Romans 6:14

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

Please don’t misread this verse and think that you have a promised, sinless perfection in this life.  It’s simply a promise that sin will not eventually triumph over the lives of those who follow Jesus.  Followers of Jesus are no longer under the Mosaic law where sin regularly triumphed over good.  To the contrary, Christians live under a much more powerful motivator to conquer sin than law.  That power is called “grace."

Under law, a person feels he must try to conquer sin by mere human effort. You try harder and harder, only to fail continually.  It creates a cycle of despair, for no one can eventually keep the entire law.

But grace is different.  Christians now try to obey the law, not because we have to, but because we want to.  The motivator is grace.  The stimulus is love in response to the one who loved us deeply. 

Grace always trumps sin.  That’s Paul’s message to us all in this verse.  

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Romans 6:13

“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” 

Paul wants all to know, in this verse, that even though you have accepted Jesus into your life, and his life is now your life, there will remain, until death, the tension between what God has done in Jesus in us and our human responsibility to obey his commandments.  Even though believers are in Christ, we are still tempted by the desires of the flesh.  We are urged to disobey his commandments. 

Therefore, followers of Jesus must daily choose to “present” our bodies and lives to God for righteousness’ sake.  Yes, we have been brought from death to life.  But we still have the daily responsibility to choose, to let, to present our bodies to God to be used as instruments for his righteousness.  It’s a daily battle.  It’s a daily recommitment.

But it’s an exercise that eventually causes death to lose its grip and power over us.

Therefore, today, choose life over death.  Choose righteousness over sin.  Choose to serve God, not disobey him.

Then sense grace becoming stronger and sin becoming lesser.  That’s what should happen for all followers of Jesus.

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Romans 6:12

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

Every moment of every day, even the most committed follower of Jesus, is tempted to allow sin to reign in this body.  Every moment of every day, sin is trying to make you obey its passions. 

Therefore, every follower of Jesus must not “let” sin have dominion in our lives.  Every day, followers of Jesus must choose to let him, not sin, reign within.  No one else can do it for you.  It’s everyone’s battle, even those who have relinquished their lives to Jesus.  But only you can fight it.  It’s yours and no one else’s battle. 

But this is true too: every day, when you are faithful, sin should lose a bit of its grip over your life.  Every day, as you let Jesus, not sin, reign, the grip and power of sin becomes less.  You progressively look more like Jesus.  You slowly move toward your ultimate, glorified, perfected state in heaven. 

Today, don’t allow sin to reign in you!  It’s your choice!  That’s what Paul, in this verse, is trying to teach all of us today.

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Romans 6:11

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

When someone accepts Jesus into their lives, there is a union life that takes place.  He is in us and we are in him.  His life becomes our life and our life becomes his life.

More specifically, that means that the pervasive, pernicious power of sin has now lost its mastery over our lives.  It has been broken!  Now, the majestic power of love and grace have consumed us.  The overwhelming desire NOT to sin controls us.

The key word in this verse is “consider.”  It refers to our thought life.  Daily, by the hour, we “consider,” we think, about the reality that our bodies are alive with resurrection love and empty of selfishness.  Eventually, we will behave like we think. 

That’s the point Paul was trying to make.  

Is this your reality today?

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Romans 6:10 

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives to God.”

Jesus was God in human flesh.  In his perfect humanity, he should never have died.  Like Adam before the Fall, death had no power over him because he was sinless.  Death is the result of sin in us.

But Jesus chose to take sin upon himself.  On the cross, he chose to take all of humanity’s sin upon his body, thus causing his death.  He died in our place.  His death should have been our death.

But he was also raised from the death.  His resurrection proves that he has defeated both sin and death forever.  And his resurrection is our resurrection.  What happened to him will happen to his followers.

Sin has now been defeated once and for all.  And the resurrection life he now lives for God is the resurrection life that now dwells in the hearts of all those who believe in him. 

Death is forever defeated for those who believe in him.  "Hallelujah!  Christ is risen!” is the regular mantra for Christians.

Is this your belief today?

