Romans Chapter 6
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"You can be sure, the Holy Spirit never enters a man and lets him live like the world." - A. W. Tozer


What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? - Romans 6:1


Paul, having ended Romans 5 with the wonderful truth that is required for salvation (See studies on chapters 4 & 5) being where sin increases grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20) is now anticipating the objection of his readers after making such a statement, an objection that Paul likely faced regularly in the early days of the church, especially from the Jews (Acts 15:5, Gal. 2:4). Those with a focus on works are scared of grace; grace makes them uncomfortable. When you tell someone who puts great emphasis on works about grace they are often concerned you are preaching licentiousness (Jude 6), they fear abusing grace. Or because they feel they don't deserve grace they often reject it, like Peter, the idea of Jesus washing their feet is repulsive to them. Because Peter felt unworthy of Jesus washing his feet he rebuked the Lord. (John 13:6) We would do well to take to heart Jesus reply to Peter's objection when He said "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." (John 13:8). One one hand, as a legalist, we are disgusted by taking the cop-out from our responsibilities, on the other, there is no other solution than to sit back and let Jesus wash your feet as we are helpless to make ourselves clean. While the Jews may have struggled with the notion of accepting the cop-out from the law's requirements in their day, Christians struggle with the same invitation to grace today. Maybe they aren't so entrenched in the law of Moses but they are entrenched in the rules of churches, the rules of their upbringing, the rules of their own minds. Like the Jews, modern day Christians struggle with traditions that are worldly based and not God based or scriptural based. As we discussed last chapter, the law was not given to impart life but to lead us to Christ who does. Yet Christians today view rules with high regard and the idea of taking any cop-out is difficult, the ultimate cop-out of the cross of Christ that much more. Accepting and therefore relying entirely on the work of the Holy Spirit for sanctification bothers them (and me at times being a recovering legalist) quite a bit. In the traditions of the world we look down on the lazy and good-for-nothings and we honor the hard working and the go-getters. Yet in terms of the cross, this mindset is counter productive as it's those who are poor in spirit, not strong in spirit who inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). (I've often wanted a bumper sticker that says "only free-loaders get to heaven." After all, as written in Romans, it is a "free gift" [Rom. 6:23]) On the contrary, those who are strong in this age actually have that strength working against them as proven by the Rich Young Ruler (Matt. 19:16-26) because it makes them less likely to accept something they cannot earn, buy, or in some way merit for themselves.


24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” - Matthew 19:24


Unfortunately the world's mindset that uplifts the go-getters has carried over into the church. This should be no surprise, even the Apostles struggled with Jesus statement above having this mindset "If the rich, young, and powerful can't make it, then who can?!" (Matt. 19:25). I've been rebuked by close, dear brothers in Christ who were well meaning but when I brought the message of the cross, that is, righteousness that is achieved ENTIRELY by God's grace through faith, I was rebuked for potentially inciting licentiousness. Such people hear me share the verses such as Romans 5:20 and before I'm finished they are already mentally preparing their rebuke. Such men are those that Paul describes who "spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage (Gal. 2:4). Such men also struggle with verses like 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23 which state all things are lawful for me in Christ. They continue to point out the 2nd half of those verses, that not all things are profitable nor do all things edify which are the parts of those verses legalist are happy to latch onto, but legalist quickly dodge Past the fact that Paul just started with "All things are lawful for me" meaning in Christ we can literally do anything and not be condemned by the law (if you're a struggling legalist like me, such a statement probably made you squirm, but it's true!) nor condemned by Christ. Romans 8:1 makes very clear that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" with no other disclaimers added. Colossians 2:14 make it very clear that the law, which was the only thing to condemn us (John 5:45), Christ has taken out of the way having nailed it to the cross. This is the gospel. This is what's good about the good news! This is the truth Jesus is referring to in John 8:32 that sets us free! Jesus came to proclaim release to the captives and set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18). On the contrary to the message of the gospel, Galatians 2:4 refers to those who once again try to get you in bondage by trying to get you to view God's favor of you as though it were contingent on your merit, on your rule keeping. This is the very bondage that Jesus referred to as the leaven of the Pharisees (Matt. 16:6-12) which if we're not mindful to be on guard for may leaven the whole lump of dough (Gal. 5:4).


5 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. - Galatians 5:1-9


Legalism is viewed as a noble thing among those in the world, unfortunately it is also viewed as a noble things among those in the church yet such persuasion, as Paul mentioned above did not come from God. But rather it was the "false brethren" who introduced such teaching (Gal. 2:4). Notice the stark warning Paul gives in verses 4-6 of Galatians 5, that those who are legalist who desire their acceptance to be based on their works of the law (i.e. their performance and not Christ's performance) have been "severed from Christ" (Gal. 5:4). Paul is so upset about this idea of works contaminating the purity of the gospel that he wishes such men who are preaching the need to be circumcised (i.e. follow and observe the law of Moses, Acts 15:5) in order to be saved will go so far as it lop 'it' off altogether (Gal. 5:12). In Galatians 1:6-9, in reference to those who embrace legalism and for those who would try and steer you away from the riches of grace in Christ to legalism, Paul writes this:


I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! - Galatians 1:6-9


In his letter to the Colossians who embraced the "elementary principles of the world" (legalism) Paul exposes legalism and it's futility. He shows how legalism has the appearance of wisdom (as we in the church think such men are more noble) but is worthless to accomplish what only Christ in us can. This is why there is such a stark rebuke of legalism in the bible such as the verses above. In fact, the entire book of Galatians combats legalism in an attempt to uproot this leaven of the Pharisees that even the early church dealt with and most definitely the modern day church deals with because it leads people away from the only true solution, that is God's grace (Rom. 4:16) through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).


