We Died with Christ: Our Baptism being Witness; and are to Reckon Ourselves Dead unto Sin and Alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Verses 1-11.
Presenting Ourselves to God as Risen Ones, not under Law but under Grace, Sin loses Its Dominion over Us. Verses 12-14.
Grace Not to be Abused, for Sin Always Enslaves, and would End in Death; Obedience brings Freedom, with the End, Eternal Life,—God’s Free Gift in Christ Jesus Our Lord. Verses 15-23.
1 What then shall we say? Are we to keep on in sin in order that grace may be abounding? Far be the thought! 2 Such ones as we,—who died to sin! how shall we any longer be living in it?
3 Or [in the very matter of our baptism] are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized unto Christ Jesus unto His death were baptized? 4 We were buried therefore [in figure] with Him through that baptism unto death; in order that, just as Christ was raised from among the dead through the glory of the Father, thus also we might be walking in newness of life.
5 For if we became united with [Him] in the likeness of His death, so shall we be also [in the likeness] of His resurrection: 6 coming to know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we might no longer be in slave-service to sin: 7 for the person who hath died [as have we] is justified from sin.
8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also be living with Him [in this world]: 9 knowing that Christ having been raised from among the dead dieth no more: death over Him no longer hath dominion. 10 For in that He died, unto sin He died once for all; but in that He is living, He is living unto God. 11 Thus do ye also reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God, in Christ Jesus.
WE COME NOW to the second part of Christ’s work for us—our identification with His death.
It is not until we come to Chapter Six that the question of a holy walk as over against a sinful walk, comes up. For the blessed verses which describe the results of the discovery of peace with God, and of “justification of life” and “reigning in life” through Christ, as revealed in Chapter Five, are things of experience, of rejoicing,—even in the hope of the glory of God Himself! But the question of a holy walk under this “abounding grace” is now brought up, in Chapter Six, in the answers to two questions: First, Shall we keep sinning that grace may keep abounding? and, Second, The fact having been revealed that we are not under the principle of law but under that of grace, shall we use our liberty to commit sin? That is, Shall we use our freedom from the law-principle for selfish ends?
The answer to the first question is, that for all who are in Christ, the old relationship to sin is broken,—for they federally shared Christ’s death to sin, and are to reckon it so, and walk in “newness of life” unto God. The answer to the second question is, that anyone “yielding his members” becomes servant that to which he yields,—whether of sin unto death, or of righteousness unto sanctification.
Verse 1: Are we to remain in sin that grace may be abounding? This question arises constantly, both in uninstructed believers, and in blind unbelievers. The message of simple grace, apart from all works, to the poor natural heart of man seems wholly inconsistent and’ impossible. “Why!” people say, “If where sin abounds grace overflows, then the more sin, the more grace.” So the unbeliever rejects the grace plan.
Moreover, the uninstructed Christian also is afraid; for he says, “If we are in a reign of pure grace, what will control our conscious evil tendencies? We fear such utter freedom. Put us under ‘rules for holy living,’ and we can get along.”
Another sad fact is that some professing Christians welcome the “abounding grace” doctrine because of the liberty they feel it gives to things in their daily lives which they know, or could know, to be wrong.
Verse 2: Such ones as we, who died to sin! how shall we any longer be living in it?
Here we have, (1) such ones as we (hoitines). This is more than a relative pronoun: it is a pronoun of characterization, “placing those referred to in a class” (Lightfoot). Paul thus has before his mind all Christians, and he places this pronoun at the very beginning: “such ones as we!”
(2) He characterizes all Christians as those who died. The translation, “are dead” is wrong, for the tense of the Greek verb is the aorist, which denotes not a state but a past act or fact. It never refers to an action as going on or prolonged. As Winer says, “The aorist states a fact as something having taken place.” Note how strikingly and repeatedly this tense is used in this chapter as referring to the death of which the apostle speaks: Mark most particularly that the apostle in verse 2 does not call upon Christians to die to sin but asserts that they shared Christ’s death, they died to sin!
