Romans chp 6 vs 2 - Dead to Sin - Beginning with an End - J Stewart Gillespie 

There is no doubt that 'death' brings an end, a closure to matters! 

It is possible to miss the simple message of Romans 6, to get away from the simplicity and clarity of it! 

The Christian life begins with a conversion – an end to the old and a beginning of the new! 

There would hardly be a more clear cut, a more dramatic way of putting it: black and white, right and wrong, life and death! 

This is an absolute! 

We may go on a course, an Alpha Course and answer the questions but if there is no conversion, no death to the old and life to the new, if there is no personal faith and trust in Christ we will end up with the Alpha Curse! 

Salvation isn't doing a course, saying a prayer or filling in a form. 

Salvation is a life changing transaction between me and God, which I enter into by faith: 

F – Forsaking 

A – All 

T – Trust 

H – Him 

As I look back at that experience and as others look on – what should they see? 

What can they see?: 

Can't see faith – that's a spiritual thing 
Can't see my thoughts 
Can't see my turmoil 
Can't see my feelings 
Can't see the peace in my soul 

But what they ought to be able to see is a change in my life! 

Important to get the order right: 

Salvation – by grace and through faith (Acts 16:31,John 3:16), because of that trust in Christ 
Change – by the Spirit 

Important to get the order right, or we can run into bother! 

It's not me changing my life that forces God to save me but rather it is receiving Gods son as Saviour that changes me! 

There ought to be a real before and after transition! 

This before and after Grace contrast comes out in the chapters we have before us: 

Romans 5 tells me that by relationship with Christ I am linked to His life 

This comes out in the content of the text but also in the pattern or structure: 

Rom 5:15  “free gift... grace of God...the gift by grace” -  3 times in the verse we have either the word for “grace” or the cognate word “gift” 

Rom 5:16  “but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” - verse 16 takes us on from the free gift to imputed “righteousness” 

Rom 5:17  “they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one” verse 17 takes us through “grace” to “righteousness” and then further on to “life” 

Rom 5:18  “justification of life.”  - emphasises “life” again 

Rom 5:19  “shall many be made righteous.” - back to “righteousness” 

Rom 5:20  “grace” 

Rom 5:21  “ by Jesus Christ our Lord.” - all 3 themes in the concluding verse 

Notice the pattern then: 

A – Grace (v15) 

B – Righteousness (v16) 

C – Life (v17) 

C – Life (v18) 

B – Righteousness (v19) 

A – Grace (v20) 

A chiasmatic structure / symmetry to the later half of chapter 5. Why? 

As an aid memoir?

In days of low literacy and expensive parchments by the time the local church had finished reading and preaching chapter 5 the saints would have memorised it?

Do we have low expectations of the Lords people as preachers?

Do we have passive expectations of the ministry of Gods Word?

Do we come expecting to allow the ministry to wash over us?

The ministry meeting isn't a sauna – allow the warm comforting mist of ministry to waft over us and clear out our blocked pours whilst we slumber and relax!

The ministry meeting is a school room where we need to focus down on the word of God, coming with an exercise to glean from the Lords word.


As part of the structure of the passage it focuses our attention on the key thought: “life” at the centre! 

In chapter 5 I am linked by relationship to Christ with His life! 

Romans 6 begins by telling me that by relationship with Christ I am linked with His death! 

Death is mentioned in every verse from 6:2 to 6:11. 

Last week we noted that Romans 6 presents 4 reasons for not continuing in sin: 

4 reasons why we don't continue in sin: 

because I'm dead to Sin (6:1-7) 
because I'm alive to God (6:8-11) 
because I must serve God (6:12-20) 
because sin remains sin (6:21-22) 

because I'm dead to Sin (6:2-8) 

In this section the Spirit doesn't so much use symmetry as repetition and a building up of an idea by piling one linked word to the next: 

v2 – Death 

v3 – Baptism and death 

v4 – Burial, Baptism and Death 

v5 – Planted – an extension of the idea of burial – this is burial with a future 

Why say “planted” - why not say “buried” in v4? 

Because “planted” is “buried” with a future” 

If you dig up dandelions with all of their seeds, how do you dispose of them? 

You don't take a handful of dandelion seeds and bury them? Why not? If you do you know they will have a future! That kind of burial is a planting! 

The 2 ideas of spiritual death and resurrection in verse 4 and physical death and resurrection in verse 5 merge together here. 

v6 – Body - “old man”, execution - “crucified” and destruction - “destroyed” 

It becomes hard to miss the thought that I am “dead to sin” 

vs2-3 – we are dead to sin 

What does it mean to be “dead to sin”? 