20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. - Colossians 2:20-23


These matters have the "appearance of wisdom" and this is where the world and more so we in the church stumble. We latch onto it because it feels right and because it feels right our hearts embrace it and we start into self-made religion, self-abasement, and severe treatment of the body, things which the bible declares are of "no value" (Col. 2:23). When your heart embraces something as righteous... (right or wrong) it makes it near impossible to convince someone otherwise. Especially if what the heart has embraced has had time to flourish. This is where I relate with Peter so well. When Jesus tried to wash Peter's feet, Peter had in his heart that it was wrong for Jesus who holds the high standing of "Lord" to take such a lowly, servant position (John 13:8). Peter similarly struggled again later when he again refused God who in a direct vision commanded Peter to "kill and eat" (Acts 10:13). The saga continues with Peter rebuking Jesus when the Lord told them what they could expect to happen to Him in Jerusalem (Matt. 16:21-23) And again when Peter denies that he will deny Jesus (Matt. 26:34)... and on it goes (I love Peter). What I am getting at is this. It's very, very difficult to separate a legalistic man from legalistic tendencies because legalism has the "appearance of wisdom" as Paul said and it's "a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" as is written in Proverbs (Prov. 14:12, 16:25). Separating legalism from a legalist who's fully convinced such ways are right is as as difficult as separating wheat from the chaff.


31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” - Luke 22:31-23


The process of wheat sifting consists of separating the undesired chaff from the edible grain of wheat. Needless to say, as you can see in the picture such a process of separating something so closely joined together is quite difficult and for a time left Peter weeping bitterly (Luke 22:62). However, it was only after Peter had undergone this process did Jesus then commission him (John 21:15-17). It's interesting and wonderful that on the other side of this sifting of Peter, of all people, it's Peter that rebuked those, who once like him, desired to incorporate legalism into the gospel.


But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” - Acts 15:5-11


I thank God for the change Peter went through and as a recovering legalist, I thank God deeply for the change I went through, a battle that lasted years (as my friends and family will testify) but through that battle came the uprooting of legalism which was so firmly rooted and was flourishing in me. It's not that I don't struggle with it, I still do and Peter did afterwards too (Galatians 2:11-14). But it's a way that no longer seems right to me (Prov. 14:12, 16:25) and no longer has the appearance of wisdom to me (Col. 2:23), a change God has made in my inner-man!


It's interesting in church circles who people say they relate to most in the bible. It's been my experience that Peter is the forerunner among men by a long shot. For women I often hear how they relate to Martha but rarely her sister Mary (Luke 10:39). Why do you suppose this is? Some might say because they understand what it means to try hard and fail repeatedly (Peter), or to be so focused on works that you start getting snippy with those that aren't (Martha and Mary). May I take a stab at why we relate with these more? I would say it's because of the legalism, unbeknownst to us, has spread from the world (Gal. 4:3) through the church like cancer leavening the whole lump of us (Matt 16:6-12, Gal. 5:4). Struggling with legalism we relate with those who struggled with legalism. We read about Mary who was merely seated at the feet of Jesus listening to all He had to say and we share with her no anecdote. We think to ourselves, "yeah... that'd be nice" and like Martha, we hold her in contempt as we return to our list of things to do and through our legalistic lens (because it's a way that seems right to us) we're upset that Jesus isn't getting on Mary (Luke 10:40) for not getting busy. After a few days of this we'd start viewing Mary as a free-loader wouldn't we? Yet it was Mary who Jesus declared "has chosen the good part" (Matt. 5:17) because she didn't focus on the list but rather focused on Christ who completes the list.


Question: If I told you that in Christ you are free to do anything you want, that you have the right to do anything (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23) how does that make you feel? To those struggling with legalism we squirm. Such a notion makes us uncomfortable. As someone dear to me said "I'm worried if I adopted that view that my sin would get out of hand". Well the good news is Paul saw us squirm and now, having firmly established the gospel of the grace of God in the first 5 chapters of Romans, Paul points to address our concern as if reading our mind.


"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" Paul, who thus far in Romans has made a solid argument for grace that withstands anything we could throw at it (and it's Giver), having concluded in the last chapter "where sin increases grace abounds all the more" now anticipates the objections that would arise from him preaching such a liberty and freedom that's found in Christ and now asks the question on behalf of the objector, that is, should we keep sinning since we are free, should we keep sinning since it brings more of God's grace (God's unmerited favor)?


May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? - Romans 6:2


Yes when we sin we are always covered by the grace of God found in Christ (Always!), that is a true statement and it is why salvation is a guarantee (see our study on Romans 4:16-25) but since when we sin we receive grace should we purposely sin to receive more grace? "May it never be!" There is that same rebuke Paul used earlier in Romans which is the strongest form of rebuke, that such a notion should be wiped from your mind, in modern day English we might say "That's ridiculous!" Yes that is what happens when we sin (God's grace covers us) but Paul says how could a person who has died to sin still be motivated to live to sin?


