Romans - Lesson 26

Romans 6:1-23

Romans 6:1-23 emphasizes the transformative impact of Christ's death and resurrection for believers, underscoring their identification with Him in both death and new life. The text explores contrasting interpretations of Paul's language concerning the old self and the new self, presenting views such as the "two-natures" and "new nature" perspectives. Ultimately, it challenges believers to reckon with their identity in Christ and to actively resist the pull of sin, highlighting the profound implications of living as slaves to either sin or God.

Lesson 26
Watching Now
Romans 6:1-23

III. The Assurance Provided by the Gospel: The Hope of Salvation (5:1–8:39)

A. The Hope of Glory (5:1-21)

1. From Justification to Salvation (5:1-11)

2. The Reign of Grace and Life (5:12-21)

B. Freedom from Bondage to Sin (6:1-23)

1. "Dead to Sin" through Union with Christ (6:1-14)

2. Freed from Sin's Power to Serve Righteousness (6:15-23)

C. Freedom from Bondage to the Law (7:1-25)

1. Released from the Law, Joined to Christ (7:1-6)

2. The History and Experience of Jews under the Law (7:7-25)

a. The Coming of the Law (7:7-12)

b. Life under the Law (7:13-25)

D. Assurance of Eternal Life in the Spirit (8:1-30)

1. The Spirit of Life (8:1-13)

2. The Spirit of Adoption (8:14-17)

3. The Spirit of Glory (8:18-30)

E. The Believer's Security Celebrated (8:31-39)


  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.
  • In Romans 14:1-15:13, you learn about the division in the Roman Christian community, the concept of adiaphora, the balance between liberty and love, and Paul's emphasis on mutual acceptance and avoiding spiritual harm through personal conviction and respect for others' practices.
  • In Romans 15:14-16:27, you explore Paul's extended conclusion, his ministry to the Gentiles, his request for prayers regarding his journey to Jerusalem, the roles of Phoebe and Junias in ministry, and the diversity of the early Christian community.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.


Other Recommended Reading:

The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright, Piper, John. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. (978-1581349641) 

Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. 2d ed., Westerholm, Stephen. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004. (978-0801027314) 

Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, Wright, N. T.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009. (978-0830838639) 

English version of the Bible: NIV (2011) is preferred; ESV and HCSB are also recommended.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 6:1-23  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 6:1-23

A. The Old Man and the New Man: 

Looking at the passage a little more broadly, the logic of this passage moves in a certain sequence. Christ died to sin and rose to a new life. It is interesting that Paul can say that about Christ, that somehow Christ died to sin. This is a matter of having a robust view of the incarnation. Jesus really did become human; He was fully human and as human, He never committed a sin, nor was He a helpless slave under sin’s power, obviously. He did have a genuine relationship to sin’s power as human. So, He died to sin.

We have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. Please notice the ‘with’ language that is really significant here in the passage. Because of that, we too have died to sin and will be raised to a new life, a life that has already begun. I’m deliberately putting it in that two-fold way because it is a little hard to be sure in Romans 6 when Paul talks about being raised with Christ, whether he is referring to that as a future event or sort of anticipating the language of Ephesians and Colossians where Paul will say that there is a sense in which we have already been raised with Christ in this life, seated with Him in the heavenlies, and so on. So, there is a kind of already, not yet aspect to the life Paul is talking about here. Life is something that ultimately will be given to us in its full form when our bodies are raised but we begin to experience that new life already as believers at the same time, and the resurrection power of Christ is therefore having its way with us. 

Baptism we have talked about so I’m going to move on from that.  Let me talk now about one other element of the passage. In verse 6 Paul introduces this language of the old person or the old man or the old self, depending on what version of the Bible you have. Our old self, or our old man, was crucified with Christ so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin. 

Paul uses an image that he uses two other times. The language of old man versus new man and it has played a fairly significant role in popular ways of characterizing the Christian life. So, I think it is worthwhile just pausing for a moment to look at how Paul is using the imagery.


B. Two Natures View versus New Nature View: 

One way of understanding it is what I am calling the “two-natures” view. In this view as non-Christians, those who are outside of Christ, we are simply old nature. That is who we are basically in our entirety, dominated by Adam, helpless slaves of sin, destined for eternal death, and so on. 

When we come to Christ what happens then, in this understanding, the old nature remains but a new nature is added. This view is often grounded in the passage in Ephesians. This is one of the other texts where Paul uses the language in Ephesians 4:22. Paul writes “you were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

I think the NIV, in agreement with most English translations here, has it basically correct. Paul is issuing commands here. He says to Christians put off the old self or the old man, and put on the new. That works in this scenario then, because this text would seem to assume that Christians still have an old self, an old man, or old nature that we need to put off. 

Paul here then is teaching us that as a Christian you have both natures kind of battling for control of who you are. Make sure you are letting the new nature win. Make sure that this new nature wins the day over the old nature, you have this fight going on within you. This is a popular way that used to be that of the Campus Crusade presentation of the Christian life. 

Other people say no, it is just the opposite here. This is what I would call the “new nature” view, based on Romans 6. Look at what Paul says about the old man; the old man has been crucified with Christ. That suggests a definitive putting away of the old man or the old nature when we come to Christ. 

So, in this view while again the non-Christian is characterized by the old nature, when we come to Christ, we are new nature people, we don’t even have an old nature any longer. And thus, the key to the Christian life is simply to let that new nature work its way out in your experience. It isn’t a matter of having to fight an old nature, the old nature isn’t there anymore, that battle has been taken care of and is done with. You simply have to let the new nature that you already are, flourish.


