1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Anticipating an objection at this point, Paul is going to explain that just because grace covers sin and more sin means more grace does not justify sinning. It is not right to sin just because more sin requires more grace.
2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Such a thought is totally unbiblical and evidence of a lack of understanding of the purpose, message, and work of salvation in the first place. It makes no sense for a person who by faith in Christ died to sin that they should still continue to live in it. Paul wants us to understand that Christ enables us to reign in life so that we don’t have to continue in sin. There is to be a change of desires and a compulsion to love rather than to sin. Those who have been saved may not understand this truth, but they need to. The gospel is a freedom from the grasp of sin so that we can become slaves of Christ. One is either a slave of sin or a slave of Christ.
3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Just because we have the grace of God which covers all sin does not mean that we should go on sinning. The fact that a person desires to go on sinning is reason to question the fact of whether they have been reborn in the first place. It is a different thing to struggle to appropriate faith for victory in the Christian life than it is to love to sin and flaunting grace as the reason for it. Christ cannot be used as a justification for sin. Such is blasphemous. We as believers have been baptized into Christ in salvation and have been baptized into His death. This means that we literally identified with Christ when He was crucified. Our old selves were nailed to the cross and killed with Christ that day. Yet through His resurrection, we have been given new life in Christ and have been made new creations in Christ. A whole new self is born, and a new heart is generated.
4Therefore we 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 we too might walk in newness of life.
We have spiritually been buried with Christ through baptism into His death so that as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, we like Christ can walk in newness of life. Christ’s conquering over sin and death was not a celebration so that He and we could go and indulge every sinful desire and just not have to be guilty for it. It was a setting free from the bondage of sin unto new life and righteousness in Christ. We are not just born into newness of life, but we are to walk in it. We do this by daily appropriating the reality that we are spiritually joined with Christ and indwelt by Him. As such, we are enabled to live in victory over sin.
5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
We were joined with Him in the likeness of His death and we will certainly also be like Him in the likeness of His resurrection. When Christ died, something within us died if we trust Him by faith. When Christ was raised, a new creation was born within the believer. There is a change and an exchange. The old is gone and all things are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
This verse is just glorious. We must know and be convinced of what Paul is about to say. Our old self was nailed to the cross and crucified with Christ. The old self was the self that was born from Adam, enslaved to sin and with a sin nature. It was enslaved to the law of sin and death because of Adam’s sin. It was helpless to save itself from sinning and from the penalty of death. Yet that body of sin (which is what an unbeliever is) has been done away with. It is executed, crucified, terminated, and out of commission. Crucifixion always leads to death, so we can rest assured that our old man does not still hang around, taunting us, plaguing us, or leading us into a split personality that makes us sin. The life that was lived in sin is gone and over. New life has come as we are made new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sometimes a mature believer forgets this truth and lives like he is still in the old man. Yet he is not. We must remember and appropriate by faith the fact that the old man is dead and gone. The reason this is so important is that it means that we are no longer slaves to sin. We don’t have to go on sinning. It ought to not be normative that the Christian lives in regular sin. This is a massively propagated lie from the devil. Christians live as if it is humble and honorable to admit that they are helpless to keep on sinning as if that is evidence that they needed Christ. The part of the gospel that they are missing is not that they needed Christ. Of course they needed Christ because of their sin. But upon receiving Christ, they do not need to sin any more. That they can reign in life through the resurrection power of Christ and being grafted into His life is either not taught, not understood, or not reckoned to be true. Granted, there is a growth process as we learn truth and take in more spiritual food, but sanctification means ongoing and increasing consecration to God as He through Christ purifies our hearts and minds (Romans 12:1-2).
7for he who has died is freed from sin.
The person who has died with Christ on the cross is freed from sin. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops in Christian churches. Sin is not something to be proud of, for it is making a mockery of the work and ministry of Christ in the life of the believer. It minimizes and erases part of the work that He accomplished on the cross. I can’t think of anything more insulting to our Lord.
8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
If we have indeed died with Christ, then we believe (key word) that we shall also live with Him. We live with Him in eternity to come, but we also live with Him now in that He indwells us. Our lives are not our own, but they are Christ’s who lives within us. He is our life. We must believe that fact.
9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
We must know that Christ will never die again because He has been raised from the dead. Death has no power over our Lord or over those who are in Christ. Death is not master over Him and neither does death have to be master over us. Indeed it is not (1 Corinthians 15:55).
10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
But if death is not master over us, then sin cannot be master either, for death is only the result of sin. Christ’s death was to kill the power of sin once and for all. The life that He now lives is to God. He doesn’t continue in sin so that grace may abound. In the same way, since we are in Christ, it makes no sense for us to continue in sin. Like Christ, we are to live our lives to God and not to sin.
11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The emphasis from Paul is that we reckon these things to be so. Without faith in these truths, the doctrines are merely academic. The theology must be believed and appropriated. We must believe that we are actually dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. We don’t have to give in to the pull of sin on our hearts because in Christ we are dead to it. It has no power over us. We live not seeking sin but Christ who has made us alive and able to resist sin.
