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Dead to Sin, Alive to God. Romans 6:11-14
August 6, 2017

This week, Prince Philip, 96, the longest-serving royal consort in history, undertook his final solo public engagement. It was 70 years since he became Duke of Edinburgh upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in November 1947. His stepping down from duties continues to raise the question as to who will succeed his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and rule as monarch. (


As believers are we are commanded to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, and therefore let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. At conversion, a believer becomes fully alive spiritually when they trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. But they are still bound, as it were, in some of the grave clothes of their old sinful life.  The difference, of course, is that all of a believer’s sinful old clothes do not come off immediately. Not only that, but believers are continually tempted to put the old clothes back on. It is that continuing battle with sin and Satan that Paul recognizes in Romans 6:11–14. After reminding his readers that they have died to sin and been raised to new life with Christ, the apostle now turns their attention to taking off the old grave clothes and living the new life to the fullness of Christ’s righteousness and to His glory. To become a Christian, Paul asserts, means to be released from the old regime, dominated by Adam (5:12–21), sin (ch. 6), the law (ch. 7) and death (ch. 8) and to be introduced into the new regime, dominated by Christ (5:12–21; 7:1–6), righteousness (ch. 6), the Spirit (7:6; 8), grace (6:14–15) and life (5:12–21; 6:4; 8:1–13) (Moo, D. J. (1994). Romans. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1135). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.).


In Romans 6:11-14,  Paul again answers questions he knew his readers would wonder about:If we have really been freed from sin by Christ (v. 7), why does it still give us so much trouble? If we are now holy before God, why are our lives so often unholy? If we are righteous, how can our lives better manifest that righteousness?” Three key words summarize the answers to these questions: 1) Know, 2) Consider, and 3) Yield.


In order to live as ones “Dead to Sin and Alive to God” we must:

1)                  Know(Romans 6:11a) and fully believe the truth of God

Romans 6:11a11 So you also must (consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.) (ESV)

The first key word (know) has to do with the mind and is implied in the transitional phraseSo”. It refers back to the truths the Apostle Paul has just given in Romans 6:1-10. You also, the hearers and readers, must know and fully believe what I have just said, or else what I am about to say will make no sense. The truth is that you, as the redeemed, are spiritually dead to sin, and the reality that you are spiritually alive to Christ. This are divinely-revealed, foundational axioms behind Christian living, apart from which you can never hope to live the holy lives your new Lord demands.” Scriptural exhortation is always built on spiritual knowledge. Although God would have been perfectly justified simply to have given people a list of unexplained do’s and don’ts, in His grace and compassion He did not choose to be autocratic. The basic reason He reveals as to why people are to live according to His standards was summarized in His declaration to ancient Israel: “Be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44. Cf. 1 Pt. 1:15-16). Scripture is replete with specific commands and standards for conduct, and behind all of them are divine truths, explicit or implicit, upon which those commands and standards are founded.


Please turn to Colossians 3 (p.983)


For a Christian to live out the fullness of his new life in Christ, for them to truly live as the new creation that they are, the believer must know and believe that they are not what they used to be. They must must understand that they are not a remodeled sinner but a remade saint. They must understand that, despite our present conflict with sin, we are no longer under sin’s tyranny and will never be again. The link for greater knowledge, purer thought and action is not optional, but “must” occur. It is commanded and necessary. Putting away those sins that plague us will be no automatic process, something that will happen without our cooperation. No, Paul insists, a determination of our own will is called for to turn what has happened in principle into actuality (Moo, D. J. (2000). Romans (p. 200). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).


Paul reminded Colossian believers:

Colossians 3:1-10 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (ESV)

  • Paul here equates the critical link  of  knowledge and action. Once we understand what we have been redeemed from, and what we are redeemed unto, we are to act in accordance to this new reality. Our continued search for knowledge does not end at redemption, for to greater and greater conform our actions in a way that glorifies and is pleasing to God, we must continually endeavor to greater understanding. If we are truly redeemed, then redeemed actions will occur. Regardless of what one may claim, if there is no evidence of redeemed actions, then redemption has not occurred.



