ROMANS, CHAPTER SIX
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
It seems to me that the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans is not being understood as Paul meant it to be. I think a correct understanding of these twenty-three verses will go a long way toward increasing the moral strength of the Christian churches.
ROMANS, CHAPTER SIX
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4)
Introduction. There is no doubt in my mind that our modern interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s doctrine of grace has been changed into a license for immorality. The current perception of grace is that God is not particularly interested in how we behave. His main concern is that we make a profession of belief in Christ.
We simply do not see things as God see them. The reason God emphasizes belief in Christ is that God has made Christ the head of all the creation. If we reject Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, there is nowhere else to turn. There is no other source of eternal life. There is no other way in which to come to the Father.
But God does no envision that a profession of belief in His Son is to be an alternative to righteous behavior. This is what we have made belief in Christ. But to regard the grace of God in Christ as an alternative to moral transformation defeats God’s intention.
If, after having received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we then do not begin to bear the fruit of godly behavior, something has gone wrong. The Lord Jesus will work to correct this wrong; but if after His patient guidance we do not begin to bear the fruit of His moral image, we will be cut out of the vine.
We have made belief in Christ a sort of magic by which God brings us to Heaven. This is a misconception. True belief in Christ leads to daily interaction with Him, which in turn changes our behavior. How could it be otherwise? If our daily communication with Christ does not change us, then we are not truly communicating with Jesus Christ. It is as simple as this.
There has been considerable discussion about the place of “works” in the Christian salvation. By “works” is meant righteous behavior, such as truthfulness, moral cleanliness, and freedom from unforgiveness, bitterness, and gossip, for example. The prevailing opinion of our time seems to be that we should behave righteously, and will prosper emotionally and spiritually if we do. But being “saved” has to do only with our profession of belief in Jesus Christ.
We simply do not understand what salvation is. Salvation is not entrance into Heaven when we die. One would look in vain in the New Testament for a passage that teaches us salvation is entrance into Heaven when we die.
The current idea is, Christians can safely lie, practice immoral behavior, hold grudges, be filled with bitterness, and gossip and criticize others. Christian church people do these things. But as long as we believe in Christ we will go to Heaven when we die.
It reminds us of the Pharisees who tithed herbs and then overlooked judgment, mercy, and faith. We have the same religious spirit as they.
The problem is how we define “saved.” If “saved” means we go to Heaven when we die, and we go there by unlimited forgiveness (grace), then all is well in the Christian camp.
But if “saved” means delivered from sin, and we accomplish this salvation by confessing our sins and turning away from them, having Christ formed in us, and entering untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will, then all is not well in the Christian camp.
Our impression is that God is chiefly concerned with our profession of belief in Christ. The truth is, God is chiefly concerned with what kind of person we are; how we behave. God cannot have fellowship with darkness no matter how much we profess Christ.
Are we saying we can please God by righteous behavior and reject Christ?
Not at all. When Christ is presented to us, and we then reject Him, we come under condemnation.
Are we saying we can meet God’s standard of holy, righteous behavior without Christ? Not at all. It is only through Christ that we can be transformed; for the Virtue that produces eternal moral transformation is in His body and blood.
However, there are two points we should consider. First, we have it in our power to cease many of our sins. We can stop lying, stop watching pornography, stop gossiping. If we cannot, then we must go to the elders of the church, confess our lying or whatever else we are doing, and have them pray for us so we can stop our sinning.
The second consideration (and this seems to be unknown to many Christian preachers) is that God honors integrity wherever He finds it. I know Paul said “there is none righteous, no not one.” And in the sense that all of us are born in sin, and have sinned during our life, and only the blood of the cross can atone for this, it is true that all have sinned. So in this general sense, there is none righteous.
But when we say there is no righteous person in the world, or that God does not honor human acts of righteousness and integrity, we go against the Scriptures. God esteemed Noah as righteous. The Book of Psalms, for example, speaks much of the righteous.
So in our haste to develop our concise formula of salvation we have stated that there are no righteous people in the world. Our corollary is that it is useless for the Christian to attempt to behave righteously. His main task is to profess belief in Jesus Christ. Then he will go to Heaven when he dies.
This attitude produces a religious arrogance and snobbery that repulses the decent people of the world. They do not see righteous behavior in the Christian people, and so they turn away from Christ.
But Christ told us to let our righteous behavior shine so people would glorify God.
So it is as Jesus commented concerning the Pharisees, we strain over our theology; but the righteousness that is important to God, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, we overlook.
I think our problem has arisen from incorrect conclusions drawn from the third, fourth, and fifth chapters of the Book of Romans. Paul, in his effort to move the Jews from faith in the Law of Moses to faith in Jesus Christ, emphasized that we are not saved by works but by God’s grace in Christ. We are saved by faith and grace and not by works.
But we have interpreted “works” to mean righteous behavior, which would be to contrast faith with righteous behavior. We know from the remainder of Paul’s writings that Paul never contrasted faith with righteous behavior but insisted that true faith in Christ always results in righteous behavior. We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God if we behave unrighteously.
When Paul said “works” he meant the works of the Law of Moses. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans Paul shows us how the new covenant produces the righteous behavior that was not possible under the Law of Moses.
