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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Romans 6

 

 

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Verses 1-10

He that is dead is freed from sin

Romans 6:1-10

Romans 6:1. This chapter begins with an objection which Paul knew would be presented against the gospel of free grace. Someone will say, ‘If we are justified by the grace of God alone, apart from any works, what is to keep us from continuing in sin? If, where our sin is the worst and our guilt is the greatest, God's grace abounds and is glorified, then let us sin more and more that grace may be glorified.’

To begin with, sin of itself is not the cause of glorifying God's grace. Sin is the cause of wrath and judgment, not grace. God has been pleased to magnify his grace in the pardon of sin. It is not by the commission of sin that grace is glorified but by the forgiveness of it! Grace is glorified by putting a stop to the reign of sin, not by encouraging it. Grace enables men to hate and be done with sin, not to love and pursue it.

Romans 6:2. ‘God forbid’ is an expression Paul frequently uses to express shock and abhorrence at a thing. ‘How shall we who are dead to sin, live in sin?’

1. In what sense are we dead to sin? We are not dead to its influence (Romans 7:15; Romans 7:19), nor to its presence (Romans 7:21), nor to its effects (Romans 7:24; Psalms 51:3). Our Lord taught us to pray, ‘Forgive us our sins’ (John 1:9). We are dead to its penalty and guilt; sin cannot condemn us (Romans 8:33-34). We are dead to sin as a master who rules over us; Christ is our Lord. We are dead to sin as a course of life; it is not looked upon as a friend but as an enemy.

2. How shall we who have this attitude toward sin actually live in sin? Persons are said to live in sin when they give themselves up to it, when they are bent upon it, when sin is their pleasure and delight, and when they offer no real resistance to it. Living in sin and justifying sin are contrary to the Spirit of Christ and like the world (1 John 2:15-16).

Romans 6:3-4. In these two verses Paul gives a full answer to the objection set forth in Romans 6:1 by showing that the sanctification of the believer rests on the same foundation as his justification–union with Christ! There are two baptisms mentioned here.

1. We are baptized into Christ. This is no figure but an actual experience. There is a real union with the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of God in which we are actually one with Christ (John 17:23; John 4:12; Galatians 2:20). I can no more be an ally of sin than Christ can, for we are one.

2. We are baptized in water. What is the meaning of our baptism? We are confessing that we are identified with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. We are dead to the old life, it is buried, and we rise to walk as new creatures with new hearts, new principles, and a new life (Philippians 3:8-11).

Romans 6:5. The nature of baptism is a burial, which signifies not only our being dead with Christ and the blessing resulting from that union, but our being dead to the world and sin even as Christ was done with the sins he bore. The end of baptism is a resurrection. The person does not remain buried in water but rises even as Christ arose, and that in the likeness of his resurrection–no longer under the control of sin and self but under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). The reference here may also be to life after the resurrection as in Romans 6:8-10.

Romans 6:6. ‘Our old man.’ It is called our old man because it is with us from birth and is the old nature received from our father Adam. It consists of parts and members such as will, mind, affection, and actions (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9-10). This old nature can never be improved; it must be destroyed. It was crucified daily by the spirit and grace of Christ that its reigning power might be subdued. It remains with us until death; but we shall not indulge it nor make provisions for it, but crucify it (Galatians 5:24). We serve Christ, not sin (Romans 6:16).

Romans 6:7. This is not physical death. We shall one day die physically and be freed forever from the very presence of sin; but the reference here is to the fact that, being one with Christ in his death under the curse of the law, having paid the full penalty, we are totally clear of any penalty, curse, or charge. We are not free from the presence of sin, nor from the burden of it, nor from a continual war with it, nor even from it in our best deeds; but we are free from its dominion, from the guilt of it, and from punishment on account of it.

Romans 6:8-10. Since believers are one with Christ in his death, they have a sure hope of forever living with him. The reference here is to life after the resurrection. Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again, so neither will those who have died with him and are risen with him. The law, sin and death have no charge against us: for the full price is paid, the law is honored, and justice is satisfied (Romans 8:32-34). He died to sin once, because in that death he fully satisfied every charge. He lives unto God in unbroken fellowship with him.

