Romans Chapter 6 Commentary – Slaves to Righteousness

Welcome to a journey through the transformative truths found in Romans chapter 6! Here, the apostle Paul show us the significance of our union with Christ, urging us to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. We will also see how this union with Christ has made us slaves to righteousness.

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What is the Main Message of Romans 6

In Romans chapter 5, we were confronted with the profound reality of God’s love demonstrated through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. 

Through His death, we were justified and reconciled to God, experiencing the overflowing abundance of His grace. As we transition into Romans chapter 6, we will explore the implications of this reality in our daily lives. Let’s walk through Romans 6 verse by verse.

Romans Chapter 6:1 – Continue Living in Sin?

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What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? NASB

Basically, what this question suggests is, that because the only requirement for salvation is faith in Christ, why not go on sinning after receiving the free gift of grace?

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of Christians in our world today that think this way.

Paul spends the remainder of this chapter explaining why the faults of this reasoning. He gives 2 reasons why they should not keep sinning, then gives a practical application for what they should do instead.

Romans Chapter 6:2-11 – You Are United With Christ

Here, Paul states that they cannot continue in sin because they have been united with Christ through death.

Verses 2-4

Romans 6:4

Far from it! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. NASB

Paul had just explained how we no longer live and operate under the trespass of Adam. Through Adam, death reigned. 

Now, the abundance of the grace of God has come. For those who are in Christ, the free gift of righteousness now reigns in life.

The greek word for baptism in this passage is “baptisma”.

“When a person is saved, he is baptized into Christ Jesus in the sense that he is identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. This is not the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit, though both occur simultaneously. The latter baptism places the believer in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); it is not a baptism into death. The baptism into Christ means that in the reckoning of God, the believer has died with Christ and has risen with Him.” – Believers Bible Commentary

Christ died as a substitute for us, and as a representative as us. We are no longer united or represented by death. So why in the world would we continue to walk according to it? 

Verses 5-7

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for the one who has died is freed from sin. NASB

Not only have we been united in the death of Christ, but we have also been united in the resurrection of Christ. This is our eternal position in Christ. 

even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:5-6 NASB

We have died to the old man with Christ, but we have also been brought back to life in Him. He has given us  new identity and purpose in His kingdom. We are no longer made to live in the power of sin. 

Verses 8-11

Romans 6:11

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all time; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So you too, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. NASB

While our eternal position is already seated with Christ in heavenly places, our present condition places us here in this world surrounded by sin. 

However, because Christ has died and risen again, and because we have been united with Him in death, we can be confident that we will one day be united with Him in resurrection. 

While believers enjoy life in God’s Kingdom in the here and now, we can also be sure that a day is coming when we will behold the fullness of God’s glory in heaven.

This is the mindset that Paul is telling these believers to maintain. He conveys a similar message in his letter to the Colossians.

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 NASB

Romans Chapter 6:12-14 – Therefore, Offer Your Body to God

We have now seen that those who have been united with Christ do not continue in sin. The practical application of this truth is to offer the members of our bodies to God.

Verses 12

Therefore sin is not to reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your body’s parts as instruments of righteousness for God.

We learned back in verses 4-6 that our old selves were crucified with Christ and in Him we have been given the newness of life. We are no longer held captive by the penalty of sin.

Verse 13

Then comes the word “but”… This word usually signals that a contrast is about to be made.

We are not to present our bodies to sin, but to God for righteousness. We no longer belong to sin and death; God has purchased us with the blood of Christ Jesus, and we now belong to Him to be used for the purpose of righteousness and His glory.

I love how Ephesians 2 shows us how the new life created in us through Christ is made for good works; works of righteousness.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:8-9

Notice how this verse does not say we were created in Christ by good works. Good works have nothing to do with our salvation. Salvation is a free gift of God. We were created in Christ for good works. 

Verse 14

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace.

The greek word for “master” in this verse means: to be lord of, to rule, have dominion over; to exercise influence upon, to have power over.

Not only does sin no longer have rule, power, or dominion over us, but it should not have any influence upon us. The end of those things has come! We as believers have died to sin and have been given the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live holy and righteously for God. 

A person under the law is a slave to death because the law can only tell a person what to do; it can’t give them the power to do it.

Romans Chapter 6:15-19 – Slaves to Righteousness

Not only have we been united with Christ, but we also have become slaves of righteousness. In the following verses, we see that this is Paul’s second reason for believers to not continue living in sin.

Verse 15-16 

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but under grace? Far from it! 16 Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

Becoming free from the law does not mean that we live lawless. God’s grace gives us a new nature that sets us free from the law and empowers us to serve God. 

The word “present” appears a few times in verses 15-19. This greek word means “to place beside or near, to stand beside, stand by or near, to be at hand, be present”.

This begs the question – who or what are you presenting yourself to? Every person on earth is and will present themselves to something. Everyone!

Are you standing near old sinful behaviors? Or are you fleeing them? 

Do you think that you can manage to live for God but still dabble in the dominion of sin? We must heed this warning! We become slaves to the things and people we present ourselves to.

Verse 17-19

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and after being freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented the parts of your body as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your body’s parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

There are consequences to who we present ourselves to as obedient slaves. We see the outcome of presenting ourselves to our sinful nature is death. Alternately, the consequence, or rather the benefit, of presenting ourselves to God and to righteousness is sanctification. We are no longer a slave of sin. We have become slaves of God.

Sanctification is just a fancy word for becoming more Christ-like. Sanctification is the life-long process in which the Holy Spirit works in us to make us holy.

When we died to our old life of sin and put on our new identity in Him, the Holy Spirit of God comes and dwells in our hearts and our minds empowering us to keep presenting ourselves to God and stop presenting ourselves to the flesh.

Romans Chapter 6:20-23 – The Fruit of Righteous Living

Romans 6:23

Time for more practical application. First, we saw that we have been united with Christ through His death. The application of this was to offer our bodies to God.

Now, we have also seen that because we offer ourselves to God we become slaves to righteousness. We are no longer slaves to sin. So, again, the practical application of this truth is that we produce the fruit of sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in relation to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The conversion from death to life in Christ has life-changing effects. A person who says they have given their life over to Christ and yet continues to present themselves to a life of sin would give me reason to doubt their conversion was genuine. 

This transition completely changes our position. It sets us free from sin to obey righteousness. It leads to a holy life now and everlasting life when we reach the end of our time on earth. Of course, we get to have eternal life now too, but this verse refers to eternity.

Apply Romans 6 to Your Life

Romans chapter 6 paints a vivid picture of the transformative power of grace in our lives as believers. It reminds us that through Christ’s sacrifice, we have been freed from the bondage of sin and now have the privilege of living as slaves to righteousness. 

As followers of Christ, we are called to walk in the newness of life, empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the temptations and struggles that once held us captive. Let us embrace this freedom with gratitude and determination, striving each day to honor God with our thoughts, words, and actions. 

May we find strength and encouragement in the truth of God’s Word that we are no longer slaves to sin but servants of righteousness, empowered by God’s unfailing love and grace.

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