To put it simply, we have misunderstood Paul’s doctrine of grace. The result has been the inability of must churchgoers to move past their baby state, their initial profession of faith in Christ. For growth in Christ is growth in the ability to discern good and evil, and the willingness and strength to embrace the good and reject the evil.
Our present doctrine hinders the growth of the members of the Church. If the Lord is to have an unblemished Church, God must send forth leaders who can lead the believers back into a proper perspective of the Gospel. The Christian people must see that salvation of necessity produces a change in behavior.
It is God’s will that each of His people be in the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit will help us in these days to grow spiritually until we gain maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. the fullness of Christ. Such maturity is required of every believer who hopes to be transformed into immortality when the Lord Jesus appears, and then be caught up to meet Him in the air.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so grace may increase? (Romans 6:1)
In the text that precedes Romans 6:1,2 Paul argues vehemently against our attempting to gain righteousness by works. By works, Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses.
Somehow, even at that early date, some teachers were arguing (whether sincerely or mockingly) that if God’s grace is excusing our sin, we should keep sinning so God will have the opportunity to show more grace.
What religious people will do to avoid having to live righteously, what arguments they will employ, is a never-ending source of amazement!
“Shall we go on sinning?” How ridiculous, when Paul stood so strongly for righteous, holy behavior. Yet, is there an element of this question in today’s Christian emphasis on grace?
Given the preaching and teaching of our time, one would expect Paul’s answer to be, “We know we shouldn’t go on sinning; but as long as we are in this world we have to sin. So if we should sin, Divine grace will bring us to Heaven anyway.”
Such is today’s answer. It is enough to make Paul turn over in his grave.
What did Paul say to the question shall we go on sinning? “By no means!” “God forbid such a conclusion from my efforts to turn people from Moses to Christ!”
I wonder if we can catch the vehemence in Paul’s response. I wonder if we of today would respond with the same vehemence.
By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:2)
“We died to sin! How can we live in it any longer?” Our ability to understand all of Paul’s epistles hangs on our understanding of four words: “We died to sin.” What does this mean?
A former holiness movement concluded that there was an experience in which we died to sin, meaning the sinful nature was removed from us root and branch. It no longer was possible for us to sin. There were no compulsions to sin left in us.
I don’t think this point of view has gained many followers. No matter how overwhelming a spiritual experience we have, after it is over there are those sins that other people can see—whether or not we are aware of them.
A second interpretation of “we died to sin” is the one that prevails today. The idea is that after we receive Christ we are to count ourselves dead to sin. Sin no longer is an issue. We can’t sin in the sense that God sees us through Christ.
When we lie, God sees the truth of Christ. When we commit adultery, God sees the moral purity of Christ. God has saved us by a sovereign, Divine election. We ought to try to do good, but our behavior is not critical. It is God’s sovereign salvation that is the only determining issue.
This is what is taught today. “We died to sin.” Our sins, past, present, and future were forgiven on the cross of Calvary. How can we be charged with sin? We have been accepted in the Beloved. God has pronounced “righteous.” That is the end of it.
Given this interpretation, that sin no longer can affect our salvation, given the demonic environment in which we are attempting to survive, given the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul, you can be certain the believers are going to continue in sin.
We do not want to sin. We want to be like Jesus. We want to please Jesus. We desire to prove our love for Him by living righteously. And then we are seduced into sinning.
Christ gave us commandments. His Apostles gave us commandments. But we say the main purpose of the commandments of the New Testament is to show us we need to be forgiven by God’s grace. This is the wretchedness that is preached today—a wretchedness that makes the Word of God a welter of confusion.
Of course we are to keep the commandments written in the New Testament! The Holy Spirit will assist us.
If ever there was a doctrine designed to destroy the Christian people, it is the interpretation of “we died to sin” to mean we are righteous no matter how we behave because we have been saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done (to quote Paul in another passage).
I guess if we want to make an excuse for our sinning, we can find that excuse in the Bible. Isn’t that a fact?
But let’s look at how the meaning of “we died to sin” works out as Paul’s argument develops. If we are to understand any part of Chapters Six through Eight of the Book of Romans, we have to view the three chapters as one whole.
In order to understand the Apostle Paul, it is helpful to keep two thoughts in mind. First, Paul was arguing against teachers who were pressing the need to keep the Law of Moses. “It is fine to accept Jesus Christ as the Christ, but we must keep the Law of Moses if we are to be righteous in the sight of God,” they were maintaining.
Paul was not saying we are free from the Law of Moses: therefore we are not bound by any Divine law. Rather, Paul taught that we are under a far stricter covenant, in which our body is to be presented to God as a living sacrifice. We are free from Moses so we may be married to Christ. Marriage to Christ is a total covenant, bringing with it demands on our conduct far, far exceed the demands of the Law of Moses.
Second, Paul’s goal was the redemption of his body. By this I mean in the Day of Resurrection Paul’s body will be raised from the dead and then filled with eternal resurrection life. Paul viewed the redemption of his body as his adoption as a son of God.
The reason Paul wanted a body filled with God’s Life is that he might be free from the sinful nature. Paul was a Jew, and he wanted to be completely righteous.
Now compare our viewpoint as Gentiles. We want to be free from the Law of Moses so there will be no law governing our conduct. We want to live as we please, and then go to Heaven where we will be released from all responsibility, pain, and dread.
Paul’s understanding of the method and goal of the new covenant are so different from our understanding of the method and goal of the new covenant that it is no marvel we have twisted Paul’s message to our own moral destruction.