17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17


You cannot be both a new creation in Christ Jesus and not a new creation in Christ Jesus. If you are in Christ then you have been made new (Rom. 8:9, 1 John 5:12). If you have been made new than your soul, that is, your inner man has been renewed and you no longer concur with the flesh as to desire to follow it's lusts with hearty approval (Rom. 1:32) but you concur with the law of God in your inner man (Rom. 7:20). A feat only accomplished by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:7). Paul is saying you cannot be in Christ and therefore dead to sin and still be alive to sin. Even Paul's very words "how shall we..." begs this conclusion. Yes grace increases when we sin but by God's doing we hate sin. We're free to do anything we want but a person dead to sin doesn't want sin. Paul is saying if someone merely views the beautiful, wonderful, holy grace of God as an opportunity, or a license to freely sin, then lovingly he suggest that you better check yourself to see if you are in Christ and have in fact died to sin, otherwise you don't belong to the Lord. If you belong to the Lord then you have the Spirit (Rom. 8:9). If you have the Son then you have the life (1 John 5:12), guaranteed (Rom. 4:16). Therefore you are dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11). This is a work only accomplished by God, but it very really is accomplished by God on your behalf. He did not, will not come up short! Isn't it wonderful that God's grace out performs our sins! (Rom. 5:20) Isn't it wonderful that we can rely on the Holy Spirit to bring about all the necessary inward changes that come with salvation in Christ! This is why in Christ we can rest (Matt. 11:28) God does it all! (1 Thess. 5:23) This is how deathbed conversions are possible; this is how the thief on the cross joined Jesus in paradise that very day (Luke 23:42-43). Legalist say get to work! Followers of Christ rely on God who works!


13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13


There is no condition on behalf of man for the this verse to be effective. If you have received Christ, it simply is. If you've received Christ, trust in His work in you to present you blameless come the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:8, Col. 1:22, 1 Thess. 5:23 below) and let your soul rest! (Matt. 11:29, Psa. 46:10). But Ryan, surely we must participate in some work toward our sanctification right? Or are you telling me that God is going to do it entirely?


23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23


If we trust God's Word that we are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) and that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21) and that the Holy Spirit is at work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). If we trust 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that God Himself will sanctify us entirely, then we no longer need concern ourselves with accomplishing all these things. This is the essence of God's grace working on our behalf! Unfortunately those not fully trusting in the work of God and who have a diminished view of His love of which His grace stems from are prone to worry about things like sin and are prone to worry about things like sanctification. Things that we were never equipped and are helpless to deal with in the first place (Matt. 5:3). How freeing it is to realize you are helpless to either save or sanctify yourself because it's when we realize our helplessness that we cease striving for these things and begin to turn to God, to be still and know that He is God! (Psa. 46:10a) And we begin to look to Him to be true to His word (since there is no other option, John 6:68). This is the essence of faith. One of the worst and most damaging lies we tell in church is the cry of legalism that says "You need to get to work". This undermines the grace of God and it gives people the illusion that they need to work to complete a task that only God can complete. Such a mindset makes one very weary and heavy laden, always working yet never arriving, always trying yet never being able to accomplish a task only God can accomplish (Matt. 5:17, Rom. 3:31), a task that legalism has convinced them is in their court to accomplish. Such a person under this deception is easily identified. They are stressed out, weary, if they aren't working for their salvation they are working to pay God back for it (they know they can't, but oddly they still try). They are always sizing themselves up, looking over the list of requirements and measuring their merits. Guilt and shame are their guides and accompany them to every event. Enjoyment to them is merely a reminder that there are better things they should be doing with their time. Like Martha was to Mary they are troubled when someone isn't working for the kingdom (Luke 10:40). They are troubled when Christians sit idly by at the feet of Jesus when they could at least be washing His feet while they are there (Luke 10:41, John 13:6). Their motto is: "What God demands is my business" When it should be "What God does is my business".


Such Christians are trying to live free from a prison cell. Why? Because freedom scares them. To step out of the cell which has been their home since they were born, terrifies them. "What if?" they say. What if I step out into that freedom and sin gets out of control? Jesus stands at the entrance and says "Come forth!" (John 11:43, Matt. 14:29) and they reply, "but Lord, if I step out from these binds I'll get worse!" Jesus, looking with love says, "what binds?" "Lord, my sin is like ivy, if I don't keep a close watch on it every day it will spread". "That's not yours to deal with, it's Mine" (Isa. 53:4, 2 Cor. 5:21).


Question: Do we take God at His word when He says we are dead to sin or do we listen to the lie that we are not? Do we believe Him that He dealt with our sin (2 Cor. 5:21) or do we feel the need to keep working, every day we are pruning that Ivy. What we fail to realize is, our sin, which Jesus bore (Isa. 53:4) was not Ivy but rather an all consuming wildfire which we have not the means to deal with. The enemy not only has us deceived in regards to God's gracious all-sufficient work accomplished on our behalf but he's deceived us into thinking we have the power to combat this sin in our own strength... and we're heading into a blazing wildfire armed with nothing more than shears. We are branches on the vine that are focusing on bearing fruit when we should be branches on the vine who are focused on Jesus Christ which consequently results in bearing fruit.


You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. - John 15:3-5


It's interesting when you read the phrase "weak in faith" in the bible. As a legalist I often equated this with an underperforming Christian but it's just the opposite. One who is weak in faith is one who is likely an overperforming Christian, or who's trying very hard (Matt. 11:28). Faith in Christ means a trust in Him, His accomplishments (John 19:30, Matt. 5:17), His working in us via the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:13), and His intercession before the Father (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25). Weak in faith simply means weak in trusting the reality of these things.


Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. - Romans 14:1-2


When we are weak in trusting in Christ's works then we feel compelled that we should work, making up the difference. But when we trust in Christ's accomplishments we begin to rest (Matt. 11:28-30) and enjoy our freedom and liberty.


But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?- 1 Corinthians 8:9-10


"who have knowledge" Referring to those who more fully know the liberty that comes with being in Christ. Also notice the care derived from those verses toward those who would be weak in their knowing such liberty. If you feel you are one who is weak in faith, know that this doesn't make God weak in His faithfulness toward you. As with Peter God cares about you deeply. Continuing in Romans 14 look at what Paul writes regarding the position before God of one who is weak in faith.


