Having just discussed the doctrine of justification (Romans 4-5), and listing many of the benefits of salvation, Paul now turns his attention to the accompanying doctrine of sanctification (Romans 6). In reality, the two cannot be separated except for the sake of study. You can’t have one without the other.
There are 2 great problems which God faced in the redemption of sinners. The first; what is to be done with the sinner in relation to the penalty for sin? The answer to that dilemma is justification. God declares him righteous and treats him as such. It deals with the guilt of sin. When a person sins, he is guilty and therefore, deserves to be punished. By the act of declaring that person righteous by virtue of the death of Christ on his behalf, God removes the guilt forever.
Second, though a man is declared righteous (not made righteous) or justified, it is evident that he has a sin nature that gives rise to sinful acts. What is to be done about that? Sanctification is the answer. It is that aspect of the work of God that deals with the power and pollution of sin. God takes that same sinner, who has been justified and makes him holy. In sanctification, God deals with something that is actual, the power of sin.
In the previous 2 chapters, Paul has insisted that believers are justified freely, and saved by grace. Now, he shows that once justification has been received, sanctification follows logically and naturally. Herein lies the struggle for the Christian life.
You know that you do things that are wrong. You know that you do not have victory over the sin in your life. This is a serious problem. A believer has been released from the guilt of sin, but how can he be released from the power of sin? There is a way. Paul gives 3 key words to help one progress in sanctification.
First, he must know. If he is to progress in sanctification and have victory over sin in his life, he must know a few things. He must know that he is baptized into the death of Christ Jesus (v.3). He must know that his old man was crucified with Him(v.6) and he who has died has been freed from sin(v.7). He must know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him (v.9). For a Christian to live out the fullness of his new life in Christ, for him to truly live as the new creation that he is, he must know that he is not what he used to be.
Second, he must reckon, or consider himself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus the Lord (v.11). It means to fully affirm a truth, or to have an unreserved inner confidence in the reality of what is known. So, since the believer knows in his mind that he is dead to sin and alive to Christ, that must now become the abiding conviction of his heart. It is the conviction that informs all of his thinking, planning, rejoicing, speaking, doing. It is the basis for his worldview.
Third, he must present himself to God as being alive from the dead, and his members as instruments (or a better translation, weapons) of righteousness to the Lord (v.13). This has to do with the will. Because of the incomprehensible truths about his relationship to God that the believer knows in his mind and has fully affirmed in his heart, he is now able to exercise his will successfully against sin and, by God’s power, prevent its reign in his mortal body.
Christian, do you know the rich truths of Scripture? Do you know that you have been crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and now alive in Him? Have you affirmed those truths in your life so that they inform your thinking, decision making and worldview? Now, present your body to God as such, and the members of your body as weapons of righteousness (v.13). In doing so, sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace (v.14).