C. The Change of Influence View: 

What we find is that the two-nature view really appeals to Ephesians 4 whereas the new nature view appeals strongly to Romans 6. This view has a hard problem with Ephesians 4 while the other has a hard problem with Romans 6. At some point, we should at least ask the question, is there another option that might do better justice to both passages? 

Let me turn then to the third Pauline text that uses the language and that is Colossians 3:9because this passage gives us a clue of moving in a somewhat different direction “Don’t lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here, there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, or slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all.” 

What is particularly interesting here is at the beginning of verse 11, translation in the NIV “here”, other versions will translate it in different ways. Paul is saying in the new man, there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcised, uncircumcised, and so on. The new man here is clearly not the nature of an individual believer. New man is a bigger idea than that; it is a corporate idea that includes different kinds of Christians within it. 

When we see how Paul uses the language here and when we remember furthermore going back to Romans 6, that in Romans 5, Paul spent a lot of time talking about Adam, it is therefore conceivable to think along these lines: we begin with understanding that Adam is himself the old man and Christ is the new man. In other words, we have introduced the language of nature that is not the language scripture is using at this point. Notice in both these other views – nature, nature, nature – no basis in the text for that actual language of nature. 

Now, to go back to the issue that we were talking about earlier with the new realm and the old realm contrast, when we think about it in that framework, then it seems better and makes better sense of these texts to think that Paul is saying the non-Christian is the one who is dominated by the old man, Adam, whereas the believer now is one who is dominated by the new man, Christ. We are in Christ, the new man, and that is why Paul can say that Jews and Gentiles, Scythians and barbarians, and so forth are in the new man because they are in Christ who is the new man. 

The point that Paul is making is on the one hand in Romans 6, you as a believer are now here and you belong to Christ. The old man has been crucified. Who you are in Adam isn’t your identity anymore. There has been a definitive final change made in who you belong to and therefore, who you are. Remember that who you belong to dictates who you are. 

This also explains Ephesians 4 then in the sense that Paul is saying, remember that you need to put on the new man, you need to respond to the reality of being in Christ, make sure you are living in Christ, and don’t let the old man, don’t let your Adamic past come to play a role in who you are any longer. Put that off, don’t let that be what is affecting you. I call this view the “change of influence” view, but I think it respects better the framework in which Paul is presenting these matters and gets us off the dilemma that really does become a dilemma – do we have an old nature or not? 


D. A Dilemma: 

And you say, well, we do but then it seems like that we are under playing the significance of the transformation that God has brought about in us. Or we say no, we don’t have an old nature anymore, but then we have to say if we don’t, how can Christians sin? Why would that be a problem then? Each of these has part of the truth, but it kind of imbalances things by not looking at the other side of the situation. 

So, when we talk to people about who they are in Christ, I really think that it is helpful to people to make them realize that a real change has taken place. God has put them into a different place than they were before. They are no longer in this old realm and they should not think of themselves as being there any longer. They need to think of themselves as now belonging to the new realm, dominated by Christ. 

At the same time then, they need to act on that and that is what Paul talks about also in Romans 6. You have died with Christ (Romans 6:11); consider yourselves as people who have died to sin, and then don’t let sin reign. So, you have those three significant moments; recognize who you are, dead to sin and alive in Christ. Now consider that and daily appropriate that identity. In verse 11, Paul uses a present imperative suggesting that ongoing, continuing reckoning ourselves in a certain way. And, on the basis of that in the way we think about ourselves, don’t let sin reign. Actively make sure you are not allowing sin to have that role anymore. All of which, again, gets tied to this change in our status, change in our relationship.


E. A Slave to Sin or a Slave of God: 

In Romans 6:15 to the end, Paul is really elaborating on the first part of the chapter. What is different in the second part of the chapter though, is that Paul gives a little more equal attention to both sides. In 6:1-14, the focus is sort of on the negative; we have died to sin, don’t let sin reign. In 6:15-23, Paul now presents us with the whole picture. We are no longer slaves to sin negatively but positively, we have been put into a new slavery with respect to God and righteousness and Christ. So, in the latter part of the chapter, you get both sides given equal attention. 

One really important implication in what Paul is saying in Romans 6:15-23 is in contrast to our contemporary culture. From a Biblical standpoint there is no such thing as an autonomous free human being. This is one of the most persistent myths of our culture that the Christian world view must confront. How often do we hear people say that they don’t want to get involved in all this Christian stuff; I don’t want to commit myself to Christ because that would take away who I am as a human. I would give up my autonomy. I would have to serve someone else, and that would dehumanize me, because to be human is to be someone who is autonomous, someone who is free, someone who has the right to make all the choices that I want to make. This is a very fundamental myth of our culture here in the West. You don’t have that same myth in other cultures. 

That has to be confronted with the Biblical perspective that Paul presents here in Romans 6. You are always a slave to something. The question isn’t whether you are a slave; the question is what you are going to be a slave to. You are either a slave to sin or you are a slave of God. I think more and more, people are beginning to recognize the reality of this here in the West. The sort of myth of the independent person who can carve his or her own way in life is gradually giving way to a realization that who you are gets determined by a lot of other factors such as where you were born and who your family is and what kind of education you were able to get and what the economy has been like, etc. People are beginning to recognize that more and more, fortunately. 

We do have to emphasize the point in creating a more Biblical perspective on who human beings are, again, our identity. Paul warns people here that they are no longer slaves to sin, but don’t start acting as if you are, because you can sort of bring yourself right back into that slavery again if you aren’t careful. You will be slaves to whoever you obey. The choices you make can in a sense reintroduce a situation of slavery if you aren’t careful about it.