By John Phillips
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
There is, of course, no literary break between Romans 5 and Romans 6; the one chapter continues the argument begun in the other. Paul is still dealing with the subject of sin rather than sins, but now he is going to show that Christ's victory at Calvary liberates us not only from sin's penalty but also from its power. Our security gives us no excuse to "continue in sin" (6:1). On the contrary, we who were once "dead in sin" are now "dead to sin." Far from the doctrine of eternal security of the believer resulting in freedom to sin, it actually sets before us our freedom from sin. The expression "free from sin" occurs three times in Romans 6 (vv. 7, 18, 22).
I. Deliverance from the Domain of Death (6:1-11)
According to Paul, ignorance is a key factor in hindering a life of victory. The expression "know ye not" occurs three times in this section of the epistle (6:3, 16; 7:1) and helps us divide the section into its component parts. The expression "through Jesus Christ our Lord" is another key expression and occurs once in each of these parts (6:11, 23; 7:25). The first area of ignorance with which Paul deals has to do with the domain of death. Death, once our enemy, is now actually made to minister to the believer the benefits of Christ's victory over the tomb.
A. The Reality of Our Death with Christ (6:1-5)
The idea that the believer has already died is so revolutionary that Paul begins by asserting (1) the truth of it. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (vv. 1-2). Nothing can be more unresponsive than a person who is dead. Imagine someone trying to evoke a reaction from a corpse! It can be caressed, commanded, or kicked and no response will come, for the simple reason that it is dead to all such stimuli. God reckons the believer to be dead to the promptings of sin.
In a certain church was a narrow, bigoted old deacon, wedded to the old paths and suspicious of anything new. A dried up old die-hard was he, sitting in judgment on all who refused to be ruled by his view of Scripture, acid of temperament and barren of soul. Although that was not his real name, we shall call him Macadam. To this church came a young man with the fresh dew of God's anointing upon him, a young man of vision, gift, charm and possessed of an unusual grasp of Scripture and a distinct measure of wisdom. This young man's ministry was singularly blessed of God to the salvation of souls and the quickening of many of God's people. But, inevitably perhaps, some of his views did not coincide with those of the dour old Scot who ruled the deaconate. For years the deacon did all in his power to discourage, oppose and criticize the younger man. One day another member of this church asked the younger man how he managed to put up with this deacon. "William," was the startling reply, "I died to Macadam five years ago." This young man had grasped the secret of the believer's death with Christ. Let us grasp the truth of it — "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" There should be in our lives such an experience of the reality of our death with Christ that sin can evoke no response from us at all.