The New Master (Romans 6:1-23)

By Andrew E. Courtis

In this chapter Paul responds to two objections that are raised. Paul responds to both of them by saying “By no means!” (6:1 and 6:15). The first objection is raised in verse 1 and is then answered in detail in verses 2-14. The second is raised in verse 15, and it is answered in verses 16-23. We will consider these under the headings of Dead to Sin (6:1-14) and Alive to Serve (6:15-23). Paul’s main concern is to show that salvation by grace does not lead to sin but sanctification.

1. DEAD TO SIN (6:1-14)

“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (6:1). This objection comes as a result of what Paul said in the previous chapter (5:20). Paul has argued clearly that salvation comes by free grace and that the recipient cannot do anything to earn it. This led to the objection that such teaching leads a person to more sinfulness so that there will be more grace. Paul destroys this argument by showing that if a person has received God’s grace in salvation; they have died to sin (6:2). In this first section, Paul addresses this objection of how the believer is to use their head, heart, and hands in their new life in Christ – a life that leads to holiness. This is demonstrated by the words, “know”, “consider” and “present”.

Know (6:3-10). Firstly he calls for his readers to know that their identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection is true (6:3, 6, 9). He is stressing that his readers need to know this. If you’re saved you need to know your fellowship with Christ. This fellowship with Christ means, “that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (Rom. 6:6). Though sin has not been completely removed from the life of the believer, the penalty and power of its reigning has been destroyed in the sense that it is rendered inactive. Sin is no longer your captain. Consider (6:11-12). Secondly, one you know that to be true, we are to “consider” this to be true (6:11). This means to evaluate something and then consider it to be true. It is our duty to resolve that this reality is true. Interestingly, verse 11 contains the first command in the book of Romans. Present (6:13-14). Finally he says calls for his readers to “present” their lives before the Lord as someone who is truly alive (6:13, 16, 19). Before, sin was your captain you were a slave to sin and you kept yielding yourself to sin. But now you are alive you are to present yourself to God as a slave of righteousness.

2. ALIVE TO SERVE (6:15-23)

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (6:15a). This second objection is very similar to the first. Again with a resounding “no” (6:15b), Paul deals with this objection by providing four reasons why a believer must not deliberately sin because of grace. These reasons are based on the analogy of a Master and Slave relationships. He answers this by demonstrating that every person has a master (either sin or righteousness), which is introduced by the concept of slavery (6:16), implying submission to your master. Secondly, Paul reminds his readers that they have experienced the change of slavery (6:17-18) now that they are “slaves of righteousness” and not “slaves of sin” (6:18). Thirdly, the conduct of slavery (6:19) demands loyalty to your master. And finally, the consequences of slavery (6:20-23) lead a believer to a life of holiness ending in eternal life.


Study Questions:

  1. Why do you think people object and have trouble with the concept of God’s free grace in salvation?
  2. Paul answered the two objections by saying that Christians are dead to sin (united to Christ) and are alive to serve (slaves of Christ). How does this counter the objections?
  3. How does this passage help us in our Christian walk and our daily battle with sin? We will discuss the issue of our struggle with sin in the next chapter.
  4. How does the concept of slavery help us understand our lifestyle? Discuss the differences between being a slave of sin and a slave of righteousness
  5. What are the consequences of the two different kinds of slavery in verse 20-23?