Foundations of the Redemption

Chapter 1

Romans 6

by David A. DePra

Back to the Goodnews


In order to get our setting for Romans six, we simply need to read the last verse of Romans five.  Of course we understand that there are no chapter divisions in Paul’s original letter or in the original manuscripts.  So this is all one continuous, unbroken thought in his mind. 


In Romans 5:21, Paul continues his contrast which he began in chapter five, between the first Adam and Jesus Christ, the Last Adam.  He says:


That as sin has reigned unto death [through Adam, as he mentioned earlier] even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.


So Paul is giving us this contrast between the two men:  The first Adam and the Last Adam.  He is giving us the contrast between two lives -- the old life in Adam and the new life in Jesus Christ.  He says that the race of the first Adam, and the old life of that Adam race, sin reigned and held everyone captive -- sin reigned unto death.  But in contrast, in Christ, grace reigns through righteousness. 


The Truth behind Paul’s words is that there is no sin ever committed by the human race that was not dealt with by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is no sin that is possible for a human being to commit where grace does not abound all the more. 


Now, there is an exception to this that I do need to point out.  I don’t want to get into too deeply into it because it is not our subject matter.  But there is one sin Jesus did not die for -- and there is one sin for which grace cannot abound.  That is the sin of refusing the death of Jesus.  Jesus did not die for the refusal of His death.  God does not forgive the refusal of His forgiveness.  Grace does not abound for the sin of refusing His grace.  Can we see why this is the case?  Well, if God did forgive the refusal of His forgiveness, and if Jesus did die for the sin of refusing His death, then it would negate the Redemption.   For you could refuse Christ and receive Him at the same time.  So that stipulation and qualification needs to be stated.


But that fact aside, it is nevertheless a fact that sin reigned all through the Adam race, but through Christ and Christ alone, grace reigned and abounded all the more.


Now it is that thought from Romans 5:21 that leads us into Romans 6:1:


What shall we say then…


In other words, having stated that sin reigned over the Adam race, but that grace abounded all the more in Christ, Paul asks, on the basis of that Truth:


What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin because grace abounds?


Of course, the answer is NO.  But wait.  Why is Paul asking this question?  Clearly, because if the grace of God always abounds despite our sin then there will be those who conclude that we are free TO SIN precisely BECAUSE grace abounds.  That is what Paul was accused of teaching – and it has been the accusation of legalists ever since against the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus.


Paul has already gone to great length in prior chapters to show us that the answer to sin is NOT to be under the law.  But if we are not to be under the law, and grace abounds when we sin, then what is the answer?


When Does Grace Abound?


The answer is that those who are born from above in Christ are DEAD to sin but ALIVE to God – though Jesus Christ.  But Paul will bring this out in a moment.  But before we see this, let’s discuss further Paul’s question, “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin because grace abounds?”  Let’s ask:  Does God’s grace abound EVEN when we sin?  Or, does God’s grace abound EXCEPT when we sin?  It has to be one or the other.


Well, if God’s grace abounds EXCEPT when we sin then His grace really doesn’t abound at all, does it?  For it is when we sin that we need the grace of God to abound most of all!  Indeed, if God’s grace abounds EXCEPT when we sin then it means that it abounds only when we obey, which puts believers right back under the law --  needing to maintain God’s grace by our works.  No, God’s grace abounds EVEN when we sin.  As he stated in Romans 5 – EVEN if sin reigns, God’s grace abounds all the more.


Indeed, it is because grace always abounds EVEN when we sin that Paul is able to ask this question to begin with, “Shall we continue in sin because grace might abound?”  It is clearly a rhetorical question that is based upon the Truth that God’s grace always abounds EVEN when we sin.  Sure.  He is, in effect asking, “I have already stated that God’s grace abounds even though sin might reign.  But does this mean that we can continue in sin precisely BECAUSE grace abounds EVEN when we sin?”  In effect, Paul is asking whether grace gives us license to sin.


Dead to Sin But Alive to God


God’s grace abounds even when we sin.  That is foundational gospel Truth.  But having established that, and asked his rhetorical question, Paul is going to state, in verse 2, as to why we will not, “continue in sin even though grace abounds.”  He says, “God forbid that we would.”  But then he says why we won’t: 


How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?


Now, that is an answer that probably most of us would have given – certainly not in the beginning of our Christian experience.  Most of us have not been taught this Truth; most of us are blind to it.  If we were asked, “Why don’t we continue in sin even though we know grace abounds if we do sin? – most of us would probably say that we need to obey God and avoid sin in order to be blessed of God and avoid His displeasure.


