ROMANS, CHAPTER SIX
RAISED TO NEWNESS OF LIFE
Paul wrote the Roman letter to Christians to teach them how they could become better, more useful servants of Christ while they sojourn on earth. In chapters 1 through 5, Paul sought to teach Christians a better understanding of how God justifies sinners from their past sins and gives them a new start in life. From chapter 5, verse 12 through the end of chapter 8 Paul dealt with a different aspect of sin, the sin principle that remains in a Christian even after he is justified from his past sins. People "were made sinners" in Adam, Paul told Christians in chapter 5 verse 19. This indicated that, even after people are forgiven of the past sins they have committed, they are still tied to the sinful flesh which they inherited from Adam. How can they be of any use to Christ while they live in flesh which retains such a powerful tendency to sin? In chapter 6 Paul told Christians how God had made provision in Christ for this problem also.
I AM RAISED FROM BAPTISM
"1. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2. May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).
We must go back to the previous verses of chapter 5 to understand the significance of the questions of Romans 6:1-2. Paul had just said in Romans 5:20-21, "And the Law came in that transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This was an amazing, paradoxical statement to the Christians of Paul's day. In order for God's grace to reign and for mankind to be reckoned as righteous, God had imposed the Law of Moses on the Jews that their "transgression might increase"! Continuing this paradoxical reasoning, any Christian might well have asked then, "Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?"
Some Christians might have asked the question expecting an answer supporting them in their proud boast that they could not fall from grace no matter what manner of life they lived. But the thoughtful, humble Christian surely would have asked the question with a sense of incredulous amazement at the "unsearchable and unfathomable ways" of God's wisdom. In either case, Paul posed the question for them. His phrasing of the question, "Are we to continue in sin?", indicated that he was referring to the sin principle that caused all Christians to continue sinning even after they had been justified from their past sins by the blood of Christ.
Paul asked in chapter 6, verse 2, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" This was a rhetorical question focusing attention upon the thoughts to follow. The question encompassed the fact that the Christians to whom he wrote had "died to sin" but in some sense "still lived to sin". If they had died to sin, then it should have been evident that they should no longer live in sin. But did they really understand that they had "died to sin" and had been given new life? In the first part of the Roman letter Paul had noted that the faithful obedient lives of the Roman Christians had demonstrated that they were justified from their past sins and were reckoned righteous by the grace of God. In chapter 6 he noted that, in the faithful obedience by which they started their Christian lives, they had also "died to sin" and had been given new life that need not be hindered by the sin principle.
"3. Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3)
In Romans 6:3, Paul reminded Christians of two great events in their history. The first great event was the death of Jesus for them. The second great event was their baptism in likeness to Jesus' death. He related the two great events in another rhetorical question. The question, "do you not know?", carried the meaning, "if you do not know, then you should now come to know". The Roman Christians had been baptized into Christ Jesus. Their baptism symbolized the death of Jesus Christ and showed their faith in the fact that He died for them and that their "death to sin" was included in His death.
"4. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." (Romans 6:4-5).
In these verses Paul wanted the Roman Christians to come to a better understanding of at least four things:
(1) the work of Christ completed in His death, burial and resurrection,
(2) the meaning of the symbolism of baptism,
(3) the significance of the act of baptism in the life of the individual, and
(4) the fact that each baptized individual "might walk in newness of life".
First, Paul wanted them to understand that their old body of sin had died with Christ and that they had been raised with Christ. This had to do with the work of Christ completed at the time when He was actually crucified, buried, and resurrected. Second, he wanted them to know that their baptism in water was a "likeness" or a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. And, third, he wanted them to know that, in their faith demonstrated in the act of their baptism, they "had become united" with Christ in His completed death, burial, and resurrection. And fourth, he wanted them to know that they might then "walk in newness of life" freed from the sin principle, able to "bear fruit" for Christ.
The significance for us today is, of course, the same as it was to the first century Christians of Rome. Christ did His part once and for all mankind in His death, burial, and resurrection almost 2,000 years ago. We must have faith that Christ died and was raised for us, and that our death to sin and resurrection to newness of life were included, respectively, in His death and resurrection. Our obedience of faith in these facts occurs when we are baptized. It is as though we, as human beings, have reserved for us a right to a "death to sin" and a "resurrection to newness of life". We claim that which is reserved for us through the demonstration of our faith in the act of baptism to which Jesus commanded that we submit.
