resurrection. And finally in verses 11 to 14, he goes on to talk about the new life we’re to live as those who belong to Christ who died but was raised.
So, let’s look at verses 6 and 7. Paul says:
For we know that our old self [or our old man] was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer by slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Paul reminds the believers in Rome of something they already know. He says to them:
You know this. You already know this.
Presumably they were taught these things whenever they became believers: they were taught that they were crucified with Christ. In other words, whenever they first believed, it’s as if they too died. Paul says they were crucified because that’s the way the Lord died. So, just as he was crucified, so too you have been crucified with him.
But Paul doesn’t say ‘we’ have been crucified or ‘you’ have been crucified. He says their ‘old self’ was crucified. Or, more literally, he says that their ‘old man’ was crucified. You see, Paul’s readers could think back to what they were before they believed in the Lord Jesus. They can look back to their former life, when they still belonged to Adam, and they were headed for condemnation and death. And their old life was marked by sin and shame. They could look back to what they once were. Well, says Paul, that old you — that person you used to be when you belonged to Adam and when were still apart from Christ — that’s now dead. Whenever you first believed, and were united with Christ, it’s as if your old man was crucified and died.
And look: Our old man was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with. Now, Paul is not saying that the physical body is inherently sinful and wicked. He’s not like those people who regarded everything physical as evil and who wanted their spirits to be released from their wicked body which is like a prison. Paul’s not saying that. However, by this phrase ‘the body of sin’ he probably means his whole being, his whole self. He means that everything about him was sinful. If he were asked to describe himself in the past, he’d say that his whole being was dominated by sin.
But now, now that we’re united with Christ, that body of sin has been done away with so that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Do you see that at the end of verse 6? Sin is depicted as a power, a ruler, a tyrant who was once able to force us to do its will. We had to serve it. But not any longer. Why not? Look at verse 7:
because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
And we’ve died, haven’t we? That’s what Paul has been saying: whenever we first believed, we died. Our old self — our old man who belonged to Adam and to sin and to condemnation — died with Christ. And since we’ve died, we’ve been freed from sin’s power over us. Sin is no longer our master.
Verses 8 to 10
Let’s turn now to verse 8 to 10:
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the past I’ve preached about how we read about three kinds of resurrection in the Bible. There’s the Lord’s bodily resurrection from the grave which happened in the past. Then there’s the believer’s bodily resurrection from the grave which will happen in the future. And then there’s the believer’s non-bodily resurrection whenever he or she first believes in the Lord Jesus. Well, Paul has been referring to the third kind of resurrection in the previous verses and how, whenever we first believe, we not only die with Christ, but are also raised with Christ to live a new kind of life. However, in verse 8, Paul is probably referring to the second kind of resurrection: the believer’s bodily resurrection from the grave in the future. And I say that because Paul uses the future tense when he refers to our resurrection in verse 8 and he’s referring to what we believe rather than to what we have already experienced. In other words, we believe this will happen in the future. It hasn’t happened yet, but we believe it’s going to happen. And so, we can paraphrase verse 8 like so:
Since we died with Christ [and that happened whenever we first trusted in him] we believe that we will also be raised bodily from the grave in the future to live with him for ever.
And the reason we believe this is because we know that Christ was raised from the dead. In fact, says Paul in verse 9, since Christ has been raised, he cannot die again. Think of the difference between what happened to Lazarus and what happened to the Lord Jesus. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but it was more of a resuscitation, because though he came back to life, he eventually died again. But the Lord was raised to resurrection life and will never die again. Death has no mastery over him.
And, of course, not only does death have no mastery over him, but sin has no mastery over him. That’s the point of verse 10 where Paul writes:
The death he died, he died to sin once for all.
The Lord never sinned. He never did anything wrong. Nevertheless, while he was on the earth, he was still tempted to sin. Sin was still this force, this power, which harassed him and attacked him and which attempted to overpower him. It never succeeded, but it still tried. And if you’ve ever had a small child try to tackle you and get you down on the ground, you know he’s never going to succeed, because you’re too strong for this small child. But it’s still annoying. And when you want to relax, you can’t, because you have to be ready for his attacks. Well, the Lord was always ready to withstand the temptation to sin. He had to put up with sin and it’s attacks. However, things are different for him now. Sin doesn’t bother him at all now. And now, instead of having to deal with sin, he’s able to live for God. Now, again we need to say that there never was a time when he didn’t live for God and God’s glory. Throughout his life on earth, he sought to bring glory and honour to his Father in heaven. Well, it’s the same today: his whole life — his resurrection life — is devoted to the glory of God.
