Sin Will Have No Dominion over You
Throughout chapters one through five, Paul has primarily been speaking of justification by faith, that is, how one is made right before God. And this righteousness which the believer gains is one which is rendered or given unto him by God on account of his faith; that is, righteousness is credited to the believer by God. The believer is not said to have any righteousness of his own; indeed, he is wicked and sinful and has nothing to offer God but his sins. God therefore graciously counts the one who believes righteous on account of his faith. But this way of explaining a believer’s righteousness elicits the question we encountered yesterday: Shall we sin that grace may abound? In other words, is not the believer required to walk in righteousness and faithfulness himself, or does he just rely on God’s counting him righteous and live however he wishes?
And this is where chapters six through eight come in. Having stated the fact that we have been buried and raised with Christ in our regeneration which thereby unites us to Christ (which baptism displays so very well), Paul now shows us the effect of the believer’s union with Christ. The purpose of dying and rising with Christ is to break the dominion and power of sin which so held us fast. By dying with Christ, we have been set free from sin; after all, dead people don’t sin. By rising with Christ, we have been set free from death as well; neither sin nor the death to which sin leads binds the believer any longer. The believer now may live unto God: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
So we see that in chapter six, Paul moves from our position with God, as having been declared righteous by Him on account of our faith, to our walk before God, which may now be one of actually doing righteous deeds, and all on account of God’s initial declaration. And please note the language Paul uses: “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies,” “Do not present your members to sin,” “Present … your members to God as instruments of righteousness.” In each of these phrases, Paul is assuming that believers have the power to do this (with God’s help, of course). Before being counted righteous before God, we had no power to do good; now we do. And why is this? Because God has broken the power of sin over us by transferring us from the realm of law to grace. Grace strengthens the heart and the will and grants power to the believer which he did not have before. Commands incite us to evil, because we are evil; grace melts the heart of stone and leads to a life of love.