Not before baptism, but only at the time of our obedience in the "likeness" or symbol of baptism, are we united with Christ in His death and His resurrection. Although all mankind were in Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection 2,000 years ago, we must exercise our own individual choices to accept or deny what Christ did. We have a choice in the matter of being united with Christ, and we must exercise that choice. God will neither justify us from our guilt of sin nor will He sanctify us for His use against our wills. We have to show acceptance through God's specified steps of obedience of faith. Through Christ He reserved for each of us a place among the justified and the sanctified that we can grasp through our submission to baptism.
The Christians of Rome to whom Paul wrote had already been baptized. But many of them, perhaps, did not fully understand the meaning of baptism or realize the extent of God's miraculous provisions for them in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son. One of Paul's major points in chapter 6 was that a better understanding of the Christian's baptism and the Christian's relationship to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ would prepare one to become more useful to Christ in his earthly life.
In the first five verses of chapter 6 Paul reminded the Christian that he has "died to sin" and been "raised to walk in newness of life" for the purpose of "walking in newness of life". Immediately in the verses to follow Paul began to outline additional steps of obedience of faith for a Christian to take in his path of progress in his "new life" in order to become useful to Christ by "bearing fruit" on earth.
MY PATH OF PROGRESS
"6. Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7. for he who has died is freed from sin. 8. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9. knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13. and 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. 14. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:6-14).
We must pay attention to the action verbs used by Paul as we study Romans 6. They have the weight of commands for Christians to heed in their "obedience of faith". The first action verb, "knowing", is in the form of a participle and is found in Romans 6:6. The second action verb, "consider" (KJ, "reckon"), is found in Romans 6:11. A third verb, "present", is found is Romans 6:14. And the fourth, "walk", found in Romans 6:4, has already been mentioned in this study. These four actions were introduced by Paul as a path of progressive action towards the living of a life as a Christian on earth that would be useful in serving God's purposes.
The first action commanded of Christians is to "know" something. "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should not longer be slaves to sin." Although the action verb is in the form of a present participle, it presents an imperative to Christians. "Know this, now!", said Paul. "Our old self was crucified with Him". We were made sinners (that is, made subject to the sin principle) in Adam. But that has been overcome because we died with Christ. When He was crucified, we were crucified with Him. Christ didn't die for us after we were baptized or while we were being baptized. No. Christ died for each of us personally when He was crucified almost 2,000 years ago. Before we of this generation were even born, He had already gotten rid of our handicap as a descendant of Adam. Yes, our flesh keeps sinning! But here is help for us. "Know" this. We died! We are dead! Sin had a hold on our old man, but our old man is now dead. We accepted that fact when we were baptized. Sin has no hold whatsoever on our new man. Our old man died. It is dead. "Know that". That fact is real. Do we think that the old sinful flesh is still alive? It is dead! That is so absolutely certain it must become an action principle in our lives. "Know this", "that our body of sin was done away with" when we were crucified with Christ. "Know this", that we were crucified with Christ in order that "we should no longer be slaves to sin".
In these verses Paul did not refer to the sins which we have committed in the past and which are already forgiven through the blood of Christ. He was referring to the sin principle, the fact that we keep on sinning after having been justified from our past sins. Our lives do not have to be uselessly expended in sinful living. There is a path of progress to victorious living.
Paul continued to discuss in Romans 6:7 the things that we should come to "know". "Know this", "he who has died is freed from sin". We are freed from sin. That is a stronger reality than our lust to sin which we still feel in our body of sin. We must come to "know" this. That is, it must come to be a dominant factor in our world of reality. Faith in these scriptures tells us that we have died, that we are freed from sin. "Knowing this" is the first step in the obedience of that faith. To come to "know" is a command that we are expected to obey. It is a condition for living the Christian life and being useful in that life for Christ. It is something more than a mere intellectual knowledge, is it not? It is an opening of the eyes of the inner man to a realization of what we have in Christ. Just as we can "know" that we have been forgiven of our past sins, we can also "know" that we are delivered from the sin principle (the law of sin), that we are freed from the yoke of future sin, because that which we received from Adam has been crucified with Christ.