Verses 11 to 14
And our whole life, now that we’re united with Christ by faith, should be devoted to the glory of God. That’s the point of verses 11 to 14. Look what Paul says:
In the same way [in the same way as Christ died to sin and lives for the glory of God], count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
This is how we’re to view ourselves. This is how we’re to regard ourselves every day. Sin once ruled over us, but we’re to regard ourselves as having been released from its power over us. And we’re to regard ourselves every day as those who live for God and his glory. And look: this can only happen because we’re in Christ Jesus. Because we’re united with him in his death and resurrection, we’re to regard ourselves as those who have died to sin and who live now for God.
And, of course, this is something we’re to do. Paul is giving us an imperative. A command. This is what you’re to do now that you’re united with Christ:
Count yourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
And the imperatives, the commands, continue in verses 12 to 14:
Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Sin will still try to reign over you. But don’t let it succeed! Fight against it!
Don’t offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness.
The ‘parts of the body’ probably means more than just our arms and legs and hands. Paul is instead referring to the whole of our being. And ‘instruments’ can be translated ‘weapons’ which is fitting here, because we’re thinking about a battle. So, Paul is commanding us:
Don’t offer any part of your being to sin. Don’t let sin use you as a weapon for wickedness. Don’t do it!
And then he gives us a positive command:
but rather offer yourselves to God … and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments [or weapons] of righteousness.
What are we to do? We’re not to offer ourselves to sin, but we’re to offer ourselves to God. Instead of being a weapon in sin’s hands for wickedness, we’re to be a weapon in God’s hands for righteousness. So, instead of doing evil, we’re to do what’s right.
And look at Paul’s conclusion in verse 14:
For sin shall not be your master.
Once sin was our master, but not any longer. Once we were happy to let sin rule over us, and we went along with it, and we did whatever sin wanted. But not now, because we’ve been united with the Lord Jesus who died and was raised. And so, we too have died and sin is no longer our master as it once was. And we too have been raised to live a new kind of life.
And look at the end of verse 14: In this new life, we’re not under law, but we’re under grace. And isn’t that an interesting way to end this section? Back in verse 1, Paul was responding to the objection that we can keep on sinning because of God’s grace. Now, having made clear that we’re not to sin any longer, he reminds us that we are indeed under grace. We’ve experienced God’s kindness towards us in Christ Jesus so that the law no longer condemns us the way it once did. But, we’re not to keep on sinning, because we’ve died to sin, and we’ve been raised with Christ to live a new life of obedience to God.
When I lived in the Republic of Ireland, we have friends there who were from Brazil and Poland and elsewhere. And from time to time, they’d say:
When we were in Brazil, we did this.
When we were in Poland, we did this.
We used to do these things.
And we would say to them:
Yes, but you’re not in Brazil now.
You’re not in Poland now.
In Ireland we do this.
We’re no longer in Adam. We don’t belong to that old age. So we should regard that old way of life as being dead and buried. The things we once thought normal should not be part of our new life with Christ. And the things other people do who are still in Adam today should not be the things we do. We’ve been raised with Christ to live a new life, one devoted to God’s glory alone.
And since this is a command, an imperative, then it’s something we have to work at. Every day, we need to remember that our old life is dead and we’re to live a new kind of life. And every day we need to fight against sin’s influence and we’re to offer ourselves again and again to God. Often we fail and we fall short and we still sin. But when we sin, there’s the good news of the gospel that for the sake of Christ and through faith in him, God pardons us and accepts us. Though we’re sinners who do wrong, God treats us for the sake of Christ as those who have done everything right. So, there’s the good news of the gospel to comfort us. But the Lord Jesus who died to save us from our sins was raised from the dead. And we who believe in him must count ourselves dead to sin; and we must, with God’s help, seek to live a new life of obedience to our Father in heaven.