That is probably the most common motivation that believers have – spoken or unspoken – for obeying God.  But in our ignorance, we are actually denying that grace abounds even when we sin.  Do we realize that?  We are saying that obeying God brings His blessing – God’s grace abounds for us in that case – but disobedience incurs His displeasure or even His wrath – which would mean that His grace ceases to abound for us.  In short, we are under the law – we are saying that God’s grace for us is determined, not by Christ, but by our works.


Yet this brings us right back to Paul’s question.  He states:  God’s grace ALWAYS abounds – EVEN when we sin.  But, that being the case, then why not continue in sin because it is so – why not continue in sin because God’s grace always abounds?


As we have already quoted, Paul answers with another rhetorical question:


How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?


Note that:  Those who are IN CHRIST are dead to sin.  That is why we cannot continue in sin because grace abounds.  That is why we cannot, as those in Christ, live in sin.  Believers are DEAD to sin -- but ALIVE to God in Christ.  Thus, we cannot be ALIVE to sin -- but DEAD to Christ. 


Paul is, of course, speaking in the ultimate sense.  He is talking about the NEW CREATION.  In Romans 7 he will bring in all of the possibilities of failure, unbelief, sin, and struggles.  But none of that – and this too is the Truth of both Romans 6 through Romans 8 – changes the fact that if we are IN CHRIST then by nature we are, “dead to sin, but alive to God.”  Our conduct does nothing to alter that.  We are in Christ regardless, by His grace, through our union with Him in His death and resurrection.  That is finished – but the Christian life is a matter of discovering and experience Jesus Christ and coming into the fullness of Him and what He has done.


A Christian is one who is DEAD to sin – DEAD to Adam – but alive to God through Jesus Christ.  This is the result of being IN CHRIST – it is the result of CHRIST IN US.  It is not religious.  It is reality.  


In Him


Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection.  (Rom. 6:3-5)


In this passage we discover a great Truth.  We discover that ALL that God has for the human race is given IN and experience IN His Son.  Now, note that carefully.  It isn’t that God has merely given us THINGS because of what Jesus has done.  No.  God has given us CHRIST HIMSELF in whom are ALL THINGS.  That is an absolutely essential Truth that we must realize. 


In this passage this Truth is brought out several times.  Note the wording:  INTO Jesus Christ; INTO His death; buried WITH Him; planted TOGETHER into HIS death, and so on.  We might add a few other scriptures:


I am crucified WITH Christ. (Gal. 2:20)


If anyone is IN CHRIST they are a new creature.  (II Cor. 5:17)


He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  (II Cor. 6:17)


All that God has for the believer is IN CHRIST, and thus, it is only by experiencing Christ Himself that the believer can experience all that God has given IN HIM.  There is NOTHING God has given that is outside of, aside from, or in addition to, His Son.  Jesus Christ IS all.


All of this goes back to the very core of Christianity:  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  Or, if you prefer, the believer IN CHRIST.  Christ is in the believer by virtue of the fact that the believer is, “joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.”  And if Christ is in us, all of the other Truth becomes possible to experience by experiencing Christ Himself.


We must see that the saved individual is joined to the Lord in resurrection union.  Our spiritual oneness with Christ in that union is WHY we are saved.  He is THE LIFE, and when we were saved, we relinquished our life by being baptized into His death, and were raised in Him – He became OUR LIFE.  (Col. 3:4)  Thus, we see that even eternal life is not a THING God gives us.  No.  He gives us Christ – He joins us to the One who IS the resurrection and the life – and He becomes OUR resurrection and OUR life.


We receive in Christ in fullness at salvation.  There is NOTHING left over that we have yet to receive – for He is ALL.  If you are joined to the Lord in spirit, you cannot have part of Christ.  You are joined to all of Him – that is what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit – you are immersed in Him; joined to Him in spirit.   That is a settled reality.  Jesus made that possible through His redemptive work.  But, once we are saved, we only begin to discover the Christ with whom we are now joined in spirit.  The Christian life from that point is a matter of discovering and experiencing the Christ that we have received in fullness.  It is a finished work – but then the reality of our coming into that finished work.


“So, how shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  The answer is, if we are truly converted, we are not going to want to.  We are going to be dying to sin because we are dead to sin, and we are going to be living unto God, because we are alive in Him.  Despite all of the challenges, that will be the direction of our lives.


Baptized INTO Christ


Paul then asks, in verse 3, “Don’t you know that so many of us that were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?”  How many see that this baptism is a spiritual baptism?  It is the spiritual joining to the Lord -- as noted in II Cor. 6:17.  It is how we come to be IN CHRIST; how Christ comes to be IN US.  It is not the baptism in water that people practice as an outward testimony.  No, this is the inward reality that happens when we are born again.