Paul went on in verse 8 to say that not only must we know that "we have died with Christ", we must "believe that we shall also live with Him". We must have faith that we shall also "live with Him." It is because we "know" that our old man has died with Him that we can believe that we will also "live" in our new man. What is the relationship of the action of "believing" to the action of "knowing?" How can we be commanded to know something as an act of obedience? Most of us would agree that the first step of obedience to the gospel of Christ is "to believe." So the first step of obedience in becoming really useful in God's service (after we have been added to His family) is "to know" that we died with Christ and were raised to live with Him.
The word "believe" in Romans 6:8 ("we believe that we shall also live with Him") is from the Greek word PISTEUO meaning "to adhere to", "to trust", or "to rely on". It usually has been translated "believe" but has also been translated "commit to one's trust" or "commit unto" in the New Testament. This is the word which was used in Mark 16:16 when Christ said, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, and in John 3:16 when Christ said, "Whoever believes in Him should not perish".
The word "knowing" in Romans 6:6 ("knowing this, that our old self was crucified...") is from the Greek word GINOSKO meaning "to know". It usually has been translated "know" but has also been translated "be aware", "be resolved", "be sure", "have knowledge", "perceive", or "understand".
What then is the difference between the obedient step of "believing" and the obedient step of "knowing?" One who had not yet become a Christian was told by Christ to believe something. One who was a Christian was told by Paul in the Roman letter to know something. It appears that Paul, in Romans 6:6 when he said "knowing this", simply was telling Christians "to be aware", "to be resolved", and "to be sure" of something they already believed and to which they already had committed.
This fitted in well with Paul's query in Romans 6:3, "Do you not know?" The Roman Christians had believed (that is, committed to) the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, possibly, they did not all understand all the implications of that gospel to which they had committed. So Paul told them that a step in the direction of a more full understanding was "to know", that is, to look back and be aware of the full meaning of the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord.
In Romans 6:9-10 Paul made it clear that included in all that we are commanded to know was the fact that "the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God". This is a part of the more full understanding that Paul wanted us to have. Christ was our model in this death and life matter. Christ died to sin once and for all. And the life that He lives now, He lives wholly to God. When we know that about Christ, then we can go on to the knowledge that we died with Christ in His "once and for all" death, and the life that we now live should be wholly for God.
Notice that the things we were told to know are historical facts of the past. We were told to know that we were crucified with Christ. That is an historical fact. When Christ died, we died in Him. It was an historical fact that our body of sin was done away that fact we can know. That we are freed from sin was a fact in the past tense. We died with Christ. We are commanded to know this. But Paul used the word believe when referring to the future in Romans 6:8. "We believe that we shall also live with Him". We are commanded to believe, or commit ourselves to this.
In Romans 6:11 Paul revealed the second step in the path of progress towards the Christian's usefulness to the Lord. "Even so consider (KJ, reckon) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus". The word "reckon" is probably a better translation than the word "consider" concerning what Paul said here. The Greek word Paul used was LOGIZOMAI which meant "to reckon". It has been translated elsewhere in the New Testament as "account", "count", "impute", "lay to one's charge", and "number". Scholars of the Greek language have indicated that the word was an accounting term, used to describe the work of administering financial accounts or doing financial bookkeeping. Accounting is something which human beings can do accurately. Accounting deals with actual facts, things which actually exist. One can count the money in his pocket and can enter the exact amount in an account book. This is the meaning of "reckoning". One cannot reckon that he has more money than he actually has.
"11. Even so, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus". (Romans 6:11).
The second step in the path of progress to a useful life in Christ was "to reckon" what had already become known. The thing to be "known" was in the past. We "were crucified with Christ". The next step was to "reckon yourselves to be dead". This was a logical order. Reckoning must be based on knowledge of divinely revealed fact. When we know, then we can reckon. God told us to reckon ourselves dead, not that by the process of reckoning we become dead, but because we are dead. We are not told to reckon something that is not a fact. We have been presented with a command: "Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin". There is then a definite attitude to be taken. God asked us to do the account, to put down in the account book that "I have died", and then to abide by it. Why? Because it is a fact. When the Lord was on the cross, we were there in Him.
