Romans 6 • Dead to Sin


In truth, chapters 6-8 of Romans should be studied as a whole, their being an overall teaching on the work of sanctification. Chapter 6 specifically deals with the issue of the believer being dead to sin. Believers face two problems: (1) How can we achieve victory over the old nature (called “the flesh”, the body of sin)? And (2) How can we live so as to please God? It takes all three chapters to fully answer the second question, but as to the first question chapter 6 teaches we get victory over the old nature by realizing that we have been crucified with Christ. What He did to sin in the work of the cross and the resurrection is the same work He’s accomplishing in our own life.

Read verses 1-10

Q; How often does Paul use the word “know” in this chapter?

  1. “…do you not know…” (v.3)
  2. “…knowing this…” (v.6)
  3. “…knowing that Christ…” (v.9)
  4. Do you not know…” (v.12)

Point: Satan wants to keep us in the dark when it comes to spiritual truths we should know. Paul is establishing what should be common, unalterable knowledge where every Christian is concerned.

Q: How would you summarize the basic truth Paul wants every Christian to know?

A: The true Christian is dead to sin because not only did Christ die for us, but WE died with HIM. Point: When the Spirit baptized us into the body of Christ, then we were buried with Him and raised to newness of life.

Q: What kind of baptism is being referred to in v.3-4?

A: It is referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not water baptism. Water baptism symbolically illustrates the operation of the Spirit in that going under the water symbolizes death, coming up symbolizes new life.

Q: So how did Christ’s crucifixion deal with sin? On just a one-time basis?

A: It not only addressed our history of past sins, but changed our very nature so as to turn away from sin continually. According to v.10 Christ didn’t just die for sin, but also died UNTO sin. So it is with us.

Q: So what is the state of our old nature today?

A: The old nature is still there, but it has been robbed of its power by the work of the cross, for we died with Christ to all that belongs to the old life.

Q: What is the nature of an unsaved person?

A: They are a slave to sin.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

— Ephesians 2:1-3

Q: What is the nature of the saved person according to Paul?

  1. (v.2) The believer has “died to sin
  2. (v.6) The believer’s old nature “was crucified with Him
  3. (v.7) The believer is “freed from sin”.

Application: The old nature can no longer reign over the Christian who KNOWS the truth, acts upon it, and puts it into practice.

Read verse 11

Q: What is inferred by Paul’s use of the word “consider”? What greater thing is at work here?

A: Some translations substitute “reckon” for “consider”. It’s referring to a step of faith which says, “What God says about me in His Word is now true in my life. I am crucified with Christ”.

Point: An act of faith is required at the initial point of salvation, followed by daily acts of faith to believe in the continual work of salvation throughout the whole of our life to follow.

Q: Does God require that we crucify ourselves?

A: No, we are commanded to believe that we have been crucified with Christ already and that the old nature has been put to death. [Note: Crucifixion is one kind of death one cannot inflict on themselves; you have to be crucified by another.]

Application: Reckoning is that step of faith which believes God’s Word and acts upon it. To what degree do our actions directly reflect our faith in His Word?

Read verses 12-23

Q: So how can a believer prove their faith?

A: By truly reckoning themselves dead to sin and therefore yielding themselves to God, obeying His Word and ways in all things.

Q: Is it enough to know doctrine, to know God’s instructions? What does it take to on our part?

A: To willingly and purposely “present yourselves to God as those alive…as instruments of righteousness”. (v.13) It’s a conscious choice to obey His word and ways by faith, seeing the work of salvation completed in the same way God sees it.

Q: What is the example Paul provides in v.16-23?

A: That of master and slave.

Q: What was our state before being saved?

A: We were slaves to sin because we yielded ourselves to sin.

Q: How is our state supposed to now be changed?

A: Our new position in Christ provides a new Master as well as a new nature because we are freed from sin and instead have become “slaves of righteousness”.

Point: As we yield the members of our body to Christ as His “instruments” – that is, His “tools” or “weapons” (v.13), He is allowed to control our lives. The result is “sanctification” (v.22), the biblical expression of bearing fruit in holiness.

Q: What happens to the Christian who deliberately yields their self to sin?

A: They will commit sin and reap sorrow.


Overall Application

Q: Is the answer to the problem of sin simply determination, discipline, or reformation?

A: No effort rooted in human endeavor will suffice. The victory comes through the crucifixion and resurrection. Every revival in the history of the church has been marked by a return to the work of the cross.

The three basic steps Paul is teaching are not provided as “emergency measures” only to be used against special temptation, but represent what should be our daily attitude in life. It’s important to keep these three steps in order.