Romans 3:21-5:21 taught justification—Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer and sin is pardoned. The next three chapters teach sanctification—the Spirit infuses grace, enabling the believer to grow in holiness so that sin is subdued. Paul details the Christian’s responsibility regarding sin (chap. 6), the Christian’s relationship to the Law (chap. 7), and the Christian’s rest in Jesus Christ (chap. 8).
First, Paul teaches that because Christians are dead to sin and alive to Christ they must live that way (6:1-14). He begins by stating a possible charge: “Since the gospel teaches believers’ every sin is covered by grace, this promotes the idea that they will sin with gusto so there’s more grace” (v. 1). He answers by pointing to this fact, that believers are united with Christ so that sin’s power is broken and they will live for righteousness (vv. 1-10). This fact involves a command: believers must zealously serve the Lord, their new master (vv. 11-23). The Christian’s responsibility regarding sin is to stop sinning and serve the Lord.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Baptism in verses 3-4 is seen as either Spirit baptism which happens at conversionor water baptism of a new believer. Water baptism symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ, death to sin, and resurrection to new life. Spirit baptism accomplishes those facts. Water baptism cannot wash away sin or unite one with Christ. With that said, the NT knows nothing of one baptized with water but not the Spirit, nor of one baptized with the Spirit but not water. Thus, verses 3-4 think back to conversion and all it involved—Spirit and water baptism.
- The “old man” (v. 6) refers to the believer’s entire life as an unbeliever. It is “old” in the sense of past, destroyed, non-existent. Because this is so Christian, you must live like it (vv. 11-14)!
Though Christians are freed from sin’s dominating tyranny, they are not free from sin’s presence in their life