(3) Paul here therefore affirms that it was in regard to their relationship to sin that believers died. He is asserting concerning Christians that they died—not for sin, but unto it.
(4) Paul now asks the question: “How shall those whose relationship to sin has been broken by their dying, be still, as once, living in sin?” The answer to this can only be, It is an impossibility. In this second verse, therefore, the apostle is not making a plea to Christians not to live unto sin; but asking how they who died to sin could go on living in it. It is as if one would say, Those who died in New York City, shall they still be walking the streets of New York City?
This does not mean that all Christians have discovered, or walk in, the path of victory over sin; for in this second verse Paul is answering directly the bald bold insinuation of verse 1—that grace abounding over sin warrants and enables one believing that doctrine to go right on in his old life! We know from other Scriptures the impossibility of this: “Whosoever is born of God doth not practise sin, because His [God’s] seed abideth in him, and he is not able to practise sin, because he is begotten of God.”
Note the repeated declarations in this Sixth Chapter of our actual identification with the death of Christ:
Verse 2: “We who died to sin.”
Verse 3: “We were baptized into His death.”
Verse 4: “We were buried with Him through baptism into death “
Verse 5: “We became united with Him in the likeness of His death.”
Verse 6: “Our old man was crucified with Him.”
Verse 7: “He that hath died is justified from sin.”
Verse 8: “We died with Christ.”
Verse 11: “Reckon yourselves dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.”
Verse 13: “Present yourselves unto God as alive from the dead.”
The same great federal fact is brought out in Colossians 2:20: “If ye died [aorist tense, past fact, again] from the religious principles of the world”; and Colossians 3:3: “For ye died [aorist tense again] and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
It is most evident that the apostle is not here speaking of some state that we are in, but of a federal fact that occurred in the past, at the cross.
It was upon this federal fact that Paul’s whole life hung, as he testified to Peter: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20).
Such ones as we, who died to sin! How shall we go on living in it? Paul expresses his very soul in that opening word—“Such ones as we!” Believers were seen by him as risen ones,—dead with Christ to sin. How shall we any longer be living in sin—if indeed we died to it? This perplexes many, this announcement that we died to sin,—inasmuch as the struggle with sin, and that within, is one of the most constant conscious experiences of the believer. But, as we see elsewhere, we must not confound our relationship to sin with its presence! Distinguish this revealed fact that we died, from our experience of deliverance. For we do not die to sin by our experiences: we did die to sin in Christ’s death. For the fact that we died to sin is a Divinely revealed word concerning us, and we cannot deny it! The presence of sin “in our members” will make this fact that we died to it hard to grasp and hold: but God says it. And He will duly explain all to our faith.
Verse 3: Or [in the very matter of our baptism] are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized unto Christ Jesus unto His death were baptized?
Here the apostle turns them back to their baptism, that initial step in public confession of the Lord upon whom they had believed. Did they not realize the significance of that baptism—that it set forth their identification with a crucified and buried Lord? For in their baptism they had confessed their choice of Him, as against sin and the old life. But Christ having been “made sin on our ‘behalf,” had died unto sin; had been buried, and had been raised from the dead through the glory of the Father; and now lived unto God in a new, resurrection life.
Therefore they could see in their baptism the picture of that federal death and burial with Christ which Paul sets forth so positively in the second verse: “Such ones as we, who died.”
We must first of all receive the statement of our death unto sin with Christ (verses 2 and 11) as a revealed federal fact; and then allow the Apostle to press the symbolical setting forth of that federal death by the figure of water-baptism. For these early Christians had not been befuddled regarding the simple matter of baptism,—as later generations have been! To them it was a vivid and happy memory,—the day they dared step out, against the whole world, and often in the face of persecution and even death, and confess the Lord Jesus, definitely and forever, as their own Savior and Lord.