The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. - Romans 14:3 (emphasis mine)

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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


"Or do you not know..." The entire premise behind Paul's conclusions thus far is with the assumption that the cross of Christ and what that means for us has been established. That is, the reality that Jesus Christ the Son of God has come in the flesh (John 1:14), assumed our sin entirely (2 Cor. 5:21), and condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3) and the promise to the seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ) extends to all those whom receive Him and are therefore in Him and He in they. But since such objections are arising (see study on Romans 6:1-2) to the idea that where sin increases grace abounds, Paul is pointing out that if such questions are arising then you are missing the simplicity of the gospel and therefore he continues reiterating and elaborating on what happens when we receive Christ.


"... that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" Baptism in the early church followed so closely to conversion that the two were often linked (Acts 2:38). While baptism is symbolic and not required to enter into union with Christ (Remember the thief on the cross, Luke 23:42-43) it wonderfully depicts what happens when we are joined to Jesus Christ and He to us (Rev. 3:20), of the relationship and oneness with Jesus Christ that we enter into (John 17:21). Notice it says we were "baptized into Christ Jesus". When a person is baptized into Christ Jesus they are baptized into all that is derived from that union. What's derived is what we could call "the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8). The only condition for receiving "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly place in Christ" (Eph. 1:3) is that we are in fact "in Christ". That we've received Him (John 1:12). Once that is established, the flood waters of God's grace which He so desires to give (Isa. 30:18) are unrestrained and flow over us! There are not various degrees of His grace that flow over us as if somehow His grace was contingent on us and our performance, as if we were somehow only partly covered by the blood of Jesus, but they are contingent on His only begotten Son who was the perfect sacrifice and therefore fully satisfied the wrath of God. It's impossible to only be covered by part of the blood of Jesus. You either are entirely, or you're not at all (1 John 5:12). For those that receive Him they are entirely atoned for which means they are full beneficiaries of His accomplishments (Matt. 5:17, 2 Cor. 5:21).


32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? - Romans 8:32


When Paul speaks of being baptized into His death he is qualifying his statement from 6:2 that we who are in Christ, to the degree that we are in Christ is the same degree we are dead to sin. Since you cannot be partially in Christ, or partially atoned for, you also cannot be partially dead to sin. In Christ you are entirely dead to sin. So what does it mean to be dead to sin? It means we are dead to the sinful nature we inherited from Adam (see study on Romans 5:12-21). This is what scripture refers to as the "old self", "natural man", or "life of the flesh", a life that's dominated by our fleshly desires. When we are submerged in the water of baptism we are testifying a dying to the old self. When I was younger and would get in a tiff with one of my siblings, in a fit of anger I might shout "you're dead to me!". Essentially what I was saying is, even though they were close to me, so close that the same blood ran through our veins; I was now declaring they no longer held such a position but have been moved from a position of kin to a position to that of someone in the grave. (Man I said some harsh things as a kid... to be fair, both my siblings were 6 years older than me). I was letting them know we were no longer joined to me and that I had moved on and they were as separate to me as one who is dead.


Well, with my siblings this was harsh, with my sinful flesh this is a point to rejoice over! When we are joined with Christ we are dead to sin. In other words, while our flesh, and sin in our flesh still exists (for now), we are separated from it. We have moved and sin is dead to us and we to it.


11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; - Colossians 2:11


As Paul will get into more starting in Romans 7 (and therefore us too) there is very real separation of us from our body of flesh (which is the residency of sin, Rom. 7:17) that happens when we are joined to Christ. Being lowered and submerged into water when we are baptized is symbolizing this separation from the flesh that transpired when we joined ourselves to Christ, the water represents the grave and it's symbolizing a passing away of the old self. Being raised out of the water symbolizes being raised in the new self, up from the grave into the new creation we are in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). These are things that transpire when we receive Christ whether or not we are baptized in water. Being baptized however is our declaration to everyone that we have, by Christ's doing, undergone such an inward transformation; that we have received Jesus Christ.


Question: Have you been baptized?


Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:4


"newness of life" Something only available to those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:7), those that have been "born again" (John 3:5). When we are born again we are made dead to sin but alive to God (Rom. 6:11). When we are baptized we are buried with Him into death, and with Him raised from the dead "through the glory of the Father." In other words, by the same marvelous, wonderful, Character of the Father that raised Christ from the dead will also raise us from the dead!


For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, - Romans 6:5


Inasmuch as we are buried with Him we shall also be raised from the dead with Him. If you are in Christ the riches of Christ are yours in full. There will be nobody in Christ who only undergoes a partial transformation. There will be nobody in Christ who comes up short (Col. 2:10).


knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; - Romans 6:6


As Jesus died, so my old self died. "Self" means it was who you were, but now that old self was crucified with Christ, notice the past tense. Why did this happen? Paul answers; " order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;" the phrase "done away with" could also be translated "be put out of business". My body of sin has been put out of business, in other words, I'm no longer a customer there! Does this mean I won't struggle with sin any more? Yes and no. Yes the me that is me (new self) no longer sins, having been separated from the me that was me (old self) where sin still resides. Consider these two verses from the same book of the New Testament.


If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. - 1 John 1:8


No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. - 1 John 3:9


Question: How can we both be true? One born of God cannot sin, yet if we say that we have no sin we are lying? Paul will elaborate on this in Romans 7 but it's because one born of God is a new creation in Christ Jesus (new self) and has been separated from the body of death (old self) where sin, no longer us, resides. Our new self is Spirit-dominated and without blemish and yet at the same time, our old self, which is never regenerated is flesh-dominated, and for now (until death or Christ's return) tags along like gum on a shoe. What was once seemingly full of flavor, now is gross, disgusting, and we just want it to go away.