Every place in the New Testament, and I can’t think of any where that this is not the case, where we find the command to, “be baptized in the name of Jesus,” the Greek, reads, “be baptized INTO the name of Jesus Christ,” or, “UPON the name of Jesus Christ.”  This is the very same spiritual baptism into Christ so that we may be joined to Him in spirit.  We are also told that, “We are baptized by one spirit into one body.”  Whose body is it?  It is the Body of Christ.


Baptism denotes IMMERSION.  It denotes a becoming ONE with.  As we have been seeing, this is much more than simply being handed THINGS or RESULTS because of what Jesus accomplished.  Rather, it speaks of being spiritually joined to Christ Himself – such that we must experience all that He has accomplished by experiencing HIM.


Jesus Christ died FOR us as our substitute.  He died a death that we never have to die.  But He did die for us so that we could die IN HIM and be RAISED.  A total immersion into Christ is a union with Christ in His death and resurrection.  Our death and resurrection in Him is a once-for-all finished reality.  But it is dynamic and progressive in the sense that as we experience Christ we will discover and experience the once-for-all finished reality of death and resurrection in Him.  In other words, all that He is, and all that He has done, will have impacts upon us.  Our death and resurrection in Him will become realized as we realize HIM.


This is the real meaning of baptism – of being baptized into Christ.  We are buried with Him by being baptized into HIS DEATH – by being united with Him in His death.  His death becomes OUR death legally, but His death begins to work in us – such that we become dead to sin.  And His life works in us such that we are alive to God.  It is not a passive or merely legal matter.  It is a dynamic reality to be experienced in Christ.


Planted in Christ


Paul next reiterates the fact that IF we are buried with Christ that we will THEN be raised up in Him:


For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.


All through these passages we see that resurrection in Christ is dependent upon death in Christ.  You cannot be raised in Christ unless you have died in Him.


The most obvious Truth here is that when we come to Christ we must take our place in His death.  We must LOSE our lives to Him.  This will obviously take a lifetime to deepen and live out – but the commitment must be made.  If nothing else, we can ask God to do whatever is necessary to bring us into the fullness of Christ in His death and resurrection – and relinquish ourselves to Him.  This is something we will WANT to do if we have seen our lost condition and want Jesus Christ.


The Christian life is a continual experience of being crucified with Christ.  It isn’t that we die in Christ over and over again – but rather, we come into a greater awareness and experience of our once-for-all fellowship with Him in His death.  Likewise, alongside of and emerging from this, is a continual experience and release of Christ in His resurrection.  That is what he is getting at here when he says, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death and shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”  This is for now. 


These words, “planted together,” in the New Testament Greek, mean, “to cause to grow together.”  They describe an “engrafting” – which is just another way of saying that we are joined to the Lord and made one with Him in spirit.  We are planted INTO Christ and His death – which severs us from the Adam life – but planted INTO Christ as our life – which makes us a new creation in Him.


Dead to the Old


Starting in verse six, we are going to read about how all of this results in freedom from sin:


Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, (and there it is again, WITH HIM)  that the body of sin might be destroyed.


Let us note several essential Truths in this verse.  First of all, does it sound as if God does nothing more through the death and resurrection of Christ than to fix up or repair the old man of sin?  Is that what happens when we are crucified with Him?  Does God repair us?  Does He take the person we are and make us better?  Bring out the REAL YOU?  Bring out the BEST YOU?  Rebuild the person you are?  Give you your best life NOW?


No, He does not fix us up – we are put to death in Christ.  We need to see this.  Christianity, resurrection union with Christ is a new creature, a different kind of human being than ever existed before.  It is not the old being given a shower or a bath so that it is not dirty anymore.  It is not the old being given personality development; given laws to obey.  In a nutshell, a Christian ought to be a person whose very being proclaims, “Yet NOT I, but Christ!”


There is only one destiny for the old man in Adam and that is to be crucified with Christ.  Paul describes it as, “that the body of sin might be destroyed.”  This can be misleading because the English word, “destroyed,” sounds like it is wiped out of existence.  But we know this is not the case or we would never sin again.  The word, “destroyed,” in Greek means, “to render impotent, or powerless.”  Thus -- and the believer will find this to be true – the sin nature continues to be present, and we continue to be able to yield to it, but if we yield to Christ as our life we will find that the sin nature has no power over us.


