“For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (KJV, Rom. 6:7-8).
“For he that is dead”
The “for” the reader encounters in Romans 6:7 is there for a reason. It takes the reader back to what Paul has said previously. But what has already been said? The preceding verse instructs the reader that the old self has been crucified with Christ. As a result, the body of sin has been brought to nothing to deliver the believer from his enslavement to sin.
Paul has gone to great lengths to highlight that the believer has died. However, Paul is not speaking of physical death. Therefore there is another type of death to which Paul was referring. Death, died, die, burial, and crucified are all words the reader encounters in Romans 6:1-14. When added together, he will notice that Paul speaks of death in the various ways previously listed over fifteen times.
Paul has clearly stated that it is outrageous for a believer to think that he can continue in sin because he has died to sin. Thus, where there is death, there cannot be life. Paul has told the reader that the Christian has died with Christ through baptism and identification with Christ. Later Paul instructs the reader that the death Christ died to sin; He died once and for all.
The death of Christ was conclusive, and Paul stresses in Romans 6:1-11 that what happened to Jesus has happened to the believer. However, as previously stated, the believer’s death is not stated as a physical death. So what kind of death is it?
“is freed from sin”
It may be important to lay a foundation to answer the previously stated question. In the Garden, when Adam sinned, he brought spiritual death to all mankind. The effects can be stated in Paul’s words which he later wrote in Romans 6. He says, “For when you were servants of sin you were free in regard to righteousness” (Rom. 6:20). In this verse, we see a contrast from the verse presented in the devotional.
In Romans 6:7, Paul tells the reader that the Christian has been freed from sin. However, in Romans 6:20, Paul speaks of the unbeliever who is free regarding righteousness. Righteousness is not a characteristic of the unbeliever. He cannot live righteously because he is free to it.
In Romans 1-3, Paul speaks mainly on the universal nature of sin. Both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) are under sin. All have sinned, Paul says, and nobody is good. Not even one is the declaration from his pen. However, Paul does not yet get to the root of the problem as to why people sin. Instead, he tells us that all have sinned and deserve punishment.
Then Paul shares the glorious doctrine of justification by faith. Paul speaks of a righteousness that is granted apart from the law. Thus, the law and grace are contrasted. Paul speaks of the righteous who live by faith and are saved and reconciled to God.
Paul tells the reader that the object of the Christian’s faith is Jesus. Therefore, Paul shares with the reader the beginning of salvation. Nevertheless, Jesus did not come to save people from God’s wrath alone. Nor did Jesus come to simply earn a righteousness to give to the believer.
John has said, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Jesus came to take away sin, to do away with it entirely. The salvation that Jesus brings is absolute and complete, not partial.
In Romans 1-5:11, Paul establishes the foundation of the Christians’ relationship with God. Through Christ, God has reconciled the believer to Himself and declared the believer not guilty. However, there has been virtually nothing said yet about practical holiness. God has granted the believer righteousness, but Paul later speaks of how God has determined to make that a reality.
This brings us back to our question concerning the believer’s death. In Romans 5:12-21, Paul speaks of the unbelievers union with Adam. The unbeliever inherits the Adamic and sinful nature from Adam. Nobody has ever escaped this inheritance. Everyone at one time or another has been in Adam and thus untied with Adam.
In this state, the unbeliever is held in the cords of his sin and cannot please God. The law condemns him, and he has no hope of restoring his relationship with God, the source of life. Without a connection to the True Vine, a person will never bear fruit for God. Instead, he will only bear fruit for death.
However, Christ has come and died for the sake of the believer. When someone has genuine faith in the person and work of Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes him into Christ, and the death of Christ is applied to the believer’s life. The believer enters into a mystical union with His Savior whereby the death of Christ is counted as actual in the believer’s life. Therefore, the old Adamic and sinful nature is punished in Christ and dies on the cross. As a result, the believer is freed from sin and no longer bound by the law because he has died. The logic is simple. The law has no power over a dead person.
“Now if we be dead with Christ”
Paul establishes the believer’s death with unshakable confidence. The believer must share this same confidence. If a Christian does not believe that he has died with Christ, he may find that he makes little advances in holiness. The Christian’s holiness is founded in his position in Christ. Through the believer’s reckoning of his new identity, he will find fresh strength to fight against sin. However, he must go on believing and fight against what his experience tells him along the way.
If the believer has died with Christ, there are more conclusions to draw. A simple death would not be enough. The believer must not be left alone as though he has only died to sin and his old Adamic nature. So must the Christian advance in his thinking to what is true about him now.
Paul tells the reader that it is by faith that the believer must advance. He has not said up to this point in Romans 6:7-8 as to what the Christian must advance to in his thinking, but it will come soon. Stopping on these words and pondering their implications is a great benefit.
Faith is essential to a victorious life in Christ. Trust is essential to growing in holiness. Scripture says, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). Faith has a purifying element to it. God works through the Christian’s faith to make Him holy, clean, and pure. But the Christian must guard against an overemphasis on faith. It is not faith in faith that the Christian must have.
Instead, faith looks to Jesus and believes all that is said about His Savior. Faith believes that Jesus is enough and that with God, nothing is impossible. In the context of Romans 6:1-14, faith believes Christ has died to the law, and so has the Christian. Therefore, the power of sin has been broken.
“that we shall also live with him”
But not only that, faith also believes that through union with Christ, the believer is currently living with Jesus in the heavenly places. The Christian has been united with Jesus in His resurrection and raised to newness of life. The life of Christ has been applied to the believer. Now Jesus lives through the believer to accomplish the will of the Father. All of this takes faith, but it is through faith that the believer glorifies God.
It is said of Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21).
Father, I thank You for my identity in Christ. Please increase my faith so that I will not waver in unbelief. In Jesus’ name, Amen.