I believe if we will think carefully about Romans 8:11-14 we will understand what Paul means by “we died to sin,” and how this orientation to the Christian discipleship is to work out in practice.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
We need to think more about the above verse. The unscriptural doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” has obscured our true goal, which is to attain to resurrection life in our mortal body. This is the true Christian hope. Being caught up into the air to meet the Lord takes place, of necessity, after our mortal body has been made eternally alive in the Holy Spirit.
We have God’s Holy Spirit in us. We now have to fight the good fight of faith in order to keep the forces of darkness from removing God’s Spirit from us. We have to lay hold on eternal life, or we will lose it.
Eternal life cannot be killed. But it can be separated from our personality. We can lose our crown.
Death is separation. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death is the separation of our body from our spiritual personality. The second death is eternal separation from God.
When the Life of Jesus Christ lives in us, then we are alive eternally. This fact shall be revealed in the Day of Resurrection, when our mortal body is raised from the dead and filled with eternal life. In fact, we have the essence of the resurrection in us at in the present hour.
But if we are not prayerful, the forces of sin can crowd out that eternal life so it diminishes in us. Eternal life can be separated from us, leaving us spiritually dead and unprepared for the Day of Resurrection and the making alive of our mortal body. Does this make sense to you?
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)
Given the fact that the Spirit of God is in us now as a down payment against the day when God is ready to redeem our body, we do not owe our sinful nature anything that we should obey it.
Have you ever heard anyone say “As long as we are on the earth we have to sin”? I wish people would read their Bible, don’t you?
No, we owe our sinful nature absolutely nothing that we should obey its lusts and passions.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
When Paul says “you will die,” he is not speaking of physical death. He means if you obey your sinful nature instead of the Spirit of God that is in you, the Spirit of God will be separated from you. You will die spiritually. Then, in the Day of Resurrection, your body will be raised from the dead by Divine energy, but not by the eternal Life of God.
Divine energy is the energy that was injected into the creation at the beginning. It is the energy by which the world operates, and I suppose the angels operate.
Divine energy is not eternal life, it is just the energy with which we all are familiar.
Eternal life, on the other hand, is the Life of God. It is infinitely greater than mere energy. It includes energy but also health, joy, peace, love, hope, wonder, pleasure, the Presence of God, and every other desirable virtue and state of being one could imagine.
When we obey the impulses of our sinful nature we lose health, joy, peace, love, hope, wonder, pleasure, the Presence of God, and every other desirable virtue and state of being.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
“But if by the Spirit you put to death.”
When Paul informed us, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, that we are to count ourselves as dead, he was advising us how to orient ourselves to our new life in Christ.
Now, in Chapter Eight, Paul is explaining to us how this death to sin works out in practice. As the Holy Spirit points out to us the various aspects of our sinful nature, we are to look to the Lord for help. Then we are to confess these areas of darkness as sin. We are to turn away from them, denouncing them; renouncing them. We are to renounce the specific area of darkness with all the vehemence and resolution we possess.
This is an act of eternal judgment against Satan. It is given to man to judge the workers of darkness, and we do this through the Holy Spirit, beginning with the darkness that is in our own personality.
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
A large part of our Christian experience is to be occupied with following the Spirit of God as He leads us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature. This is the fight of faith.
We are led by the Spirit thus to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. We cannot conduct this work of judgment according to our own desire to be holy and righteous. We have to pray each day, read our Bible, gather with fervent saints whenever possible, and otherwise keep ourselves in a position to hear what the Spirit is saying to us; how He is leading us.
We often hear the expression “grow in Christ.” Growing in Christ has both a negative and a positive aspect.
When we mature in the ability to recognize good and evil, and possess the determination and strength to reject the evil, we have grown in Christ in the negative aspect.
Then, as we serve the Lord diligently, praying, reading our Bible, gathering with fervent disciples, giving of our means, ministering and being ministered to as the Lord leads, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of the Lamb of God. This is the positive aspect of growth in Christ.
When the Lord returns and the Day of Resurrection is at hand, we will be prepared to rise from the dead and be clothed upon with a wonderful robe of eternal life.
But if we, as a Christian, continue to yield to our sinful nature, we will be raised from the dead in any case. But we will not be clothed with a wonderful robe of eternal life. We will be clothed with the corruption that proceeds from the sinful nature we have cultivated and strengthened.
If there is anything Christian people need to understand, it is that each day we are on the earth we are determining the kind of resurrection we will experience.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1,2)
“We died to sin.”
Does this mean we no longer have a sinful nature? No, it certainly does not!
Does this mean it does not matter how we behave because God does not judge our actions and we shall go to Heaven by grace? No, it certainly does not!
“We died to sin” means we have counted ourselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ. Our whole old person, including our sinful nature, has been left on the cross with Christ. This is the only biblical, acceptable, effective orientation to our new life as a Christian.
From this time forth we are to set ourselves to follow the Spirit of God carefully. We owe our sinful nature absolutely nothing. The Holy Spirit keeps leading us in putting to death the urges of our sinful nature. This is how “we died to sin” becomes a reality.
We take the position by faith. Then the Holy Spirit makes our death and resurrection a reality.
Does all this make sense to you?