From a practical standpoint, to the extent that we lose and forsake ourselves and our flesh – and give ourselves to Christ by faith – and make the choice to believe and obey Him – we will find that what God says is true IS true:  The old man of sin; the sin nature has NO POWER over us.  That is because we are living IN and OUT from Jesus Christ by faith – and in Him is resurrection life and victory.


What we see here is NOT that the old nature is wiped out of existence.  But rather, we have entered into He Who is GREATER – into the PERSON whose union with us renders the sin nature impotent, and whose victorious life is our life.  But none of this will have an impact and, “just happen.”  No.  We must, by faith, ABIDE in Him – that is – live IN and OUT FROM Him.  We do this by refusing the sin and unbelief and by unconditionally embracing Christ by faith.  If we will do that we will find that in Him there is victory and freedom from the old – for the very reason we are told – that we are in Christ, and that the old man of sin is OUTSIDE of Christ – we are dead to sin but alive to God.


Christians often feel defeated because we assume that if it really is finished in Christ that we should no longer sin – that this should be automatic -- as if God has acted upon us and made sinning impossible.  Many continue to ask God to act upon us and deliver us from doing or not doing.  But God will meet us with silence.  Why?  Because if we are born from above Jesus Christ is already in us – we are already one with Him; we have already been freely given all things in Him.  God says to us, “Believe and take possession.”  He tells us that IN CHRIST that it is already finished and that we need to put ourselves aside and abide IN HIM.  If we do, all the resurrection life and power that is in Christ will be there for us.   


So we must see this:  It IS finished in Christ.  But it will only be finished for us in our actual experience if we experience HIM – to the extent that we give ourselves to Him and draw upon Him by faith we will find what God says is true IS indeed true.  If we do not abide in Him by faith then the Truth will continue to BE true, but we will not experience it because it is found only IN HIM. 


A New Creation


If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed over… (II Cor. 5:17)


We are seeing that to be baptized into Christ – united with Him in His death and resurrection – is not merely religious language.  Believers really ARE united with Christ in a spiritual union that carries eternal impacts.   Yet HOW are we united with Christ?  What constitutes this union?  Well, we are united in spirit with Him by the Holy Spirit.  Again, believers are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.  (I Cor. 6:17)  That is HOW Christ dwells in us; how the believer is IN Christ.  It is the outcome of being baptized or planted into Christ.


As important as it is to see that we are united with Christ in spirit, it is likewise important to see that we are NOT united with Christ in our soul or psychic nature – i.e., our natural man – and neither are we united with Him physically.  Not in this age.  In this age we are united with Him only in spirit.


This Truth is brought out all the more in the verse above – adjusted for the proper reading from the original Greek.  If anyone is IN CHRIST – this is one who has been joined to Him; baptized into Him – if anyone is IN CHRIST then that person is a NEW creation.  In other words, what constitutes the new creation in Christ is the spiritual union of His spirit and our spirit.  That is the new man; that is what is born from above.  But there is more.  As we see from the adjusted reading, “old things are passed over.”  What, “old things?”  Well, “old things,” are all of the dimensions of your old man in Adam.  The old things are that which are crucified with Christ – those aspects of our being that are NOT joined to the Lord.  Those dimensions are passed over as far as being incorporated into the new creation in Christ.


So we have a separation in each believer between that which IS joined to the Lord, and that which is NOT joined to Him.  That which IS joined to Him – our human spirit – is regenerated and saved – that joining births the new creation IN THIS AGE.  That which is NOT joined to Him remains outside of the new creation – it is, “passed over” – it is not incorporated into the new creation.


This wonderful Truth is gathered up in the next verse, II Cor. 5:18:


Behold all things all things are become new and all things are out from God.


Note that the spiritual union of the believer with Christ – that human spirit with Christ by the spirit of God – births the new creature; constitutes the new creature – but that it is Christ that brings ALL that is of eternal value.  “All things,” that are of the eternal are brought to this union by HIM, and nothing is brought by us.  In short, He is the source of all that is of God.  We are the recipients.


The fact that all that is NEW is out from Christ goes hand in hand with the fact that all that is OLD – which would be out from us -- is not joined to Him.  This is a NEW CREATURE – if you will, a different kind of human being from what has ever existed before.  Not born OF the Adam race, but born of God in Christ.


Experiencing Jesus Christ


These Truths are embedded in Paul’s teaching in Romans 6 through 8.  They are the realities that emerge from the finished and foundational work of Christ:  We are baptized INTO Him; buried WITH Him.  We have been planted INTO His death – our old man has died WITH Him.  We have therefore been raised WITH Him.  But they are likewise the realities that make it possible for the believer to go on to live as Paul states:  Yield your members unto God as instruments of righteousness.  The believer is a new creation in Christ – but this does not bypass us or happen without our experiencing Christ.  No.  Christ is IN the believer through this new birth and spiritual union, but now wants to both live IN and THROUGH that same believer.  We walk with Him in that by faith and obedience.


