Romans 6-7 Questions Concerning Salvation
Romans 6 and 7 can be difficult chapters to understand. Paul seems to anticipate this, so he gives us a hint at how to do so. He asks several questions that we might ask and then answers them for us. Following this example, we will do the same thing and approach these chapters from the perspective of questions and answers.
Romans 6:1-11-Paul has just told us that where sin increases (not that there is more of it…but, that there is more evidence and a greater realization of it because the Law reveals its existence), grace increases even more so that righteousness will prevail. He anticipates a question so he asks it himself, "If grace is the response to sin…should we continue to sin in order to generate more grace?" Obviously, the answer is "No!" The reason is that the Law reveals sin not so that we can continue in it; but, so that we will see the need for God's grace and be saved from it. God’s grace is His power to overcome sin; not His permission to continue in sin. When we are saved we are "baptized into His death" (:2, dead to sin)...and raised to live in newness of life (:4). We are no longer slaves to sin since we have died to sin through His death...and we are raised to new life through His resurrection. Because of our faith in what Jesus has done for us..."Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ" (:11).
57.227 λογίζομαιd: to keep records of commercial accounts, involving both debits and credits—‘to put into one’s account, to charge one’s account, to regard as an account.’
(Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 582). New York: United Bible Societies.)
Here (:3-10), it is as if Paul is giving a progression of thought that begins with the death of Jesus (He died to the power of sin), moves to His resurrection (He now lives in the power of God), and results in it’s logical application in our lives (:11-14). Follow the thought process. How did Jesus die to sin? He literally died (not figuratively). A dead man cannot sin because sin has no power over a dead man. Then, He rose from the dead. In so doing, He came to life, not through the power of the physical, natural birth, but through the power of the spiritual birth. Sin only has power through the process of the natural birth that originates in Adam. Jesus was raised from the dead through the spiritual birth that originates from God. Sin therefore, has no power over Him (remember: that physical, human nature is dead). When we accept Jesus as our Savior…we now have a spiritual birth (cf. John 3:1-7). So then, why do we continue to struggle with sin? Because we have only figuratively died (not literally died). We are still under the influence of our physical, natural birth (our old nature), which is still alive. Paul is telling us that until the day comes when we literally die and go to Heaven…we will continue to contend with this natural birth. It is as if we have a split, or dual nature. In order to live the life that God intends for us to live, we must “consider” ourselves as dead. In other words, we have to make a decision concerning what nature we are going to listen to and abide by…our natural nature, or our spiritual nature. Someone has said that Romans 6:11 is the “home address” of the Christian life. It is the place where we live daily. The place where we make a conscious decision (“consider, reckon”) to choose to be alive to God, to present ourselves to Him for His will to be done…and, to be dead to the passions of our old nature and the power of sin. It’s one, or the other. You cannot have two masters.
Romans 6:12-21-Paul poses another question...”Since I now know that I am not saved by keeping the law (by not sinning)…am I then free to sin…since I realize that I am totally dependent on God’s grace?” Again the answer is "No!" We are no longer under the bondage of sin...our actions are the result of a decision to live righteously which has been made possible only by the grace of God. We should choose to live righteously so that our lives will be holy and in keeping with the life that is our eternal destiny. Before I was saved…I had no option but to sin. I was a “slave” to sin. Sin totally consumed and controlled my life. The law was never intended to be a standard of righteousness which when achieved qualified me as saved. But, the law was a standard of righteousness which when applied certified me as lost. The fact that I am saved by grace and that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to save myself does not mean that I now just throw in the towel and not try to live a righteous life at all. Just the opposite. For the first time in my life I can live a righteous life. It is by making the decision to be alive to the grace of God that is now operative in my life that I can live righteously. And now, as certainly as my life was under the control of sin before I was saved (a slave to sin)…my life should be under the control of grace now that I am saved (a slave to righteousness)! When I do this it results in “sanctification”. When I set myself apart to righteousness (to live a life in obedience to the holy character of God)…God sets me apart to sanctification (to empower a life of obedience to the holy character of God).
88.13 δικαιοσύνηa, ης f: the act of doing what God requires—‘righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.’
(Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 743). New York: United Bible Societies.)
"sanctification," is used of
(b) the course of life befitting those so separated, 1Th 4:3, 4, 7; Rom 6:19, 22; 1Ti 2:15; Hbr 12:14. "Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, Act 26:18; 1Cr 6:11, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ, Eph 5:25, 26: Col 1:22; Hbr 10:10, 29; 13:12.
"Sanctification is also used in NT of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God's will for the believer, 1Th 4:3, and His purpose in calling him by the gospel, 1Th 4:7; it must be learned from God, 1Th 4:4, as He teaches it by His Word, Jhn 17:17, 19; cp. Psa 17:4; 119:9, and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, 1Ti 2:15; Hbr 12:14. For the holy character, hagiosune, 1Th 3:13, is not vicarious, i.e., it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, Mat 11:29; Jhn 13:15; Eph 4:20; Phl 2:5, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom 8:13; Eph 3:16.
"The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification, Rom 15:16; 2Th 2:13; 1Pe 1:2; cp. 1Cr 6:11.... The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice, or election, of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual." *[* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 115, 271.]
(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G38&t=NASB)
Don’t ever forget…there are consequences for the life that I choose to live. The consequence of sin is more sin, more enslavement…and ultimately, death. But the consequence of the gift that God gives is sanctification (holiness), and ultimately, eternal life. Which will you live for?
Prayer: Lord, help me to moment by moment consider myself to be dead to sin, but alive to You! Help me to be obedient to righteousness. Please let it be the driving force in my life, even as sin was the driving force before. Help me to constantly present myself to You.