Session 2 - Being Dead to Sin Romans 6:2-4

Lesson 2 

Being Dead to Sin

Romans 6:2-4


Our reminder: the primary focus of Romans 6/7 is -  how can we live on earth in a manner that approximates our righteous standing before God in heaven? So the real issue in these chapters is Change or how to move from where we are to where we ought to be. Dying to sin… Could this be a scene in a study group?


This lady’s contribution to the group certainly misses Paul’s teaching!  Read v 2-4. 

For Paul ,there is almost a sense of incredulity – “How…”  or “you said what”? To sin intentionally and continually is totally inappropriate in that our relationship to sin is that we died to it. Similar statements appear elsewhere.

1 Peter 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. Colossians 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Ask class: So, your assignment was to jot down a thought or two about what you think dying to sin is all about. What did you come up with?


I. Sin is never a good thing even if it results in God’s glory 6:1-14

  1. Sinning for God’s glory is clearly at odds with both reason and the Scripture v1


  1. Sinning for God’s glory grossly ignores the concept that the Christian is dead to sin 6: 2-4

    1.  Being dead to sin carries several simple implications 2

First, we might literally render the verse, whoever died with reference to sin, how shall we still live in it?” Note several textual nuances…

  • There is no question that death to sin actually happened at a point of time in the past. We died to sin once and for all (aorist “die”). This is not theory or mere possibility. This happened at our conversion (see below).
  • The underlying idea of death is that of a complete separation or connection (cf Friberg 2947, Thayer 622).  Thus, we have been disconnected from sin.
  • Paul says the Christian is dead to sin. But, I know that I sin. Therefore, I am either not a Christian or being dead to sin doesn’t mean no sinning or Paul got it wrong. What is it? Well, this term ( ἀποθνῄσκω) can be literal and thus referring to physical death, or it can be figurative and thus referring to something other than physical death. In light of Paul’s extended discussion in 6:1-14 it is clear that this is to be taken in a figurative sense. So Paul is discussing being dead positionally, not physically.  
  • It is incongruous that in light of this past death to sin (again aorist “die”) we should live in sin going forward (future “live”). In fact, it is a logical absurdity. From our vantage point we are outside of sin (dative of reference - “died” with reference to sin). Therefore it is illogical to even speak of functioning or “living”  inside of  or “in” sin (“it”). Note contrast between dying and living! 
  •  Even though we are dead to sin, the text does not say sin is dead to us. Hence, it is not that we never sin. Rather, we can not “continue” (v 1) in sin (also the thrust of the adverb “still”). Sin does not describe us. It does not dominate our lives; it is not our lifestyle.
  • This concept of being dead to sin is a community principle. All believers are gathered up into this scenario. The subject “we” (really it is “whoever”) and the verbs “died” and “live” are plural in this verse. It is not one person or one isolated situation.
  • We really should react in horror at the suggestion that we can continue in sin (the adverb “how”). The thought should be grotesque to us. Our sensitivity to sin should be sharp.   

So, being dead to sin also has practical ramifications as well. Consider…

  1. It means you will change outwardly. If you were once alive to sin and now you are dead to it (and this is a fact) then your relationship to sin now will be different. You will be a different person –how you talk, your personal appearance, your daily actions, how you treat others, and etc. 

 Illustration: Adopting Alcoholic Anonymous lingo is inappropriate - “Hi, I’m Joe and I’m an alcoholic”. We don’t say, “Hi, I’m Joe and I’m an incorrigible sinner.” We are sinners - see Paul,  (NAU  1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.) But that doesn’t define us. We are saints. Something happened to us! (recall 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “… such were some of you…”) 

  1. It means you will change inwardly. It is a spiritual heart transplant! Thus there will be new patterns of thinking, new affections, new values, and etc.
  2. It means you have a new identity. You were sin’s slave, a child of the devil. Now you are God’s servant, a brother of Christ. You bear his name. People will know.
  3. It means you will be broken when you sin. Sin will never again be normal. 
  4. It means the power of sin is severed (v14 for sin shall not be master over you). This is similar to physical death that changes all our relationships. 
  • Illustration: When my dad died in 1980 it took me 6-8 months to get over the fact that I could no longer pick up the phone and speak to him. He was dead – totally cut off from me!

    1. Being dead to sin is accomplished through baptism 3-4

Verses 3-4 offer an explanation of how believers died to sin – or don’t you know…. In other words, you all know this don’t you? He identifies what we all should know (that). i. Baptism connects believers to Christ’s death 3

The category of people in mind is “all of us” or KJV “as many as” referring to anyone who has been baptized into (eivj) Christ. So, if you have been baptized into Christ you have also been baptized into (eivj) his death; one category. 

So, who is Paul taking about? Is he saying that everyone who has experienced Christian water baptism is also connected to Christ’s death? If so, this would include those whose faith is not genuine but have been baptized. And, what about those whose faith is genuine but have not been baptized? Are they not connected to Christ’s death?

Furthermore, if water baptism is in view, then we must come to grips with the inference that water baptism has spiritual regenerative powers or that it is a key to living the Christian life (v4 - walking in newness of life).

Ask class, “so how do you propose we solve this dilemma?


