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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.
1. What then shall we say? Throughout this chapter the Apostle proves, that they who imagine that gratuitous righteousness is given us by him, apart from newness of life, shamefully rend Christ asunder: nay, he goes further, and refers to this objection, — that there seems in this case to be an opportunity for the display of grace, if men continued fixed in sin. We indeed know that nothing is more natural than that the flesh should indulge itself under any excuse, and also that Satan should invent all kinds of slander, in order to discredit the doctrine of grace; which to him is by no means difficult. For since everything that is announced concerning Christ seems very paradoxical to human judgment, it ought not to be deemed a new thing, that the flesh, hearing of justification by faith, should so often strike, as it were, against so many stumbling-stones. Let us, however, go on in our course; nor let Christ be suppressed, because he is to many a stone of offense, and a rock of stumbling; for as he is for ruin to the ungodly, so he is to the godly for a resurrection. We ought, at the same time, ever to obviate unreasonable questions, lest the Christian faith should appear to contain anything absurd.
The Apostle now takes notice of that most common objection against the preaching of divine grace, which is this, — “That if it be true, that the more bountifully and abundantly will the grace of God aid us, the more completely we are overwhelmed with the mass of sin; then nothing is better for us than to be sunk into the depth of sin, and often to provoke God’s wrath with new offenses; for then at length we shall find more abounding grace; than which nothing better can be desired.” The refutation of this we shall here after meet with.
2. By no means. To some the Apostle seems to have only intended indignantly to reprove a madness so outrageous; but it appears from other places that he commonly used an answer of this kind, even while carrying on a long argument; as indeed he does here, for he proceeds carefully to disprove the propounded slander. He, however, first rejects it by an indignant negative, in order to impress it on the minds of his readers, that nothing can be more inconsistent than that the grace of Christ, the repairer of our righteousness, should nourish our vices.
Who have died to sin, etc. An argument derived from what is of an opposite character. “He who sins certainly lives to sin; we have died to sin through the grace of Christ; then it is false, that what abolishes sin gives vigor to it.” The state of the case is really this, — that the faithful are never reconciled to
God without the gift of regeneration; nay, we are for this end justified, — that we may afterwards serve God in holiness of life. Christ indeed does not cleanse us by his blood, nor render God propitious to us by his expiation, in any other way than by making us partakers of his Spirit, who renews us to a holy life. It would then be a most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in Christ; for medicine is not a feeder of
the disease, which it destroys.
This phrase, “died to sin,” is evidently misapprehended by Haldane Having been offended, and justly so, by an unguarded and erroneous expression of Stuart, derived from Chrysostom, and by the false rendering of Macknight, he went to another extreme, and maintained, that to die, or to be dead to sin, means to be freed from its
guilt, while the whole context proves, that it means deliverance from its power as a master, from the servitude or bondage of sin. To live in it, does not mean to live under its guilt, but in its service and under its ruling power; and this is what the Apostle represents as a contrast to being dead to sin. Not to “serve sin,” in Romans 6:6, is its true explanation. See also
Romans 6:11, 12, and 14.
The very argument requires this meaning. The question in the first verse, — Shall we continue in sin?” does not surely mean — shall we continue in or under the guilt of sin? but in its service, and in the practice of it. It was the chapter of practical licentiousness that the Apostle rebuts; and he employs an argument suitable to the purpose, “If we are dead to sin, freed from it as our master, how absurd it is to suppose that we can live any longer in its service?” Then he shows in what follows how this had been effected. This is clearly the import of the passage, and so taken by almost all commentators.
But it must be added, that Venema and Chalmers materially agree with Haldane The former says that to “die to sin” is to give to sin what it demands and that is, death; and that when this is given, it can require nothing more. In this sense, he adds, Christ died to sin (Romans 6:10); and in the same sense believers die to sin, being, as they are, united to Christ, his death being viewed as their death. However true this theology may be, (and Chalmers shows this in his own inimitable manner,) it does not seem to be taught here: though there may be something in one or two expressions to favor it; yet the whole tenor of the passage, and many of the phrases, seem clearly to constrain us to adopt the other view. — Ed. We must further bear in mind, what I have already referred to — that Paul does not state here what God finds us to be, when he calls us to an union with his Son, but what it behoves us to be, after he has had mercy on us, and has freely adopted us; for by an adverb, denoting a future time, he shows what kind of change ought to follow righteousness.