Paul also gave the command, "Reckon yourselves to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus". How could that be possible? Only "in Christ Jesus" was it possible. These things are true only "in Christ Jesus". If we look just at ourselves we will think that death is not there, and we will not see the new life. But through eyes of faith, faith not in ourselves but in Christ, we see that it is true. We look to the Lord. We know what He has done. We reckon on this knowledge in Christ. "Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus". That was a command Paul relayed from the Holy Spirit to be obeyed by the Roman Christians as a part of their obedience of faith.
"12. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13. and 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. 14. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:12-14).
Sin reigns in our mortal bodies because we let it do so. We do not have to obey the lusts of sin in our bodies. The little baby is born pure. The little baby does not inherit guilt because of sins Adam committed. But the little baby was "in Adam" when Adam lived and sinned. The baby does inherit a world filled with sin because of Adam. And the baby does inherit a fleshly body in which the law of sin in his members predisposes him towards sin. But we do not have to let sin reign in our lives and Paul commanded here in Romans 6:12 not to let it reign.
We Christians have been "presenting" the members of our body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. When we sin, that is what we do. And we do sin. But when we sin, it is because we presented the members of our body to sin. This was impressed upon us by Paul's admonition in Romans 6:13, "Do not go on presenting (KJ, neither yield) the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness". Paul has led us in this verse to the third step in the path of progress to overcoming the sin principle, and becoming useful to Christ in our Christian life. That third step, after the steps of knowing and reckoning, was presenting. Paul said, "Present (KJ, yield) yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
The action verb in this third step is the verb "to present." The original Greek word which Paul used was PARISTANO which means "to set alongside" or "to place alongside". In the King James translation it has been translated "yield". In the New American Standard translation, which we are using throughout this study, it has been translated "present".
Paul admonished, "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin...., but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead". We must notice carefully. We are not to present our "old man" to God for His use. Even though our "old man" has been developed in instincts and resources, in natural worldly wisdom, in worldly strength, and in talents useful in the world, we are not to present that "old man" to God. The "old man" is dead! Paul said in Romans 6:13, "Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead". What we are to present should contain nothing that belongs to the old creation, but only that which has been raised to walk in newness of life. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 that our "new man" was "created in Christ Jesus". Therefore we know that, without passing through death and getting rid of the "old man", and without letting God create a "new man" in Christ, we have nothing to present to God.
In the "old man" we have nothing that God can use. That is a hard lesson for many of us to learn. We have learned that Christ shed His blood so that we can have forgiveness of our sins. We have learned that we must believe in Christ, repent of our sins, and be baptized. We have learned that baptism is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We know that those of us who have believed, repented, and been baptized have been added by God to His church. But many of us don't really understand that we died. Our "old man" died. God could not use that "old man" before we were added to His church. He cannot use that "old man" after we have been added to His church. God can only use that "new man", the "new creation" that He made when we were raised with Christ to become Christians.
Many think that the "old man" has just been renewed. Before we became Christians we looked upon ourselves as having strengths and weaknesses. We think that we, as Christians, are just to put down the weaknesses, but to go on building on our old strengths. But God cannot use our "old man", neither his weaknesses nor his strengths. That "old man" died. The strengths as well as the weaknesses died. Yet many of us keep on trying to present the strengths of the "old man" to God. Many times we insist on use of the old man.
When we first become Christians, it is natural, especially in our American culture, that we take inventory of all the talents we have been developing and say in a selfwilled way: "Lord, now I'm really going to help You. I have built up this talent before becoming a Christian and I'm going to use this talent now to help You. These are my strong points, Lord. I'm presenting them to You." However, if the Lord wants to use a talent we have, it will not be as a part of our "old man" that He uses it. It will be only as the Lord resurrects it and makes it a part of the "new man" that He creates. The Lord has no use for any part of your "old man". Besides, it died with Christ. The Lord only has use for that which He chooses to create in our "new man". What the Lord creates and uses in our "newness of life" is His choice alone.
The Lord can use the "new man" which He created. When we present the members of our body to Him, our attitude should indicate: "Here I am Lord, a new babe. I now belong to You. Make me into an instrument that You can use. Build in me whatever You want in me, Lord." And Paul has told us in other scriptures that the Lord will exalt His strength in our weakness. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, ..." (I Corinthians 1:27). "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (II Corinthians 12:9).