Can a married woman live as though she were still single? Well, yes, I suppose she could. It is not impossible. But let her remember who she is. Let her feel her wedding ring, the symbol of her new life of union with her husband, and she will want to live accordingly. Can born-again Christians live as though they were still in their sins? Well, yes, I suppose they could, at least for a while. It is not impossible. But let them remember who they are (Stott, J. R. W. (2001). The message of Romans: God’s good news for the world (p. 179). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).


In order to live as ones “Dead to Sin and Alive to God” we must:

2)      Consider(Romans 6:11b.12) our heart

Romans 6:11b-1211 (So you also must) consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV)

The second key word (consider) has more to do with what we would call the heart. “Consider”, in its literal sense, logizomai is an accounting term which means simply to count or number something. The word was commonly used metaphorically in the sense of fully affirming a truth, of having unreserved inner confidence in the reality of what the mind acknowledges. Though both aspects actually occur in the mind, we think of this matter in the sense of being “heart felt.” Why might we find it difficult to “consider” ourselves free from sins bondage? This can be difficult to “consider” if we have not learned this,  because Satan does not want us to believe it, because the new birth in Christ is not a physically observable phenomenon, and that we continue to battle with sin. This is a PRESENT MIDDLE (deponent) IMPERATIVE. This is an ongoing, habitual command for believers (Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 6:11). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.).


In response to these apparent contradictions to this truth, Paul says that we must: Consider yourselves to be dead to sin… The very idea of responding positively to sin’s invitation should strike the believer as morbid. For the Christian to choose to sin is the spiritual equivalent of digging up a corpse for fellowship. A genuine death to sin means that the entire perspective of the believer has been radically altered (Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 153). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).


This perspective means that we consider ourselves: “alive to God in Christ Jesus”. He was not speaking of a psychological mind game, by which we keep affirming something over and over until we are convinced against our better judgment or even against reality that it is true. We know we are dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus because God’s Word declares it is so. In other words, those are truths of faith and they must be affirmed in faith. Until a believer accepts the truth that Christ has broken the power of sin over our life, we cannot live victoriously, because in our innermost being we do not think it is possible.


Please turn to 1 Corinthians 10 (p.957)


What important and practical results come from our considering ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus? We have confidence that we cannot sin our way out of God’s grace. Just as we have been saved by God’s power alone, we are kept by His power alone (cf. Jn. 10:27-29), we can have confidence in the face of death (John 11:25–26; cf. Heb. 2:14), and

we know that, regardless of what happens to us in this life, no matter how disastrous it may be, God will use it not only for His glory but also for our blessing (Rom. 8:28).


But in all this reality, unless we believe it and act upon it, the strength of assurance is lost. If we understand and base our faith upon it, we can have confidence in the midst of temptation, knowing that with sin’s tyranny broken we can successfully resist it in God’s power.

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (ESV)

  • Even when Christians face morally confusing situations, we should never think that we have no options other than sinful ones. There will always be a morally right solution that does not require disobedience to any of God’s moral laws (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2205). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).


All of those things, and many more, are true because we are alive to God in Christ Jesus. No religion in the world can or does make such a claim. Even the most ardent Muslim does not claim to be in Mohammed or in Allah. Buddhists do not claim to be in Buddha or Hindus to be in any of their multitude of gods. As Christians, however, we know that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).


Illustration:When Neil Armstrong stepped out of “Eagle” onto the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,he entered an environment in which it was impossible for him to survive apart from his space suit and its support systems. But because of the capabilities of his unnatural environmentthe space suit—and his identification with it, he was able to regard himself as dead to his inhospitable surroundings and alive to his experience of walking around the moon. So the believer must understand that “in Christ” we are no longer totally at the mercy of the inhospitable environment of sin but alive to all the power and life of God Himself. (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Romans (Vol. 29, Ro 6:11–14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.)