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Romans 6:9

“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” 

Sometimes, especially as I have traveled in Africa and India, I hear stories of people being raised from the dead.  I’ve no reason to doubt them.  They are told to me by reputable followers of Jesus, many of whom were actually present and eyewitnesses when the event occurred.

As exciting as these stories are, these people still must face the reality of death again.  Actually, they have not experienced a resurrection from the dead, but a mere resuscitation from death.  They will all die again.

There is only one person who has ever died, been raised from the dead, never to face death again.  His name is Jesus Christ.  Death no longer has any dominion over him.

That means for those of us in him, who have his life pulsating through our veins, we too have victory over death.  We too will never die because of our union life with him.  Death has no dominion over us either.  It is never to be feared again. 

That’s awfully good news!

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Romans 6:8

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

Following Jesus does not mean asceticism.  It’s not mere human effort to deny sinful feelings.  To the contrary, it’s a real experience of dying to self with Christ.  It’s a real experience of being raised to new life with Christ.

Yes, it’s a death to self and to sinful feelings.  But it’s also a resurrection to new life and godly feelings.  The old self has been crucified.  All sins have been forgiven.  Then there is new life as the follower of Jesus daily chooses to live for him.

Then, when death’s shadow creeps over our bodies, we are assured that our last breath only leads the our next eternal breath, in our new resurrected bodies.  We “live with him.”  His life is our life, in its entirety—both now and forever!

He is risen!  It’s the best news the world has ever heard.

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Romans 6:7

“For the one who has died has been set free from sin.” 

This is the bottom line that Paul was trying to address in response to his critics that accused him of promoting grace that would allow people to sin more (see verse 1).

If a person has truly died with Jesus, he has been set free from sin.  If he has been crucified with Christ, the desire to sin is greatly weakened.  Sin no longer has a stranglehold on him.  Its tyranny has been greatly diminished.  Instead of being enslaved to sin, he is now free not to sin.

This should be the reality of every follower of Jesus.  There should be no exceptions.  As a person feeds himself upon God’s Word and his grace, there should be a movement toward holiness should be the evidence of someone having received Jesus as Lord and Savior.   

Is this your reality?  If not, why not?

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Romans 6:6

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” 

Before meeting Jesus, we were slaves to sin.  Sin controlled our lives.  We would do what our old self, our sin nature, desired to do.

But for those who believe, the power of sin, the old self in Adam, was crucified with Christ.  It was put to death with him on the cross.  We were born into the world as selfish sinners.  That’s the reason for the enslavement to sin.  Sin’s rule and power were broken when the Christian died with Christ.  

This does not mean that the Christian never sins again.  It does mean that the patterns of sin—its domination and tyranny—no longer rule the believer’s life.  

There is a progressive sanctification, a steady growth toward Jesus, that is taking place.  In other words, I’m not as bad as I was yesterday nor am I as good as I will be tomorrow.  I’m slowly but surely being conformed to the image of Jesus.  It should be obvious to all observers.  

This conforming will be completed in heaven.  Today, I make choices that will steadily keep me moving in this direction.

Is this your reality?  It should be if you are a follower of Jesus.

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Romans 6:5

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

When a person decides to follow Jesus, his life becomes united with Christ.  Our lives are in him.  His life is in us.  The closest physical example of this reality is what’s supposed to happen in marriage.  Two very opposite people become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).  A man and a woman are permanently and irrevocably united.  Their lives are mysteriously and eternally intertwined.

The same thing happens when someone is united with Christ.  We die to self as he died on the cross.  We are raised to new life as he was raised from the dead.  Paul said this should “certainly” happen.  It is an undeniable fact for the follower of Jesus.

For the believer, Jesus is now in our hearts and in our souls.  He is in us and we are in him.  His heart is our heart.  His life is our life.  And vice versa.  We are permanently, irrevocably and eternally connected.

Do you know this reality?

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Romans 6:4

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

When baptism is practiced with total immersion, it is a beautiful picture of the transformation that should take place in the believer’s life.  When the person goes under the water, he is being buried with Christ.  He is laid in the dark, dark tomb with him.  He is dead to sins and trespasses.  When he comes out of the water, he is raised to new life in Christ.  

Immersion is symbolic of death to sin.  Emergence is symbolic to victory over sin and new life in Christ.  As Jesus was raised from the dead, so the believer is now raised to new life by the glory of the Father.  The believer is now united with Christ.  Their lives are one through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The old, selfish, sinful life has passed away.  The new, serving life has come.  The follower of Jesus now has the power to live in this new life.

Does the above paragraph describe what has happened in your Christian experience?  Shouldn’t it be the norm?  If it hasn’t happened to you, why not?

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Romans 6:3

”Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” 

Does grace give permission to a person to sin more?  That’s the question Paul is answering in this verse.  His response is powerful and poignant.

Christians were “baptized into Christ.”  When we went under the water, we died to self.  We died to sin.  Sin has lost its power and grip over our lives and bodies.  Baptism doesn’t magically remove the power of and desire for sin in our lives.  But it is a powerful, outward symbol of the inward, real, spiritual reality of what’s happened in the Christian’s life.

What then should we do when sin tempts our soul?  We should remember our baptism.  We should remember that day when we chose to die to self and be raised to new life in Jesus.  We should remember the beauty of grace that forgives all our sin.

And we should once again choose to follow Jesus.

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Romans 6:2

“By no means!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Paul is responding to a Jewish objection about grace.  The accusation is that believing in God forgives sin by grace through faith, it will lead a person to abuse grace in order to sin more.  Paul’s response is swift and exclamatory: “By no means!”

Then Paul asks the questioner a question: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?”  When receiving Jesus, the Holy Spirit enters a person’s heart.  The Christian who truly believes the Gospel has died to sin.  How can someone who has died to sin see his life lead to more sin?  In fact, a person who loves Jesus with all his heart will not love to sin.  His love for his Savior overwhelms the love to sin.   

As grace increases in the heart of the follower of Jesus, the desire to sin must lessen.  The two contrary thoughts cannot dwell in the same heart.

That’s the point Paul was making in this verse.  Do you know this reality in your life?

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I learned yesterday that Bill Guthridge, Dean Smith’s long-time assistant, has passed away.

My first year at UNC as a basketball recruit and player, was Coach Guthridge’s first year. Freshmen were ineligible to play varsity competition.  Consequently, he was my head coach on the freshmen team.  Over the years, he was not only a coach and mentor.  He became a friend.

Today, my mind races with memories.  Here’s what I mostly think about:

  1. He was a good and honorable man.  He possessed a wry sense of humor.  We enjoyed his presence.  Players would often go to him to talk through issues.  He was affectionately known to many as “Uncle Bill.”
  2. He was a very good coach himself.  My freshman team was supposed to be the weakest of the four teams among the “Big 4” (Wake Forest, Duke, N.C. State and UNC).  Quite unexpectedly, we won the mythical “Big 4” championship—largely because of the coaching acumen of Coach Guthridge.  Succeeding Coach Smith, he took two of his three UNC teams to the Final Four.  Most coaches drive themselves to achieve one Final Four, much less two in three years.
  3. Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor, once said that the toughest position to play in the orchestra is “second fiddle.”  If true, that means Coach Guthridge played the position of assistant coach better than any other assistant imaginable.  He was faithful and loyal to his head coach and close friend, Dean Smith.

UNC basketball fans have taken a double blow to their roundball solar plexus in the last couple of months.  Two truly great men and coaches have passed away.  First, Dean Smith has gone to his reward.  Now there’s Bill Guthridge.  But their legacies will never be forgotten—especially by those who knew and played for them.

Our lives were indelibly enriched because of them.  They are now gone, but never forgotten.

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Romans 6:1

“What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” 

When Jewish opponents heard Paul’s teaching about grace, immediately they raised an objection.  The question to Paul probably went something like this: “Are you now teaching that we should live in grace so that sin may abound?  Are you teaching that we can sin in abundance because we know that we will be forgiven?  Aren’t you giving people an excuse to sin?  Aren’t you rationalizing sin?”

In verse two, we will see Paul’s vigorous response.  Suffice it to say, he will say “Not at all!”  He will say that if you use grace to sin you’ve never understood grace at all.  

When someone truly understands what God did on that cross, the suffering Jesus underwent to reestablish our relationship with the Father in heaven, how could anyone use this great gift as an excuse to rationalize sin? It makes a mockery of the cross.  It’s inherently impossible. 

Grace, when properly understood, should lead to an extraordinary life of holiness and obedience.

That’s the point Paul is getting ready to make.

If you have received the grace of Jesus, does your life reflect his grace with holiness and obedience to him?

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Romans 5:21 

“…so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Sin reigns in this world.  Death proves this reality.  But grace is stronger than sin.  Grace reigns in the lives of all those who believe in Jesus and his free gift of righteousness and eternal life.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will never die.”  Never means never!

Grace defeats death.  Grace reigns over death.  Grace is greater than death. 

It’s the foundational belief of all who believe in Jesus.  We are forgiven.  We have his righteousness.  We should never fear death.

Do you believe this today?

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Romans 5:20 

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,…” 

Some think that God gave the law to try and control sin.  The 10 Commandment’s purpose then is to curb sinful lusts and urges.  

Paul takes the opposite view.  He says that the law was given to “increase the trespass.”  Its purpose is to show just how sinful the heart is.  The law was given at Sinai.  Yet Israel’s sins only abounded in the days and years that followed.  God’s one law given to Adam didn’t stop him from breaking it.

Even though sin exponentially increased after the law was given, God poured out his grace in even greater power.  The evidence is the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  Sin abounded.  God’s grace abounded even more!

You cannot sin more than God’s grace.  It’s impossible.  No matter what you’ve done today, go to the Father in Jesus’ name.  Ask for his grace.  He will give it to you abundantly!

You cannot “out-sin” the grace of God.  It’s impossible.

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Romans 5:19

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Paul restates a truth he has already stated.  Adam’s one sin of disobedience caused many to be sinners in the world.  Many find the doctrine of original sin to be offensive.  They don’t think they should be held accountable for one man’s sin who lived thousands of years ago.   

There are three answers to this objection.  First, Jesus taught it.  If he’s God in human flesh, as he claimed, the debate should end here.  Second, the rest of the Bible clearly teaches it.  It’s a consistent theme from Genesis to Revelation.  Third, what else can really account for the evil in people’s hearts and the world?  If we are all born basically good, or even with a clean nature, how has the world become so wicked and evil?  Why does human evil seem to reign all over the world?  The doctrine of original sin is the best explanation for the fallenness of this world.

God regarded Adam’s sin as the nexus of all sin.  His guilt belongs to all people everywhere.   Adam’s rebellious sin nature has been passed on to all humanity.

But one man’s obedience overcame Adam’s sin.  Jesus’ perfect obedience to God, in his life and death, gives righteousness to all who believe in him and receive his righteousness.

Jesus is worthy of all worship and praise!

 

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Romans 5:18 

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

As the representative head of the human race, the first man, Adam, sinned against God and brought judgment, condemnation and guilt upon the entire human race.  Similarly, Jesus’ one act of obedience to his Father, going to the cross and dying for our sins, gives perfect forgiveness and righteousness for all who believe in him and accept his free gift.

Does this verse advocate universalism—the belief that all people one day will be saved?  Hardly.  In verse 17 Paul clearly says salvation is only for those who “receive the abundance of grace” from Jesus.  Moreover, as Adam’s sin affected all, the “justification and life for all men” in this verse is only for those who are in Christ and have received this justification.

Have you received the free gift of eternal life through Jesus?  It is the most important question you’ll ever answer in this life.

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Romans 5:17

”For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Death entered into this world because of the disobedience of one man’s sin.  Death was never a part of God’s original intent in creation.  It’s an evil intrusion into a once-perfect world.  By virtue of Adam’s one sin, death reigned.  All would die. 

But Christians, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, now rule over death.  We are more than conquerors.  Death has no power over us.  Death has lost its sting to cause fear in our hearts.  Because of one man’s sacrifice, Adam’s sin has been conquered.  We have received the free gift of being called righteous in God’s sight, forgiven forever!  We reign now, in this life, over sin and death.  Obviously, the same will be true in eternity. 

It is cause to celebrate and worship the one who died and was raised from the dead to conquer all sin!

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