Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then?”
These first words let us know that chapter 6 is going to answer a question for us that comes up because of chapter 5.
Chapter 5 tells us that wicked sinners are given a right relationship with God completely based on the work of Jesus.
The first man on earth was named Adam. He was the head of all humans. As our chief, he represented us before God. So, when he sinned, it brought sin and death on all of us. That’s why everyone you know, no matter where you go in the world, is a sinner.
Now, have you ever heard Jesus called the Second Adam? That means he became a man to be the chief of a new humanity, to represent all God’s people before God, and to rescue all of them from the sin and death the first Adam brought.
100% because of Jesus and 0% because of us, those who trust Jesus as Savior and King are declared right with God, forgiven their sins, adopted into God’s family, and guaranteed to live forever with God in a perfect world.
Your obedience to God does not get you that. Jesus’ obedience gets you that. Your disobedience to God does not ruin that for you, because Jesus paid the penalty for sin.
Now, Paul’s not stupid. He knows that everyone who reads the Bible is a blagger. He knows that when we hear good news like Romans 5, folks 2,000 years ago and folks today will ask the question in verse 1, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?”
If the God’s grace for Christians is guaranteed to always cover our sins, should we just go on and “sin it up” so that God can show how big time his grace is?
What do you think? Here’s Paul’s answer in verse 2, “May it never be!” Paul says, “Don’t be a ding-dong, stupid.”
Real Christians don’t give their lives to sin because real Christians are different. They’ve been converted. In Romans 6, this means 2 things. Real Christians have been given new life. And real Christians have a new Master.
Let’s start with looking at the truth that Christians shouldn’t give themselves to sin because they have new life.
Look at verse 2, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
The new life that a Christian has begins with death. Christians have died to sin. And so of course Christians shouldn’t live in sin.
Now, every Christian sins. But some folks sin, hate it, and turn to Jesus for help. Others sin, love it, and keep at it, refusing to turn away from it. There is a huge difference.
Real Christians know how frustrating the first is. But the second, a Christian sinning without repenting, is impossible. It is as possible as Celtic fans going to all Rangers games, wearing blue and red, and cheering when Steven Gerrard wins the league.
Verses 3-7 read, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore 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. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing 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; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
Christians have died because they have been brought “into Christ”. Jesus is the King of everyone united to him by God’s choice. Christians are Christians because they’re united to Christ.
When does someone stop being Jesus’ enemy and become joined up with him?
It happens when the Holy Spirit takes someone who’s dead, someone who is chosen by God, and makes them alive. He takes out his completely dead heart, a heart that will never want anything pleasing to God, and gives him a new, living heart, a heart that trusts and loves God. He gives him new life. When the Holy Spirit does this for someone, he brings him into a permanent right relationship with God that is kept safe because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Baptism pictures this work of the Spirit. And that’s why Paul talks about it in verses 3-4.
When a new believer is put under the water, we get to see the gospel. Jesus Christ was the substitute for the guy or gal who gets baptized. Jesus died, was buried, and rose bodily from the grave. Because the believer is joined with Jesus, in baptism he says he has been crucified with Christ, he dies and Christ dies, and he has risen with Christ, as Christ lives so does he.
Christians aren’t who they once were. The old man is dead and buried. The old man born in sin, hating God and loving evil has been executed. He got done like Bin Laden. Navy SEAL bullet to the head.
Sin’s power over the Christian was beaten at the cross. Every Christian has a new life from Jesus and in Jesus.
If you believe in Christ, you need to get baptized in a good church and live your new life God’s way, the way he has told us to go in the Bible.
Look with me at verses 8-9, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.”
Have you trusted Christ to save and lead you? If so, know that through his death he has freed you from the power and penalty of sin. Know that the life he rose into is yours as well. He shall never die again, because he beat it with more dominance than Celtic in the last Old Firm game.
If you trust Christ, then right now you have been given eternal life.
We’re all going to die, really soon. Those who reject Christ will pass through death into the hot flames of hell.
But you, if you trust Christ, will pass through death into glory. Death will be like an angry wolf whose lost his teeth. He’ll just gum you. But he can’t eat you.
You’ll pass through death and be free from all the sin that still torments you.
If you’re a Christian, death is like a haunted car that wants to drive you right over a cliff. But all it will do is take you to Jesus.
Verses 10-11 wrap up this first point.
“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Should Christians use the grace of God as an excuse to sin it up? Of course not. Don’t be a dafty. If you’re a Christian, you’re with Jesus. You’re dead to sin and alive to God.
Paul moves from his first point to his second point at verse 12. Not only should Christians not “sin it up” because we have new life. Christians also have a New Master.
