Romans Chapter 6: Sin and its consequences, Righteousness and its rewards

Nov 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Romans, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Romans Chapter 6: Sin and its consequences, Righteousness and its rewards

1998 and 1979 Studies

Rom. 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Rom. 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom. 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Comment: Verses 1 and 2 are a balancing statement for any who might misunderstand Paul’s reasoning about not being under the Law to mean they can presume on God’s grace.

Reply: Yes. Paul was not saying that all sin would be forgiven regardless of the circumstances.

Therefore, he added the rhetorical question “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” What was his answer? “God forbid”!

Paul anticipated the thinking of the listeners, knowing they might have certain problems accepting his reasoning because of their Jewish background. Over and over again he satisfied the doubts and questions of the honest listener. Jews might think that without the Law Covenant, they could be careless and sin and still be under God’s grace and receive forgiveness through Jesus. The danger was in thinking, “If we accept that our sins are forgiven by grace through Jesus, then we can sin again and again and receive forgiveness.” No! “Once in grace, always in grace” follows this same line of thinking, as does the Catholic attitude of confession, sin, confession, etc. Note: Willful sins are involved here, whereas unintentional sins are forgiven.

“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?” Baptism into Christ by immersion in water pictures our death, and technically speaking, a person who is dead can no longer sin. One of the chief symbols in our consecration is not merely baptism into the will of God, but baptism into the death of self-will and being alive to the will of God. We are to live as though we had been resurrected from the grave; we are to walk in newness of life. In verse 2, then, Paul exaggerated the situation, for a corpse cannot sin—and neither should we.

The tendency with some who hear the gospel of grace is to presume they have the liberty to indulge in sin, whereas Paul was speaking more of the times we are overtaken in a fault we did not intend to commit. The robe of Christ’s righteousness is not for willful sin but for unintentional sin that overpowers us. Some of the slighter or lesser sins are clearly due to Adamic weakness. Other sins are perhaps 75 percent unintentional and 25 percent willful, or a 50-50 ratio. In addition, there is willful sin, which is not excusable but is punished depending on the degree of heinousness connected with it.

What about being “baptized into his [Jesus’] death”? When Jesus came at his First Advent and preached the gospel, incidents in his life showed his deadness to sin. His life was very unusual, and of course he remained single. Attempts were made to besmirch his character, but his life was exemplary. Not only was Jesus holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26), but he was dead to self-will, as evidenced when he prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus reasoned as a perfect man and even as an obedient Son, asking if he could be relieved of the trial, but nevertheless, he prayed, “Thy will be done, not mine.” Thus being baptized into Jesus’ death is being dead to self-will and alive to the will of God and Jesus Christ.

We must not presume upon God’s goodness and plan to sin willfully, as illustrated by the difference between Judas and Peter. Peter did not plot, or plan, to deny Jesus, whereas Judas, regardless of motive, continued to sin with the scribes and Pharisees. Also, Peter wept bitterly and repented, but Judas did not cry (Matt. 26:75). Peter was simply overtaken momentarily in a weakness, even though he cursed and denied Jesus. Judas probably thought Jesus would escape and he would keep the silver, but he was wrong to plan and premeditate. David is another example of proper repentance, for his public sin received public repentance. For private sin, the asking of forgiveness and repentance can be done privately. In either case, it is important for the individual to ask for forgiveness.

When we are baptized into Jesus’ death, we become sacrificially dead. Jesus takes away the sin of the world—Adamic sin—but there are also individual sins. In speaking of sacrificial death, he said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). Incidentally, the Seventh Day Adventists think that Jesus died for their sins before they came to him and that now they are under the Law and can keep it perfectly, especially the seventh-day sabbath.

In our consecration to the Lord, we say we want to do His will. We are measured by our heart intention and obedience to the best of our ability. The ideal is not to sin—period! Realistically, however, we have unintentional faults and shortcomings and make unintentional mistakes. The point is to get out of our minds the thought of intentional sin, which requires stripes. In putting aside the Law and coming into Christ, we still respect the Law and its character and principles, but since we cannot obey perfectly, we need the grace of God to cover our unintentional sins.

Rom. 6:4 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.

Paul applied the resurrection of Jesus to a person’s baptism in water and his being raised up to walk in newness of life. Thus in one sense, the resurrection of the Christian is in the present life (in a probationary sense as a practicing minister), and in another sense, it is future (when one gets a degree as a minister, if faithful). The Christian is to progressively walk in newness of life.