Notice “dead” is an aorist tense – point tense and usually past, a completed action 

What does that mean? 

Does this mean that we have lost the desire to sin? 

Some point out that a dead body is an unresponsive thing, having the lost the ability to respond to light, touch, hearing and pain. 

Having died to sin does that render us unresponsive, to sin, lacking any desire to sin? 

This is inconsistent with 6:11-14 – for if being dead to sin renders us unresponsive and with no desire to sin and lacking the capacity to sin then Paul would hardly have to exhort us not to allow sin to reign in our bodies (6:12), not to obey sin (6:12) nor to give our bodies over to the service of sin (6:13)! 

This interpretation is also inconsistent with Col 3:5 ff and Galatians 5:16ff. 

We need to be wary of interpreting the scriptures with medical text books rather than using the scriptures to interpret themselves! 

To understand 6:2 I think we need to look back at 5:21. 

Before my conversion 'sin was King' (5:21) 

I lived under the domain, the authority, the rule, the tyranny of King Sin (5:21) 

Now I am saved I live in another Kingdom (5:21) the Kingdom of Grace under Jesus Christ our Lord (5:21). 

I have at some point left the one Kingdom and come into the other. 

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Col 1:13) 

Every Kingdom has its boundary, its border to which the rule of the sovereign extends and thus no further: 

The boundary marker for the Kingdom of sin isn't a sign on the road or a line on the map, it is a boundary marker appropriate to sin. 

Sin cannot cross the boundary marker of death! 

That link between sin and death cannot be broken: 

The Kingdom of Sin has a boundary: “as sin hath reigned unto death.” (5:21) 

After death sin has no more claim upon me! 

Does this mean there is no sinning in hell? 

Sin is a falling short of Gods standard it is the rejection of or rebellion against the self revelation of God, but in hell, apart from the experience of Gods eternal judgement there is no revelation of God to reject, revile or rebel against: 

God is Light – and sin is described as a rebellion against and a rejection of that light (John 3:19), but eternal judgement is “outer darkness” it is the “blackness of darkness forever” - Jude 1:13. 

God is Love – and sin is a rejection of or a cutting off of the love of God into our life and experience (1John4:7,8) but eternal judgement is a “fearful looking forward to...” (Heb10:27) – a place dominated by fear because there is no love there (1 John4:18). 

God is Life – man's greatest outrage against God was to kill the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15) - but eternal judgement is the “second death” (Rev20:14) 

God is the source of Hope – but eternal judgement has no hope, it is eternal! (Heb6:2) 

God is Peace – but eternal judgement knows no peace - “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev 14:11) 

Christ is Saviour – John 16:9 compare Heb 10:26 – in eternal judgement there is no opportunity to reject Christ! There remaineth no more forgiveness of sins. 

There is no revelation of God in hell to sin against! 

At some point I came to the boundary of that kingdom of sin and crossed over into the Kingdom of Grace. 

Being “dead to sin” represents a change of address from the Kingdom of Sin to the Kingdom of Grace 

That link between sin and death: 

It is an inevitable link – sin is a rebellion against God and a rejection of God, “in Him is life” therefore sin separated from the source of life and brings death 

It is an inviolable link – that is a link that cannot be broken – because God has also decreed this link: 

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:17) 

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Eze 18:4) 

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23) 

There is an exit from sin but that exit is labelled 'death' 

The only way out of the Kingdom of Sin is by way of Death. 

On the other side of that door marked death the door is labelled either deliverance or damnation! 

This is an interesting idea that death marks the boundary for the Kingdom of Sin but do you have any clear cut evidence of it? 

Rom 6:7  “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” 

That word “freed” is very interesting because it is the word “δικαιόω” - justified! 

How can death justify us from sin? 

Does it not take the work of Christ to justify us from sin and make us right with God and bring us into a living relationship with God? (5:11-21) 

Of course it does and I suspect that is why the word has been translated “freed” in this verse to avoid confusion! 

This is “justify” in a different sense. 

This justify does not have the positive thought of being declared righteous by a God satisfied with the work of Christ and being brought into a living relationship with God but this is the “justified” of a criminal, found guilty of a crime who takes his punishment and serves the sentence meted out. 

He has done the crime and now he does the time. 

Should he complete his punishment then the demands of righteousness are satisfied. 

Sin demands death, once death has been reached sins demands have ended! 