Look at how Paul describes these two at work:


25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. - Romans 7:25


This literally has us feeling beside ourselves at times. Paul felt this way too so know you're not alone.


for he who has died is freed from sin. - Romans 6:7


"freed" Notice the past tense. This is something that has already happened in the life of those made alive in Christ. It's not something we're working toward, it's not something we're working on, it's something Christ has accomplished (Col. 2:11) and was established the moment you received Him. Freed also denotes that we were previously enslaved, imprisoned, bound to something that had us in bondage.


When God created man He created him a threefold being made up of the spirit, soul (or mind & heart, Heb. 10:16, Eze. 11:19, Jer. 17:9), and body. When Adam sinned, that day his spirit died (Gen. 2:17) and ushered in the reign of death (Rom. 5:12) and every one of his descendants thereafter were spiritually stillborn (see study on Romans 5:12-21). This left man to be soul and body only, dead in spirit and therefore dead to God. When Adam was alive before the fall he was alive spiritually, his spirit was the dominating influence in his life, so much so that he wasn't even aware he was naked, (Gen. 2:25) he had not even noticed his flesh. When he ate of the tree, his spirit died, and instantly he was aware he was naked (Gen. 3:7) because the body of his flesh, being no longer trumped by his spirit, became the dominating influence in his life. In that moment he went from being a free man as is the reality of one who is spiritually alive to being an enslaved man because his mind and heart was no longer able to focus on the spirit but was only occupied by the needs of his body since his flesh was the only influence on him that remained. Now God has made our bodies, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa. 139:14), but our bodies weren't intended to operate apart from the spirit. With the spirit M.I.A. and the flesh only concerning itself with it's needs and wants, Adam was then occupied with only fleshly demands. The body cannot even consider Godly desires (Rom. 8:7, Gal. 5:17). This is what is known as being a slave to sin. Being spiritually dead we're slaves to the flesh and what the flesh wants does not line up with what the spirit wanted (Rom. 8:5-6, Gal. 5:17) therefore being a slave to the flesh and a slave to sin are synonymous. When we were first born we are born of the flesh (John 3:6) and therefore born into captivity because we are born disconnected from God and therefore spiritually dead. Because the flesh is our master we are subject to obey it's rule over us. Now let me say again, the flesh is made wonderfully in it's various systems created by God, it has a need for air so it's driven to breath, it has a need for water so it's driven to consume water, it has a need for food so it eats. Beyond our individual needs God designed a corporate system that required a need to procreate so we have a sex drive. God intended all these things to be enjoyable but He didn't intend for us to be enslaved by these bodily needs. They all have their place but they were not intended to rule over man. Man was not created to be consumed by the needs of his body (Ecc. 7:29) yet with the spirit dead that's exactly what happens.


14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. - 1 Corinthians 2:14


In other words, it's impossible for a man ruled by his body to operate as if he understood or accepted the things of the Spirit of God. It's not in the make up of the natural man, it's impossible.


For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, - Romans 8:5-7


Spiritual things can only be spiritually appraised and discerned and therefore require one to be spiritually alive. This is precisely what Jesus did when He made us alive together with Him (Eph. 2:5, Col. 2:13), He conquered the works of Adam and set us free from this body of death. But more than just set us free from this body and therefore dead to sin, He took us who were dead to God and made us alive to God!


For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. - Romans 8:2


If a person only ever concerns themselves with pleasure (Gen. 6:5) in their hearts and in their minds (Heb. 8:10, 10:16, Jer. 31:33, Eze. 11:19, 36:26) and therefore are showing they are ruled by their body then it's unlikely they are spiritually alive. If a person doesn't bear fruit of the Spirit to some degree and at some time (there are seasons) then they are likely not spiritually alive (Gal. 5:22-23). Paul shows the evidence of the two different natures here.


16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. - Galatians 5:16-25


Now if you've found you are consistently involved in the deeds of the flesh and always lacking the fruit of the Spirit, the answer is not to try and bear fruit of yourself but rather to receive Christ, be born again and thereby spiritually alive and the fruit will occur naturally, naturally according to your new Spiritually alive nature (2 Cor. 5:17, Matt. 7:17-18).


26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. - Ezekiel 36:26


If you are a believer and feel you're lacking fruit then I would encourage you to quit trying to bear fruit but return to Christ, sit at His feet (Luke 10:39, 5:16) and abide in Him. Being connected to the vine is the only requirement needed for us the branches to bear fruit (John 15:4).


Is it possible for a Christian who's alive in the spirit to still struggle with the flesh? I'm confident Paul would say yes given what he writes in the upcoming chapter. The bible makes it very clear that those alive in Christ still have fleshly desires (Gal. 5:16, Eph. 4:22). As long as the old self is stuck to us like a stick of gum we'll be at war with it (Gal. 5:17, Rom. 8:7). Notice here in verse 25 of Galatians 5 where Paul writes "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit". In other words, it's possible to live by the Spirit even though we may not be walking by the Spirit. Some day though, some day the flesh will no longer be stuck to our shoe, it will no longer be attached to our person. There will be no such thing as "old self" (Rom. 8:3) there will only be the new creation in Christ Jesus! (2 Cor. 5:17).


When we are baptized and we are put under the water we should have the mindset that my old self is dead, it's buried in the grave. This is why when we baptize we should not only make sure someone is fully submerged but maybe hold them under for awhile, this way they get the feeling of "dead" and "buried". (Sometimes I worry that humor in my mind doesn't translate well to paper but I was just kidding there.) Then when we come out of the water it's like resurrection. In the same way we were baptized into Christ's death we are also raised in Him too!


Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. - Romans 6:8-9


The equation is beautiful. If we have died with Christ we shall also live with Him. Christ was raised from the dead, never to die again, therefore death is no longer master over Him. In the same way, since we are in Christ we are never to die again and death shall no longer be master over us. While our flesh will die, when we are joined with Christ, the we that is the real us will not. The new self that is born again shall never suffer death even if if we die (John 11:25-26). Unlike Adam who died spiritually when he sinned, we, in Christ, share in His life and therefore we'll never die again, not even if our old self rears up. Why?


10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. - Romans 6:10


Because Christ died is why! Though He was innocent, for the sake of sinners Christ submitted to the "reign" of sin and by His death broke the judicial link between sin and death once for all! The disease of Adam stops halts at the cross and for those in Christ; we can never be reinfected because death no longer is master over Him as He allowed it to be on the cross!


11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. - Romans 6:11


The reality is that in Christ we are dead to sin but we're also called to consider or to reckon (KJV) ourselves as dead to sin, in other words to believe the reality of it. This is a position of faith. As long as were in this flesh we'll have to deal with our flesh and it's desire is to rule over us. However, in reality our old self was crucified with Christ and by faith we have to assert this position. Crucifixion is a slow and torturous death, the flesh doesn't die easily. It's important that we take two positions of faith in lieu of this reality, that is, that the old self or "natural man" is dead and that the new self is spiritually alive unto God through Christ. Since this is the reality, believe it! We will falter in our walk and we will still have fleshly desires, if it were not true we wouldn't need to take this consideration on faith. That however doesn't change the reality of this truth so don't let that faltering beat you up but by faith reckon, like Paul does in Romans 7:14-25 that it's not you! It's also important to realize that when we hate ourselves that we, by faith, aim it properly at the old self. That we no longer say "there is nothing good in me!" But rather we say, "there is nothing good in my flesh!" (Rom. 7:18). Often when we sin we take it out on our new self but it's not the new self that's to blame but the old self which is on it's way out (Rom. 6:7). Why should we cost the new self it's peace over something it hasn't done? (Rom. 7:17, 8:1). Why should we rob the new self of enjoying our victory in Jesus as if the victory never happened? Satan loves to remind us of our old self. When that happens remind him of your new self that is unshaken, seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).


Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, He is the one who surgically removes our soul from our flesh (Col. 2:11). When the flesh rears up take it to God! So often we like to think we're empowered to handle it but we're not. Go to God and say God, I'm being tempted, or after the falter, "God I yielded to the flesh but I consider that part of me dead, here I am sitting at your feet and I give it over to you. Once you've done that, leave it there, do not pick it up again and wallow no longer. In your reckoning also rejoice in what the Great Physician has done! You are alive in Christ and your flesh will never take that away from you! (Col. 2:12-14).

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12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, - Romans 6:12


"Therefore..." In other words, since this is the truth of the matter, since this was established when you received Christ. In our previous lesson we learn how those in Christ are dead to sin and alive to God. Paul, having spent time establishing that (see last study on Romans 6:3-11) now continues with life application of this reality.


Question: Why do you think Paul needed to instruct us to make life application of something that was a reality?


Answer: Because even though the fact we live by the Spirit is the reality (Gal. 5:25), if we don't believe we live by the Spirit we won't utilize the Spirit and will keep walking according to the flesh. Satan, "the father of lies" (John 8:44) has power as long as people believe the lie. His power is in the lie itself (2 Cor. 12:7). If he can get you to believe a lie he can render you ineffective. If however a Christian does not yield to the lie but rather takes up the shield of faith we will be victorious against "all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph 6:16).


Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. - Proverbs 4:23


A dear friend of mine was raised in a home that had some interesting ideologies. Through a series of interactions he was raised with the belief that you don't turn the heaters in the house up for risk of causing a fire. (There are many variables that could have ingrained this belief in him, that's a moot point here.) When he got married and moved out, his wife toward winter got cold and turned up the heater and he, according to his words, "freaked out". "You're gonna burn the place down!" he shouted to her as he turned the heater back down. He was raised that if you were cold you put a coat on rather than risk a house fire. She was raised that it was ok to use the heater and coats were for the outside. After they discussed it, they turned the heaters up and have used them since. Had his view not been corrected, though he had a perfectly working heater at his disposal, he may have still been sitting there in the winter days bundled up in his house, seeing his own breath.


If you can get a woman to believe she's not beautiful, she will act as one who is ashamed of her appearance. If you can get a man to believe he's not smart, he will act as one who lacks intelligence. If you can get a Christian to believe they are hopeless they will act is if they are without hope (John 21:3). If you can get a Christian to believe they are still bound by their sin they will act as if still bound by their sin. Though Jesus has unlocked the prison doors and set us free, if a Christian doesn't believe it, they will act as though they're not free. Paul is saying since you are free (Rom. 6:7), believe you are free! (Rom. 6:11). Since Jesus has opened the prison cell door, walk out of it!


Having established in verses 1-10 that in Christ (and He in us) we are dead to sin and alive to God, and in verse 11 encouraging us to take that position on faith, now starting in verse 12 Paul is instructing us to make life application of this reality of who we are in Christ.


" not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts," Sin once reigned in us, but now, having newness of life (Rom. 6:4) as we discussed last week, the old self has been severed from us and is no longer us. Furthermore, having been born again and alive to God our mind which was once hostile to God (Rom. 8:7) is this way no longer but now by God's doing it concurs with God! (Rom. 7:22). Since this is the reality, Paul is encouraging us to walk in that reality. When a man is born again by the Spirit, his spirit comes alive and takes reign over the soul.


