7) Rom 6:12–14: Paul began this chapter by urging believers to consider ourselves dead to sin (Rom 6:1–7).[1]

We cannot remain content to live as we had prior to placing our faith in Jesus.[2]

Instead, “sin must not reign” in us. The apostle called us to take hold of Christ’s victory by revolting against sin’s domination (Cf. 1 Cor 15:54–58).[3]

Although he used the term “mortal bodies” (thnētos sōma), this most likely means the whole person, not just our physical flesh (Rom 6:6).[4]

By personifying lustful passion as a slave-master, Paul warned believers not to fall prey to our cravings, which results in enslavement.[5]

To thwart sin’s desire to rule over us, we must refuse to obey it.[6]

We fight this battle daily in the decisions we make.[7] These passions include the need to dominate others and to covet what they have,[8] not only sensual lust.[9]

As the Greco-Roman philosopher Epictetus (55–135 AD) stated, “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.”[10]

In the Greek army, a hoplite fought with a spear.[11]

Since we are “dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom 6:11), we must not present our natural abilities as “instruments” or “weapons” (hopla),[12] battling on the side of sin.[13]

The great preacher John Chrysostom (347–407) wrote this:

The body is not evil, since it may be made an arm [i.e. a weapon] of righteousness. But by calling it an arm, he makes it clear that there is a hard warfare at hand for us.

And for this reason we need strong armor, and also a noble spirit, and one acquainted too with   the ways of this warfare; and above all we need a commander.

The Commander, however is standing by, ever ready to help us, and abiding unconquerable, and has furnished us with strong arms likewise.

Farther, we have need of a purpose of mind to handle them as should be, so that we may both obey our Commander, and take the field for our country.[14]

Here in Romans, Paul’s contrast between unrighteousness and virtue sharply focuses upon one’s behavior.[15]

No middle ground exists.[16]

After renouncing sin, we immediately serve under our new master, the Lord.[17] This involves a decisive and deliberate decision to come under his control, sharing in Christ’s new life of resurrection.[18]

Paul’s statement, “for sin shall not rule over you” does not mean that Christians will never sin.[19]

However, sin no longer exerts sovereignty over us.[20] Jesus does. Unless we deliberately choose to turn away from following the Lord, never again shall we experience powerlessness in our fight against sin (1 Cor 10:1–13).[21]

Although refraining from habitual transgressions may seem daunting, we are indeed “dead to sin and alive to God.” [22]

By writing, “for you are not under law but under grace,” Paul did not claim that believers can freely ignore God’s commands.[23]

Rather than obeying the Mosaic law, we fall under a new covenant—the law of Christ—which is characterized by grace (John 1:17; Rom 8:1–2; Gal 3:23–29). Now we have the Spirit’s power to overcome temptation (Gal 5:13–26). Remaining “in Adam” is no longer a valid option for God’s people (Rom 5:12–21).[24]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Rom 6:12–14How can we avoid slavery to sin? What happens when we present ourselves to God as “instruments of righteousness”? Why can’t people whose loyalty belongs to Jesus continually practice sin? What advantage do you have which Cain did not experience?

 

 

 

 

Go to Cain Arose against His Brother

 

[Related posts include Delivered from this Body of Death (Rom 7:14–25); Set Free from Sin’s Dominion (Rom 8:1–14); A Servant of the Ground and a Shepherd of a Flock (Gen 4:2‒5); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Oh, the Depth of the Riches of God! (Rom 11:33‒36); A Living Sacrifice (Rom 12:1); Transformed Minds (Rom 12:2); Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55); Clothed with Christ (Gal 3:26–27); and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Brothers (Genesis 4:1‒16)]

 

[1] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 382.

[2] Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:316.

[3] Moo, Romans, 200.

[4] Dunn, Romans 1–8, 336.

[5] Witherington and Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 163.

[6] Dunn, Romans 1–8, 336.

[7] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 383.

[8] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 383.

[9] Dunn, Romans 1–8, 336.

[10]Epictetus, “Discourses,” in The Works of Epictetus: His Discourses, in Four Books, the Enchiridion, and Fragments. (trans. Thomas Wentworth Higginson; New York: Thomas Nelson, 1890), 4.1.175, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0237%3Atext%3Ddisc%3Abook%3D4.

[11] Witherington and Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary,163.

[12] Danker et al., “′οπλον” (hoplon), BDAG, 716.

[13]Craig S. Keener, InterVarsity Press Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (IVPBBCNT) (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), electronic edition, Rom 6:12–3.

[14]John Chrystostom, The Homilies of St. John Chrystostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (NPNF1–11) (ed. Philip Schaff; trans. J. B. Morris and W. H. Simcox, revised by George B. Stevens; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1889), 11.6.5, 411, https://archive.org/stream/selectlibraryofn11auguuoft#page/410/mode/2up.

[15] Witherington and Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 163.

[16] Dunn, Romans 1–8, 337–8.

[17] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 385.

[18] Dunn, Romans 1–8, 338.

[19] Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:318–9.

[20] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 387.

[21] Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:319.

[22] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 387.

[23] Moo, Romans, 200.

[24] Witherington and Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 164–5.