God has marked out a pathway for every Christian. Paul called it "the course" which he was finishing. (II Timothy 4:7). It is extremely important that we should "walk" in "the course" which God has laid out for us. How do we know we are "walking" in "the course" which God has laid out? We don't know unless we present ourselves to God. If we truly present, that is, give ourselves to God with no strings attached, He will put us on "the course" He has laid out for us. It may not be "the course" we have had in mind. But, we will be blessed if we can say someday as Paul said, "I have finished the course," the one laid out for me by God.
It is the strong will of our soul which we must deal with here. That strong self assertive will of our "old man" must be reckoned as dead, and we must give ourselves wholly to the Lord, without reservations, without controversy, for Him to do with as He pleases. The soul having been yielded to the Lord, it follows that the soul will direct the presentation of the members of the body to be used as God's instruments. So, "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."
Note the use of common terms connecting thoughts and the development of the theme as Paul proceeded to write the Roman letter. In the first chapter Paul contrasted the terms "righteousness" and "unrighteousness". He said, "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.... The righteous man shall live by faith". (Romans 1:17). This was a general statement of the remedy for the ills of mankind. Contrasted with that he said, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all... unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness". (Romans 1:18). This was a statement of the problem of mankind. Then Paul pointed out in chapters to follow how God remedied the problem in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Finally, in the 6th chapter Paul outlined the steps of "obedience of faith" for Christians to enter upon a useful new life. In the new life they do not go on presenting the members of their body to "unrighteousness" as when they lived under the threat of the wrath of God. In the new life as "righteous" people of faith they present their members as instruments of "righteousness" to God. Through the "righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith," God has changed the "unrighteous" man to a "righteous" man.
Paul concluded his statements concerning the Christian's path of progress to a useful, godly life with these words in Romans 6:14, "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." As Paul wrote the Roman letter he went back from time to time to relate to certain basic premises. Indeed, the purpose of the Roman letter was to give Christians a firm foundation in the fundamental facts of God's eternal purpose. Fundamentally, Christians must remember that God has extended to them His grace and has justified them from the consequences of their law breaking. The obedience of our faith leads us away from sin and into a useful Christian life only because God has taken us out from under the consequence of law into the realm of His grace.
The steps of "knowing," " reckoning," and "presenting," puts us well along on the path of progress toward usefulness to God. Paul indicated another step, however. It was first stated as the goal in Romans 6:4, "so we too might walk in newness of life." After we "know," " reckon," and "present," then we are ready "to walk in newness of life." Paul expounded further on the walk in the 8th chapter of Romans. But before Paul went into detail concerning our walk in the 8th chapter, he further enlarged on the third step, "present," in the last part of the 6th chapter. And in the 7th chapter he dealt with another problem that plagues Christians, that is, our strong tendency to try to serve God by satisfying law and gaining merit thereby. Trying to achieve something for God solely under a system of law does not allow God to use one and only results in sin and death for the individual. Paul explained in the 7th chapter and the first part of the 8th chapter how Christ has freed us from "the law of sin and death". Then finally in the 8th chapter, Paul described the triumphant "walk" by Christians as they are led by God's Holy Spirit.
MY SANCTIFICATION ENABLING
"15. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16. 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? 17. 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, 18. and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:15:18).
Paul's question in Romans 6:15 was only slightly different from the rhetorical question he asked in Romans 6:1. Again, the asking of a rhetorical question seems to be a method Paul used to bring out the main points he wanted to discuss. In Romans 6:1 he asked, "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" Then he proceeded with teaching concerning the path of progress through which Christians have been enabled to reverse their tendency to continue in sin. In Romans 6:15 he asked, "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" This appears to be a continuation of Paul's teaching concerning the practical path of progress through which God enabled Christians to combat the sin principle in their lives so that they need not continue in sin. Sin is evil and wrong in God's sight. Obviously, we are not to continue in sinful lawbreaking and say that it doesn't matter any more because God's grace has rescued us from the consequences of lawbreaking. God offers His grace and forgives people of their sins for a purpose. That purpose can be carried out only by Christians who live holy lives in Christ and not by Christians who continue in sin. So "what then" is the Christian to do?