Being a new creation in Christ is not merely a legal status.  It is not merely a LABEL.  It is HIS LIFE – it is the Treasure that is Christ in the earthen vessel that is the believer.  And it is God’s will that Christ be expressed and manifested.  This cannot happen without our voluntary surrender to God; without an active faith and participation. 


When we are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him – this is a one-time, one for all, finished event – at that point we are complete IN HIM.  (Col. 2:10)  There is nothing left of Christ to receive.  In fact, not only has God given us ALL of Himself by giving us ALL of Christ, but God has given to us ALL things IN His Son.  There is nothing God has left to give:


He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  (Rom. 8:32)


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has, blessed us with all spiritual blessings OUR FROM the heavenly realm in Christ.  (Eph. 1:3)


In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  (Col. 2:3)



For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.   And ye are complete in him.  (Col. 2:9-10)


Now note:  We do receive all of Christ, and all that God had given in Him, at salvation.  But we do not immediately discover or experience all that we have already received in Christ – that requires a lifetime of growth.  We must go on – not to receive MORE of Christ – but go on to discover what we have received.  This is not a theological or academic discovery.  It is an inward, spiritual REALIZATION that emerges from Christ Himself; that emerges from the One with Whom we are joined in spiritual, resurrection union.


In a nutshell – and we will see more of this in Romans 7 – we must actually experience Galatians 2:20:


I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (Gal. 2:20)


And likewise, II Cor. 4:


Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  (II Cor. 4:10-11)


This is the experience that emerges from the foundation that Paul is laying here in Romans 6.  Because we have been united with Christ in both His death and resurrection, we will begin to experience and evidence the impacts of His death and resurrection.  It will work towards a life that proclaims:  “Yet not I, but Christ!”


God will begin, by His spirit – through a realization of Christ – to renew our minds according to Christ.  This will alter, yes, our thinking, but more than that, our perspective.  “The eyes of our understanding will be enlightened that we may KNOW…..”  (see Eph. 1:18)  We will begin to experience the Christ with Whom we are joined – begin to experience all that is in Him – and this will renew our minds, which will then open our hearts so that we can believe and obey God.  But the source of it all, despite the fact that we must live in a physical body, despite the fact that we continue to carry a natural man and a sin nature, is Jesus Christ Himself – for all that is of God is OUT FROM HIM as the only source.


Losing to Find


If we were to want one passage that gets to the core of this great experience of death and resurrection with Christ – and the impacts of that experience – we would need only to turn to Matthew 16:


If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matt. 16:24-25)


Here we see that there is only one destiny for the old man.  It is not to be fixed up.  It is not to find a way to get God to bless the old life in Adam.  The only destiny for the old life in Adam is to be crucified with Christ, in other words -- death.  If we try to make any other destiny out of this, we are going to end up deceived.


Everywhere in Christianity today, what we essentially have is Christianity presented without the personal cross; without the personal need to be crucified with Christ.  Oh, people preach the cross of Christ in the sense that Christ was crucified FOR US -- but so many are blinded to the fact that we have to be crucified WITH Him.  All of that is pushed aside.  But when you do that, you do not have Christianity anymore.


We need to realize that being crucified with Christ is FREEDOM.  It is our salvation being worked out – not merely unto the death of the old, but unto life in the new.  If we want to actually LIVE in Christ, and experience Him, we must enter into the baptism into His death.  It is always life FROM death.  You cannot bypass death and walk in His life. 


Nothing could be clearer from the Word of God.  And yet today we find a Christianity that is not the product of life from death in Him – but which bypasses the personal cross.  Everywhere we have a Christianity that is essentially the old man in Adam turned into a Christian – the old man in Adam given a religion in the name of Christ; offered blessings that are found only IN Christ apart from experiencing Christ Himself. 


It is impossible to experience the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hid in Christ without first experiencing Christ Himself.  It is impossible to experience the spiritual blessings that God has given in Christ without first experiencing Christ Himself.  All that God has given is found only IN HIM – all of these realities are of HIS LIFE.


But Jesus clearly stated, “IF anyone would come after Me…..that person must lose their life in order to find ME as their life.”  You and I cannot experience Christ – cannot experience CHRIST AS OUR LIFE – and thus cannot experience all that God has given IN HIM – unless we LOSE our lives to Him.  For it is only if we lose OUR lives that we can find Him as our life. 


