English Standard Version (ESV)
Dead to Sin, Alive to God
6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 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. 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.
Slaves to Righteousness
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dead to sin, alive to God
Paul starts off countering the immediate thought that since we are saved through grace, not by the Law or works, that we can continue to live however we please, even increasing our sins since grace abounds all the more. This is errant. Paul shows that since we have been made righteous in Christ, we have in essence been made dead with Him; dead to the sins of this life. And, that we have the hope that since we have partaken in the dead of Christ, we will also have the life that Christ now lives, a life freed from the sin of this world, and a life free from death altogether! Paul concludes this argument by telling the reader that they should consider themselves dead to sin, that the old things have passed away.
“12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”
We are not to let sin run its course in our lives, we should fight it, not consider ourselves a slave to it any longer. Paul says that we should not present our members as instruments of unrighteousness, but to use them to glorify God as one who has been brought from death to life. Paul makes the claim that sin has no dominion over us since we are no longer under the Law.
Slaves to Righteousness
In verse 15, Paul reiterates the errant conclusion, and then launches into an explanation of the new law at work in those who are in Christ. First though, he points out that which you submit yourself to is your master. Since we now have freedom from the Law of sin and death, we can choose to no longer submit to sin, which leads to death, but to submit to righteousness, which leads to life. Paul is not claiming that we have to maintain our salvation by keeping a law, but rather pointing out the futility of those things we have left behind, and turning to the righteousness which God has called us to.
Paul praises God for the heart change that has occurred in his audience, that they were no longer slaves to their sin, but were obedient to the doctrines they had been taught. We too should look for and rejoice when we see genuine heart change that leads individuals from living in bondage to sin, and now walking in obedience to scripture.
What are the fruits of new life in Christ?
Paul describes their former condition as being one of progressive depravity, sin leading to more sin, but now through Christ, they are walking in victory over sin. The correct response of the Christian is to present their members, i.e. themselves, to righteousness for sanctification, or set-apartness.
Paul points them back to their previous sins, the life they led apart from the Gospel, when they were free from the obligation to righteousness. He points out that those things, which they were now ashamed of having done, only had one end…death. Now however, we have been set free from our captivity to sin, and are now slaves of God. Paul states that the fruit of that salvation is sanctification, which leads to eternal life!
What does sanctification mean?
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.