12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
The command from God to us is that we do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies. The body is still subject to physical death but not to spiritual death. It is alive to Christ. As such, sin is not in control but Christ is. We must not yield to the power of sin but we must yield in surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Our mortal body still has flesh which is alive and well. It lusts after sin. Therefore we must not give our flesh any opportunity. There is a battle that is fought, and temptation (as it was for Christ in the wilderness) is real. We can resist temptation by remembering who we are in Christ and that the old self which was unable to resist sin is gone. Our new heart and new desires in Christ enable the fact that we do not have to succumb to the devils wiles (James 4:7).
13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
As those who are alive to God in Christ, we do not need to go on presenting our members as instruments of unrighteousness. We don’t have to give them over to do the work of sin. In fact, we are commanded not to. Rather we are to present ourselves to God (Romans 12:1-2) as those alive from the dead. People who are spiritually dead are those who regularly sin. We who are spiritually alive do not have to sin, so we ought not to. We should present our members (thoughts, words, attitudes, directions, ambitions, desires, and actions) as instruments of righteousness. It is on this basis that we will be judged by Christ at His coming. Who better than to judge us? When we choose to sin, we are resisting Him and failing to believe and take advantage of the resources that He gives us because of His death and resurrection. As such, no one knows better how to evaluate us upon our faithfulness and righteousness in our new life in Christ.
14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Sin is not to be master over us because it is not our master. We don’t have to let it be our master. We are not under the law of sin and death, compelled by our nature to do what is evil. Rather, we are under grace, which enables us to do what is right.
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Being under grace is not license to sin but rather freedom from sin. That is the essence, message, and power of grace and the gospel. Grace frees us from having to sin. Being in Christ and continuing in sin are incongruous.
16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Just as a slave is expected to obey his master, so the believer is expected to obey Christ. The believer who is mastered by sin must obey that sin. The believer who is in Christ and under grace must obey the Master of righteousness. We are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. The idea of being a slave of righteousness has been removed from the contemporary gospel message probably because it is unappealing. This is our new identify and reality is Christ: we are His slaves. This is a good thing because there is no better Master to have. It is a beautiful and restful thing to be in submission to the Protector and Guardian of our souls.
17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Paul praises God for those to whom he is writing because they had been slaves of sin but they became obedience from the heart (it is always an issue of whether or not we are reborn and transformed on in the inner man). They followed the teaching of the gospel of Christ and were committed to it.
18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
As great examples of what Paul is trying to communicate, these Christians became slaves of righteousness, holding to the teaching of Christ and appropriating the fact that they were freed from sin.
19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Yet there seems to be a falling away since the time these believers became slaves of righteousness. If they had been more spiritual, Paul would have tried to explain these things differently. They had chosen to present their members as slaves of impurity which resulted in further lawlessness. Even though we are not under law (in the sense that we are subject to its penalty), we can still violate the standards and rules of God. The joy of salvation is that it enables us to keep the substance of the law, which is loving God totally and loving our neighbors as Christ loved us. Paul now tells them to get their acts together and remember what they first knew. They need to present their members as members of righteousness which will result in their sanctification. Though sanctification is by grace through faith, we must choose to have faith so that we can be sanctified into becoming more and more like Christ. Obedience is a key word for the Christian life.
20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
When they were slaves of sin, they were free in regard to righteousness. They were not able to be righteous no matter what they tried. Being children of hell, they were not enslaved to Christ because they had not made Christ their Master. But as believers, He is their Master, and He must be obeyed. This is true freedom.
21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
Paul reminds the believers to reflect upon their experience before knowing Christ. He asks them to reflect upon what the benefits of living according to sin were. Why are they now ashamed of such things if sin was so grand and glorious? Sin always has a bad after taste and it always bites a person in the back. The outcome of sin is death, so why keep living as if they are ones dead when they are truly alive? Indeed, it is possible for a believer to live like an unbeliever. They will be judged for their unfaithfulness, and other believers must confront them and try to gain reconciliation and repentance from them.
22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
There is great benefit in being a slave of God and freed from sin. The benefit is sanctification which has as its outcome, eternal life. It is not that eternal life is compromised by the unfaithfulness of true believers. It is rather that they are missing out on the fullness of the abundant life which Christ promised (John 10:10) which is found only in obedience to Christ. Such obedience leads to becoming like Christ and knowing Him more, which results in more of the fullness of the joy of the life that is in Christ and is eternal.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The consequence of sin is death. Hell is just in regard to the sinner. But the good news is that through Christ God has provided the free gift of salvation which leads to eternal life. Why as believers would we keep wanting to sin and choosing to do so? Sin only and always leads to disaster, harm, and destruction. Spiritually it will kill us if it doesn’t also physically. It will not take away our inheritance in Christ but it will and can totally impair our ability to be productive in anyway for the kingdom. We will be judged for our unfaithfulness (2 Corinthians 5:10). Why not rather live sanctified lives as evidence of our eternal life in Christ, which is yet to come in all of its fullness and when it does come will be totally wonderful and utterly glorious? Salvation is free, it is a gift, and it is through Christ. These are exclusive, limiting truths, yet they are loving, gracious, and extended to all. Christianity stands as a unique “religion” because of grace and salvation as a free gift.