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. - Romans 6:13


"and do not go on..." Paul understands and God understands that we were sold into slavery to sin when were born the first time of the flesh (Rom. 7:14) and that this is the reality for everyone who walks/walked the face of the earth (Rom. 5:12) (which should give us compassion toward the lost, understanding they are being ruled by their flesh). But he is saying for those in Christ is is this way no longer and therefore believe it and no longer act as though you still were. Notice the separation between "yourselves" and "your members". This is a division between the new self and old self as we discussed last week. Paul is now identifying to the recipient, specifically all those that have been born again the two parts at play and he's encouraging us to present ourselves (new self) as alive to God and also pull into obedience our members (old self) to also serve as instruments of righteousness to God. In other words, as a Christian I can use my hands for good or I can use my hands for evil. I can use my body, my members to sin, or I can use my body, my members to glorify God. In Romans 12 Paul will urge us to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). Paul has written that we should be imitators of him as he is an imitator of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). So let's look at Paul's example.


20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20


If we had no fleshly desires anymore then we would not have to take this position of faith as Paul gives us an example here. If we weren't still living in this body where the desires of the flesh are manifested then we would not need to live by faith in the flesh anymore. However since we are in this body still, we have to take a position of faith. What is this position of faith? It's a position of faith where we believe the reality that we (new self) are dead to sin and alive to Christ and in believing we walk in this reality. Now when we get to Romans 8 Paul will talk about when we no longer need to take this on faith when he speaks of all of creation groaning and suffering, waiting for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:22-23), but this hasn't happened yet. What a wonderful day that will be! Until then there will be a war between this redeemed spirit of ours and the body it currently inhabits. The two are in opposition to each other. The flesh sets it's desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh (Gal. 5:17). Both are warring against the other to control our mind. We are to take a stand of faith, we do not have to be ruled by our fleshly desires and are called to reckon that we are dead to that part of us.


14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:14


"For sin shall not be master over you" Paul conceived sin as a power that enslaves, and so personified it. Rebel it may, but as affirmed in 6:12, reign it will not! This verse isn't just a suggestion, as something that ought to be, but rather it's an absolute promise, as something that's guaranteed to be! That is, that sin will not reign nor be master over us! It's an encouragement to fight when we are sure of victory. Why are we sure of victory? "for you are not under law but under grace."


Question: What does it mean to not be under law? In modern day America, if a person was not subjected to the laws in America would it be possible for them to be convicted by it? No. Why? Because the law cannot convict whereas it has no authority to do so. If a king of a certain country were to decree "Ryan has immunity from the law" then I could finally drive as fast as I wanted in that country and no speed limit would have authority over me. On a smaller scale, perhaps one easier to relate too, if a parent says "My eldest child is of age and therefore not subjected to bedtime rules" then while the younger siblings would still be under the bedtime rules implemented by the parents the eldest would be free to stay up as late as they want.


In terms of God's law, when we entered into union with Christ we were and are covered by His grace. We are no longer under the law of Moses nor the restraint of the old testament prophets, but in Christ we are covered by God's grace! And that's ALWAYS how it is and therefore it's a sure thing (Rom. 4:16)! Sin only has power to rule over those under the law (Rom. 7:11), once a person is no longer under the law, sin loses all authority over that person. This was written for the follower to know that He can cheerfully engage with the conflict of sin without fear of the law. As the songwriter states, we're no longer a slave to fear. We always have the safety net of God's grace. This is the perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).


Question: How many times can we blow it? How many times can we fail and go to God for grace? Peter asked a question along these same lines (Matt. 18:21-22).


15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! - Romans 6:15


This is a similar objection to that proposed in verse 1 (see study on Romans 6:1-2). Paul once again is anticipating the objection by those who erroneously see Paul preaching licentiousness (meaning free to sin without consequence). To those who hold to some measure of a legal regiment Paul's words here about being under grace, and therefore under God's unearned, unmerited, unwarranted, and undeserved favor are disturbing to them. The idea of Paul preaching that a person in Christ is under grace and therefore our actions are free from any consequences imposed by the law bothers them, yet this is how it is! God gives grace and He gives it unconditionally, therefore we can be assured of our victory over sin because sin only has power whereas the law has power. When the law loses it's authority and can no longer condemn, sin through the law no longer has a way to kill (Rom. 7:11). Such legalistic focused people lose sight that it's actually in this freedom, in this grace where we can actually learn to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and that we can learn to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:12), a feat the law was unable to accomplish (Rom. 8:3-4). On the other end of the spectrum, to those who would see God's grace as nothing more than a license to sin, Paul continues.


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? - Romans 6:16


It is only the flesh that would see God's grace as a license to sin, this is never, ever, ever, communicated by the Spirit. To those in Christ, God's grace is seen as marvelous, beautiful, and as love for them that provokes them to love Him back! (1 John 4:19, Gal. 2:10b, 2 Cor. 5:14). If a person is only ever viewing God's grace as a license to sin then such a person is only getting messages from the flesh. Like we discussed before, you cannot be both dead to sin and alive to sin (Rom. 6:2). Yet one who views God's grace as an opportunity to sin more is alive to sin. Paul is saying here that you are a slave to that which you obey. It makes since. You cannot be a slave to one master and obey another. If I call myself a slave to God and yet I present myself a slave to sin, ready to obey it's rule, then I'm really a slave to sin since I seek to serve it.


24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Matthew 6:24


"...two masters..." An accurate way to view the flesh and the Spirit. Prior to being born again and made alive in the Spirit we only had one master, the flesh. Interestingly, after coming to Christ there becomes two masters. The former does not go away, not right away (Rom. 8:22-23). If we submit to one then we hate the other or at least despise the other. Both have different dominions so you cannot dwell with both. Both have different goals, different objectives, different demands and they are in opposition to one another (Gal. 5:17). Choosing to obey one is at the same time choosing to deny the other. This is what's known as a double-action. When you turn to Christ you essentially are turning away from sin (Acts 26:20). Does this mean as Christians we won't struggle with paying attention to the demands of the old master? No. We will even falter. But what it does mean is that our inner man will now hate and despise the old master even when we falter.


