Newness of Life
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (v. 5). - Romans 6:5-7
Paul spoke of believers walking in “newness of life,” the result of their being transferred from union with Adam to union with Christ. In verses 5–10 of chapter 6, he begins to focus in more closely on this new life believers enjoy, laying the groundwork for his further discussion of sanctification, or growth in righteousness. In other words, the apostle is beginning to teach on the Christian’s victory over sin. Verse 5 is basically a thesis statement, and Paul expands on the first part in verses 6–7 and on the second part in verses 8–10.
If we are united with Jesus in His death, Paul writes, we certainly will be like Him in His resurrection. We have already seen that God brings us into union with Christ, transferring us from the reign of sin to the reign of grace, by causing us to be “baptized” into Christ, an identification with Him that brings ineffable change.
As Paul puts it in verse 6, “our old man” (our old life of sin, not our sinful nature, as in Romans 7) is crucified with Him, absolutely destroyed. That was the means to the end that “the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” The phrase “body of sin” here is not the same as “our old man”; rather, this is a reference to our old, sinful nature, our inclination to sin.
Thus, Paul is saying that God has brought us into union with Christ that our sinful inclinations might be “done away with,” which means “rendered powerless” or “made ineffective.” No longer are we slaves of sin, compelled to obey it. It is no longer our master. “God has taken us out of Adam and placed us in Christ, thereby causing us to die to the old life, in order that (1) our present inclinations to sin might be robbed of their power, and (2) we should be delivered from sin’s slavery,” Dr. James M. Boice writes in his Romans commentary.
This does not mean that sin is completely wiped out in our lives. Every believer knows from personal experience that such is not the case. But we also must know (v. 6) what the Scriptures teach us—that the power of sin in our lives is broken forever. We do not have to obey temptation; we now have the God-given ability to resist it. We are now free, by God’s grace, to grow in holiness, sinning less and less while obeying God more and more.
It is good for believers to take the measure of their progress in the Christian life. What were some of the sins that most troubled you before your conversion? Have you advanced in your ability to resist them? Remember that your “body of sin” has been rendered powerless and strive ever harder toward the righteousness of Christ.
Passages for Further Study
- 2 Corinthians 3:18; 7:1
- Philippians 3:12
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- 2 Peter 3:18