In Paul’s explanation of the gospel, he has shown how the obedience of Christ cancelled out the disobedience of Adam, and how the grace given by God
overcame the judgement brought by sin.
Although knowledge of law made the problem worse, by making sin more self-conscious and culpable, the long-term effect was that “grace abounded all
the more”, to cover it.
But this provides one possible excuse for remaining sinful. If we continue in sin, the argument goes, that provides even more opportunities for grace
to work (ch6 v1)
This was the line of argument put forward in ch3 v8. Paul gave no real answer at the time, but he now refutes it by showing how the state of being
justified is not compatible with tolerating sin.
The short answer is that we have “died to sin” (v3). Sin is part of the old life, which has been abandoned, so it’s not possible to continue
living that life.
Then Paul sets out to explain how this works.
At the beginning of our Christian life, we were baptised into
Christ Jesus (v3).
That “into” means that we began to share in his experience.
Christ died and was buried, so the same thing has happened to us; we died
with him and were buried with him.
As a result, we also share in what follows; Christ was raised from the dead, and the same thing will happen to us. We will “walk in newness of
“If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (v5).
In the long term, this means the final resurrection.
But there is an immediate application.
When we were crucified “together with” Christ, the intended result was that our old sinful life would be killed off altogether, so that we would
no longer be enslaved by sin. We would be free of that bond.
If we died “together with” Christ, we shall live “together with Christ” (v8).
But what does that mean for Christ and for us?
Obviously it means that he will never die again, and the same must be true for us (which takes “reincarnation” out of Christian theology).
Death no longer has dominion over him.
But by the same token, sin has no dominion over him.
He died to the possibility of submitting to sin, and lives in submission to God.
Therefore we, being “in Christ Jesus” should consider ourselves to be in the same position- dead to sin, and alive to God (v11).
This brings us to the great paradox of Christian life, that we have escaped from sin and we have not yet escaped from sin.
We see it in John’s epistle. On the one hand, “No one born of God commits sin” (1 John ch3 v9). On the other hand, “If we say we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John ch1 v8).
This chapter is tackling the same issue.
Paul has just been telling his readers that sin has no power over them.
Now he begins warning them not to let
sin have power over them.
They have been freed from sin, in the eyes of God, but they need to live up to that status. They must have faith in their freedom from sin and act
their freedom from sin.
Do not allow sin to reign in your bodies, compelling you to obey their passions (v12).
Putting the same thing another way, do not surrender your limbs to the power of sin, to be used as tools in the service of wickedness.
Surrender them, instead, to God, to be used as tools in the service of righteousness.
This would be only right, because he has brought you from death into life, as already described.
We are under grace, which means we are no longer under law, and also means that we are no longer under sin.
This brings Paul back (v15) to the original false argument, that the condition of grace is a reason why we might allow ourselves to continue in
His response is that we are not free agents. We are obliged to live in a state of submission, or slavery, and our choice lies between the two masters;
sin, which leads to death, or obedience to God, which leads to righteousness.
But his readers already been slaves to sin once, and they were freed from that slavery by accepting the teaching of the apostles, and they became
slaves of righteousness.
When they were slaves to sin, they kept surrendering themselves to greater degrees of sin.
In the same way, being slaves of righteousness, they should be surrendering themselves to greater degrees of sanctification.
In the state of “slavery to sin”, it is true, they were free, or allowing themselves to be free, from the claims of righteousness.
But where was the benefit of that?
The end-result was death.
Reversing that, when they are free from sin and slaves only to God, the end-result is sanctification and eternal life.
Comparing them as rival forms of service;
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v23).
edit on 18-10-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)