But there is more.  Only if we lose our lives, and find Him as our life, can we truly realize Christ and have our mind renewed – only then can we KNOW Him.  John stated, “In Him was life, and that life was the LIGHT of men.”  (John 1:4)  And so we have this:


Lose OUR life = find Christ as our life = realize Christ, Who is the only LIGHT of humanity.


We cannot get free from SINS unless we surrender THE SIN in which all SINS are rooted – self-ownership.  We must give OURSELVES to Jesus Christ.  If we do not know how, then ask God, “to do whatever it takes,” to bring us into this reality.  And then when God does do, “whatever it takes,” we pick up that cross and follow Him.


In Romans 6, when Paul speaks of dying and being raised in Christ, he is speaking of foundational Truths.  These are once-for-all finished realities established by Christ in His Redemptive work.  But they are dynamic that will forever remain and be carried in the Person of Christ.  When we are joined to Him we begin to experience death in Him – yet unto resurrection in Him.  In other words, it IS finished, but not that which is finished must be progressively experienced so that we might experience and know Christ Himself.


What Did Christ Bear on the Cross?


There is another Truth revealed in Romans 6 that completely destroys a common error that is taught about the death of Jesus on the Cross:  That on the Cross Jesus was bearing the wrath of God.  Some have taught God Almighty, when Jesus hung on the cross, was saving us from HIMSELF.  Calvinists, especially, teach this.  I have heard this stated word for word by Calvinists R.C. Sproul, Steven Lawson, John MacArthur, and many others -- going back 500 years.  It is ERROR – indeed, it is grievous error.


This error is easily exposed by understanding Romans 6, but really, by understanding the basics of the finished work of Christ.  For example, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul states that no one speaking by the Holy Spirit calls Jesus Christ, “accursed.” 


You know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.  Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.  (I Cor. 12:2-3)


To call Jesus Christ, “accursed,” means to say that Jesus Christ was devoted to the destruction of God on the Cross -- in order to appease the wrath of God.  Paul says that no one speaking by the spirit of God would ever teach this, and yet it is exactly what it means to say that God was, in Christ, saving us from Himself. 


Jesus was not bearing God’s wrath on the cross.  Rather, He was bearing our sin.  In fact, Jesus Christ was bearing US – the Adam race -- on the cross of Jesus Christ.  And He was doing this, not to save us from God, but to save us from SIN.


Peter says directly:


Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.  (I Peter 2:24)


John the Baptist, in announcing Jesus to the world:


Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.  (John 1:29)


And of course, we have this entire chapter of Romans 6 – which says not a single word about Jesus bearing the wrath of God.  Rather, the Truth revealed is that Jesus born, “the body of sin” – the Adam race – so that we could be saved from sin and reconciled to God through resurrection as a new creation.


The Bible goes on to reveal that, yes, Jesus did bear the JUDGMENT of God for sin.  But that judgment was death – Jesus DIED as our substitute for our sins.  But He died for us so that we might die IN HIM – as described all through Romans 6 – and be raised in Him.  He did not die as the result of the wrath of God – and thus make it possible for God to life that death from us.  Death is never lifted from the Adam race.  The Adam race died in Christ – and what is raised is a new creature in Christ.


Paul states here in Romans 6:


Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:6-11)


Again we see that Jesus bore in HIMSELF the Adam race – the, “body of sin.”  This was the judgment of God.  But that is completely different than saying that Jesus bore our punishment of God’s wrath for sin – so that this wrath could be lifted from us.  No.  Paul clearly states that Jesus bore, “the body of sin,” so that we could be free from SIN.  And it is all unto resurrection life in Christ.  If all Christ did was bear the wrath of God then there would be nothing about that which would result in becoming a NEW CREATION.  We would simply remain in Adam, only now forgiven, with God’s wrath lifted from us.


The Death of the Adam Race


The Adam race died in Christ.  That is different from saying that during this age that the Adam race ceased to exist.  No, “the body of sin,” was rendered powerless – but only in Christ.  What that means is that to the extent that a person lives in Christ – abides in Christ by faith – the, “body of sin,” is powerless over them.


Believers continue to carry the old nature – “the body of sin” – during this age.  Paul makes that clear in Romans 7.  But we are nevertheless joined to the Lord in spirit.  Again we see this separation between what is joined to the Lord in spirit – and what is NOT joined to the Lord – the physical body, and the natural man.  The, “body of sin,” continues in that natural man, outside of our union with Christ.  But because that, “body of sin,” was been rendered powerless because of the death of Christ, to the extent that we live IN and OUT FROM Christ it will be proven powerless.  But if we yield to this, “body of sin,” the power in it remains during this age.