Now, says Paul, in that very matter of your baptism, you set forth what I am teaching you, that you who are Christ’s died with Him. Not only so, but your baptism set forth further that you were buried with Him: for was it not a vivid portrayal of your death and burial, when you went down into the waters which signified—not cleansing, but death? “Water,” says Peter, “which after a true likeness doth now save you—even baptism: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Eight souls. Peter here says, were saved in Noah’s day in the Ark—type of Christ. For those eight were, in the Ark, brought safely through the waters of judgment which drowned the world; as we were bought, through Christ, safely through the judgment of sin at the cross; and now have “a good conscience toward God”—through God’s having raised up Christ: all of which, baptism sets forth—“after a true likeness” (1 Pet 3:20-21).
Scripture here connects baptism with death, not with cleansing; with burial, not with exaltation; with the ending of a former connection that we may enter a new one.
Or [in the very matter of our baptism] are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized unto Christ Jesus unto His death were baptized? We find therefore, here in Romans 6:3:
1. That Paul, along with all believers of his day, had been baptized. He offers no explanatory word, thus showing that the matter of having been baptized was a common consciousness among Christians.
2. That it was unto Christ Jesus that believers had been baptized. The preposition “unto” (eis) seems best rendered here as in 1 Corinthians 10:2, where we read that the fathers of Israel were all “baptized unto (eis) Moses.” Those Israelites were not baptized into Moses, but were indeed judicially associated by God with the Mosaic economy,—“into a spiritual union with Moses, and constituted his disciples.” So believers are baptized unto Christ Jesus, which we believe, must be the meaning here. They were indeed so “baptized unto the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5), that they thereafter bore His Name (James 2:7, marg.). But we must not confuse this water-baptism of Romans Six, which stands for the identification of believers with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection; with that Holy Spirit baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13. For our identification with Christ-made-sin, and our death in and with Him) must never be confounded with what follows our Lord’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit,—baptism into the one Body. These are two absolutely different things. One has to do with taking us out of our old man, justifying us from sin, as well as from sins. The other, the Spirit’s baptism into “one Body,” has to do with the glorious heavenly position God gives us in a Risen Christ.
To seek to have a man baptized by the Spirit into Christ before he has been identified with Christ at the cross in death and burial, is really to ignore man’s awful state in the old man which God had condemned to crucifixion with Christ made sin. So with the Bullingerites and many others: they do not distinctly see or solidly preach our identification with Christ in death and burial. “Buried with Him in baptism”—how can these words of Colossians 2:12 possibly apply to the work of the Holy Spirit? We beg all to consider this. Death to sin, and burial with Christ, water-baptism, and that alone, sets forth.
3. Unto His death were baptized. Neither must we confuse baptism unto Christ Jesus here with that actual identification in Christ’s death of which baptism is a symbol. That our old man was crucified with Christ is one thing; baptism, quite another. However much baptism portrays our death with Christ, it in no wise brings about that death. If we had not died with Christ, there would be no meaning to baptism.
Certainly baptism sets forth the fact of our death with Christ. Christian baptism in water is the Scripture picture,—not of our being cleansed, nor of our being introduced into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (which is an entirely different matter); and not, of course, of our regeneration. But it is a setting forth of the great fact that we federally died and were buried with Christ, unto sin, unto the world, and unto all of the old creation; and are now raised with Him and share His risen life;—on new ground altogether.
Verse 4: We were buried therefore with Him through the baptism unto [His] death. Here the apostle declares that all believers by the very matter of their baptism, proclaimed themselves as having been so identified with Christ’s death that they were buried: that their past was ended,—not, of course, by the ordinance, though the ordinance confessed and proclaimed it. And now the object of our identification with Christ’s death is set forth: in order that, just as Christ was raised from among the dead through the glory of the Father, thus also we might be walking about in newness of life.