Or don’t you know all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)
If I am correct, the entire first creation came to an end on the cross. The first creation began when the Father through Jesus Christ created the spirit realm with all its creatures. The first creation continued as the Father through Jesus Christ created the physical realm with all its creatures.
Now the first creation is dead, and the Lord Jesus is the First of the new creation. God is making all things new, and all things are of Christ and through Christ Jesus Christ is the Center and Circumference of all God is making new.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9,10)
When we are baptized in water we entered the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This means our former life of an adamic soul is finished in the sight of God. This is the position we take by faith and maintain by faith; and then little by little God makes our death and resurrection a reality.
When we are baptized into the death of Christ on the cross we are declaring our first personality with its sinful nature has been condemned to death. To then continue to obey our sinful nature is not at all in keeping with the position we have declared to be true.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
Now we begin a new life in Christ. All the old has been declared dead. “It is finished.” The sins of the past have been forgiven by the blood atonement made on the cross.
In the timeless vision of God, we have experienced a true death. The next step is for us to be judged; for it is appointed to man to die and after this the judgment.
God has determined to make us new righteous creations in Christ. Therefore the Holy Spirit will begin to lead us to those areas in our personality that are not pleasing to God. Every time we choose to turn away from the acts of the sinful nature we are fed, in the spirit realm, with the body and blood of Christ. This is our new resurrection life. Little by little the old is sloughed off and is replaced by the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (Romans 6:5)
The Apostle Paul was always pressing forward in order to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul was crucified, nevertheless he lived. Paul lived by the eternal Life of Jesus Christ, and this is why his epistles have been so fruitful.
We make a mistake when we choose to live in the appetites and demands of our old personality. It is filled with corruption and death. The resurrection Life of Jesus is incorruptible. But such wonderful life comes only from crucifixion. It is as we are brought down to the death of the cross that the life we desire comes forth in us.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)
All that we desire as a believer is found in the resurrection Life of the Holy Spirit of God. This is the Life that Jesus lives. This is our eternal life. But there are many forces that prefer we live in our old sinful ways, so we have to lay hold on the Life of Christ at every point of the day and night.
We can have as much eternal, resurrection life as we desire. But we have to fight for it against the powers of sin and death that surround us.
Each day we die, as we choose to deny the desires of our old nature. Each day we live by the Life of Jesus Christ. God helps us by continually bringing us into distressing circumstances that force us to press into Christ.
When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble we are not fo blame other people. We are to go to Christ and draw upon Him for the solution. Christ can give us love, joy, and peace in every situation. But we have to call upon Him without ever retreating in dismay, unbelief, or the blaming of others for our pain. Every time we choose the way of faith and press into Christ, we find our trouble and pain have resulted in our gaining more of Christ.
For we know our old self was crucified with him so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—(Romans 6:6)
The term “our old self” refers to our first personality, that which was born of our parents, the good and the bad of it. The body of sin is our sinful nature, the urge to break God’s laws which dwells in our old self.
I think the fact that God, in order to destroy the body of sin, has assigned the entire old self to the cross, is not understood as clearly as it must be if we are to have the change into Christ’s moral image that is the basis for the Kingdom of God.
We have tried to make the teachings of Christianity a way of changing people without assigning them to the cross. We want to preserve the good of the adamic personality and get rid of the bad. This is not possible. We are hoping God has given us a perpetual amnesty such that when we die (or are unscripturally “raptured”) our original personality will be carried up to Heaven, and there our body of sin will somehow pass away.
This may be a logical solution to the problem of sin, but it is neither realistic nor scriptural. There is no scriptural basis whatever for the notion that our passing into the spirit realm in physical death will cause our sinful nature to pass from us. Sin is a spiritual force. Sin uses the physical body but sin itself is not physical. Sin exists in the spirit realm and must be dealt with by spiritual means. This is why all the education in the world cannot possibly prevent the evil in the world.
The scriptural solution to the presence of sin in mankind directs us to assign our entire first personality to the cross. Once we have been crucified with Christ, the Holy Spirit can deal with the areas of darkness in us one part at a time, allowing us to overcome the specific part and lay hold on the Virtue of Christ so the Divine Nature might prevail in the place of that which has been overcome.
Little by little the sinful nature is destroyed from us. Little by little the Divine Nature of Christ is installed in us. There is no other scripturally based procedure for getting rid of the sinful nature.
Our sinful nature, the body of sin that dwells in our adamic personality, has three dimensions. One dimension comprises the sinful urges that dwell in our flesh. A second dimension is the love for the world spirit that our adamic personality has. The third dimension of the body of sin is our self-will, a desire to plan and carry out our own destiny without seeking God’s mind.
The sinful urges that dwell in our flesh are unclean spirits. They must be dealt with by the Holy Spirit.
Our love for the world spirit can be overcome as we determine to place our trust in God rather than in money or in any other form of material wealth and security.
Our self-will has to be destroyed by the Lord who permits Satan to cause us to suffer. As we submit obediently to the various suffering and testings, our self-will is overthrown and God’s will takes it place.
We are in slavery to the lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul until the Holy Spirit leads us to confess and turn away from them.
We are in slavery to the world spirit until the Lord Jesus enables us to trust Him for our needs.
We are in slavery to our self-will until suffering deadens our enthusiasms and we learn to quietly submit to God’s will.
We can understand from these three procedures how necessary it is that we voluntarily assign our first personality to crucifixion with Jesus Christ.
Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)
Since the context of verse seven is not that of physical death but of our determination to be crucified with Christ, I do not believe Paul is saying physical death frees us from sin.
I know it is believed commonly that physical death sets us free from sin. If such were the case, every who has lived on the earth and then died and now is in the spirit realm would be free from sin. The rich man would not be in Hell, he would be free from sin. The Apostle Paul, whose supreme goal in life seems to have been to attain righteousness, would have said in His epistles that he was waiting to die so he would be free from sin.
The Bible does not teach that physical death frees us from sin. In fact, the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter tells us that God is ready to judge the living and the dead.
It is appointed to men once to die, and after this to be judged; not after this to be released from sin.
It may not be true that our physical death will deliver us from our love of money and other forms of material wealth and security. Although material wealth would have no significance in the spirit realm, our love for it and trust in it may be a part of our personality and remain with us after there is no way to satisfy our desire. That would be kind of a hell in itself, wouldn’t it?
There is no reason that our physical death would deliver us from our self-will. In fact, Satan fell through self-will while he was one of the cherubim that guarded the Throne of God.
Perhaps physical death will not deliver us from the evil spirits that dwell in our flesh. These spirit are not going to remain in our body after it dies. They may have become part of our personality and may follow us into the spirit realm. The difference is, their expression may be hindered because we no longer have a body. It would be tormenting to have strong lusts and passions with no way to express them.
Well, what does Paul mean when he says anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Since the context is not physical death, Paul may mean when we die physically we no longer are under the guilt imposed by the Law of Moses. This is what Paul says in the next chapter.
However, the guilt of past sin is still with us, as in the case of the rich man in Hell. But this leaves the question of the power of sin, and I am not certain of the answer. Is the sinful nature still with us? I would think so, because the sinful nature probably is not removed by physical death. It may be true, however, that the environment is such in the spirit realm that our sinful nature is dormant until we are called up for judgment.
Or Paul, when he said “anyone who has died has been freed from sin,” may have been speaking merely in the context of our death and resurrection with Christ. He may not have been speaking of physical death. He may be saying when we reckon ourselves to be dead with Christ, the Law of Moses no longer has authority over us.
In any event, it is clear our right to leave Moses and cleave to Christ depends on the fact that we are considered to be dead with Christ on the cross.
When we count that we have been crucified with Christ, God counts this as an actual death. In this case, we are free from the guilt imposed by the Law of Moses. The Law has authority over us only as long as we are alive.
If we no longer are guilty of sin, because of our death on the cross with Christ, we are without condemnation. Therefore the Holy Spirit is free to work with us as we seek to throw off the three dimensions of sin I mentioned previously.
It is not true that we can continue in sin and remain guiltless. But it is true that as long as we are following the Spirit, confessing and turning away from our sins when we are directed to do so, the blood of the cross enables God to suspend judgment on us until we are able to cease sinning altogether.
Since the Bible says so little about what happens to us after we die physically, I cannot speak authoritatively about what is true in the spirit realm. My thought is that when we die we are “gathered to our people” in the sense that we go to be with people of like spiritual attainment.
Since we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses, and sin is defined as breaking the Law of Moses, what can we say about the guilt and power of sin after we die physically?
It seems to me that those whom God deems unrighteous are placed in an area of torment, such as the rich man in Hell. The power of selfishness probably is still with him, and he has no opportunity to exercise his selfish nature.
The vast sea of mankind probably is in a kind of limbo, waiting for the Day of Resurrection to determine their rewards and punishments.
Those whose life is hidden with Christ in God are without guilt, and perhaps are being dealt with at the present time concerning their sinful nature.
I think the removal of the power of sin from the Kingdom of God that is described in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew may have begun in our day. It is possible that God is ready to send forth people who will guide the members of His churches into the program of confessing and turning away from their sins. As far as I know, this is the only scripturally based program of purifying the churches.
Of necessity, if the whole Church is to be delivered from the power of sin (the guilt of sin was taken care of on the cross), the deliverance will have to take place in the spirit realm with the dead and on the earth with the living. This is what Peter meant when he said God is ready to judge the living and the dead.
This judgment and deliverance, at least for God’s elect, will have to take place before the coming of the Lord. It cannot be that people can be resurrected (or transformed) at the coming of the Lord, glorified, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, before they have been judged. The resurrection (or transformation if they are alive on the earth at that time) is the execution of the sentence of a previous judgment. They have been sentenced to eternal life with Jesus.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)
The solution to the problem of the body of sin is not physical death, it is death on the cross with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the death that God accepts, the death that results ultimately in our freedom from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)
This is the point, isn’t it? It is not that we want to continue in a state of death. We want to live. But we do not wish to live any longer in the old way of the adamic personality. We want to live with Christ in the freedom and glory of incorruptible resurrection life.
Christ is a priest forever by the power of an endless life, after the order of Melchizedek. We, who are members of the royal priesthood, are to be crowned with this life so we may govern forever with Christ, serving as priests over the saved nations of the earth.
We truly die so we may truly live.
Physical death is not really death, is it? The New Testament often refers to physical death as sleep. The body sleeps in its place of interment.
But the spiritual part of the personality remains alive in the spirit realm. Yet it is not alive in the incorruptible resurrection life of Christ, it merely is conscious. The rich man in Hell was merely conscious. He was not alive with eternal life.