“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.” Why did Paul use the word “glory” instead of saying that Jesus was raised from the dead by the “power” of the Father? With regard to death and being raised from death, Paul gave Jesus as an example. At his baptism, Jesus was immersed in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. As he was raised from the water, “the heavens were opened unto him” (Matt. 3:16). When we consecrate, there is an attendant newness or freshness. It is not as though we were in the depths of despondency and despair and then were raised to normalcy, for with the death of self-will, all things begin to appear new. It is not like a person literally dying and then being awakened and feeling he and the world are the same, for the Lord rewards the consecrated with information and light, providing a new perspective. With regard to things that previously existed, the newly consecrated begin to look at them in a new light. A real joy is attached to not coming back to just a normal relief from the burden of sin. Therefore, glory seems to be attached to consecration. Many are so inspired that they think of witnessing to others, starting with their family and their closest friends and associates. There is no fear, just joy, as they do not even seem to count the cost but simply want others to see the beautiful truths. Only after a number of rejection experiences does the newness start to dull, so that we become more sober and serious.

This was the experience of Jesus. When the “heavens were opened” to him, the knowledge of his preexistence with the Father was the newness to him. His mind was flooded with his knowledge as the Logos, which was apparently locked out of his brain from infancy until his fullness of maturity as a man. To suddenly have this recall and light must have been an overwhelming experience. In addition, he heard God’s voice approving him—“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”—and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and rested upon him (Matt. 3:16,17). Jesus would have immediately grasped the connection of the dove with Noah. Evidently, the preexistent knowledge was so great that Jesus felt compelled to go into isolation in the wilderness for 40 days without food or water.

Comment: When Jesus was in the Temple at age 12 , he must have felt a special leading from God.

Reply: His brain was developing intellectually much more than that of an ordinary boy. By reasoning on what he had heard from his parents about the circumstances of his birth and early years, he would have known there was something special about him. For example, he knew his name had been given miraculously by the Holy Spirit.

Rom. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Why did Paul use the word “planted”? The water in baptism symbolizes the earth. Rather than for someone to dig a pit, bury the baptismal candidate, and then hurriedly uncover him so that he does not expire, water becomes a convenient symbol of the grave. However, the usual procedure in planting is to dig a hole, insert the plant, press down and cover the roots, and use a little firmness to tamp the earth. Accordingly, the Christian is told to continually crucify the flesh. The flesh is like Dracula, and the only way to kill it and keep it hidden is to try to put a stake through the heart and pound it down. Even though the flesh is reckoned dead, it keeps rising up. The stronger the character of a person is in denying the lusts of the flesh, worldly reasoning, etc., the better. Like Paul, our attitude should be, “This one thing I do” (Phil. 3:13).

He continually kept that thought in mind, whereas we have to remind ourselves repeatedly, for distractions of all kinds come along. And so the planting in death means to press down and cover the flesh, burying it as much as possible. Jesus was the ideal in every aspect of his life.

“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” In proportion as we bury our fleshly aspirations in death, the new creature is planted in life. The pressing down of the old man is the pressing up of the new creature. Paul used a type of reasoning that was concise and to the point, yet his reasoning was so natural that we do not perceive he was an astute mathematician.

Comment: The opposite is also true. In proportion as we allow the flesh to arise, the new creature dies.

Q: Does the word “resurrection” in verse 5 refer to the present life or to beyond the veil?

A: The reference is to this life because the burying of the flesh is a continual process. The death of the will of the old creature and the renewing of the mind of the new creature both occur progressively in the present life.

We will be participants in Jesus’ resurrection if we are faithful in sacrificial death in the present life. We should diligently try to walk in the direction of the ideal, having the hope of being with Jesus. Faithfulness and obedience unto death will result in the reality of being with him beyond the veil.

Rom. 6:6 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.

Rom. 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Verses 6 and 7 should be read together. A dead person cannot sin. Since there are neither works nor memory in the grave, a dead person cannot sin in thought, word, or deed (Eccl. 9:10). If the dead know not anything, they cannot be tempted to sin with the mind. Paul used very simple but forceful reasoning. Since we cannot be perfect like Jesus in the present life, God measures our success by our effort and our capability to keep our body under.

Comment: We strive to be dead to sin as Christ, the ideal, truly was. Only the Christian who is literally dead is “freed from [all] sin.”

Reply: Sacrificial death can be viewed two ways in the present life. In one picture, we are walking in newness of life. In the other picture, we are dying on the cross with the outward man perishing. While on this side of the veil, we have the promise, or the seed, of immortality, but we can lose that seed.

We can consider verses 5-7 as a unit. Verse 5 pertains to resurrection glory; verse 6 refers to sacrificial death, which takes place in the present life; and verse 7 speaks of actual death, when we will be literally free from sin. The Pastor said that if our consecration is truly bona fide, we could make our calling and election sure even without trials. Although he overstated the matter, Scriptures are also sometimes overstated to make us sit up and take notice.