That is why Paul is able to say, “the flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.”  (see Gal. 5:17)  As noted, it is what is behind Romans 7.  In fact, in reading down through Romans 6 it is clear that there is a choice to make by believers – a choice to yield to either Christ or to the old man.  In Christ, the old man has no power.


We see this Truth in Romans 6:6, where Paul says that the outcome -- the result of our death in Christ -- is that, “the body of sin might be destroyed.”  What does that mean?  Well, again, “the body of sin,” is the sum total of the sin nature; the sum total of all that came under the control of the enemy – but was crucified with Christ.  But that word, “destroyed,” is misleading -- because it sounds as if it is wiped out of existence.  We have already seen that this is not true.  You and I can sin anytime we want to sin -- just by yielding to it.  Thus, when it says, “destroyed” -- the Greek helps.  It means, “to render impotent or powerless.” 


So, we see this separation:  We have died and are raised in Christ as a new creation.  In Him – in His life – there is freedom from all sin.  But the old nature remains.  Thus, if we yield to Christ by faith, we will find that the old body of sin cannot control us.  But if we yield to the old man of sin, we will sin.  The body of sin has had its power broken to the extent that we are yielding to and abiding in a greater power - Christ. 


This Truth explains Paul’s words to the Colossians and in Romans 8:


Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:  For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:  In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.  (Col. 3:5-11)


Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  (Rom. 8:12-13)


In both of these passages we find the English word MORTIFY.  The word in the original Greek means, “to destroy by neglect.”  In other words, we need not fight to win a victory over sin by attacking sin.  Rather, we fight by standing and abiding in Christ.  Why?  Because IN HIM the victory is already won – IN HIM sin has no power.  So do not yield to sin – but the real choice is to yield to Christ by faith.  None of this would be possible unless the foundational Truth established by Paul in Romans 6 were alive.


We are talking here, not about religion, not merely about doctrine, but we are talking about that which is the most powerful, settled, final reality that has ever been in all of creation - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ -- and what it accomplished in humanity.  Our old man, if you are a believer and joined to the Lord is already crucified with Him and the body of sin has been rendered powerless that henceforth, we should not serve sin, for he that is dead is freed from sin.  There it is.  Do we believe that or not?  Will our faith motivate us to OBEY by that faith?


Now you and I need to believe it because the Bible says so and it is the foundation of the redemption but then we need to live it.  That is where it gets difficult because we are going to have our failures – as Paul describes in Romans 7. But how many understand that God will even use our failures as a way of crucifying our self righteousness and our pride?


If we want a place to start we need to go back to the necessity of losing ourselves to Jesus Christ in order to find Him as our life.  We can begin by asking the Lord, “Whatever it takes, Lord, do it.”  We can believe the Truth and start abiding in that Truth by making such a commitment to the Lord.  It is a matter of reckoning ourselves dead to that old sin nature -- but also reckoning ourselves alive to Christ.  We do this by faith FIRST – and THEN will experience Christ.


We will waste our time wallowing in our own failures, crying out to God to come down and lift us out of them.  He will not do it.  He already tells us to reckon ourselves death to sin and alive to God – why? – because WE ARE!  We are to reckon AS true what God says IS true – and then we can abide in and yield to Christ, and experience Him. 


Freedom From Sin


On the opening verses of Romans 6, we read a rhetorical question asked by Paul.  He asked, “Shall we continue in sin because grace abounds?”  Paul then answered that question.  He stated, “God forbid.  How can we who have DIED to sin live any longer therein.”  Clearly, the reason believers will not, “continue in sin because grace abounds,” is because believers are DEAD TO SIN.  In other words, there is no freedom from sin except through the DEATH of the body of sin.  Or to go back to what we saw earlier, if we want freedom from SINS, we must lose the life in which those SINS are rooted – we must lose self-ownership; we must be crucified with Christ in experience.


Again, we repeat this passage:


Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:6-14)


Note the wording here:  Knowing…knowing…reckon…let not…neither yield…but yield.  It is BELIEVING the Truth – knowing the Truth – and then choosing by faith accordingly.  Our choices DO NOT create reality or Truth.  Our choices are the outcome of believing the Truth – and if we make that choice of faith we will experience that what we believed is the Truth is indeed, in Christ, the Truth!  We must enter into these things by faith – and apprehend and embrace them by faith. 