In verse 12 we are commanded to: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE with the NEGATIVE PARTICLE, which meant to stop an act already in process (Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 6:12). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.). Because of the incomprehensible truths about our relationship to God that the believer knows with our mind and feels deeply committed to in our heart, we are therefore able to exercise our will successfully against sin and, by God’s power, prevent its reign in our mortal body. As always in Paul, the indicative (what God has done) grounds the imperative (what God expects of us). In union with Christ we have been made dead to sin and alive to God; it remains for us to appropriate (v. 11) and apply (vv. 12–13) what God has done for us (Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 380). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

  • How then can we revolt against the reign of sin in our bodies: We must: Identify personal weaknesses, recognize temptations, confront sinful desires, stay away from known sources of temptation, practice self-restraint, consciously invest time in good habits and service, depend on grace and let the peace of Christ rule in your heart! (Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., & Wilson, N. S. (1992). Romans (p. 121). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)



Illustration:Years ago, in the midst of a Latin-American revolution, an American citizen was captured and sentenced to death. But an American officer rushed before the firing squad and draped a large American flag entirely around the victim.If you shoot this man,” he cried, “you will fire through the American flag and incur the wrath of a whole nation!” The revolutionary in charge released the prisoner at once. (Donald Grey Barnhouse. Romans: God’s Freedom [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961], p. 118)


In a similar way, Christ’s righteousness is draped over every believer, protecting us from sins deadly attacks. We believe we are in God’s eternal purpose, plan, presence, and power because His Word assures us we are (cf. Eph. 1:4; Phil. 1:6; 2:12–13).


Finally, in order to live as ones “Dead to Sin and Alive to God” we must:

3)      Yield (Romans 6:13-14) our will to God

Romans 6:13-14. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (ESV)


The third key phrase is present yourselves/yield which obviously has to do with the will.


Please turn to Romans 12 (p.947)


In this present life, sin will always be a powerful force for the Christian to reckon with. But it is no longer master, no longer lord, and it can and must be resisted. It is because our mortal bodies are still subject to sin that Paul says, Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. He does not warn about sin reigning in our souls or our spirits, but only about its reigning in our bodies, because that is the only place in a Christian where sin can operate. This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE with the NEGATIVE PARTICLE which meant to stop an act already in process (Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 6:13). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.).


It is because the Christian’s warfare with sin is waged in the body that the apostle also declared:

Romans 12:1-3 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV) (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:27)

  • Believers are a living sacrifice, meaning that they are alive from the dead since they enjoy new life with Christ (6:4). Spiritual worship in a broad sense now includes offering one’s whole life to God (cf. Heb. 13:15–16).This must occur because “the present evil age” still threatens those who belong to Christ, so they must resist its pressure. Their lives are changed as their minds are made new (contrast 1:28), so that they are able to “discernGod’s will (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2178). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).


It is obvious that sin can reign in our bodies, else Paul’s admonition would be pointless. But it is also obvious that sin does not have to reign there, or the warning would be equally pointless. He therefore commands: Do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For a sin to have power over a child of God, that sin must first pass through the will. It is for that reason that Paul exhorts believers: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13). God’s will can be active in our lives only as our wills are submissive to His. When a believer presents/yields the members of their body to sin, those members become instruments of unrighteousness. On the other hand, when in obedience to our heavenly Father one yields themselves as one who has been brought from death to life,  which are the ways of sin and death, those same members become holy instruments for righteousness. This is an AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE which was a call for a decisive act. Believers do this at salvation by faith but they must continue to do this throughout their lives (Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 6:13). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.).


Finally, in verse 14, Paul changes from admonition to declaration, offering the assuring words: For sin will have no dominion/not be master over you… These words are to be understood as a promise that is valid for every believer at the present time: “sin shall certainly not be your Lord—now or ever!”( Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 387). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)


This is the case: “since you are not under law, but under grace. God’s lawis holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). But the law cannot break either sin’s penalty or its power. It can only rebuke, restrain, and condemn. Believers no longer live under the condemnation of the law but with the realization that God by his grace has placed them in a totally new relationship to himself (Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, pp. 154–155). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).


To be “Dead to Sin and Alive to God” means that the redeemed have a new mind, heart and will. To know the reality of our sinfulness and Christ’s perfection, results in a renewed mind, able to both conceive and trust in the glory of Christ. To consider this reality personally, means that we have a changed heart. We don’t continue to desire those things that are both harmful and futile, in the old ways of sin that lead to death. Finally, to yield to these realities is an action of a redeemed will. We will act upon what has been revealed, to our good and God’s glory.


(Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 329–339). Chicago: Moody Press.)


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