Summary: If we are to have victory in our Christian life, we must understand that we are free from the law.
Up to this point, the book of Romans has pointed us to the reason we needed a Savior, and the fact that God provided that Savior in the person of Jesus, the Eternal Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us. Now, beginning in chapter 6, the subject changes to address the transformation that must take place in our hearts and minds, if we are to live in victory. There are five sections in these two chapters, and they each begin with a question.
Shall we continue in sin that grace my abound?
In giving the answer to this question, the apostle Paul doesn’t beat around the proverbial bush. He says, “God forbid!”
As he provides explanation of that short answer, he uses the analogy of baptism, which pictures death, burial, and resurrection, and the point is, when we got saved, we died to our powerless submission to sin’s power, the penalty was put forever away, and God raised us up by quickening us from our dead spiritual condition to walk in newness of life.
In verse 9, we are told that we need to know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is not going to die anymore, and that death no longer has any dominion over Him. The all important thought is that we are in Him, therefore, what it means to Him, it means to those who are in Him. He says as much in verse 11, when he says, “Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin...” This means that we are to consider this to be the case in our lives. We are to think of ourselves in this way, and to see ourselves in this way, because this is the way God sees us. Then, verse 13 tells us to present ourselves to God. We are His purchased possession, therefore, we are to make ourselves available to Him.
So the answer to the question is that we must not continue to purposefully do sinful things, because we no longer have to do so.
Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?
Again, the short answer is, “God forbid!” It is a gross misunderstanding of grace to think that God just turns His back on sin and doesn’t notice it.
In verses 16-23, the argument is made that we show what we really believe, and to whom we really belong, by the manner in which we behave. Anyone whose life is controlled by sin has obviously not been made a new creature in Christ, and whatever faith he confesses has not gotten out of the area of his head. The short distance between a person’s head and heart is of major importance. It has been said that many will miss heaven by that short distance.
Do you not know that the law only has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
The idea in this section, beginning in chapter 7, verse 1, is that since we are in Christ, that we are dead to the law. He uses the analogy of a woman whose husband is dead. That woman is absolutely free to marry another man, because the former husband can never again make any demands of her.
The picture is that of our former spouse, the law, having died, but now we are married to another, the Spirit. We still serve the Lord, but from an entirely different motivation. We are like the woman who was married to a very mean man. He would leave her lists of chores that she was to have completed before he returned home in the evenings. She was terrified of him and worked very hard to get all the things on the list done, so that she would not face his wrath. The man died, and the woman thought she would surely never marry again, but one day when she least expected it, she met a man and fell deeply in love with him. They married, and she couldn’t believe how wonderful life was with this man. She never knew a man could treat her so well as this loving man did. One day she was cleaning their home, and she lifted a cushion out of a chair and found a little folded up piece of paper. She unfolded it and found that it was one of those lists her former husband had made for her. Then she realized something: she was still doing all the things on the list, but now she was doing them out of joy, because she wanted to, because her heart overflowed with love for the man who shared her life.
Is the law sin?
Verse 7 asks this question. Is the law bad? The answer is, “Certainly not!” Verse 7 tells us that the law shows us our sin, verses 8-9 says that the law stirs us in our sin, and verse 11 says that the law shows us the seriousness of our sin. Back in chapter 3, we were told that the law was given that every mouth might be stopped. The law defined our sin, and we have nothing left to say for ourselves by way of excuse.