Our Power Over Sin, Part 3.

James 1:25 makes clear that understanding God's Word and applying it result in God's blessing. This blessing, however, does not mean what most people assume. The blessing we receive is the operation of grace in our spiritual growth as we increasingly become like Christ. This is something we cannot do in our own power! Romans 6 is a longer treatise on that same progression from understanding to applying to growing.

This chapter addresses a Christian's practical holiness using the structure of 3 main verbs: know, consider, and present. When a person is saved, he or she will spend the same energy living for Christ as was spent living for self before knowing Christ.

The doctrine we must know to become more sanctified is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as we studied last week.


The word translated "consider" in Romans 6:11 is used 41 times in the New Testament, 19 of which are in Romans. It means "to put to one's account." In this context, it tells us that we don't need to pray for God to give us victory over sin. He has already given us everything we need. According to this passage, we simply need to know, understand, and decide to do what Scripture says.

Paul doesn't write any criticism of the church in Rome. Apparently there was not one member struggling with a habitual sin that he needed to address. This is possible in the Spirit!

"God does not command us to be dead to sin; He tells us that we already are, then tells us to act on it. Even if you don't act on it, the facts never change."

We must reckon ourselves free from sin. This is already true; we just have to live that way. People who were freed from physical slavery had to rehearse their freedom regularly as they learned to live in their new freedom. We must do the same.


Conformity is very unpopular in our culture. Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass,

"Re-examine all you have been told
in school or church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem."

Some truths of Scripture may seem insulting to one's soul, but they are necessarily so.

Conforming ourselves to God's Word requires daily mental discipline. Determine not to use your capabilities for sinful purposes. It is possible for you to avoid not only a habitual lifestyle of sinning, but also being dominated by one particular sin! Presenting any of our God-given abilities or instruments to sin is tantamount to the most absurd treason, along the lines of the United States giving all our military resources to North Korea.

When apparently strong or prominent Christians fall into grievous sin, we often wonder how a believer could reach that point. At some point, they stopped considering truth and applying it to themselves.

The word slave is used 8 more times in this passage, contrasting two different positions. We were slaves to sin before knowing Christ; now we are slaves to obedience. Paul discussed righteousness earlier; in applying that doctrine, he calls for obedience. After the promise in Romans 6:14, the passage moves from indicative to imperative.

Questions and Answers

Verse 19 is the center of Romans 6:15-23. The whole passage reads as a series of questions and answers explaining what it means to conform.

Q. How is this reality to be understood in our lives?
A. Our nature was changed when we were given righteousness and we decided to obey it (Romans 6:17-18).

Q. Can you explain that further?
A. Before salvation, we had no desire to be free (Romans 6:20). We were free only of the desire to be righteous; it was not in our capability because we had not been given Christ's nature.

Q. Was my former life really that bad?
A. The outcome of any sin is death (Romans 6:21).

Q. What are our new opportunities?
A. Now we have the opportunity to be sanctified, with a new outcome: eternal life (Romans 6:22). This end is already established, guaranteed, and secure. We already have eternal life in Jesus Christ! Our task is to live like this is true.

Q. What about a person who professed salvation but returns to their old lifestyle?
A. Any healthy saint will be concerned for a professing saint not living obediently. They may need a sober yet loving reminder (Romans 6:23).

"You cannot blend in when you were born to stand out." Holiness is standing out for the character of God. We can only do that by God's grace, with divine help from Heaven.

"The enjoyment of the Christian life is based in our obedience by the grace of God to the truth of the Word of God."

"Paul is strongly suggesting that our commitment to serve righteousness now that we are saved should be just as strong as our commitment was to serve sin before we were saved."

Application Points

  • How can you pray more biblically when another believer is struggling with sin? Next time you have opportunity, pray that they would understand doctrine and apply it.
  • Good living pours forth from comprehending good doctrine. If you are struggling with a pattern of sin or one particular sin, you probably have not been taking opportunities to learn doctrine. How can you begin to address that this week?
  • If the truth of Scripture offends you, don't dismiss it; embrace it so you can know the blessing of James 1:25.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • James 1:13-15 – God is never to blame when we fall to sin.
  • Galatians 5:16, Hosea 8:7 – Sowing and reaping.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Nearer, Still Nearer"

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last.
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!