Christ on the cross not only bare our sins in His own body, but He was also made to be sin,—to be the thing itself. Then God the Father, through His glory, raised Him from the dead,—“that working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” This was the most marvelous display of glorious. Divine power ever known. The words “through the glory of the Father,” bring into action all that God is. Christ had fully glorified God in all that He is, in His earthly life, and on the cross (as we saw in Chapter 3:24 and 25). Then God raised Christ from the dead in glorious triumph. And thereafter Christ walked for forty days on earth “in newness of life.” He was “the First-born from the dead.” He was the Last Adam, now become (though having His flesh and bones body) “a spirit making [others] alive,” the Second Man, “a new starting point of the human race.” The old man was crucified with Christ, and all that belonged to “man in the flesh” was ended before God there on Christ’s cross. Now the “glory of the Father” is put forth in raising Christ and placing Him in that risen “newness of life” never known before, and in receiving Him up in glory!
Walking in newness of life. Note that walking presupposes the possession of life. The literal translation of this word is seen in 1 Peter 5:8, “walking about.” Now mark in this verse that it is Christ who is raised from the dead, and the saints are to walk, consequently, in “newness of life”—showing at once their union with Him; that as He was raised, so also they, when they are placed in Him, walk about in newness of life.
Note that it is life—not a mere manner of living. Then it is newness, or a new kind of life, for that is the meaning of the word. Resurrection life was never known until Christ was raised from the dead. Lazarus, and the widow of Nain’s son and Jairus’ daughter, were brought back into this present earth-life. Indeed, it is written concerning Jairus’ daughter, that when the Lord said, “Maiden, arise!” her “spirit returned,” and she rose up instantly. The spirit had left the body, the earth-life had ceased; it was now resumed.
But in Christ’s resurrection this was not so. He was the First-born from the dead, the First-fruits of them that slept. It was not back into the old flesh and blood earthly existence that He came. He had, indeed, His body: “Handle Me and see.” “Have ye here anything to eat?” Yet He had poured out His blood. The life of the flesh was in the blood (Lev 17:11). He had laid that life down. He is now a heavenly Man. He is in the heavenlies. And He is there as to His human body: “God... wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies.” Poor human reason attempts to follow here; but this revelation is addressed to faith only. The disciples “were glad when they saw the Lord.” Into the upper room He came, and stood in the midst; and “He showed unto them His hands and His side.” And Thomas was told, “Reach hither thy finger, and see My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing”; and further, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
It is in this newness, this new kind of life, which they now share, that believers are to walk about in this world. They are one with this Risen Christ! Being “joined unto the Lord,” they are “one spirit” with Him now; and shall have bodies, shortly, conformed unto the body of His glory (1 Cor 6:17; Phil 3:20-21).
Verse 5: For if we became united with [Him] in the likeness of His death, so shall we be also [in the likeness] of His resurrection: Here Paul looks back to verse 2, to the fact he declared true concerning all believers, that they died to sin; and he now insists that that death is a fact about true believers only—those who have been vitally enlifed with Christ. The word means to grow together —as a graft in a tree, so that the graft shares the tree’s life. The meaning of Verse 5 may be paraphrased: If we became actually united with Him, which, in our baptism—the “likeness of His death,” we profess; so we shall also be united in the likeness of His resurrection: (so therefore to be walking in newness of life!). Conybeare well remarks concerning verse 5: “The meaning appears to be, If we have shared the reality of His death, whereof we have undergone the likeness” (in baptism).
Now when the apostle says we are to be united with “the likeness of His resurrection,” he refers to the walking in “newness of life” just spoken of in the preceding verse. (For this verse explains that.) To be joined in life with the Risen Christ, and thus daily, hourly, to walk, is a wonder not conceived of by many of us. But it is the blessed portion of all true Christians. They shared Christ’s death, and now are “saved by [or in] His life”—as we read in Chapter 5:10. But not only saved: we walk here on earth by appropriating faith, in the blessedness of His heavenly “newness” of resurrection life! This is what Paul meant when he said, “To me to live is Christ”; “our inward man is being renewed day by day”; “I was crucified with Christ; Christ liveth in me... the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
Of course this fifth verse may look on, also, to that day when our bodies will share this resurrection-life,—as we have seen in the verse before; but the context here shows Paul is speaking of our “walking about in newness of life” in Christ today!