I believe it is better to understand that the reference is not to Christian water baptism. Rather, being baptized into Christ is a reference to what we may call “spiritual baptism.” This baptism occurs at the time we are placed into the body of Christ when we are saved. 1 Corinthians 12:12 ¶ For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 

So, it is proposed that spirit baptism is entrance into to the universal church while water baptism is entrance into the local church. Thus, when we get saved, it is also said that we take the place of other believers in the body of Christ who have died. This is described as “baptism for the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?

Negative Illustration: The baptism for the dead pool at the Mormon temple in Carmel. 

So, we don’t die to sin when we receive water baptism. Rather we die to sin when we become Christians (spiritual baptism). Why? Because at that time we are also baptized into his death. Somehow we are uniquely identified with Christ’s death. (In fact, the root meaning of the term baptize is to fully submerge so that the individual is identified with that in which he/she is submerged). 

{Valid alternate view of many commentators: It is possible to take 3a as a reference to water baptism. However it is only a picture of spiritual baptism which is in view in 3b-4} 

The bottom line regardless of whether we opt for a wet or dry baptism is that as Christ’s dying was conquest over sin and death, so we share in that conquest. We have ultimate victory over sin – how senseless to “live in it”. 

ii. Baptism connects believers to Christ’s resurrection 4

Our connection with Christ’s death is now restated as a connection with his burial.  Death and burial go together. Burial shows that death is real. But, not only are we baptized with him in death, we are also resurrected with him! There is a full identification with Christ for believers. 

However, the focus in verse 4 is on the purpose of this connection to Christ’s resurrection (i[na plus subjunctive = “so that” plus subjunctive “might walk”). Here it is: God’s design (subjunctive) for us is that the daily habit of life  be characterized by “newness” (“walk” = peripate,w referring to the round of life or going back and forth plus zwh, meaning life principle or life in its noble sense as opposed to the duration of life bioj). 

Ask class to suggest how we use the term “new” or “newness” today. Are any of the ways we use the term what Paul has in mind here? 

Key notion: The term kaino,thj means a new quality of life rather than newly coming into existence vneoj). 

Thus, for those connected to Christ’s resurrection, life in its highest form as well as in its practical reality must take on a different quality to it than for those who are not so connected. In fact, we must recognize that God has always had in mind that his people should be a cut above the culture. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So what does walking in newness of life actually look like? Here are ten sample descriptions. 

If we walk in newness of life then…

  • We will imitate Jesus.  NAU 1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
  • Our life will be telic – that is we will live with a definite purpose. And what might that purpose be?  Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
  • We will live with the keen awareness that how we handle the stuff of life is a reflection on Christ himself. Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
  • We will live as if today is our last day but at the same time we will plan wisely as God’s good stewards. This tension must be real. James 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
  • Serving Christ will be a central feature of our life. Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Certain practices will be absent from our daily experience. Some things are inappropriate for the believer and as a rule; we don’t have to argue over what these are. Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest… Ephesians 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
  • Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit will be evident in our life choices. Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
  • Trusting the Master will be more important than knowing the future. We can take risks. 2 Corinthians 5:7 We walk by faith, not by sight.
  • We will strive to obey the Word. 2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning that you should walk in it.
  • The Lord Himself will be our passion.  Romans 14:8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

So, here is the first tool for our Toolkit for Lasting Change:

Tool #1 - Know this: Christians are persons who have died to sin, 6:2-4. Do this: Publicly identify with Christ. This is God’s view of us. He has delivered us from sinning as a hallmark of life. Let this sink in. Paul hammers it home. The Christian life is a godly life (v4)Thus, living a godly life is normal, not exceptionalWe will sin, but we will not make sin the characteristic of our life. Genuine Christians will change. People should be able to take notice. Our daily life is “in newness of life.” So put the pressure on yourself by making it obvious. In fact this is God’s purpose for us. If you need to restructure your environment do so.  Yes, move out of the old neighborhood. Change addresses; make a clean break. In this section we are learning that the old man is dead and that we are now a new man.  So, if we know who we are we will not be satisfied to hang out with the same old crowd. It is not fitting. This concept is clear in the NT. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Ephesians 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

Ask the class:  We need to apply this tool to specific issues that are common struggles for Christians. The specific area I would propose today is Baptism.  So, now what? How can we apply the tool, “Publicly identify with Christ”, to this situation?” 

Reminder: the common “First Steps for Change” to be applied to all situations are:

  1. What have I done or not done? (Be specific)
  2. What does God say? (Bible)
  3. Is this sin? (If so, seek forgiveness and make restitution when possible.) 

4. What must I do? (Be specific)


Then list specific actions suggested by the tool(s) germane to the issue at hand. 

Points to mention (along with appropriate Scripture) if not brought up by class members would be:

1. So, systematically start controlling the who and where of your daily life. If your circle of friends tends toward (fill in the blank with whatever you have a problem with), change friends! Would you advise a drunkard to hang out at the bar? It is no different.


Illustration: An incident in Augustine's early Christian life illustrates this concept. Before his conversion he had a mistress named Claudia.

 Shortly after he found Christ, Claudia saw him on the street in the city. "Augustine! Augustine!" she cried after her old paramour [lover]. 

Augustine paid no heed. 

"Augustine! Augustine!" she cried out again. "It is Claudia!" 

"But it is no longer Augustine," he replied, as he continued on his way.

William M. Greathouse, Romans: Beacon Bible Expositions (Beacon Hill Press, 1975), p. 103; submitted by Steve E


Study 6: 5-7. See what you can dig up about slavery in first century Palestine as compared to the NT. Be prepared to share in class.

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2017. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.

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