Rom. 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

A person who is honest knows to what extent he is trying to put the body under, and he knows that a battle is going on in his mind. God looks at the mind and the intent, but He knows we cannot perform perfectly because we were born in sin and “shapen in iniquity” (Psa. 51:5). However, He also knows how much we mean what we say. The Scriptures tell us that our words should be few, so we must be careful about boasting, exaggerating, and overstating ourselves from the reality (Eccl. 5:2). Otherwise, our words approach hypocrisy.

Rom. 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Jesus’ example was so exemplary that in tracing his life, we do not see any undue familiarity in conduct. Not only was he baptized unto death to self-will, but while being in the midst of sinners, he kept his distance so that there would be no suspicion of contamination.

Comment: The scribes and Pharisees could not have Jesus arrested and put to death for any ordinary crime because his conduct was perfect.

Reply: Similarly, it was said of Daniel, “We shall not find any occasion [fault] against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Dan. 6:5). He was specially commended in the Book of Ezekiel for his righteousness (Ezek. 14:14,20).

Rom. 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

In these early chapters in his letter to the Romans, Paul was characteristically repetitive in meaning, using slightly different wording. Verse 10 is an example. However, this kind of repetition is not vain. God Himself uses repetition as, for example, with the measurements and articles of furniture of the Tabernacle. An important principle is that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses is a thing established (2 Cor. 13:1). Keeping this principle in mind prevents us from fantasizing about what certain Scriptures might or might not mean. Substantive proof, either direct or indirect, is needed to show that we are on the right track.

Verse 10 refers to Jesus’ death on the Cross. His baptism was unto death from a mental standpoint—with his mind and his will. However, his dying daily eventuated in his actual physical death. “For in that he [Jesus] died [a physical death on the Cross], he died unto [and for] sin once.” Once Jesus was faithful unto death, his success was sealed, for he had earned the reward he was supposed to get.

Jesus died a sacrificial death once—as a sin offering—not for his sin but for our sin. Until he actually died on the Cross, there was always the possibility that he could sin, but his sacrifice was perfect.

Jesus died “once for all” (Heb. 10:10). With regard to the Christian, there is another way of saying this. Since the high calling is available only in the Gospel Age, it is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

When the Pastor taught there is no burning hell of torment, many nominal Christians thought he was undercutting God’s right of judgment. However, he taught righteousness far more than the nominal Church. He did not just stress grace and forgiveness but taught that our consecration must be earnest and sincere and that we must guard what we think, say, and do and not obey the lusts of the flesh, the “Vow Unto the Lord” being an example. The nominal Church does not have as deep a concept of consecration. In contrast, present truth emphasizes the highest standard whether or not we live up to it in our Christian walk and doctrine.

Rom. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In order to reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God, we have to be strengthened and helped by the risen Lord, the High Priest of our profession. In antitype, he tends the wicks, trims off the carbon, and furnishes the oil for the lamps in the Holy. It is not only through the merit of Jesus’ blood and righteousness—his robe—but also through the risen Lord’s ministry to us as High Priest that we can be successful. If Jesus had remained dead, God’s plan could not have ensued.

Rom. 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

A powerful statement, verse 12 shows that we are involved in a fierce battle. We are not to let sin reign in our mortal body. Of course there are scriptural qualifications in regard to connubial relationships, but people basically marry because of the lust of the flesh. Jesus, who remained in the single state, is the ideal, and he certainly manifested this ideal in his life, works, and talk.

Rom. 6:13 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.

The ideal is that one should not yield to the fleshly mind and deeds unto sin, particularly as a new creature. “Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive [or apart] from … [death], and [yield] your [own body] members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” The Christian should consider his past life a closed chapter. The new consecrated life is like coming out of the tomb and being God’s instrument henceforth.

Rom. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

The law of grace—the grace of the gospel—has certain rules, stipulations, and regulations, but it is not like the inflexible Law of Moses. Under the Law given to Israel, either one sinned or he did not sin. In the New Testament, one sins, but the Lord knows the nature of the sin and the circumstances, one’s condition in life, and the degree of culpability or allowance. Repentance must precede forgiveness, and sometimes retribution of some kind precedes the declaration of repentance. For example, in regard to a sin against a fellow member of the body of Christ, Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent[s and asks for forgiveness], forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him”

(Luke 17:3,4). There are also sins against one’s neighbors, sins against God, and other kinds of sins that have to be soberly appraised and considered. The point is not to let sin rule us.