We truly die when we assign our life to the cross. The person who has not died with Christ is spiritually dead while he is physically alive, and also when he is physically dead, or asleep.
As far as our life with Christ is concerned, and the work of redemption, I don’t think it matters whether we are alive on the earth or deceased and in the spirit realm. Salvation appears to be independent of physical life.
For we know since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (Romans 6:9)
Here is an interesting thought. Once a person has been raised from the dead he or she can never die again. No wonder the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection from the dead!
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. As long as we are part of Him we can never die. He is the Resurrection. He is the Life.
This is a strange saying. We think of resurrection as being an act in which a dead person comes up out of the ground and stands on his feet. But Jesus is telling us that Resurrection is not a coming up out of the ground, Resurrection is a Person.
How can this be? Evidently we have to revise our thinking of what the term “resurrection” actually means.
How can resurrection be a Person rather than an event? The answer is, there are two kinds of resurrections. There is the resurrection that occurs when the energy of God (not eternal life) reaches down and touches a dead body. That body will be reconstituted and become conscious by the power that operates the universe.
The other kind of resurrection is vastly more than the physical body coming up out of the ground. It is the filling of our personality with the Life of Jesus Christ. It is infinitely more than mere consciousness; infinitely more than the animation of our bones. It is absorption into the Being of God. It is the Life that Christ is, the Life of the Father.
Our flesh and bones that shall be raised from the place of death are not the resurrection, only the house in which the Resurrection lives.
Even our robe from Heaven, which is formed from eternal resurrection life, is nothing more than the house in which the Resurrection lives.
The Resurrection itself is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to become an integral part of that which is Resurrection Life. We are to become one with Christ in God.
Once we have died on the cross with Christ, and then have come alive in Him, we never again will return to a life of consciousness apart from the Person of Christ. This is an eternal state can never be altered; unless we, like Satan, should ever choose to set our will against the will of God.
Apparently death also is a person, for he is cast into the Lake of Fire. Death can master our sin-laden physical body, but it cannot master that which is part of Jesus Christ.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:10,11)
Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, died to sin in our place. What a horrible situation, but necessary if we were to become part of Him. We had to be redeemed, you know, if we ever were to have eternal fellowship with Christ.
Christ now lives in the Center of the Person and will of Him who is the Consuming Fire of Israel.
If we are willing to surrender our right to preserve our life, choosing instead to enter the death of the cross with Christ, dying to all forms of sin, we then become eligible to take our place in the Center of the Person and will of Him who is the Consuming Fire of Israel.
This is the prayer of Jesus, isn’t it, that we eternally will be with Him where He is, in the Center of God’s Person. Can you imagine anything as wonderful as this? Think of it! To be a part of God forever. This is perfect love. This is perfect joy. This is perfect peace.
Now we truly are alive. Now we are home—home in God. To be home in God is worth every test, every pain, every dread. No wonder Paul said our present troubles are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is ahead of us.
The inheritance of the members of the royal priesthood is God Himself. Of course we will have opportunity to be wherever we wish in the creation. But this is because we will have the power of multiple presence, just as Jesus does.
We ourselves, however, shall “go no more out” of God’s being. His name will be engraved on us, along with the name of the holy city and the new name of the Lord Jesus.
We finally have come to the Home that has been prepared for us from the beginning.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12)
It is easy to see from the above verse that the interpretation of “reckon yourself dead” to mean you no longer have an urge to sin cannot be correct.
Also, the interpretation of “reckon yourself dead” to mean God does not see your sin cannot be correct.
The verse means we are to take whatever steps are necessary to stop sinning.
Most of our sinful deeds we can stop. We can stop gossiping if we put our mind to it. No one is making us gossip. If we read the first chapter of Romans that those who gossip are worthy of death, then we ought to stop gossiping. If we do not it is because we are spiritually lazy and indifferent. We shall suffer the consequences of neglecting our salvation.
Some of our sins represent severe—perhaps inherited—bondages. Watching pornography is one such chain. Homosexual behavior is another. If we have done all in our power to stop such behavior; if we have confessed the behavior as sin; have declared we will have nothing more to do with it; are reading our Bible and praying each day; are gathering on a consistent basis with fervent saints, hearing the Word of God expounded; and still there has been no deliverance, then we have a severe bondage.
In this case we should go to the elders of the church, confess our sin, and ask them to lay hands on us and pray for us. Then the bondage will be broken, if we really want it to be broken. If we do not really want it to be broken, then we need to pray until God gives us a genuine desire to be delivered.
God may help us gain the desire to be delivered by sending pain or sickness upon us. We may have to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of our flesh that our spirit may be saved in the Day of Christ.
“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” How many doctrines are present in today’s Christian churches that make this commandment invalid?
- You are saved by grace so it is not particularly important how you behave.
- God sees you through Christ so it does not matter if you sin.
- As long as we are in the world we have to sin. No one is perfect.
- God’s unconditional love will take care of your lust. His mercy is everlasting.
- If you just wait, Christ will deliver you in His time. Any effort you make is an attempt to add to the perfect righteousness of Christ.
- After you die you will not be troubled with lust.
- When the Lord returns, you will be caught up in a “rapture.” Your lust will disappear automatically.
- The fact that you watch pornography means God is showing you that you must be saved by His grace. You cannot save yourself.