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, - Romans 6:17


By the inherent nature from Adam everyone is born into captivity under the rule of sin (Rom. 5:17). However when a person hears the gospel (Eph. 1:13) and heed (take to heart) the good news, to God's credit (Eph. 1:14) that person is set free from the former master (sin).


18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. - Romans 6:18


Being free from sin and becoming a slave to righteousness is a double action. If you've left one dominion you've joined the other. In terms of a Christian, when we are made alive spiritually, in doing so, God writes His laws on our hearts and on our minds (Eze. 11:19, 36:26, Heb. 10:16) and from the heart we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) and therefore not grudgingly but joyfully we became slaves of righteousness. We are not forced into righteousness (1 Peter 2:16), Christ came to set us free, but being freed men and women who are no longer slaves to sin we have a longing for righteousness (Phil. 2:13).


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


"I am speaking in human terms..." (cf. Rom. 3:5). It was estimated in those days that approximately 1/3rd of the Roman population were slaves and another 1/3rd of them had formerly been slaves. Paul is speaking to them in a way that would be easier for them to understand "...because of the weakness of your flesh", an analogy that they all can relate with, but using the word "slave" when applying it to Christians who are free in Christ naturally presents a problem. "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." This may be the "human terms" Paul was speaking of. He makes a comparison to the recipient between how they used to present their members as slaves to impurity and how they should now in like fashion present their members as slaves to righteousness. All men should be able to relate to how they previously submitted themselves as slaves to impurity since all men have been doing this since they were born in the flesh. Therefore even new Christians would have experience to draw from on this subject. So if we understand the dynamic behind how that worked when we submitted our members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, then Paul is saying, do likewise but unto righteousness which yields a completely different result. He then continues to elaborate.


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. - Romans 6:20-21


" in regard to righteousness." Meaning when we obeyed the old nature, we were free from having anything to do with righteousness. In other words you weren't doing righteous things. The pursuits of the flesh can be found to be in one of three categories, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life and they are not of God.


15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 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. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. - 1 John 2:15-17


"Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?" In other words, looking back on your life under the old ruler of sin, what benefit did you derive from the things you did, what do you have to show for it? How did these pursuits benefit you? What true value was found in doing those things? If you ask an unbeliever this question you will frustrate them. They (and formerly us) work hard chasing "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16) and showing them the futility upsets them. Nobody likes it being revealed that they are in a mouse wheel, that all their striving is pointless. This is because they focus on these things and yet miss the bigger picture. They would desire to own the entire world if they could yet missing the glaring obstacle to come. Jesus puts it this way.


26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? - Matthew 16:26


Question: How does the world measure success? What kind of things do those in the world pursue? What is the lasting value of those things (if any)?


There's an age old saying "he who dies with the most toys still dies". Power, wealth, and health, none of their possessors will escape the grave, all of these ways still lead to death. There is nothing worthwhile or lasting that is done in the flesh. It's interesting that men know this but not having a new nature they still obey the demands of the flesh nature. In fact, lacking wisdom I've heard them counter this age old saying with "he who dies with the most toys dies happy" not only disillusioned that having more things somehow bring happiness but missing the elephant on the wall (you heard me) being the fact death is coming and they will lose everything and there's nothing they can do to stop it. People work hard to buy things like houses denying the fact that in 100 years someone else won't be living in their very spot, and if still standing someone else will be in their very house, laying claim to what was once there's and there's nothing they can do about it. Midlife crisis is often triggered by someone being brought back to this reality when they get sick or someone close to them passes away. It forces them, even if but for a moment, to no longer deny that there is an elephant on the wall being death is coming (Ecc. 7:2). In lieu of the wisdom Jesus is offering here Paul is asking some tough questions. He says consider these times you chased these things demanded by your old nature and tell me, what true benefit were you then driving from them? Tell me, how were you truly profitable from these things which you are now ashamed?


22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. - Romans 6:22


In comparison consider the benefits of being enslaved to God. One might ask what benefit there is of which there are many (Psa. 16:11, Rom. 14:17 to name a few). Paul shows in contract to the results of being enslaved to sin and how those things lead to death, He now shows the benefit of being enslaved to God which is "eternal life".


If you can picture being a slave to a master, in this case the old nature, and thus submitting to all of it's decrees and desires, Paul is saying do likewise just like you did then but do so unto your new master, as one no longer enslaved to the things that we're now ashamed of but as one who is enslaved to God. He then encourages us to consider the result of the two. The former, who's outcome is death which we submitted to when were were under it's rule, now, being freed from sin and being enslaved to God, we derive a real benefit resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. Therefore unlike the previous master which outcome was death we have every reason to be encouraged to obey the new master which results in our sanctification, that is, holiness, living a holy life, no longer polluted by the things of the world and the things of the flesh, and the end result is 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 6:23


"the wages of sin is death" this has never changed. The reward of a sinful life is death. But in contract, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.


So here we are with a choice. To live after the flesh or to live after the Spirit. To yield my body, my members to sin, or to yield my body, my members to God, to His Spirit, for Him to use it for His purposes. To walk after the flesh or to walk after the Spirit. God has made provision where I don't have to be ruled by the flesh any longer, I can now live a new life ruled and governed by the Spirit, and it's my choice whether or not my life will be ruled by the flesh or by the Spirit but the wages of sin is death, but this wonderful gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ!

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Have some feedback, insight, questions, comments, prayer requests, etc? Maybe you just want to share what God is doing in your life (I love praise reports), or maybe you can relate to some of the things here and need an ear. I'd love to hear from you!