Summary: Jesus’ death and resurrection frees us from sin. Liberty breeds responsibility, the basis for seeking and submitting to God’s plan.
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him: "My poor friends, you are free— free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it...Liberty is your birthright."
But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. "Let the world see that you merit [your freedom]," Lincoln said, "Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them."
That is the message Jesus gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection. Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis to seek and submit to God’s plans. It is direction for action. OYBT Rom 6 (read 5:20 first).
1. In 6:1-14, Paul corrects those who may misinterpret his statement (5:20). Some will assume a more sin, the more grace God pours his on them, releasing the believer from his obligation to Christ.
2. Believers are called to experience life free from sin. It’s not the end of the pursuit of holiness, but rather the beginning of such a pursuit.
A. A significant shift comes in this part of the letter. Paul moves from the subject of “justification”, to a new subject“sanctification”. Let’s compare the two.
B. Justification, or righteousness imputed, occurs when God assigns a portion of his righteousness to us, though we have done nothing to deserve it. It is an event, not a process; because it requires nothing of us but the faith that brings us to Christ.
C. Sanctification, or righteousness imparted, occurs when God grants us the ability to pursue righteousness through the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is a process, not an event. It is, in fact, a twofold process:
(i) First, God sets us apart for his will and purpose. In other words, he has a plan for me and sets me apart for his use in that plan.
(ii) After this, God draws me, through the Holy Spirit, to change my lifestyle, my attitude toward sin, and its resultant behavior.
3. Paul begins a treatise on sanctification. OYBT Romans 6, as we consider two foundational truths of our freedom from sin:  why sin no longer has dominion over the believer, and  the resulting effect – the pursuit of holiness.
[Jesus’ death and resurrection frees us from sin. Liberty breeds responsibility, the basis for seeking and submitting to God’s plan.]
II. WHY WE ARE FREED FROM SIN
1. When Christ died, our sins died with Him (5-7)
A. If God intended us to be slaves to sin, he would not have sent Christ to die in our place. Imagine the grief God experiences when believers continue to cling to our sinful past.
B. Sometimes we rationalize our spiritual dormancy by saying things like “God doesn’t expect me to be holy…that lifestyle is for others (preachers, missionaries, etc.). I just do what I can as I struggle along” (poor, poor, pitiful me) OR “God understands me; he knows I’m not perfect.”
C. Know this. Every excuse slanders the name of Jesus and discounts the sacrifice he made on our behalf. God knows Adam’s sin contaminates us. He does not however, allow us to escape responsibility for or sinful attitudes and behaviors. Each of us will give an account of his life before God one day.
2. When Christ conquered sin, we conquered sin (8-11)
A. Sin and death could not hold Christ in the grave. Likewise Paul says, when he rose from the dead, we also rose from the dead.
B. Paul draws the comparison of death through Adam, life through Christ; the divine solution for a depraved people.
C. For this reason, count yourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (11).
D. Don’t give sin a position of prominence in your life. Sin is a defeated enemy, unworthy of its opponent. If Christ could conquer death, how much more capable is he to conquer sin (specifically in our lives)?
III. THE EFFECT OF FREEDOM: THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS (12-23)
1. Serve righteousness instead of sin (12-14)
A. When you choose to serve any master, you become a slave to that master…whether sin or righteousness. Paul says, “Choose righteousness”. There is no middle ground; we serve either God or our sinful desires.
B. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin. IOW, do not offer any capacity of your being to sin. When you compromise, you surrender yourself completely to the sinful nature.