(Vs. 1) This chapter begins with an objection which Paul knew would be preseated against the gospel of free grace. Someone will say, "If we are justified by the grace of God alone, apart from any works, what is to keep us from continuing in sin? If, where our sin is the worst and our guilt is the greatest, God's grace abounds and is glorified, then let us sin more and more that grace may be glorified."
To begin with, sin of itself is not the cause of glorifying God's grace. Sin is the cause of wrath and judgment, not grace. God has been pleased to magnify His grace in the pardon of sin. It is not by the COMMISSION of sin that grace is glorified but by the FORGIVENESS of it! Grace is glorified by putting a stop to the reeign of sin, not by encouraging it. Grace enables men to hate and be done with sin, not to love and pursue it.
(Vs. 2) "God forbid" is an expression Paul frequently uses to express shock and abhorrence at a thing. "How shall we who are dead to sin, live in sin?"
(1.) In what sense are we dead to sin? We are not dead to its INFLUENCE (Rom. 7:15, 19), nor to its PRESENCE (Rom. 7:21), nor to its EFFECTS (Rom. 7:24; Psalm 51:3). Our Lord taught us to pray, "Forgive us our sins" (John 1:9). We are dead to its PENALTY AND GUILT; sin cannot condemn us (Rom. 8:33-34). We are dead to sin as a MASTER who rules over us; Christ is our Lord. We are dead to sin as a COURSE OF LIFE; it is not looked upon as a friend but as an enemy.
(2) How shall we who have this attitude toward sin actually live in sin? Persons are said to live in sin when they give themselves up to it, when they are bent upon it, when sin is their pleasure and delight, and when they offer no real resistance to it. Living in sin and justifying sin are contrary to the Spirit of Christ and like the world (I John 2:15-16).
(Vs. 3-4) In these two verses Paul gives a full answer to the objection set forth in Verse 1 by showing that the sanctification of the believer rests on the same foundation as his justificationUNION WITH CHRIST! There are two baptisms mentioned here.
(1) We are BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST. This is no figure but an actual experience. There is a real union with the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of God in which we are actually one with Christ (John 17:23; John 4:12; Gal. 2:20). I can no more be an ally of sin than Christ can, for we are one.
(2) We ore BAPTIZED IN WATER. What is the meaning of our baptism? We are confessing that we are identtfied wtth Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. We are dead to the old life, it is buried, and we rise to walk as new creatures with new hearts, new principles, and a new life (Phil. 3:8-11).
(Vs. 5) The NATURE of baptism is a BURIAl, which signifies not only our being dead with Christ and the blessing resulting from that union, but our being dead to the world and sin even as Christ was done with the sins He bore. The END of baptism is a RESURRECTION. The person does not remain buried in water but rises even as Christ arose, and that in the LIKENESS OF HIS resurrectionno longer under the control of sin and self but under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 5:17). The reference here may also be to life AFTER THE RESURRECTION as in Verses 8-10.
(Vs. 6) "Our old man." It is called our old man because it is with us from birth and is the old nature received from our Father, Adam. It consists of parts and members such as will, mind, affection, and actions (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9-10). This old nature can never be improved; it must be destroyed. It was crucified daily by the Spirit and grace of Christ that its REIGNING POWER might be subdued. It remains with us until death; but we shall not indulge it nor make provisions for it, but crucify it (Gal. 5:24). We serve Christ, not sin (Rom. 6:16).
(Vs. 7) This is not physical death. We shall one day die physically and be freed forever from the very presence of sin; but the reference here is to the fact that, being one with Christ in His death under the curse of the Law, having paid the full penalty, we are totally clear of any penalty, curse, or charge. We are not free from the presence of sin, nor from the burden of it, nor from a continual war with it, nor even from it in our best deeds; but we are free from its dominion, from the guilt of it, and from punishment on account of it.
(Vs. 8-10) Since believers are one with Christ in His death, they have a sure hope of forever living with Him. The reference here is to life after the resurrection. Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again, so neither will those who have died with Him and are risen with Him. The Law, sin and death have no charge against us: for the full price is paid, the Law is honored, and justice is satisfied (Rom. 8:32-34). He died to sin ONCE, because in that death He fully satisfied every charge. He lives unto God in unbroken fellowship with Him.
If you do not see complete deliverance from sin's curse, guilt, and dominion in Christ, sin will continue its hold and reign over you. If you cannot see complete deliverance in Christ, you will open the door to unbelief and doubt and leave room for attacks from legalism and self-righteousness.