The Meaning of Romans 6:11-14


To understand Romans 6, you must first understand what Paul means by the word ‘righteousness’. This is defined in Romans 5:17 as ‘the gift of righteousness’.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 6:11-14

When you believed in Christ, your sin was forgiven and you also received the gift of righteousness from God [Romans 5:17]. This made you righteous before God [Romans 5:1].

At conversion, you also had a spiritual baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit [ Galatians 3:26-28, 1 Corinthians 12:13]. During this baptism, your spirit died with Christ to the world and was then raised with Christ and born again [1 Corinthians 6:17, Colossians 2:12].

When your spirit died with Christ, your spirit died to your sinful flesh [Galatians 5: 24], including the sin in your sinful flesh [Romans 6:2]. This is spiritual circumcision [Colossians 2: 11-12].

Consequently, the sin in your sinful flesh is not you anymore [Romans 6:2, 6:6-7, 6:11, 7:17, 7:20] and any acts of sin done in your sinful flesh do not get accredited to your account. Therefore, you remain permanently righteous before God [Romans 5:1, Romans 6:1-2].

Therefore, for a Christian, the matter of sin and righteousness is dealt with. You are righteous before God irrespective of what you do, and you cannot spoil that before God.

So then, when Paul has established that a Christian’s righteousness is permanent due to spiritual circumcision and death to sin [Romans 6:1-10], he then goes on to how to deal with the sin in your flesh [Romans 6:11-14].

He says that you are to reckon yourself dead to sin, which means that you are to know and act like you are dead to sin. According to Paul, if you do this, you will therefore not let sin reign in your flesh [Romans 6:11-12].

Paul gives a description of what you are meant to do, to reckon yourself dead to sin:

(1) You are meant to practically trust God (yield your members to God) that you are an instrument of righteousness – that is an instrument of ‘the gift of righteousness’ [Romans 5:17, 6:13]. What this means is that you are meant to trust God that you are permanently righteous before Him (i.e. that you have received the gift of righteousness and have also been spiritually circumcised which means that you stay righteous) and that therefore you do not need to put the sin in your flesh under the Law.

(2) He says you are not meant to relate to sin (yield your members to sin) by trying to keep it under control, by putting it under the Law [Romans 6:13]. (Paul says this error is treating yourself as an instrument of unrighteousness which is wrong, when God has told you that you are an instrument of righteousness. This error is also treating yourself as being alive to sin and consequently having an obligation before God to make the sin in your flesh behave, which is wrong when God has told you that you are dead to sin [Romans 6:2] and that you are not under obligation to the flesh since you are dead to it [Romans 8:12-14]).

If you do this reckoning of yourself dead to sin, then you will not put yourself under the Law. Since the Law is the power of sin [1 Corinthians 15:56, Romans 7:8], sin will not therefore not reign in you.

That is why Paul says, if you reckon yourself dead to sin, sin will not have dominion over you/reign in you, because you are not under the Law, but under grace [Romans 6:14].

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