Union with Christ

Romans 6:1-14 ESV

Brief Review & Introduction

David FramptonIn our series in the Bible, the story of God, we come now to the letters written by Christ’s apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. In them we read God’s commentary and application of the redemption that Christ accomplished. The first letter to read is Romans. Every Christian should read, study, meditate on, and strive to apply the truth written in it.

Structure of Romans

  • Introduction (1:1-17)
  • God’s wrath against sinners (1:18-3:20)
  • God’s righteousness for believers in Christ (3:21-11:36)
  • God’s righteousness in the daily life of believers (12:1-15:13)
  • Conclusion (15:14-16:27)

Ideas and features of Romans

  • Paul wrote this letter to tell them about the message he preached before he visited Rome and to seek support for a proposed missionary journey to Spain; he sought to strengthen unity in the gospel among believers
  • Paul wrote the letter about AD 57; with Colossians, they are the only letters in the Bible that he wrote to a church he did not start
  • About 20% of Romans contains quotations from the OTS; 104 verses from 14 books are quoted; about half those are in chapters 9-11
  • The key words in Romans are righteousness and justification; the theme verses are 1:16-17; the most important verses, not only in Romans but in the whole Bible are 3:24-26
  • Romans is the “theological skeleton” of the whole Bible; however, it is not a textbook on theology but a letter, the greatest letter ever written
  • Romans is very valuable because it is a completely developed presentation of the good news (gospel); after years of preaching and teaching the good news, Paul had taught people of many people groups and had heard countless objections to this message; for this reason he raises them and answers them


I. A very important matter (6:1-2)

A.We cannot understand what the apostle is saying unless we understand the reason for the objection.

1.Instead of sin, condemnation, and death in Adam, in Christ we have obedience, justification, and life. Christ alone did all that everything necessary to provide life for all those who trust in him (5:12-19).

2.Through Christ, we are not in a position of law (the old covenant) where sin increased; instead, we are in a position of increasing and reigning grace. We have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (5:20-21). As incredible and amazing and wonderful you think that is, it is much more than any of us can imagine.

B.At this point Paul knows that an objection comes: “Ah Paul, are you not saying that since you are justified, you can sin as much as you want to? Sure you are—where sin increases, grace overflows; so then, let’s sin more so we can experience grace more!  If we have such amazing grace, then believers in Christ can live however they want.” We ought to notice that only those who preach justification by grace alone will ever have to answer such a question. Paul answers it two ways.

1.By flat denial –“By no means!” This is a very strong expression that means “may it never be” or “not at all” or more idiomatically, “no way!” Anyone who seriously raises this kind of objection reveals that they do not understand the nature of salvation from sin to righteousness.

2.By restating the purpose of saving grace – We died to the reign of sin under which we lived in Adam. There has been a radical break with sin. How can we live in sin any longer?

Transition: The question is, “When did we die to sin’s controlling power?” Paul explains the reality of the believer’s union with Christ.

II. Basic facts about our union with Christ (6:3-10)

A.Every believer is “baptized” into Christ (6:3-4). First of all, we must understand what “baptize” means. It clearly means “to dip” or “to immerse” or “to submerge”. So then, when we were united with Christ, we were joined to him in the fullness of his saving work.

1.This is true of every believer—“don’t you know?” He did not write “some of you might know”. It is the true position of everyone who is saved (cf. 8:9-14). This is not something you feel, but your spiritual position.

2.When Jesus died, he died to his relationship with sin. He came to die for sinners, and he took our sin on him. And when he died, he died completely to sin and its reign. Therefore, in Christ we have died to the reigning power of sin (6:7).

B.Every believer is also united to Christ in his resurrection (6:4-10). While it is true that in Christ we died to sin, yet that alone is an insufficient explanation of our position and the reason that we cannot continue to live in sin. Christ’s death and burial were steps onward to his resurrection through the glory of the Father.

1.The future tense is used (6:5) to speak of our resurrection with Christ in order to say that it is certainly true. In our union with Christ we receive a new, glorious position. We are no longer the “old self” that we were in Adam. We are the resurrected “new self” that we are in Christ. The old self was crucified so that we might not be slaves to sin. Instead, the new self is to be a slave of God that we might live lives that are set apart to righteousness (6:19-22).

2.Therefore, we must understand that we cannot continue to live in sin, as the objection suggests. Instead, we are united to Christ by faith that we might live a new life (6:4) and live for God (6:10). The key point is to know and to act on what you are in Christ. The Lord Jesus is the master over sin and death. Therefore, we must not think of ourselves as under the reign of sin and death. We are alive and new in Christ and we need to act according to what we now are and not in conformity with what we used to be.

Transition: In order to live the Christian life properly, we must live in conformity with what we are in Jesus Christ. The apostle next presents how to do this.

III. The proper response to this teaching (6:11-14)

A.A command to consider what you are in Christ: “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11).

1.This is a continual responsibility (present tense).  If we falter in this matter, we will reap problems. But we are to count as true what we already are in Christ. For example, football players might say, “We’ve got to be men today.” What are they saying? They’re saying that they must act like the physically gifted men that they are and play according to their potential. Likewise, Christians must remember who they are in Christ and act consistent to their union with the risen Christ.

2.Therefore, act in faith on the truth that you are alive to God in the reign of grace. Do not allow every temptation and sinful failure to shake your confidence. Yes, you will still sin, but sin can no longer destroy you. You died to the old realm and its condemnation (cf. 8:1). Remember that and live in hope.

3.Therefore, when confronted with sin, tell yourself who you are. “Who am I that I should sin? I am new in Christ, a child of God, the Holy Spirit lives in me, and I have great spiritual armor that I can stand against the evil one and sin. My Father has provided the way of escape for me (1 Cor 10:13). I should not sin.” Then we are living in our new freedom that Christ has given us, we can rejoice in the Lord.

B.A command to apply the truth about who you are in Christ (6:12).

1.It prohibits us from letting sin reign in our bodies. Notice that this prohibition comes out from the previous teaching. Sin isn’t your master; don’t act like it is.

2.We must keep this command because sin wants to act like it is still in control of you. It uses evil desires to make you feel like it is. However, we must apply the truth to our lives by the power of the Spirit and refuse evil desires.

C.Two more commands in order to make the application of the truth (6:13).

1.Don’t offer the parts of your body to sin.

2.Offer yourself and the parts of your body to God.

D.The great reality of the believer’s new position (6:14).

1.We are not under law (the old covenant).

2.We are under grace (the new covenant).

~ Dave


About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.