Reading through the Bible together
Romans 6 is one of the great chapters in Scripture, and this is where Paul reaches a high point in describing the power of the gospel. The first five chapters have shown the need we all have of the grace of God which is greater than our sin. However, Paul makes it very clear that God’s grace does not give license for us to continue in sin. In fact, he shows that when we are justified by faith we are dead to sin and no longer live in sin (vs.1,2).
The justified life is a life that has been baptized into Jesus Christ which means we are baptized into his death. We are buried with Christ so we can be resurrected to a new spiritual life. Just as Jesus was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we are raised up to live a new life of faith (vs. 3,4). We are fully persuaded that God can raise us up to live this new life, just as easily as He raised up Jesus bodily from the dead.
The next verses paint a beautiful picture of being “planted together in the likeness of His death.” This is referring to the crucified experience of Christ. So “our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (vs. 5-7). Here we see what it is to be crucified with Christ; it is the death of the old man of sin. In the marginal reading, it says “He that is dead is justified.” Therefore, to be crucified with Christ and be dead to sin is to be justified by faith. Ellen White supports this concept: “God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul” (Selected Messages I, p. 366).
Paul says that death has no more dominion over Christ, and as long as we stay surrendered to Him, sin has no more dominion over us (vs. 8-15). The chapter concludes by showing we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. When we obey the old man of sin, we are slaves to the master sin. When we are slaves to righteousness we obey God. A choice is involved. We yield to the slavery of sin, or to God who frees us from sin (vs. 16-23). If we are slaves of sin, the wages are death. If we are willing servants of righteousness, we are given eternal life. The choice of whom to serve is clear. Whom do you choose to serve?
Norman McNulty, M.D.
Neurologist, Lawrenceburg, TN, USA