Freedom From Sin Part II

by | Apr 1, 2009

Scripture: Romans 6:1–23

“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22)

Is freedom from sin possible? Or are Christians simply forgiven sinners—people whom God has justified by grace through faith, even though they continue to sin willfully on a daily basis?

In part one of this sermon, we turned to Romans 6:1–10 and studied the first four truths that Paul insists every Christian learn (sermon part 1).

In this message, we continue our study with four more Biblical truths.

Paul continues his explanation why it is impossible for a Christian who is united to Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection to continue in sin. A Christian, explains Paul, is both dead and alive. He is dead in the sense that he has died with Christ to sin, and therefore he can not continue to live in sin.

He is alive in the sense that through the power of Christ’s resurrection he has been given newness of life. Therefore he is empowered to live for God, experiencing victory over sin and producing “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22).

We continue now with Paul’s explanation of why it is impossible for a Christian “to continue in sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1).

Know that you cannot continue in sin because your death with Christ put to death your old man (6a).

“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him.”

The phrase, “old man” occurs three times in Paul’s writings (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). It refers to all that we were before we were saved—our old, evil, unregenerate selves with all of our motives, sinful attitudes, habits and appetites.

When we were saved, we put off the “old man with his deeds” and put on the “new man” (Col. 3:9). This occurred because of our union with Christ. His crucifixion becomes our crucifixion.

His death defeated the power of sin, and because we participate in His death, the power of sin is defeated in our lives. In Christ, we are no longer held prisoner by sin.

We are no longer the “old man;” for we are now a “new man” in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:15; 4:22–24; Col. 3:9, 10). This is not in the sense of a renovated or refreshed version of the old, but we have received a brand-new life.

Know that you cannot continue in sin because your death with Christ provided for the total defeat of sin’s power over your physical body (6b)

“…that the body of sin might be destroyed.”

The purpose behind the crucifixion of our old man is that sin should be rendered powerless in our lives. But what does Paul mean by the expression “body of sin?” It clearly should not be regarded as equivalent to “sinful body,” for the body itself is not sinful.

Scripture teaches that sin arises from the heart, the inner life (Mark 7:21), not our physical body. Should we settle for “sinful self” (NEB) or “the self which belonged to sin” (NJB)?

This is possible, since the word soma (“body”) sometimes conveys the idea of man in his totality, not simply as a physical organism. But this appears to be pushing the phrase further than the immediate context allows.

The first occurrence of the term “body” in Romans is in reference to Abraham.

“And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb” (Rom 4:19).

Here the term “body” refers to his physical body.

The second occurrence of “body” is our present passage (Rom. 6:6).

The third occurrence is in Romans 6:12 when Paul commands,

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

Again, the term “body” refers to our physical body. In Romans 6:13 and 6:19, Paul places great emphasis on not using the physical members of our body for sinful purposes.

Therefore, contextually, the phrase “body of sin” in Romans 6:6 is probably best understood as referring to our physical body insofar as it becomes the vehicle of sin.

In agreement with this interpretation, Marvin Vincent writes that the phrase

“‘body of sin’ denotes the body belonging to, or ruled by, the power of sin, in which the members are instruments of unrighteousness (ver. 13).

 

Not the body as containing the principle of evil in our humanity, since Paul does not regard sin as inherent in, and inseparable from, the body (see ver. 13; 2 Cor. 4:10–12; 7:1. Compare Matt. 15:19), nor as precisely identical with the old man, an organism or system of evil dispositions, which does not harmonize with vv. 12, 13, where Paul uses ‘body’ in the strict sense”

 

(Word Studies in the New Testament).

Further, the reference to our crucifixion with Christ, a crucifixion which Christ endured in his physical body, also supports the interpretation that Paul is speaking of our physical body which can be used as an instrument of sin or as an instrument of righteousness.

As Richard Howard explains,

“sin so contaminates and controls the outer man, expressing itself through the body and using the physical body that man’s body is pictured as ‘sin’s own body’” (Newness of Life, 47).

Our union with Christ in His death destroyed sin’s control over our physical body.

In Christ we are free from the grip of sin.

Know that you cannot continue in sin because your death with Christ provided deliverance from the servitude of sin (6c–7)

“…that henceforth we should not serve sin. He that is dead is freed from sin.”

Our old man was crucified so that sin’s control over our body should be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. Sin’s stranglehold on our lives has been decisively broken. No longer the helpless captives of sin, we have been set free. The verb “freed” (dikaiow) normally means “justified” or “acquitted.”

However, the parallel of “serve” and “freed” requires the idea of “freed from sin,” and not “acquitted from sin.” In agreement with this Albert Barnes writes that “the word here is used clearly in the sense of setting at liberty, or destroying the power or dominion. The word is often used in this sense.

Compare Acts 13:38, 39, and a similar expression in 1 Peter 4:1, ‘He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.’

The design of the apostle is not to say that the Christian is perfect, but that sin has ceased to have dominion over him, as a master ceases to have power over a slave when he is dead.”

He is “freed from the guilt of the past,” says John Wesley, “and from the power of present sin, as dead men from the commands of their former masters.”

Know that you cannot continue in sin because you now live in the resurrection power of the One who rose from the dead and is forever alive (6:9–10).

“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more;

 

death hath no more dominion over him.

 

For in that he died, he died unto sin once:

 

but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”

When the Lord Jesus died, He died to sin—to its claims, its wages, it demands, its penalty. He finished the work of atonement and satisfied the righteous demands of God’s holy justice and wrath so completely and perfectly that it will never need to be repeated.

Now that He lives, triumphant over sin, death, and the grave, He lives to God. And as the resurrected God-man, He lives to God in a new relationship—as the Risen One!

Death no longer has dominion over Him; He will never die again. And because of our union with Christ, we too have been released from the dominion of sin. Sin’s tyranny over us has been broken, because sin has nothing to say to a dead person. Now we are free to live in Christ as Christ lives—we are free to live for God.

In agreement with Paul, Peter says that the purpose for Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice was that “we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24).

Jesus died to bring about a transformation: to make saints out of sinners, not sinning saints. Participation in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection enables a person to depart from sin and enter into a new life pattern: a life of righteousness.

Believers must not only learn these eight true concepts, but they must wholeheartedly embrace them. They form the factual foundation upon which we are to build our faith. There is, however, a big difference between “conceptual” facts and “experienced” facts.

We are never to stop with factual data. We are to translate the biblical facts into experiential reality through obedience and faith. We are to
live up to our privileges in Christ.

In our next sermon we will see that believers must reckon (or count) their death, burial, and resurrection with Christ as accomplished, life-changing events. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:11).

Further, there is an ongoing choice believers must make. They must purposely yield the members of their bodies as tools of righteousness (6:12–13, 16, 19).

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