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6. Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? 3Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; 6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; 7for he that hath died is justified from sin. 8But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; 9knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him. 10For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: 13neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. 15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid. 16Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; 18and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness. 19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. 20For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness. 21What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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11. So count ye also yourselves, etc. Now is added a definition of that analogy to which I have referred. For having stated that Christ once died to sin and lives for ever to God, he now, applying both to us, reminds us how we now die while living, that is, when we renounce sin. But he omits not the other part, that is, how we are to live after having by faith received the grace of Christ: for though the mortifying of the flesh is only begun in us, yet the life of sin is destroyed, so that afterwards spiritual newness, which is divine, continues perpetually. For except Christ were to slay sin in us at once to the end, his grace would by no means be sure and durable.

The meaning, then, of the words may be thus expressed, “Take this view of your case, — that as Christ once died for the purpose of destroying sin, so you have once died, that in future you may cease from sin; yea, you must daily proceed with that work of mortifying, which is begun in you, till sin be wholly destroyed: as Christ is raised to an incorruptible life, so you are regenerated by the grace of God, that you may lead a life of holiness and righteousness, inasmuch as the power of the Holy Spirit, by which ye have been renewed, is eternal, and shall ever continue the same.” But I prefer to retain the words of Paul, in Christ Jesus, rather than to translate with Erasmus, through Christ Jesus; for thus the grafting, which makes us one with Christ, is better expressed.

12. Let not sin then, etc. He now begins with exhortation, which naturally arises from the doctrine which he had delivered respecting our fellowship with Christ. Though sin dwells in us, it is inconsistent that it should be so vigorous as to exercise its reigning power; for the power of sanctification ought to be superior to it, so that our life may testify that we are really the members of Christ. I have already reminded you that the word body is not to be taken for flesh, and skin, and bones, but, so to speak, for the whole of what man is. 191191     That is, as a corrupt being: literally it is “for the whole mass of man.” The “body” here may be the same with that of “the old man” in Romans 6:6; and the word for “lusts,” ἐπιθυμίαις, is often applied to designate the desires of the mind as well as the lusts of the natural body. The word, θνητω, “mortal,” would in this case mean, doomed to die, having been crucified; it is a body in the process of dying. Innate sin is here personified as a king, a ruler, and as having a body, he being “the old man;” and this body is represented as belonging to Christians — “your,” as the old man is — “our old man.” — Ed. This may undoubtedly be inferred from the passage; for the other clause, which he immediately subjoins respecting the members of the body, includes the soul also: and thus in a disparaging manner does Paul designate earthly man, for owing to the corruption of our nature we aspire to nothing worthy of our original. So also does God say in Genesis 6:3; where he complains that man was become flesh like the brute animals, and thus allows him nothing but what is earthly. To the same purpose is the declaration of Christ, “What is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John 3:6.) But if any makes this objection — that the case with the soul is different; to this the ready answer is — that in our present degenerate state our souls are fixed to the earth, and so enslaved to our bodies, that they have fallen from their own superiority. In a word, the nature of man is said to be corporeal, because he is destitute of celestial grace, and is only a sort of empty shadow or image. We may add, that the body, by way of contempt, is said by Paul to be mortal, and this to teach us, that the whole nature of man tends to death and ruin. Still further, he gives the name of sin to the original depravity which dwells in our hearts, and which leads us to sin, and from which indeed all evil deeds and abominations stream forth. In the middle, between sin and us, he places lusts, as the former has the office of a king, while lusts are its edicts and commands.