To further illustrate the third step in the path of progress, the step of presenting the members of the body to God, Paul turned in verse 16 to an analogy concerning slavery. And again Paul used the device of asking "Do you not know?" meaning, "If you do not know, then you should come now to know". He asked, "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?" One outstanding requirement of a slave was that he obey his master. If you became subject to a requirement that you obey someone, then you became in effect a slave to that person. If the one to whom you give slavish obedience is "sin" personified, the result of that obedience is death. If the one to whom you give slavish obedience is God, then the result of your obedience is righteousness.
In verse 17 Paul reminded us that we were once slaves of sin. That was by our own choice. We were at one time obedient to sin. But as Christians we became obedient to God through what Paul called "that form of teaching to which you were committed". In the phrase, "That form of teaching", Paul undoubtedly referred to the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the gospel of which he was not ashamed, the gospel which was the power of God for salvation to those who believe. In verse 18 Paul went on to say that through our commitment to obedience of God, we have been "freed from sin" and have become "slaves of righteousness".
"19. I 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." (Romans 6:19).
Apparently the "human terms" in which Paul spoke were the terms relating to the human master/slave relationship which Paul used in his analogy. The Roman Christians understood the human master/slave relationship. Paul said it was necessary to make such analogies because of the "weakness of your flesh." He spoke of the "weakness of your flesh" as a given fact inherent in all flesh descended from Adam. The phrase, "weakness of your flesh", reminds us of all that Paul said in chapter 5 about Adam and all that human beings have received because of their relationship to Adam. The phrase reminds us of the sin principle in our lives, that is, our propensity to sin which we have inherited from Adam.
One avenue through which sin enters our lives is the weakness of our flesh. The Apostle John said, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world". (I John 2:16). Paul's phrase, "weakness of your flesh", seems to be his reference to that which John called the "lust of the flesh". But the flesh alone cannot influence us to sin. The acquiescence of our soul is required. John referred primarily to the volitional and emotional power of the human soul when he spoke of "the boastful pride of life". Our soul serves as the "manager" of our lives making "yes or no" choices with respect to everything that the flesh presents. Although the flesh inherited from Adam is weak, it cannot influence us to sin without the acquiescence of the soul.
Paul also in Romans 6:19 related the weakness of the flesh to the will power of the human soul. Paul referred to the soul by use of the pronoun "you". He said, "For just as "you" presented "your" members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, ... so now (you) present your members as slaves to righteousness". The part of a person which makes choices and decisions, exercising the intellectual, volitional, and emotional characteristics of the person, is the soul of the person. It is the soul of a person which has inherited the propensity to sin from Adam. And it is the soul of the person which God has created anew in Christ, the Second Adam. Thus the action of presenting the members of our body, either to be slaves to sin or to be slaves to righteousness, is an action of our soul. In fact, all of the steps on the path of progress toward a useful life in Christ (the steps of knowing, reckoning, presenting, and walking) are steps that must be managed in our body by our soul.
How important is this step of "presenting?" It was in the "presenting" that we got in trouble and became useless in the first place. It will be in the "presenting" that we get out of trouble and become useful. Paul said that once, before you became a Christian, you presented your members to impurity and lawlessness and that resulted in further lawlessness. You committed sins, and as you did so, you became deeper and deeper enmeshed in sin. Now that you are a Christian you must remember that your soul's final acquiescence to sin came when you presented the members of your body to something. You became a slave to whatever you presented your members. Now that you are a Christian and are committed to Christ, an imperative step is to present your members as slaves to righteousness. Then Paul said that it will result in "sanctification" (KJ, "holiness").
The Christian's obedience of faith in the steps of believing, repenting, and being baptized resulted in "justification" from past sins. Then in Romans 6:19, after Paul had outlined the additional steps of obedience of faith, the steps of knowing, reckoning, and presenting, he said the result of those steps was "sanctification" (KJ, "holiness").
The word "sanctification" was translated from the Greek word HAGIASMOS meaning "separation" or "a setting apart". It has been translated "holiness" as well as "sanctification". The result of the Christian's presenting of his members as slaves to righteousness is God's setting apart of the Christian to a state of "holiness" or "sanctification". This state is necessary for the Christian to be used by God in His service.