God doesn't defraud sin, He doesn't say 'I know that sin demands death but I'm going to bend the rules here.' Rather He pays the price for that righteous demand in the death of His Son! 

We are therefore declared to have satisfied or fulfilled the Divine decree concerning sin: 

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:17) 

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Eze 18:4) 

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23) 

So are you saying then that once we die then the demands of sin are satisfied and because we have suffered death for our sin we are then free from guilt? 

Are saying that every sinner therefore who dies is justified and goes to heaven? 

Who said anything about heaven? 

The punishment for and the consequence of sin is death and without a Saviour death is simply not an event is an eternal state. 

Hence eternal damnation in the lake of fire is referred to as the “second death” (Rev2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8) for the just demands of sin against an eternal being is eternal death and separation. 

But were there not in scripture those who have left the domain of sin without dieing? 

Enoch (Gen 5:24; Heb11:5) 
Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) 
The saints of 1 Thess 4 and 1 Co 15:51 

How is this possible? 

The work of Christ involves not only Christ bearing my sin (Isa 53; 1 Peter 3:18) but also dieing my death: 

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb 2:9) 

Albert Leckie: “Here it is dead to sin as governing my life” 

Martyn Lloyd Jones: “Christ died to the realm and to the rule and to the reign of sin...we are dead to sin in the sense that we are no longer under its rule, being out of the territory and the jurisdiction of sin” 

Free from the Domain of sin (5:21) from the Demands of sin and from the Domination of sin (6:9-12)! 

This identification this union with Christ not only in His Life but also in His death allows me to move out of the Kingdom of Sin and to move on from the Kingdom of Sin, it sets me free from the Domain, the Demands and the Domination of sin. 

Union with the death of Christ frees me from the POWER and PLACE of sin and one day from the PRESENCE of sin. 

As far back as Job this truth appears: 

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” (Job 14:14) 

Job saw death not simply as an end or termination but as a transition, not just a barrier but a boundary to something else, a transformation, a change! 

Notice in this section we have a: 

Body (v6) – we have an old man hanging like a corpse on a cross 

One of the reasons people don't come to Christ: we have too much invested in the Old Man 

We make excuses that what the old man did was ok: 

well I had to do it 
my hands were tied 
I was advised to do it 
under the circumstances... 
I couldn't have coped any other way... 
It was different in those days... 
The pressures were such that... 

The Christian is a person who has faced the facts that what he or she has done is wrong, sinful, offensive to God and deserving of eternal condemnation in hell. 

These were not little blips, imperfections, difficulties – they were sins, I was wrong and I confess them, I see my need of cleansing and forgiveness and I understand that Christ dies for me and my sin! 

To that cross of Christ my “old man” - my pre-conversion life is crucified! 

It is a painful, pitiful, shameful and embarrassing thing to watch the crucifixion of the  “old man” (6:6) and so often I shy away from it. 

What is the “old man”? (6:6) 

What is the difference between the “old man” and the “flesh” 

The “old man” dies at conversion (Rom 6:6), ends, on a cross, dead and crucified at conversion. The old man is the pre-conversion life lived out under the power of the flesh 
The flesh continues even after conversion (Col 3:5ff; Gal 5:16ff) 
After conversion we live according to the Spirit and live as a “new man” (2 Co5:17; Eph4:24; Col3:9,10; Rom8:1ff) 

I have been to the cross, 

I have seen dyeing there, 

Thy Son tortured and bleeding for me, 

And as I moved to depart, 

My direction had changed, 

I could see myself hanging with thee. 

Having left all I was, 

At Calvary's tree, 

I stand empty and barren and bare, 

A new life I must live, 

For the old life has gone, 

By His life there is a new me. 

To serve that 'old man' 

Hanging dead on the tree 

Would be to still live in the past 

But to serve a risen Lord, 

Who sits high above all 

Gives life meaning and purpose that lasts 

To live still in sin 

Just cannot be done 

Now that sin is condemned in the flesh 

For if sin was once wrong 

Before Calvary's tree 

How much more 

Since it cost God His Son? 

Not just an offence 

That is bitter to taste 

Reaping death, disaster and loss 

But now it is clear, 

It was the reason that Christ 

Shed His blood, 

Gave His life on the Cross.


Notes from our bible study teaching series of messages preached systematically, verse by verse, through Paul's letter to the Romans. Free to download audio mp3 recordings of this sermon and other sermons are available at the end of this blog and on the website page.    

Yours by Grace in Christ    

Dr J Stewart Gillespie