If you do not see complete deliverance from sin's curse, guilt, and dominion in Christ, sin will continue its hold and reign over you. If you cannot see complete deliverance in Christ, you will open the door to unbelief and doubt and leave room for attacks from legalism and self-righteousness.


Verses 11-23

Servants of sin or servants of God

Romans 6:11-23

In the preceding verses Paul has proved that the gospel of justification by faith does not lead to a life of sin, but, rather, faith in and a love for Christ are the very foundation of and motivation for holiness (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). The object of the rest of the chapter is to exhort believers to live agreeably to their union with Christ and consistently with the design of the gospel (Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 3:12-14). Those who are justified are sanctified. These two blessings are never separated in scripture (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 4:7-8).

Romans 6:11. In consequence of our relation to Christ, there are two things we should reckon to be true.

1. 'We are dead indeed to sin.' Our sin is pardoned, paid for and put away. We do not fear condemnation or death on account of it, nor do we have any fellowship with it, nor shall it be permitted to reign over us any longer.

2. 'We are alive unto God, through our Lord Jesus.' As justified persons we live spiritually in the sight of God, having the righteousness of Christ and eternal life through him. As sanctified persons (who feel the burden of sin and the corruption of the flesh) we love Christ, his word, his people and his commandments, and walk in the spirit, not fulfilling the lusts of our flesh.

Romans 6:12. Since Christ is our Lord and Master, his way is pleasing to us and his commandments are not grievous. We desire to live for his glory and to manifest his grace. Sin remains in the believer (to his dismay and regret), but it does not reign as his master. Sin is a struggle; it tries us and troubles us, but does not dominate or control us. Sin is said to be obeyed when we make provisions for it without struggle or opposition.

Romans 6:13. The Amplified Version reads, 'Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members and faculties to sin as tools of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to life, and your bodily members to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.' Our hearts ought to be filled with love and kindness – not hatred, envy and complaints. Our thoughts need to be on things pure, lovely and of good report – not on flesh, materialism and the world. Our tongues should be used in praise, encouragement and witnessing – not in gossip, criticism and murmuring. Our hands and feet should be serving others – not employed only in selfish pursuits.

Romans 6:14. Nothing is more certain than this! God's purpose, grace and spirit are pledged to prevent it. We are in the kingdom of his dear Son. Christ is our Lord and sin is dethroned. We are not under law as a covenant, a curse or condemnation. We are under grace! We are under the reign of grace - the principle of grace. True holiness is not the result of law, but the result of grace in the heart (Galatians 5:13-17).

Romans 6:15. The person who suggests that, since we are not under the law but under grace, we should therefore give vent to the flesh and sin, reveals his total ignorance of the grace of God and the work of Christ. Before a man is regenerated, he does love evil and himself, and he hates God and holiness, but after regeneration he loves God, holiness and others. We are not looking for an excuse to sin, but we are looking for strength to avoid it.

Romans 6:16. This is a good way to determine if we have been saved. We should know that if sin masters us, if we delight to do evil, if we enjoy evil companions, if we walk in darkness, then Christ is not our Master. The tenor of our lives reveals our master. What do you really enjoy? In what direction are you really going? Who is really your Lord?

Romans 6:17-18. Thank God, we have been delivered form the slavery and bondage of sin. This has been a heart work. It is not just a mental acceptance of creeds, but a heart obedience of the gospel of Christ (Romans 7:22-25).

In Romans 6:7 the word 'freed' means 'justified'; in Romans 6:18 it means 'liberated' - no longer a slave under sin's control. In Romans 6:7 we are free from the guilt, penalty and condemnation; in this verse we are said to be freed from the control and servitude of sin. Its hold over us is broken.

Romans 6:19. 'I speak,' he says, 'in familiar human terms because spiritual truth is so difficult for you to understand. As you have in the past cheerfully yielded your minds, hearts, tongues and hands to do evil, now cheerfully yield them to God and holiness.'

Romans 6:20; Romans 6:22. ‘When you were the servants of sin, you had no use for or interest in righteousness. What benefit did your sin and evil bring you? The end and result of all sin is death! But now that you are the servants of God and are set free from the love and dominion of sin, you have the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, faith, peace and (the end result) eternal life!'

Romans 6:23. Sin's wages justly earned is death – spiritual, physical and eternal. God's gift (freely given) is eternal life for ever through Christ.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 6:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/romans-6.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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