We ARE free from sin – from the need to sin, and from the power of the sin nature – but only to the extent that we live in and out from Christ.  Practically, this means that if we are born from above, and have lost ourselves to Him as much as we know, we absolutely can turn by faith to Christ.  And if we do, we will discover Christ as the power of God over all.  It does not matter how we feel, or how many times we have failed – it does not matter what mental or emotional or physical roadblocks the enemy puts in our way.  Jesus Christ is our life and in Him is all power.


By faith we can discover that you are dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  As we discover and experience Christ Himself we will discover freedom from sin – because we dead to sin IN HIM – and we will discover that we are alive to God.


But you see, it is here that once again we see a common error.  Christians tend to seek freedom from sin as a separate experience from Jesus Christ.  We pray, “God, give me freedom from sin.”  We think of this freedom as a condition or as a thing God can give us.  No.  God answers, “I have only MY SON to give you.  In Him, and in Him alone, is freedom from sin.  Lose yourself and embrace Him.  Believe and abide in Him.”


Christians care capable of coming up with all kinds of gimmicks to get free from sin – from this sin or that sin.  But that is not the real need.  What we need freedom from is UNBELIEF.  Again – read down through Romans 6.  Is there even a hint or a suggestion that it is not finished for each believer in Christ – or that experiencing Christ requires anything but faith – and the obedience that emerges from faith?  Experience the Person of Jesus Christ and you will discover that one of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that is hid in Him is an apprehension of this Truth of freedom from sin.  You will discover the experiencing of Jesus Christ that our Christian doctrine describes.  It will be reality and not religion.


Let not…But


Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…”  In other words, don’t yield to sin and let it have its way in you…“that you should obey it and the lusts thereof.”  This is a matter of something rising up in you and it does not have to be sexual lust or some terrible temper tantrum or smoking or drinking.  It could be pride.  It could be boasting.  It could be self righteousness.  Don’t let those things reign in your mortal body.  Don’t obey them and the lusts thereof.  “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.”  Well, it tells us right there that it is possible to do so.  “But yield yourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”  In short, don’t yield to sin, but yield to God.  But it is not a matter of just sitting there and fighting sin.  No, it is a yielding to God – based on faith in the Person of Christ -- instead of sin.  “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”


Now notice again, very carefully, that phrase, “For sin shall not have dominion over you.”  In other words, you do not have to sin.  Sin is no longer your master – if you abide in Christ.


It takes time to learn all of this, to walk through it and experience it.  And we will never be sinless in this age.  But the power of sin, as we have already seen, is broken for the believer to the extent that we yield to Christ as our life by faith.


Now, in the rest of this chapter six, Paul brings in a lot of other factors based on what he has already said.  He asks, beginning in verse 15, “What then…”  In other words, “on the basis of what I have said, “…shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?”  It is the same question with which he began the chapter -- and he gives the same answer, “God forbid.  Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves as servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness?”


Isn’t this the truth?  Human beings are dependent creatures and the very structure of our being is along that line -- so that the more that we yield to something, the more we belong to it.  He is saying, “Don’t yield to the flesh.  You were the servants of sin -- but you have obeyed from the heart the truth which was delivered to you.  Thus, being made free from sin you became the servants of righteousness.” 


He also says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of the flesh.”  In other words, Paul is acknowledging, as he does in the latter half of chapter seven in Romans, that this is a process -- and we are going to have failures -- but we need to be headed in the right direction.  “So, I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh -- for as you have yielded your members as servants to uncleanness unto iniquity, even so now, yield your members as servants to righteousness unto holiness.” 


It is a fact that the more you obey God and surrender yourself to Him, the more that Jesus Christ becomes the Living Lord of you.  We do not often think of giving ourselves to Christ, or of obeying Christ, as our acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord – but it is exactly that.  It is a yielding, by faith and love, to the One to Whom we belong.  It means freedom and experiencing Him leading into the eternal ages.


Paul then asks, “What fruit did you have in those things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.  But now being made free from sin and having become servants of God, you have your fruit unto holiness and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death…”  You EARN death by sinning.  “…but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  God wants us to stop trying to earn and to start receiving His eternal gift.




Romans 6 is such a pivotal and foundational chapter of the Bible.  Paul so clearly and systematically goes through what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished FOR the believer – but brings it forward to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of what He accomplished IN the believer. 


Romans 6 speaks of the foundations of the redemption.  Foundations, yes, that we must have doctrinally -- but foundations, wherein, having established the doctrines, we must now go in and do what the doctrines tell us to do -- experience the Person and all that is in Him -- everything He is and all that He has done.  That would be Paul’s exhortation to us here in Romans 6 as he continues on into Romans 7.