Rom. 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Because of the importance of the principle, Paul repeated the rhetorical questions and the reasoning of verses 1 and 2 of this chapter. The Christian is not to sin willfully just because he is under grace and not under the Law.

Rom. 6:16 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?

Paul was stating common-sense logic. We are servants of the one to whom we yield ourselves to obey. Sin is a taskmaster unto death, whereas obedience to God is obedience unto righteousness. Sin can be a way of life, for such individuals practice sinful deeds, and sin is their habit of thought. If not stopped, even the most minor sins lead to greater and greater degrees of degradation, so that backtracking becomes more and more difficult.

Rom. 6:17 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.

“God be thanked, that ye were [formerly] the servants of sin, but [that] ye have [now] obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which [I, Paul, and the other apostles] … [have] delivered [preached unto] you.”

Rom. 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

“Being then made free from [the practice of] sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

Keeping the body under is keeping one’s thoughts upward. The downward-upward motion is proportionate, and God is measuring it in each of us. The guardian angels who are watching us probably have a pretty good opinion as to the direction in which we are heading. However, they are afraid to make a judgment about eternal destiny, for God’s unerring judgment is needed to know the degree of culpability.

Christians are called servants (Rev. 1:1). When servants are freed from an evil taskmaster and then become servants of a good master, one they love, the former condition is considered chafing bondage and an unbearable furnace of affliction. There is a vast difference between the two—not only between sin and righteousness but also between the devil as a father and the Heavenly Father (John 8:44).

Rom. 6:19 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.

Paul said, “I speak after the manner of men.” He was speaking common sense because of the “infirmity” of the flesh. “[In the past] ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity.” The old man previously sinned from “iniquity unto iniquity” in the following sense. If we sow a thought, we reap an act. If we sow an act, we reap a habit. If we sow a habit, we reap a character. If we sow a character, we reap a destiny. Thus iniquity is progressive.

Of course there are different types of sins, but here Paul was just calling a sin a sin. Then he mentioned righteousness. “Even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” The new creature, which has now risen, practices righteousness unto righteousness.

As Christians, we are practicing physicians and ministers. As we try to please the Lord, He takes note of our efforts, which become a practice and a habit—and, hopefully, lead to a good destiny, to treasures in heaven that are incomparable to anything down here.

Rom. 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Q: Was Paul saying that righteousness is an accuser?

A: The Apostle John presented that thought, saying the Holy Spirit is not only a helper, an aid, to build one up but a reprover of wrongs (John 16:7,8).

Here Paul was saying, “When you were servants of sin, you had no desire for righteousness. You were oblivious to the opportunity of obtaining grace.”

Comment: Verse 18 states the matter one way, and verse 20 reverses or states the opposite.

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.”

Reply: Yes, Paul frequently used that type of reverse reasoning.

Rom. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Before we were in Christ, most of us did things of which we are now ashamed. In the light of a new creature looking back at those acts, they seem heinous and abnormal. We are thankful for the new liberty in Christ, which took us out of our former bondage.

What about the “fruit” of sin? Today, to a certain extent, AIDS is the reward of sin. Sexually transmitted diseases are also contracted through sin. The end of the fruit of sin is death.

Comment: Billions of dollars are spent looking for a cure for AIDS, whereas the real solution— abstinence and nonaberrant behavior—is free.

Rom. 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Again we can see the mathematical counterbalancing that seemed to flow out of Paul in his reasoning. Of course it occurred under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Yes, Paul was trained at the feet of Gamaliel, but his dedication and the Holy Spirit entering his life had profound results (Acts 22:3). What invaluable assistance Paul’s counsel here has given Christians all down the Gospel Age!

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul contrasted the “wages of sin” (death) with the “gift of God” through Jesus Christ (eternal life). One should be very appreciative of the opportunity for life.

Earlier Paul contrasted slavery and freedom; now he contrasted earned wages and an unearned gift. “The wages [earnings] of sin is death.” Other contrasts were sin and righteousness, and death and life. Paul went back and forth with the two conditions.

Under the Law: Bondage, labor, death

Under grace: Freedom, gift, life

Paul was using the type of reasoning that was practiced among the learned Greeks and those of the Sanhedrin. Hence much of what he said here would be above the heads of most Christians. This type of writing was intended for those who were schooled in higher logic.

No matter how long one is versed in the Volumes, Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is difficult to understand. Nevertheless, if we study the epistle and try to understand it, we will be rewarded for our efforts through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since there are different levels of ability and knowledge among the consecrated, ecclesias should not gear every study to newcomers, for all brethren have to be fed.

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