Here are my notes, plus a video, of Romans 6. Enjoy!
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Now Paul answers an objection to all that he has said, especially the last couple verses of the last chapter. If grace abounds where sin abounds, why not just keep sinning? People STILL have this objection today, but they obviously don’t read the Scriptures or understand what it means to be a new creation in Christ.
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Same “God forbid” as in chapter 3 that the NKJV translates “Certainly not”, an emphatic “NO!” Then Paul points out the total absurdity in having died to sin (the Greek is clear that this is a past tense action), yes still living in it. And by the way there’s a big difference between living in sin and stumbling into it.
We have died to sin as the verse says, and like we read in Colossians 3:5 where it says to “mortify” or put to death any sin or wickedness in your life.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Baptism symbolizes our death to sin, so of course we shouldn’t sin “that grace may abound.” We have died to it through faith and symbolized by our baptism.
By the way, baptism is not necessary for salvation but it’s something we SHOULD do. Just as Paul gave the example of Abraham being declared righteous without any work, before his circumcision, so are we saved by faith alone. Baptism wasn’t even a thing in the Old Testament, until the gospels and John the Baptist.
Also note, that the description of baptism here can only be immersion; it was never “sprinkling” or whatever. You can’t be symbolically “buried” by being splashed with water.
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
We were buried (past tense again) by baptism to die to sin, and as Christ rose again, so when we rise out of the water we should live for Christ. Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
T.F. Lockyer writes, “Therefore our faith in Christ not merely gives us pardon and peace with God, but commits us also to a stern and uncompromising battle with all that is opposed to God. Your very baptism is your pledge to wage such warfare.”
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
The idea of “planted together” sort of means to be “joined with.” We join ourselves to Christ.
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Again with past tense, our “old man” which is our former self, was crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
This “old man” concept is also seen in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This change doesn’t happen all at once of course, but the Holy Spirit works in us throughout our life.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
As we died with Christ, and rose in newness of life with Him, we shall live with Him in this present world and in the world to come.
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
This is why Colossians 1:18 calls Jesus the “firstborn from the dead”, not because he was the first to rise from death, but He is the first to have risen and never died again. Lazarus was raised from the dead but he later died again for example.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So Paul has answered the objection raised in verse 1, about our having died to sin and cast it off, in the next couple verses he encourages his readers to recognize this union with Christ and reject sin. This is what’s called our sanctification, the believer’s process of becoming more Christ-like. Every year we should have a closer walk with God than the year before.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
On this The Pulpit Commentaries says, “Though our ‘old man’ is conceived of as crucified with Christ—though this is theoretically and potentially our position—yet our actual lives may be at variance with it; for we are still in our present ‘mortal body,’ with its lusts remaining; and sin is still a power, not yet destroyed, which may, if we let it, have domination over us still.’
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Pretty simple right? Great practical advise here on how we should live as Christians. Galatians 5:16 says something very similar: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
Also note that it is one or the other: You are either serving God or serving sin. There’s no neutral or middle ground.
TPC writes, “Sinners are under the rule and bondage of a tyrannical and wicked lord. Turning away in a rebellious spirit from their rightful King and Ruler, they have submitted themselves to the usurper's sway. Sin takes possession of their affections, their judgment, and their will.”
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
We might fall into sin, but it is no longer our master, it no longer rules over us. And people are still confused about the topic of whether we are under the law or not. Nothing could be more clear that we are not, as this verse plainly states. We are not under the law. Period.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Very similar to the question and answer posed in the first two verses of this chapter. Paul reiterates.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
This is a great verse, and like I mentioned earlier, there are only two choices, no middle ground. The meaning is that by our conduct we show which master we are under; and we cannot serve two masters. Obeying sin makes you a servant of sin, obeying Christ makes you a servant of Christ. Serving sin leads to death, obedience to Christ leads to righteousness.
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
This verse should be understood like this: “But thanks be to God that, although ye were the servants of sin, nevertheless ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered unto you; or, that mold of teaching into which ye were cast.”
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
As slaves of sin we have now been made free to follow righteousness. People often say that they don’t want to obey God, they don’t want Him to rule their life. Unfortunately the only other choice is to serve sin which leads to death! You will serve God or sin, that’s it.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Paul now explains why he uses the word “servant” in the last few verses, which is to speak using terms common among people – “after the manner of men.” The people in that day and certainly in Rome fully understood what it meant to be a servant or a slave, so Paul uses these terms although when we serve the Lord we aren’t doing it as unwilling slaves but as free people gladly choosing to serve God!
So again we see that the only choices are to be a slave to sin or to seek righteousness. But seeking righteousness is the only way to truly be free. Turn to John 8.
John 8:31-36 says, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Freedom is generally a great thing, but here Paul is saying that when you were formerly servants of sin, you were free, or not in any bondage to, righteousness. That’s a bad thing! We want to be servants of righteousness!
Adam Clarke writes, “These two servitudes are incompatible; if we cannot serve God and Mammon, surely we cannot serve Christ and Satan. We must be either sinners or saints; God's servants or the devil's slaves.”
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
William Newell writes, “And in those former evil days, they had been, as Paul says, free in regard of righteousness [v. 20]. They were altogether given to iniquity, without any check whatever. And those were fruitless days of which they were now ashamed. Free and fruitless! what a pair of words to describe the life of one who is going on daily toward eternity!”
Nobody turns to Christ and brags about their time in bondage to sin, or reminisces about the “good old days” before they knew the Lord. Abundant life is following God.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is a beautiful and very important verse. You EARN the wages of sin, and your payment is death, but the FREE GIFT that you CANNOT EARN is eternal life! Like Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
Salvation is a free gift. You don’t work for it, you simply receive it with gratitude.
Ironside says, “Sin is in one respect a faithful master. His pay day is sure. His wages are death. On the other hand eternal life is a free gift, the gift of God. None can earn it. It is given to all who trust in Christ as the Saviour of sinners. It is ours now, who believe the gospel. We shall enjoy it in all its fulness at the end.”