We reap the exact effect of what Christ did. Did Christ bear our sins in His own body on the tree? He did. Then we hear them no more. Was Christ made to be sin on our behalf and did He die unto sin? Truly so. Then Christ’s relation to sin becomes ours!
Verse 6: Coming to know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we might no longer be in slave service to sin. The word translated “coming to know,” means, in the Greek, coming into knowledge ,—a discriminating apprenhension of facts. See note below.
Our old man—This is our old selves, as we were in and from Adam. It is contrasted with the new man (Col 3:9-10)—which is what we are and have in Christ. The word our indicates that what is said, is said of and to all those who are in Christ. The expression “our old man,” of course is a federal one, as also is “the new man.” The “old man,” therefore, is not Adam personally, any more than the “new man” is Christ personally. Also, we must not confuse the “old man” with “the flesh.” Adam begat a son in his own likeness. This son of Adam, as all since, was according to Adam,—for he was in Adam; possessed of a “natural” mind, feelings, tastes, desires,—all apart from God. He was his father repeated. Cain is a picture before us of the meaning of the words, “the old man.” Moreover, since man’s activities were carried on in and through the body, he is now morally “after the flesh.” Inasmuch as his spirit was now dead to God, sin controlled him both spirit and soul, through the body. And thus we read a little later, in the Sixth of Genesis, upon the recounting of the horrible lust and violence that filled the earth, God’s statement: “In their going astray, they are flesh!” (R.V. margin.) What a fearful travesty of one created in the image of God, and into whose Divinely formed body God had breathed the spirit of life, so that he was “spirit and soul and body” (1 Thess 5:23); and with his innocent spirit able to speak with his Creator! with his unfallen soul-faculties, and with body in blessed harmony.
When we are told, for instance, in Colossians, that we have put off the old man, we know that we are being addressed as new creatures in Christ, and that the old man represents all we naturally were,—desires, lusts, ambitions, hopes, judgments: looked at as a whole federally: we used to be that—now we have put that off. We recognize it again in the words “Put away as concerning your former manner of life the old man” (Eph 4:22).
1. First, then, our old man was crucified (Romans 6:6). That is a Divine announcement of fact.
2. Those in Christ have put off the old man.
3. He still exists, for “the old man waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit” (Eph 4:22).
4. He is to be put away as belonging to our former manner of life: for we are in Christ and are “new creatures; old things are passed away; behold they are become new” (2 Cor 5:17).
Now as regards the flesh:
1. While our old man has been crucified, by God, with Christ at the cross,—the federal thing was done; yet of the flesh we read, “They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” (Gal 5:24).
2. The flesh has passions and lusts.
3. It has a mind directly at enmity with God.
4. As we shall see in Chapter Seven, the flesh is the manifestation of sin in the as yet unredeemed body. “Our old man,” therefore, is the large term, the all-inclusive one—of all that we were federally from Adam. The flesh, however, we shall find to be that manifestation of sin in our members with which we are in conscious inward conflict, against which only the Holy Spirit indwelling us effectively wars. Our bodies are not the root of sin, but do not yet share, as do our spirits, the redemption that is in Christ. And as for our souls (our faculties of perception, reason, imagination, and our sensibilities),—our souls are being renewed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not so the body. “The flesh,” which is sin entrenched in the body, is unchangeably evil, and will war against us till Christ comes. Only the Holy Spirit has power over “the flesh” (Chapter 8:1).
Our old man was crucified—The matter of which we are told to take note here is the great federal fact that our old man was crucified with Christ. Perhaps no more difficult task, no task requiring such constant vigilant attention, is assigned by God to the believer. It is a stupendous thing, this matter of taking note of and keeping in mind what goes so completely against consciousness,—that our old man was crucified. These words are addressed to faith, to faith only. Emotions, feelings, deny them. To reason, they are foolishness. But ah, what stormy seas has faith walked over! What mountains has faith cast into the sea! How many impossible things has faith done!
