Sin, and how we enter into it, is very much misconstrued by Christians, thanks to bad teaching. Sin is often described as being ‘hard’ to get rid of. But, it is not! What is ‘hard’ is to be genuine in our faith and to simply hand-over our sin to God, much as we put something useless into an incinerator to burn to nothing. When it is burned it is gone and cannot be retrieved. That is what we must do with our sins.
As Christians we are no longer slaves to sin, or to Satan, but servants of Almighty God, through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit lives within us, and He displaces any and all sins… unless we again invite them into our hearts and minds. Because he is within, there are no sins to possess us, not even those ‘besetting’ sins that can plague a person. The only way a sin can be continuous in a saved person is if he invites it into himself, deliberately and against conscience and the warning of the Spirit. And, frankly, if this occurs time and again, then the salvation of that person can be held in doubt.
Before salvation, we were people whose whole lives were centred on sin, with no possibility of doing, or being, good in God’s eyes. After salvation, everything is turned around… we are then centred on Christ, and sin has been kicked out. It can only take hold again if we wish it to. Therefore, there are no fixed sins in us, only the occasional stupidity of seeking to invite them back in!
This study should be read and reread several times until it is established in our souls. It is vital to understand the nature of our new spirits and how we enter into sin. More importantly, that we need not sin, and that when we do, we must repent immediately and turn back to God.
Verses 1 - 3
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
“What shall we say then?” Or, ‘If grace now rules us, are we free to do whatever we like, to sin?’ This is the charge made against Christians by cultists such as JWs. They say we do whatever we like because we think God gives us freedom to do so. In this way they mock us. Is what they say true? This is what Paul is also asking, again rhetorically.
Is it true that the more we sin the greater God’s grace will appear, like the presence of black more clearly shows light? Paul is very clear about it: “God forbid”! To introduce a technical point… the word for ‘forbid’ is a particle meaning ‘No’. In this text the particle is mē. Another form is an adverb, ou. The difference is this: the latter adverb denies the thing itself; in this context that God allows us to sin so that His glory can be highlighted.
But, the particle, mē, goes further by rejecting even the thought of such a possibility. That is, Paul is saying the very thought of it should not even enter our heads. The same kind of thoughts are totally rejected for other issues, such as homosexuality, where we may ask ‘Can we legitimately debate or discuss the matter with homosexuals?’ The answer is ‘God forbid’! No, not for any reason – it should not even enter our heads. The many reasons they give for their self-inflicted evils are irrelevant.
As Paul rightly says, how can we, who are “dead to sin” any longer “live… therein”? If we have been freed from sin, how can we return to it so easily? To be ‘dead’ to sin means that we are no longer controlled by it, just as a body that dies is no longer alive to anything. Otherwise, we are trying to revive a corpse!
Don’t you know, says Paul, that when we were “baptized into Jesus Christ (we) were baptized into His death?” Note that – baptism has no other meaning; it is simply a public display, a declaration, that we are dead to sin. Some claim baptism is our ‘entry into the Church’, but this is a false belief. We ‘enter’ the Church as soon as we are saved. It is automatic.
Baptism is a symbol of dying with Christ: the laying down backwards into the water is a symbol of being buried with Him. Being brought back up again symbolizes coming alive with Him into new life with God. This is a very good reason why baptism is by full immersion… no-one is partially buried, or just sprinkled on the head with earth!
Thus, baptism is one way to show our commitment to Christ. It is when we must fulfill our public promise to God, that we are indeed dead to sin and alive in Him, with a brand new attitude and spiritual direction. We now belong to Christ! It is, in many ways, as serious as a vow that can never be broken.
Verses 4 - 7
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
We are, then, “buried with him by baptism into death.” Then we are “raised up from the dead” by God’s glory, His power. For this reason, that Christ died for us and the Father raised Him up again for our sakes, the very least we can do is “walk in newness of life”.
We are to live very differently, as people who already have eternal life and whose allegiance is totally towards God alone. We symbolically died in Christ and to sin, any previous sins are gone, and so we should be like Him. Same goes for resurrection. After the baptism we should be new people in all ways, as we live a life of Christlikeness. It is a shame and a parody if we do not.
Paul then gives more detail… before we are baptized, “our old man is crucified with him”. This has the meaning of an old garment that has worn out; a wine that is old and belongs in the past; the previous self is ‘old’ because it has been replaced by something new and superior. It speaks of moral evil and that which is ‘former’ or past, our original nature. Our old self, then, consisting of sin and the desire to sin, is past. It has been replaced by something new and better. Thus, the “body of sin (has been) destroyed”.
Now, most Christians do not really understand this concept and so never live a life of glory. ‘Destroyed’ in this context does not mean obliterated, but rendered idle or ‘unemployed’. It no longer is the prime mover of our souls, so it‘s force has been very much diluted. It is rather like a flickering flame on a backburner. Unless we actually and deliberately turn it up, it will not burst into full flame again. Sadly, we all tend to turn to this flickering ember at times and try to re-ignite our sins. To all intents and purposes, sin is therefore dead to us, and so “henceforth we should not serve sin”.
This does not mean we will never sin again, only that we will not serve it: be its slave and be obedient to Satan, who is considered to be a ‘base power’ – someone who is of a lower order, someone who is evil and unworthy. A man can return to temporary slavery, which is what sin is in a Christian, but because the power of sin has been severed, he will not remain in that state. Instead, he will repent and return to holiness. The man who does not is in serious trouble and invites God temporal judgment on his soul and body. This is because “he that is dead is freed from sin” and it is a vile rejection of God for him to go back to it.
