For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God, (6:10).
Paul spent the first five chapters of Romans declaring the truths of salvation and justification by faith in Christ alone. Abraham, the revered father of the Jewish nation, God’s chosen people, was declared righteous simply when he believed God, before the giving of the law or the sign of circumcision was instituted. He was justified by God’s gift of grace through faith.
Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them… 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith… 16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:9-11, 13, 16).
And now Paul asks the question on everyone’s mind, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (6:1). In other words, since it’s all about His amazing grace that declares us righteous, can’t we just keep on sinning and expect His great grace to clean up after us?
And the answer comes swiftly, “May it never be!” Followed by Paul’s rhetorical question, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (6:1). In other words, that is ridiculous! The dead don’t live!
Consider Him Who Died to Sin Once for All
Romans 6 is a chapter filled with contrasts: sin and obedience; death and life; unrighteousness and righteousness; enslaved and free; buried and resurrected; law and grace; lawlessness and sanctification. And in these contrasting themes, the concept receiving the greatest emphasis is sin; and second to sin is death/died, penned thirteen times within these verses. And we know, when God’ repeats Himself, we must sit up and pay attention.
This phrase, “once for all,” is actually one word in the Greek Language.
60.68 ἅπαξb; ἐφάπαξb: a single occurrence to the exclusion of any other similar occurrence—‘once and for all, once and never again.” Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
- His Death: occurring once and never again.
- knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again…(6:9).
- His Death: unlike any other similar occurrence.
- …death no longer is master over Him, (6:9).
- His Death: Once for All.
- For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God, (6:10).
And in the preceding two verses is our hope for eternal life and righteousness. He Died to Sin Once for All.
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit, (John 19:30).
And with His final breath, He laid claim to His finished work on our behalf.
How do we respond to Him Who Died to Sin Once for All?
Therein lies our hope. Because we are in Him and He Died to Sin Once for All, we did too!
We have hope; but we also have conflict. Paul gives a great deal of attention to the contrasting truths of our spiritual position through faith in Christ with the raging struggle against the condition of our flesh. And throughout this chapter, although the conflict is acknowledged, the remedy is well-defined.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God, (6:3-10 emphasis added).
Paul lays out the truths we are to know with certainty: The sin of Adam is imputed (attributed, ascribed, reckoned) to all mankind at birth. Sin must be punished, and the punishment is death. When Jesus went to the cross, the sin of mankind was imputed to Him. When we place our faith in His Death to Sin Once for All as payment for our sins, we are born again; and in our new spiritual birth, His death, resurrection and righteousness are imputed to us.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:20).
It’s interesting to note that after Paul states these doctrinal truths of imputation repeatedly, he wraps up his teaching with a necessary directive for his readers in 6:11.
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NASB).
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, (NIV).
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, (NJKV).
In the same way you also must regard yourselves as dead in relation to sin, but as alive in relation to God, because you are in Christ Jesus, (WNT).
It’s as though Paul is saying: these are the truths you not only need to know with certainty, but these are the truths you need to believe… about yourself. These truths must move off the page and take up their residence in your heart, in all that you are.
So how might we respond? Let us spend time seriously praying through this chapter, asking the Lord for clarity and assurance of who we are in Him and all that is imputed to us through his Death, Burial and Resurrection when we come to Him in faith.
And when we believe His truth, that we died, were buried and raised to new life with Him Who Died to Sin Once for All, we are freed to offer our entire self to serve Him in holiness and purity.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness, 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. (6:16-19).
As we grow in our knowledge of His truth, we can be convinced He will be faithful to sanctify us in His Truth, to strengthen our inner man to live as freed from sin and enslaved to Him Who Died to Sin Once for All.
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth,” (John 17:17).
But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (6:22-23).