ROMANS 5 - 8

Romans 6:1-13:
Sanctification through union with Christ

by Thomas W. Finley

● Rom. 3:21-5:21 is primarily concerned with justification – how can we, as those who have sinned, be considered righteous before a holy God? Now, in Rom. 6:1-8:39 Paul turns to the matter of sanctification. Sanctification here does not concern our position before God (as justification did) but our actual experience. How can we overcome sin and live a holy life pleasing unto God?

● Paul anticipates that some carnal minded believers may propose that we could freely sin so that grace (with its forgiveness; Eph. 1:7) could increase (6:1).

● In verse 2 Paul answers the idea of continuance in sin with an astonishing statement: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Now Paul begins to amplify the spiritual truths of our union with Christ as our new federal head (Rom. 5:12-21 spoke of the two federal heads). In Christ, we are those who have died to sin, meaning that our relationship to sin has been totally broken. This does not mean that sin is no longer present within us. It is present (Rom. 7:17, 20, 23). However, our relationship with sin has changed. Formerly, sin reigned within us (5:12) and it was our master (6:14). We died to our life in Adam on the cross (6:6, 8), so now that relationship is broken. Sin no longer has a right to reign; grace may now reign (5:21).

● All who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death (6:3). Baptism here is our spiritual baptism into Christ (Gal. 3:27). Although water baptism pictures this reality, it cannot bring in the reality. Only spiritual baptism brings in the reality of His death, which is a “death to sin” (v. 10).

● We were buried with Christ through baptism into death (6:4). It is a federal and spiritual fact that we were buried with Christ in His grave. As burial finalizes the total break with one’s former life, so through this baptism our break with our life in Adam is complete. The resulting purpose is “so that” we would walk in newness of life, just as Christ was raised to life. We share His resurrection. Our new life in Christ is Christ Himself (Col. 3:3-4).

● Rom. 6:5 tells us that we share a union with Christ in His death and His resurrection. We have been “united with Him in the likeness of His death.” Our death in this union is like His death – a “death to sin” (v. 10). Such a death is followed by a resurrection like His: “the life that He lives He lives to God” (v. 10).

● “Knowing this” (6:6). Paul is calling us to know a spiritual fact that is critical to our experience of sanctification. This fact – that our old man was crucified with Christ – is here revealed and must be appropriated by faith. Our “old man” is all that we were in Adam, the natural life of the soul. In Adam, our soul acted independently from God and served the law of sin within us (6:17; 7:23).

● This spiritual fact that “our old man was crucified with Christ” should result in two important consequences in our experience. This fact, when realized in experience through our belief in the fact and the agreement in our will [to die to Adam’s life], results in the body of sin being rendered idle - not working, unemployed, out of business. The “body of sin” is the unredeemed body where sin dwells (7:18, 23) and where sin can reign (6:12), causing the body to be the instrument of sin (6:13). The second consequence naturally follows – “that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (6:6b) Sin has now lost its mastery over us because we have refused the appeals of the old life in Adam based upon the fact that we were crucified with Christ.

● “He who has died is freed [lit., “justified”] from sin.” (6:7). Paul uses the word “justified” here to underscore the legal impact of our death to Adam. We are justified from all condemnation due to our connection with sin itself in Adam, and we are legally released from all its claims upon us. Christ was identified with sin (man’s sinful nature) on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21), and then sin was condemned there (Rom. 8:3). Because the penalty for sin has now been carried out, the person who has died with Christ is justified from the claims of the law. We died to our life in Adam, and to sin in Adam, and sin has no rights over us whatsoever. Based upon this spiritual truth, we should reject all feelings of condemnation due to the presence of sin within us. We should not condemn ourselves concerning what we feel we “are” in respect to the “flesh,” our sinful old life. Rather, we should agree (with God’s word) that the sin nature within us has already been crucified, judged, before God and now we are justified from it. Now, we must identify with Christ as our new life (Col. 3:3-4). Of course, if we do commit a sin, we should condemn that sin with repentance and confession (Prov. 28:13; 1 Jn. 1:9).

● Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him (Rom. 6:8). Since in union with Christ we have shared His death, we believe that we also share His resurrection, to live with Him in resurrection now (and at the future bodily resurrection).

Knowing that Christ is never to die again (6:9). Our assurance in verse 8 that we shall live with Him is based upon the knowledge that Christ is never to die again.

● “He died to sin once for all” (6:10). Our death to sin (v. 2) is a reality because we are united with His death (v. 3), and “the death that He died, He died to sin” (v. 10). In His earthly life Jesus never knew sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). But on the cross, in the eyes of God, Jesus became identified with sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [the Adamic race] and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (8:3, ASV). Jesus bore the condemnation of sin itself at the cross, which condemnation resulted in death. Then, He died to sin – that is, through His death He broke all ties to sin; He separated from sin through death, dying to it “once for all” (for all time and forever). Now, He lives a new life in resurrection to God (v. 10). We were there on the cross with Christ, and when He died to sin, we also died to sin, breaking all ties with sinful Adam. We are released from the guilt and power of sin in Adam. We were transferred out of Adam through our death on the cross with Christ, and we were buried with Him in death (a total separation from Adam). Then, we were raised up with Christ to live a new life in Christ (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12-13).

● “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11) The Greek word for “consider” (“reckon”, KJV) is an accounting term that means to calculate or take into account. Based upon all the foregoing facts we are now to calculate what the sum total meaning of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection means to us. It means simply this: We are dead to sin. Our relationship is totally broken. We are alive to God in Christ (by virtue of our union with Him). We were raised with Him to live to God. This is what we have gained by being baptized (being brought into union with) into Christ. How do we “reckon” these marvelous facts to be so? We must continually stand on these facts by faith, and then the experience follows. Faith never focuses on contrary evidence (such as the presence of sin, the lusts of our flesh or our past failures), but always focuses on God’s word (Rom. 4:19-20; 10:17). Also, we must be in agreement to be dead to sin. We cannot stand on these facts if our will secretly seeks to respond to sin’s appeals. The best way to reckon is to use these verses, and similar ones (such as Col. 3:3-4) in prayer to God. This practice, in conjunction with an attitude of complete dependency upon God and openness to His Spirit’s working, is needed for victory. Romans 7 and 8 show us other keys to our victory: our need to avoid the law (trying to obey God by focusing on rules to keep) and our need to seek and depend upon the living Spirit of God.

● “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Rom. 6:12). This command is based upon the facts that we have died to sin and are now in union with Christ. Sin no longer has any right to be our master since we are no longer in Adam and have died to sin.

● We now present ourselves “to God as those alive from the dead” (Rom. 6:13). Presenting ourselves to God for obedience is never to be the pledge of our old natural life to obey God. Rather, it is to be done in living faith that I (my old man) have died and now I have been raised up with Christ to live to God. And, “the life He lives, He lives to God.” (6:10). So, in union with Him in His resurrection I present myself and all of my members to God for obedience.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)