There may be six or seven more reasons why you should not be concerned about gossiping, watching pornography, or behaving as a homosexual. How does the Word of God respond to your sinning?
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so you obey its evil desires.” “But but but…”
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so you obey its evil desires.” “But it is not possible to stop sinning!”
The inerrant word of God does not command us to do something that His grace will not make possible.
It is Satan who advances all these reasons why we cannot overcome sin. It is time now for the Christian churches to awaken to the face we have been horribly deceived concerning the new covenant.
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Paul writes as though we have a choice, doesn’t he? We can choose to allow our sinful nature to control our body. We can choose to allow righteousness to control our body. The choice is ours.
Those who have not received Christ, who do not have His Spirit in them, do not have the ability to choose to allow righteousness to control their body. But we who have received Christ do have such a choice.
We have been brought from death to life. Think of it!
We see that salvation is a choice. We can choose to receive Christ. Having received Christ, we can choose to press forward on the rugged path that leads to the fullness of eternal life.
We cannot sit in Egypt and end up in the land of promise “by faith.” We have to plod through the wilderness, following God all the way. There is no easier path. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
Why is sin our master when we are under the Law of Moses? Because the Law of Moses points out our sin but does not furnish us with the power to deal with our sinful urges.
Why does sin cease to be our master when we leave the Law and receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ? Because provision (grace) is provided under the new covenant that enables us to gain a clear conscience on the basis of the eternal atonement; and then gives us the wisdom and power through the Spirit of God to remove the sinful nature from us.
Sin is our master while we are under the Law of Moses. But sin is not our master under the grace of Christ unless we choose to permit it to be.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:15)
People even in Paul’s day were deducing from his explanation of the transition from Moses to Christ that under new-covenant grace we are free to sin. The pressure from the Gnostic philosophers who discounted the role of the physical body in salvation may have influenced this deduction.
This deception has persisted to the present day. There is an assumption that undergirds current Christian theology that God’s demands under new-covenant grace are less than they were under the Law of Moses. The very opposite is the case. The Law of Moses never demanded that we present our body a living sacrifice. The Law of Moses never demanded that we deny ourselves, turn away from the world, take up our personal cross, and follow the Lord day and night.
The underlying assumption leaves the word of the deceiver in our subconscious if not our conscious mind: “You shall not surely die.” We have made a profession of belief in Jesus Christ so no behavior on our part will cause us to end up in the Lake of Fire.
We will discover in the Day of Resurrection that the Bible means exactly what it says. We are hoping somehow our lack of victory in Christ will be overlooked when millions of people are being received by the Lord.
Such is not the case. Each one of us shall be examined as though there were no one else in the universe. The opportunities and knowledge we have been given, our talents and resources—all shall be taken into account. Then it shall be done to us precisely as written in the Bible.
God is not maudlin. We Americans picture God as being as sympathetic, as easily moved, as we are with our children. The truth is, God’s love is vastly greater than ours.
But He sees how much we have been given in America, and then He sees how little some of the other peoples of the world have been given. He sees our willingness to waste our time on ourselves when we might have had opportunity to help in the work of the Kingdom and thus bless God and other less fortunate people; and his sympathies may lie toward them rather than us.
The rich man was not a murderer or an adulterer, as far as we know. But he was selfish. His selfishness was enough to send him to Hell. God sent Abraham to deal with him.
The man who wasted his talent was not a murderer or an adulterer. as far as we know. But the Lord was ruthless with Him.
So maybe we have a mistaken impression of God.
The new covenant is greater than the Law of Moses. It is not greater because now we can sin and still go to Heaven. This would not be a greater covenant from anyone’s standpoint other than those do not care about God and just want to be comfortable and have their own way.
The new covenant is greater because it provides us with an eternal atonement, and especially because it gives us a way of dealing with the sinful nature. I say “especially” because an eternal atonement apart from the destruction of the sinful nature would produce eternal sinners. A universe containing eternal sinners would not be to God’s advantage nor to ours. This would not be a greater covenant, as seems apparent.
Don’t you know when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
Paul would not speak like this unless it were possible for us to choose whom we are going to obey, whether sin or obedience to God. We understand from this that the present lackadaisical attitude toward sinful behavior on the part of Christians is not supported by the Word of God.
Notice that for the Christian to choose to sin leads him or her to spiritual death. For the Christian to choose to obey the Lord’s commandments leads to righteousness.
The idea that the believer can choose to sin and thus lose the life of God is not always taught. But it certainly is scriptural. It is possible to have the Seed sown in us, to germinate, and then to perish, as in the parable of the sower.
The vigorous opposition to the truth that a Christ can have eternal life, and then lose it, when it is stated in the Word of God, causes us to suspect the motive behind the opposition. Is it a desire to please people? Is it because we want to leave room in our doctrine for sinful behavior? Why should devout leaders and teachers so vehemently deny what appears in passages throughout the New Testament?
The opposition ultimately must come from Satan who is determined God’s people are not to be concerned if they do not live a life of victory in Christ.
And then we have another disturbing statement: “obedience leads to righteousness.”
I think it would be true in many Christian churches that if someone were to say we have to practice obedience to God in order to attain to righteousness we would be charged with preaching “works”—so determined are Christians to insist that our behavior has nothing to do with righteousness.
Paul says obedience leads to righteousness. What does he mean by obedience? The context tells us that by obedience Paul means offering ourselves as slaves to righteousness. Therefore, it is indisputably true that if we as a Christian choose to obey sin we will attain to spiritual death; and if we as a Christian choose to obey righteousness we will attain to righteousness.
Since this undeniably is what Paul is teaching, the Gospel is being preached incorrectly in the United State of America in the year 2003. What will be true in 2006? I hope God will raise up leaders who will bring the Christian people face to face with the fact that we have been taught incorrectly; that Divine grace rightly applied always leads to righteous behavior, not to a mere theological position of belief in Christ.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, While we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
According to the above, Christ gave Himself for us in order to purify a people who are eager to do what is good—in other words, to behave righteously. Is this the way you interpret the passage?
Christ did not come to forgive us and bring us to Heaven. He came to enable us to live righteously so He and the Father can have fellowship with us wherever we are.
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (Romans 6:17)
We used to be slaves to sin. We are not slaves to sin any longer. Why not? Because we obeyed the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We obeyed their teaching. We did not just believe in Christ, we obeyed His teaching. By obeying the teaching found in the New Testament we have escaped slavery to sin.
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)
The Holy Spirit has set us free from the bondages of sin.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
Don’t think about your entire sinful nature. Focus on whatever is troubling you at the moment. Pray until you gain victory over it. You have seen in the Word that victory is possible, so pursue it.
When we see in the Word that we can have our sins forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, we receive it by faith. Our sins are forgiven.
When we see in the Word that we can be healed physically, we receive it by faith. Usually we will be healed right away. Sometime a prolonged fight of faith is required before we are healed. But the true saint never gives us believing God for healing. He does not try to force healing, he or she just rests in the Word of God and reminds God every day that by the lashes laid on Christ we were healed.
When we see in the Word that all may speak in tongues, we pursue that blessing by faith. Sooner or later we will find ourselves speaking in tongues.
When we see in the Word that Christ will give us victory over every sin, we commence the good fight of faith that leads to complete victory over sin so we can live with a clear conscience toward God.
Faith comes as we hear the Word of God. Then we act on it, being assured that God will always honor His Word.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19)
What could be clearer than this? We used to yield to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness. Now that we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ we offer the members of our body as slaves to righteousness. Being a slave to righteousness leads to holiness. Holiness is closeness to God.
If you want to be close to God, practice righteous behavior.
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. (Romans 6:20)
There are only two ways a Christian can live, isn’t there? He can be a slave of sin, or he can be a slave of righteousness.
The sinful urges that dwell in our flesh seek to keep us in bondage to sin. The Holy Spirit seeks to keep us in bondage to righteous behavior.
There is no third force. If we do not live in the Spirit of God we are going to slip back into bondage to sin. The forces of corruption and death are all around us. This is why we have to keep pressing forward, pressing forward, pressing forward until we attain to untroubled rest in God’s Person and will.
What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! (Romans 6:21)
Paul here is reminding the believers in Rome of the way they lived before becoming Christians. He is pointing out to them that they practiced shameful, destructive behavior that results in spiritual death and finally premature physical death.
Paul is telling them that since they have received Christ and been baptized in water they no longer are to behave the way they did prior to their conversion to Christ. Why not? Because such behavior, whether or not we profess faith in Jesus Christ, is shameful and results in spiritual death and sometimes premature physical death.
Today’s preaching maintains that belief in Jesus Christ brings us to spiritual life and keep us in spiritual life no matter how we behave. It is obvious the Apostle Paul did not believe this or teach this.
Our conversion to belief in Christ must be accompanied by a conversion in how we behave. If it does not, we have believed in vain. Or—what may be more true—we never have truly believed.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)
What benefit accrues to us if we have been set free from slavery to sin and have become the slave of God and righteous behavior? The benefit is we grow ever more holy, ever more firmly established in the holy Presence and will of God. We shall dwell there forever.
The result of dwelling in the Presence of God is to be filled with eternal life. How desirable it is to live in eternal Divine life rather than in ordinary human life is yet to be understood by us. But it is a state of being so wondrously filled with love, joy, and peace that nothing is left to be desired.
In God’s Presence is fullness of joy. At God’s right hand there are pleasures forever.
We may live in the delusion that this person, or this thing, or that circumstance will bring us perfect joy. But it is not so. The only place of true love, joy, and peace, is in the Divine Life which Christ Is. He is the Resurrection. He is the Life. When we have Him we possess the “all things” of God.
Today we may be traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. But if we remain faithful we shall come out into the most marvelous light imaginable. This is the end result of becoming the slave of righteousness.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The above verse sometimes is preached to the unsaved. It was not written to the unsaved. It was written to the believers in Rome who had been baptized in water. It is explaining to them the significance of our conversion to Christ and our baptism in water.
If we as a Christian choose to live according to our sinful nature we will be paid in spiritual death; in the loss of the Holy Spirit; in loss of fellowship with God.
If we will take advantage of the ability we have through the grace of God to escape slavery to sin and become the slave of righteousness, we will live in the Presence of God.
We see, then, that the gift of eternal life is not something that is just handed to us when we make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ. Rather the gift God has given us is an opportunity to choose to live righteously; which in turn leads to holiness; which in turn leads to life in the Presence and will of God.
(“Romans, Chapter Six”, 3353-1)