13. Nor present your members, etc. When once sin has obtained dominion in our soul, all our faculties are continually applied to its service. He therefore describes here the reign of sin by what follows it, that he might more clearly show what must be done by us, if we would shake off its yoke. But he borrows a similitude from the military office, when he calls our members weapons or arms (arma); 192192     The idea of a king, a ruler, or a tyrant, is preserved throughout. Innate sin is a ruler, carrying on a warfare, and therefore has weapons which he employs. In the preceding verse are mentioned the gratifications with which he indulges his subjects — “lusts,” here the weapons by which he defends his kingdom, and carries on an offensive warfare, committing acts of wickedness and wrong — “weapons of injustice, ἀδικίας.” “He who sins,” says an old author, “does wrong either to himself or to his neighbor, and always to God.” — Ed. as though he said, “As the soldier has ever his arms ready, that he may use them whenever he is ordered by his general, and as he never uses them but at his command; so Christians ought to regard all their faculties to be the weapons of the spiritual warfare: if then they employ any of their members in the indulgence of depravity, they are in the service of sin. But they have made the oath of soldiers to God and to Christ, and by this they are held bound: it hence behoves them to be far away from any intercourse with the camps of sin.” — Those may also here see by what right they proudly lay claim to the Christian name, who have all their members, as though they were the prostitutes of Satan, prepared to commit every kind of abomination.

On the other hand, he now bids us to present ourselves wholly to God, so that restraining our minds and hearts from all wanderings into which the lusts of the flesh may draw us, we may regard the will of God alone, being ready to receive his commands, and prepared to execute his orders; and that our members also may be devoted and consecrated to his will, so that all the faculties both of our souls and of our bodies may aspire after nothing but his glory. The reason for this is also added — that the Lord, having destroyed our former life, has not in vain created us for another, which ought to be accompanied with suitable actions.

14. For sin shall not rule over you, etc. It is not necessary to continue long in repeating and confuting expositions, which have little or no appearance of truth. There is one which has more probability in its favor than the rest, and it is this — that by law we are to understand the letter of the law, which cannot renovate the soul, and by grace, the grace of the Spirit, by which we are freed from depraved lusts. But this I do not wholly approve of; for if we take this meaning, what is the object of the question which immediately follows, “Shall we sin because we are not under the law?” Certainly the Apostle would never have put this question, had he not understood, that we are freed from the strictness of the law, so that God no more deals with us according to the high demands of justice. There is then no doubt but that he meant here to indicate some freedom from the very law of God. But laying aside controversy, I will briefly explain my view.

It seems to me, that there is here especially a consolation offered, by which the faithful are to be strengthened, lest they should faint in their efforts after holiness, through a consciousness of their own weakness. He had exhorted them to devote all their faculties to the service of righteousness; but as they carry about them the relics of the flesh, they cannot do otherwise than walk somewhat lamely. Hence, lest being broken down by a consciousness of their infirmity they should despond, he seasonably comes to their aid, by interposing a consolation, derived from this circumstance — that their works are not now tested by the strict rule of the law, but that God, remitting their impurity, does kindly and mercifully accept them. The yoke of the law cannot do otherwise than tear and bruise those who carry it. It hence follows, that the faithful must flee to Christ, and implore him to be the defender of their freedom: and as such he exhibits himself; for he underwent the bondage of the law, to which he was himself no debtor, for this end — that he might, as the Apostle says, redeem those who were under the law.

Hence, not to be under the law means, not only that we are not under the letter which prescribes what involves us in guilt, as we are not able to perform it, but also that we are no longer subject to the law, as requiring perfect righteousness, and pronouncing death on all who deviate from it in any part. In like manner, by the word grace, we are to understand both parts of redemption — the remission of sins, by which God imputes righteousness to us, — and the sanctification of the Spirit, by whom he forms us anew unto good works. The adversative particle, [ἀλλὰ, but,] I take in the sense of alleging a reason, which is not unfrequently the case; as though it was said — “We who are under grace, are not therefore under the law.”

The sense now is clear; for the Apostle intended to comfort us, lest we should be wearied in our minds, while striving to do what is right, because we still find in ourselves many imperfections. For how much soever we may be harassed by the stings of sin, it cannot yet overcome us, for we are enabled to conquer it by the Spirit of God; and then, being under grace, we are freed from the rigorous requirements of the law. We must further understand, that the Apostle assumes it as granted, that all who are without the grace of God, being bound under the yoke of the law, are under condemnation. And so we may on the other hand conclude, that as long as they are under the law, they are subject to the dominion of sin. 194194     The word “law” here, is taken by Scott and others, indefinitely, as meaning law as the ground of the covenant of works, written or unwritten; and the literal rendering is, “under law” — ὑπὸ νόμου; and it is the same in the next verse, “under law.” — Ed.




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