Although we became free from the guilt of past sins through Christ's blood, it appeared that we were still hindered from serving God because of the sin principle which made us continue to sin. God cannot dwell within and lead sinful people who have not been sanctified. We couldn't become sanctified (or set apart for God's use) until we presented ourselves to God. And we couldn't present ourselves for God's use until we came to know and reckon that our "old man" had died and that we had a "new man" to present to God. However, having obeyed our Master in these steps, we received another gift from God, the gift of "sanctification". Through this gift, which was also granted in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, we gained the privilege of becoming a vessel which God can use.
Because of our position in Adam we were worth nothing to God "in and of" ourselves. But through our obedience of faith we received the gift of "holiness" or "sanctification" that set us apart for God's use. Knowing this, we can sing with understanding and gratitude to God the Christian hymn, "Rock of Ages", which says, "Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power." Jesus Christ has supplied our every need in His completed work, His death, burial, and resurrection. He has not only cleansed us from our guilt for sins committed, He has cleansed us from the power of the sin principle in human lives.
"20. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22. But having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:20-23).
In Romans 6:20-21 Paul began to wind up his argument concerning the relative results of serving sin as compared to serving God. He asked the question, "What benefit were you deriving from your former service to sin?" His argument was, 'You are now ashamed of having served sin. You did not get any benefit from it. Indeed, the outcome of serving sin was death. In service to sin you could not be set apart for God's use. You could not serve both sin and righteousness. Indeed, as a slave to sin you were free in regard to righteousness, that is, you were not righteous. You had to make a choice between service to sin and service to God.'
Paul went on in Romans 6:22, "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." You were "freed from sin", that is, freed from the sin principle in your life by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You embraced your freedom from sin when you submitted to baptism, the symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You became "enslaved to God" when:
1. You came to know that your "old man" died in Christ's death and your "new man" was raised in Christ's resurrection,
2. You came to reckon these facts as viable in your life, and
3. You presented your "new man" to God so that the members of your new man's body might be used as instruments of God's righteousness.
A "result" was the "sanctification" of your "new man" to be used by God while you live as a Christian on earth. An "outcome" (that is, another "result") was God's gift to you of "eternal life" enabling you to dwell forever with God in a life that transcends life on this earth. The result was not only a life of real usefulness here on earth for a short while, but an eternal life of spiritual usefulness to God.
In Romans 6:23 Paul summarized a major point of all he had written in the first six chapters. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Wages is something we must earn and deserve. The word "wages" was used here only in respect to sin. Sin earns death. The death earned was spiritual, eternal death in separation from God. It was a just, not unfair, wage. By contrast, the "free gift of God is eternal life". Our forgiveness of past sins was not earned, it was a gift. So also our life of usefulness with God is not an earned privilege. It was truly a gift also.
The statement of Romans 6:23 referred to our need for both "justification" and "sanctification". Because "the wages of sin is death", we needed the blood of Christ to cleanse and justify us from the guilt of sins we had committed. Also because "the wages of sin is death", we needed the resurrection of Christ and the "new man" that we gained in His resurrection in order to be sanctified for God's use and God's presence. Through Christ Jesus our Lord we got God's gift of grace which we needed. The full satisfaction of all our needs were met enabling our "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".
The knowing, reckoning, and presenting of chapter 6 has had to do with our death to the sin principle in our life, the slavish propensity to sin which we have inherited from Adam. We can't be useful to God on earth nor can we live with Him in eternity as slaves to sin. But through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have died to sin, we have buried our old man of sin, and we now live and work for God in a new man of God's own creation.
In chapter 7, Paul took up something more that we must know and reckon. That was our death to law. We humans also have a propensity to ignore God's grace and try to perform all things through our own strength. We try to become prime movers in God's service. This just puts us back under law and results in failure, frustration, and spiritual death. Through Christ we have also died to law. Through Christ Jesus God has provided for every eventuality. All this is very practical and useful for our everyday Christian lives. These are principles we all need to understand. Paul's comment in Romans 8:37, after his discussions in the first 8 chapters, was, "In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
(Taken from the book "God's Righteousness Revealed," a commentary on the Roman letter, by F. M. Perry.)
© 2002, F. M. Perry