Introduction: Paul concluded chapter five with a strong statement about the power of God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). If that is true, some might try to make the case that we should actually sin more in order to obtain more grace. But Paul will counter that idea in chapter six and explain the relationship that should exist between a Christian and sin.
I. Dead to Sin (6:1-14)
A. Paul asks a question that may have been on the minds of some, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer is an emphatic negative. Those who have died to sin cannot continue to live in it (1-2).
B. Next he explains that when one is baptized, there is a death, a burial, and a resurrection that take place (3-4).
1. We die to the habitual practice of sin when we make up our minds that we are going to believe in, trust, and follow Jesus. We call that “repentance.” While we will still commit momentary, isolated sins, we will no longer live in sin. It will not dominate our lives like it once did (1 John 3:4-10).
2. Having died to the practice of sin, we are buried in water, and raised from the water into a new life (4). This marks the moment that our lives and our status before God change.
3. An important application point as it relates to baptism and salvation: just as Jesus was not raised to new life until he was first buried, it is the same with one who is baptized. The new life begins after the burial, not before.
C. Explaining further, Paul says that our “old man (self)” was, in a sense, crucified so that our sins would no longer enslave us (6-7; cf. Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:20-24).
D. Having been released from the enslaving power of sin, we can now live eternally with him (8-10). Therefore, the Christian should consider himself dead to the practice of sin, but very much alive in relation to God (11).
E. The practical application of the “dead to sin, alive to God” principle is that we are not to allow sin to rule us. We are to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (12-14).
F. The bottom line is that when one decides to become a Christian, he is making a commitment to live differently. One cannot be joined to Christ in baptism and come up from the water content to live as he did before.
1. So if one is living in adultery, he cannot become a Christian and continue to live in adultery (Col. 3:5-7).
2. If one is a thief, he cannot become a Christian and continue to steal (Eph. 4:28).
3. The Corinthians are a great example of this: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
II. Slaves to Righteousness (6:15-23)
A. Just in case someone might try to contradict Paul’s teaching a different way, the apostle closes that door, too. The possible objection: “If we live under the grace of God, then it shouldn’t matter if we sin. Grace gives us license to live however we want, right?” Wrong (15).
B. Paul explains again, but in different words, what he explained earlier. Everyone serves either sin or righteousness (16). The Christians in Rome had been servants of sin, but when they obeyed the gospel they became servants of righteousness (17-18).
1. The “form” of doctrine refers to what Paul described in 6:3-4. “Form” means pattern. There was a pattern that they imitated when they became Christians.
2. Just as Jesus died FOR sin, was buried in the earth, and raised from that grave, we die TO sin, are buried in water, and raised again. This is how one “obeys the gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17).
C. Paul admits to using a rudimentary comparison, but it serves his purpose to communicate the necessity of not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (19).
D. When they were living as slaves to sin, they were producing no fruit worthy of praise. Instead, they were producing things that bring shame and death (20-21). But now as slaves of God, they produce fruit that leads to holiness and eternal life (22).
E. Living in sin brings death. But God offers eternal life as a gift through Jesus Christ (23).
Conclusion: Grace is a blessing too valuable to adequately describe. It is impossible to out-sin the power of God’s grace (Rom. 5:20). But that does not mean that we have the right to try (Rom. 6:1-2). Our attitude toward sin should be, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4:14-15).