Let us never forget, that this crucifixion was a thing definitely done by God at the cross, just as really as our sins were there laid upon Christ. It is addressed’ to faith as a revelation from God. Reason is blind. The “word of the cross” is “foolishness” to it. All the work consummated at the cross seems folly, if we attempt to subject it to man’s understanding. But, just as the great wonder of creation is understood only by faith: (“By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God,”—Heb 11:3) so the eternal results accomplished at the cross are entered into by simple faith in the testimony of God about them.
No, it is no easy or light thing that is announced to you and me, that all we were and are from Adam has been rejected of God. Scripture is not now dealing with what we have done, but with what we are.
And really to enter spiritually into the meaning of this awful word, Our old man was crucified, involves, with all of us, deep exercise of soul. For no one by nature will be ready to count himself so incorrigibly bad as to have to be crucified! But when the Spirit of God turns the light upon what we are, from Adam, these will be blessed words of relief: “Our old man was crucified.”
Now here is the very opposite of the teaching of false Christianity about a holy life. For these legalists set you to crucifying yourself! You must “die out” to this, and to that. But God says our old man, all that we were, has been already dealt with,—and that by crucifixion with Christ. And the very words “with Him” show that it was done back at the cross; and that our task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about this crucifixion ourselves.
The believer is constantly reminded that his relation to sin was brought about by his identification with Christ in His death: Christ died unto sin, and the believer shared that death, died with Him, and is now, therefore, dead unto sin. This is his relationship to sin—the same as Christ’s now is; and believing this is to be his constant attitude.
Difficulty there will be, no doubt, in taking and maintaining constantly this attitude: but faith will remove the difficulty, and faith here will grow out of assiduous, constant attention to God’s exact statements of fact. We are not to go to God in begging petitions for “victory,”—except in extreme circum stances. We are to set ourselves a very different task: “This is the work of God, that ye believe” We may often be compelled to cry, with the father of the demoniac, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!” But it is still better to have our faces toward the foe, knowing ourselves to be in Christ, and that we have been commanded to reckon ourselves dead to sin, no matter how great and strong sin may appear. Satan’s great device is to drive earnest souls back to beseeching God for what God says has already been done!
“Our old man was crucified with Christ.” This is our task: to walk in the faith of these words. Upon this water God commands us to step out and walk. And we are infinitely better off than was Peter that night, when he “walked on the water to come to Jesus”; whereas we are in Christ. And our relationship to sin is His relationship! He died unto it, and we, being in Christ Risen, are in the relationship Christ’s death brought about in Him, and now to us who are in Him: whether to sin, law death, or the world.
If I did not die with Christ, on the cross, I cannot be living in Him, risen from the dead; but am still back in the old Adam in which I was born!
Christ died once—once for all, unto sin. He is not dying continually. I am told to reckon myself dead—in that death of Christ. I am therefore not told to do my own dying, to sin and self and the world: but, on the contrary, to reckon by simple faith, that in His death I died: and to be “conformed unto His death.” But, to be conformed to a death already a fact, is not doing my own dying,—which is Romanism. If you and I are able to reckon ourselves dead—in Christ’s death: all will be simple.
That the body of sin might be annulled—The word for “annulled” is katargeo. See note on Chapter 4:14. The meaning is, to “put out of business.” The “body of sin” refers to our bodies as yet unredeemed, and not delivered from sin’s rule; as Paul says in the Eighth Chapter: “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin.” Now we shall find that we have no power to deliver our body, our members, from “the law of sin” (See Chapter 7:8-24). But since our old man has been crucified with Christ, all the rights of sin are gone; and the indwelling Holy Spirit can annul “the body of sin”; thus delivering us from sin’s bondage. We know the Spirit is not mentioned here (as He will be constantly in Chapter Eight); but inasmuch as it is His work to apply all Christ’s work to us, we speak of His blessed annulling of the power of indwelling sin. It is blessed to know that we do not have to crucify the old man: that was done in Christ’s federal death at the cross. Nor do we have to “annul” the “body of sin”: that is done by the blessed Spirit as we yield to Him.