If we continue to sin, how can it be said that we are “freed” from it? Well, the word means we are made righteous and acceptable to God. As darkness cannot live with the light, so sin cannot live with righteousness. They are incompatible… and this is why our consciences prick us if we sin. It is like an allergy!
When we were unsaved sin controlled us. But when we were saved, the old man was virtually put into a prison cell. Being human, we sometimes unlock the cell and allow the old man to roam in our hearts and minds. That is when we make mistakes and sin. When we lock him up again, we can go back to the open and breathe pure air again. Thus, former sins have no hold over us… unless we want them to. The lesson is simple: do not revisit the old man and you will not sin! Are you “dead (and) freed from sin”? If you are saved – of course you are!
I often hear Christians moan and groan about sinning. They do not grasp the fact that it need not be that way. They are no longer in chains to Satan or to the old man. The only time they are, is when they decide to give in to the cries of the old man within! The answer is to walk away and get back to pure and holy things.
Verses 8 - 11
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you believe you have died with Christ, then you will know that because He now lives, so shall you. It really is that simple! And Christ is perfect, holy and acceptable to God. So are we, through Christ. That is how we are able to live holy lives. And, because Christ cannot ever die again, neither can we, because Christ conquered death, the penalty for sin. We can also conquer, in Him.
As an aside, because Christ cannot die again, we know that the Roman Catholic Mass is a lie and a blasphemy. The priests who claim to bring Him back cause Him to die again (in their heads, that is), which is not possible.
When Christ died He was raised again. Therefore, death had no control over Him. Because Christ conquered death, it cannot conquer us, either. Whatever Christ did, we do. This is proof that everything we have is in and from Christ, and not in us. We have no power of our own, and cannot be saved by our own choice or merit.
So, He died only once to save us, and then He resurrected and lives unto God. This is also our future and our present reality, if we are saved. As Christ lives in and for God, so do we. This is repeated by Paul in verse 11. It means that no saved man or woman has a right to bemoan their lot and say they are unable to stop sinning. Nor can they say it is ‘hard’. Nor can they dare to say they ‘make sacrifices’ for God. The texts say it all!
Whatever we have is given by Christ; our acceptance by God is in Christ; our ability to be holy is guaranteed by Christ; but every time we sin, it is in violation of God’s gift of life. That is why we must repent swiftly and return to holiness. No excuse and no time allowed! It must be done NOW. And how can we say it is ‘hard’ not to sin, when Christ has already made it possible?
Verses 12 - 14
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
This being so, do not let sin control you again; don’t obey the lusts it brings out in you. Do not allow your body to be used for sin. Instead, give it, and yourself, to God. Prove yourself to be alive and no longer under Satan, by doing what is holy. You can do it because, as a saved person, sin cannot any longer control you. How can it when you are no longer under the law, but under God’s grace and mercy?
This argument tells us that it is not hard to stop sinning, when we obey God. It can only be ‘hard’ if we inwardly wish to continue sinning and so set up all kinds of reasons in our heads as to why it is ‘hard’. In reality it is not hard, and must be done straight away, for every moment we stay in sin is another moment we are away from God. This is why the mark of a true Christian is that he immediately stops sinning when conscience arises, he repents, and turns back to God.
Verses 15 - 18
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Paul repeats his earlier question: if we are no longer under the law, is it alright to sin? The answer remains the same: “God forbid”! He reminds us that we are the servants of whoever we give ourselves over to and obey. If we were forced to do something, then we would be prisoners, but if we willingly allow someone to take us over and we do their bidding, then we are their servants. If we obey Satan we will sin; if we obey God, then we will be holy.
Paul rounds this section off by saying we should thank God we are no longer the servants of sin. Rather, we obeyed God because He saved us and opened our heart to holiness. In this text it is referred to as the “form of doctrine” which was preached to mankind. The ‘form’ means the teaching that contains everything necessary for true religion, and which is our pattern for living. It was “delivered” by the Apostles’ preaching, as given to them by the Holy Spirit sent by Christ.
This doctrine or message freed us from sin and obedience to Satan, so that we could become the servants of God… only this time, being a servant gave us freedom in Christ! It is a common fallacy that to be a servant of God is restrictive and gives us a limited and boring life! What He gives is freedom to act properly and truly, without being continually harassed to do sin and to suffer the miserable consequences.
Verses 19 - 21
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
Paul says he speaks to his readers in an earthly way because they have followed sinful ways, doing what is wrong and unholy, their sins becoming greater with time. However, he now commands them to give their lives back to the Lord, by being holy. Notice that he does not give them a time space so that they could gradually change. This is because change from sin to holiness must always be instant.
As unsaved slaves to sin they could not alter their position. But, as servants of God, they have freedom in Christ to act with purity. Paul then asks them: what was the point of living in sin, when the only reward was death? We should ask the same questions today: what is the point of sin, when it only brings damage, cruelty, loss and death? Many sinful actions are rewarded by death or awfulness… violence, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, terrorism, bad habits…
Verses 22 & 23
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now we are free from the ‘old man’ of sin, and are servants of God, the works we do are fruits of holiness, and are indications of our end: eternity in heaven. “The wages of sin is death”. We will be well paid for our sin if we die unsaved, for we will die on earth, which is the first death. Then, we will enter into the ‘second death’, which is an eternity in hell. This would be our ‘wages’. But, as saved people, we will never know this terrible end. We will only know eternal life in glory, because we have been saved by Christ, the free gift of God.
© June 2009
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Please 'Make a Donation' to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries