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!


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.


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?


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.


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?


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?


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.


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?


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.


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?


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?


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.


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!



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.


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!


Romans 5:16 

“And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin.  For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.” 

Adam committed one trespass against God: he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Through his one disobedient act, condemnation was brought upon all.  Sin originated with Adam’s one rebellious act.  Consequently, we all are born with a bent toward selfishness through our first father, Adam’s, disobedience. 

But the depth of God’s grace is startling.  Jesus’ death on the cross overcame the avalanche of sin that has overwhelmed the world.  All who accept his free gift of eternal life now celebrate justification.  Our sins are forever forgiven.  Christians now live in the brilliant beauty of his unconditional acceptance and grace. 

Therefore, no condemnation should ever be found in the believer’s life—ever!


Romans 5:15

“But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of what that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”

Paul is clearly teaching here the doctrine of original sin.  Many object to it.  Yet is it not the best answer to all the human suffering in the world?  Is it not the best answer to why death exists? 

Adam’s “trespass” brought sin and death into the world.  This death is not only physical but spiritual.  Every person, at the moment of conception, is bent toward selfishness.  We are separated from him.  Adam was the representative head of the human race and failed in his responsibilities to oversee God’s garden, his creation.  We are therefore all guilty before God because of this “trespass” in us.  That’s the bad news. 

But here’s the good news: in contrast, the free gift of God’s grace is much greater than our sin.  For those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, God’s grace has been lavished on us.

Do you believe this?  Do you believe that God’s grace is stronger than your sin?  Do you believe that there is nothing you have ever done or can do that can ever separate you from the love of God found in Jesus?   

Therefore, you can go to him any time and lay your sins upon him and know forgiveness and intimacy with him.

Grace is a free gift from God.  It can never be earned by works.  It is much stronger, much greater, than our sin. 

Do you know this abounding, abundant free gift of grace today?


Romans 5:14 

“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”

Death proves everyone is a sinner.  Death alone should convince everyone they need forgiveness of their sins.  People who lived before the law, from Adam to Moses, are without excuse before God.  Therefore, they will be judged by God for how much they acknowledge their guilty conscience before God. 

However, human sin, after Adam is not like his sin.  Adam disobeyed one law: don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  But our sin is manifested in multiple breakages of God’s moral law.  We’ve disobeyed practically every one, if not all, of the ten commandments at some point in our lives.

Adam was a “type” of Jesus.  They both are representative heads of the human race.  Through Adam comes sin.  Through Jesus comes salvation.

Some object that they should not be responsible for Adam’s sin.   But if he had not sinned, we would have.  Moreover, representative headship of a larger community is a foreign thought to people who live in the west.  Here we emphasize the individual over the whole.  But this idea is still common to an eastern mindset.  

And it’s a universal reality.  If I sin, my family is deeply affected.  As is the church family I pastor.  You may not like it, but it’s God’s reality revealed in his Word.  And it’s true!

We have all sinned through Adam.  But that’s not the end of the story.  There is the second Adam, another representative head, who solves what Adam created and we have exacerbated.

His name is Jesus.  Do you know him today?


Romans 5:13

“…—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”

Sin existed in the world from Adam’s rebellion onward.  However, it was not fully known until the law was given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  By no means is Paul suggesting here that all people were guiltless before the law was given.  He’s already clearly stated in 2:12 that those who do not know or don’t have the written law are still guilty for their sin and judged by God.

Death itself proves they are guilty of sin!  They should have known their need for salvation by they way their conscience produced inward guilt when they broke God’s universal moral law.  Their breakage of God’s law occurred before God gave the law to Moses. 

Therefore, all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).  Everyone is without excuse for their sin before a holy God.  Everyone will be held accountable on the great day of judgment before God.  The question is whether you will approach a perfect, pure, holy God with your sins forgiven by Jesus or not. 

It’s a serious question for all people everywhere to ponder.


Romans 5:12 

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—…”

One man, named Adam, brought sin into the world (see Genesis 3:17-19).  This sin is what has caused death to enter the world.  Secularists believe that death is a natural aspect of life.  The Bible, and Paul, disagree.  Death isn’t natural.  For those who have watched people and loved ones agonizingly die, they know there is nothing natural about death.  It is an evil intrusion into a once-perfect creation.  It was never meant to be by God.

The disease of sin is passed on through Adam to all people.  At the moment of conception, we are bent toward self.  We are inclined to rebel against God.  If you don’t believe this, have children!  These beautiful, little creatures are bent on having the world revolve around them.

This fallen, sinful nature causes death for all: physical and spiritual death.  Physically, we all die.  That is an observable reality.  Spiritually, we are deeply separated from God.  We are spiritually dead too, primarily seeking after our own way.  That too is a reality.

We all need a Savior to be reconciled to God.  That’s Paul’s point in these verses.

Do you know the Savior personally?