We must live to please him. Look at verse 12.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts”
When you sin, when you obey your sinful desires, you’re letting sin be in charge in your life as your owner. Sin is your “daddy”.
But Christians are no longer slaves to sin. Christians are slaves to God.
That’s why the Bible requires you to be characterized by obedience to Jesus if you’re going to be a member of a church.
If you’re living with a woman you’re not married to, you can’t be a member of this church. If you’re a serial liar, you can’t be a member. If you’re always cheating folks in business, you can’t be a member.
In this church, our lives must say, “Jesus is King.” Everyone at this church sins. But when we do, we help each other get back up and keep following our Master.
Look at verse 13, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.”
Everyone who lives in sin gives the members of his body as instruments of evil. If you just “sin it up”, you’re nothing but a little banjo for Satan. And he’s playing you. You’re a Philips head for the Devil, and he’s screwing you.
Christian, have you given yourself as a tool for Satan? Don’t do it. You have a new Master.
Again in verse 13, “But present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Do you trust Jesus? Then you’ve come to life from the dead. And, so, every part of you is to be a tool for God to use.
Everyone’s a tool. Be a tool for God. Satan’s workshop is going to burn.
Paul keeps going in verses 14-18.
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do 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? But 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, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
Do you like sin because you want freedom? You want to be a wild mustang free to roam on the prairie, sowing your wild oats for pleasure?
Well, guess what? If you don’t trust Jesus, you sin because it’s got a bit in your mouth. It’s in charge of you. If you don’t trust Jesus, you sin because you are a slave to sin.
You are a slave. And your master is going to kill you.
I don’t know what others have told you, but you don’t have free will. Non-Christians are mules, ridden by the sin master wherever he wants to go.
If you’re a Christian, you’re no longer a mule for sin. You’re a slave to the One who made you to know and enjoy him. Obey God. Live a life full of good works, like a healthy apple tree in the fall.
All men are slaves. But not all men truly live. Only slaves to God do that.
Do you trust Jesus? If so, you always have reason to rejoice. Your old master wanted you to waste your life and then go to hell. Your New Master has saved you. You now get to live his way, following every word in the Bible.
Paul helps us understand what happens when we disobey or obey God in verse 19.
“I’m 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.”
Can anybody here ski? Well, I couldn’t ski to save my life. Now, imagine I go to the top of an expert slope. I’m at the top. I’ve got my skis on. And I don’t have a scooby want I’m doing. I got no scooby and I got no sense, so I edge forward and start going downhill. At first, things seem alright. I’m going slow. I’m feeling good. But with every inch downhill, I pick up speed. I’m going faster and faster and faster. And before long I’m totally out of control. My skis cross. My legs break. I do thirteen ends over end flips on accident, hit a tree and split in half, my guts all over the snow.
That’s how disobedience works. Every time we give ourselves to a thought, desire, word, or action that is against God, sin builds momentum. Sin always leads to more sin. Disobedience brings more disobedience, until you’ve ruined your life and ruined the lives of folks you love.
But what happens when you obey Jesus? More obedience becomes easier.
Maybe you’re sitting here, and you feel trapped in sin. Whether you like that sin or not, the Bible says this to you. Trust and obey the King of kings.
When you do, I promise you that obedience becomes easier over time. You just have to hang in there.
Verse 20 says, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”
Paul takes another whack at free will here. He says that the will of the non-Christian is free from pleasing God. Unbelievers do not and cannot obey God.
Verse 21 says, “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”
Maybe you want a zero-shame life? Paul doesn’t. He thinks shame is useful to the Christian, a barrier to sin. God gives shame to the mind like he gives pain to the body, as a warning against things that are harmful for you. If you trust Jesus, thank God that you now feel shame toward the things you once loved and lived for.
There is no life to be found in ungodliness. There is no joy there. It’s nothing but fake life and fake joy. It’s like the BBC. It lies to you.
Be ashamed of sin and don’t walk in it.
Paul ends the chapter with these two verses, 22-23.
“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The world’s math says that sin holds a wealth of riches. But God’s math says that there is no benefit at all in sin.
There is great benefit to being a slave to God. In slavery to God, there is sanctification, becoming like Jesus, and eternal life, forever living with Jesus.
The wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This verse is the point of Romans 6. It summarizes the whole thing for us. Don’t live in sin. That way is only death. Trust Jesus. And when you do, know that God has given you eternal life in Christ. You can never lose it. And it’s new. Be done with the old life. Live your new life by obeying your Savior. You have a new life, and a new Lord. Jesus is your Master, so live for him. He will lead you well now. And he will lead you to the glories of heaven.