Argument of Romans 6
Paul, in Romans 1-5, explained God’s righteousness and man’s unrighteousness in relation to sin, condemnation, and justification by faith. Paul now advances his argument in Romans 6. The believer’s union with Christ, “in Christ,” makes it possible and practical to live the Christian way of life right now. Believers are so closely united with Christ that they share the benefits of his death and resurrection. Believers are not to continue to sin just because they are under grace. We died to sin so that sin no longer has the legal right to control us. When we first believed in Christ as savior, we were baptized, which means we were identified with his death and resurrection and were in that very moment joined to Christ (“in Christ,” position or absolute family status). This baptism is the baptism by the Holy Spirit. We became a new creation or new man, and our old self, the unregenerate Adam man, died with Christ to sin (sinful nature and personal sin) and we are now able to live with Christ in newness of life, Jesus’ resurrection kind of life. (Romans 6.1-5). The result was that sin’s legal and practical hold ceased to have authority over us, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. We can think of sin as a king or master who no longer has the right to control us. In Adam we could only act under sin’s control. Sin was built in to our humanity since we descended from Adam. Now at faith in Christ the old self, our unregenerate self, died to sin and sin has nothing to control. But sin in some way still remains a part of humanity (Romans 6.6). We are now able to live the Christian way of life in the power of the Holy Spirit (the story of Romans 8) by knowing this doctrine (knowing this, Romans 6.6,9), by faith acceptance of the doctrinal truth (consider, Romans 6.11), and by presenting (παριστημι paristemi aorist imperative, Romans 6.13) ourselves to God for righteousness—making the right decisions which are in accordance with God’s will as it is revealed in Scripture. The aorist tense is used for conduct in a specific case—choosing to serve God whenever the choice comes up, not to serve sin. This will happen many times; it is not a once and done forever meaning here. We no longer present (παριστημι paristemi, present imperative for the habit) ourselves to (king) sin. We now live this new grace life and do not need to sin (Romans 6.1,14). Believers are now slaves of God and righteousness, no longer slaves of sin, and this new slavery will result in righteousness, sanctification, and eternal life. We are God’s slaves to produce his righteousness (Romans 6.17,18,22). We gain great benefit from this new slavery: righteousness in life now, progressive sanctification, and eternal life in the future. So, what should we do about this? In everyday life we should know the truth of our new kind of life, believe that truth, and apply that truth by presenting ourselves to God for righteousness, not to sin resulting in Christian life death (carnality and walking in darkness) and possibly physical death. In summary, being slaves of sin had no benefit—sin brought death. As slaves of God believers do benefit—righteousness in life now, progressive sanctification, and eternal life in the future (Romans 6.15-23).
Argument of Romans 7
Since believers now can live in newness of life, serve God and righteousness, and experience sanctification, why does one fail so often. The answer is that the Adam sinful nature is still present and it can only bring failure. To demonstrate this Paul first addresses those familiar with the Law of Moses. The Law worked through the sinful passions of man’s nature to bring about sinful conduct. But believers died to the Law in Christ (Jewish believers in Paul’s context) so the Law has no legal authority over them. They are released from its authority, and now can live the new life in Christ that the Holy Spirit produces (Romans 7.1-6). The Law was good yet it did not provide power to live. The Law taught about sin and how to live well if it was obeyed, yet the Adam sinful nature used the Law to provoke people to commit personal sin. Before Paul knew the Law’s clear prohibitions he was not tempted to violate what he did not know. Once he knew the prohibitions he struggled to obey them because of his sinful nature. Paul knew that even as a believer, in his flesh he was a slave to sin (Romans 7.7-14). He concluded with a brief biography of his battle with sin as a believer. What about us in the church? Paul knew that since Christ fulfilled the Law and the purpose for the Law, church believers are not governed by the Law. It still is of value because it teaches God holiness, teaches about sin, and teaches about God’s plan. Though we are not under the Law as Israel was, we are under our conscience which is taught by the Bible and the ordinances of God. So every believer has this same kind of battle. The foundation of Paul’s and our problem is the indwelling sinful nature. Because sin lived in him he did things that he did not want to do and did not do what he wanted to do. This struggle demonstrated his inner spiritual conflict between the law of sin and the law of God. He and all believers needed to be set free from slavery to the sinful nature. Who will set him and all believers free? God set us all free through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, and our relationship to Christ. This freedom is put into practice in each believer’s life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit as Paul will explain in Romans 8.
Argument of Romans 8
Our relationship and standing or position is in Christ, and so we have the privilege to live according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (walking by the Holy Spirit) instead of according to the law of sin and death of Romans 7 (Romans 8.1-4). Those living by the Holy Spirit focus on the things of the Holy Spirit, and this is possible because the Holy Spirit lives in every believer. He gives life to us while we are in our human bodies—life is the ability to live God’s kind of life right now (Romans 8.5-11). Therefore, believers are to live according to the Holy Spirit and not according to the flesh, and live as adopted sons of God and heirs of God (Romans 8.12-17). And though creation, including believers, may suffer greatly now, no suffering can compare with our future glory (Romans 8.18-25). And not only this, but believers are in God’s plan from start to finish—from God knowing about us in the past to glorifying us in the future in heaven—and nothing can change this or separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8.26-39).