Radical Grace

By Johnny Tatum


The purpose of this study is to present what it means that we died to sin.







Through verse 5 of Romans 6, Paul has given us an overview of what he will cover in the chapter.  What have we seen?


q       Paul says that we died to sin.  That is a positional truth; that is something we are to know.

q       Then, he emphasizes the reality of that death—we died—to emphasize the reality of it and to show it is not just some fiction; it is not just a symbolic death.  In God’s perspective, I was there on that Cross, you were there on the Cross, and we died.

q       And then, to emphasize the reality of that, Paul adds that not only was I on the Cross and in the Tomb, I was also Resurrected in Newness of Life with Him.


These are positional truths that we are to know.  We will never understand them fully, but we are to know:  I was on that Cross with Jesus, I went in the Tomb with Jesus, I came out of the Tomb with Him, and I came out of the Tomb with Newness of Life with Him.  We are to know those things!



Beginning in verse 6, Paul addresses the question:

What does it mean to be a slave to sin?




In verse 6, Paul says:

Knowing this

This is a positional truth, which is something we are to know.


Knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him that our body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin.


Paul is explaining what it means that we died to sin—there are three parts, as follows:

  1. Something happened
  2. So that something else would happen
  3. So that something else would happen


Let us examine the three parts:

First: It was my old self that died with Jesus.

Second:  The reason that happened was so my body of sin could be done away with.

Third: What did that accomplish?  Now I no longer have to be a slave to sin.


If someone asked you What are your five goals for life, where would you put Not being a slave to sin?  Would that be the top two or three?


At the supermarket checkout lines, you will often see numerous tabloids and magazines that have banner titles on the front cover, including  “Career Goals” — “What Are Your Goals?” — “Getting Rid of Cellulite” — “Getting the Man of Your Dreams”.  However, how many times do you see a headline entitled “No Longer Being a Slave to Sin”?  That does not appear very often, does it?


Or, whenever the contestants of national/international beauty pageants are interviewed, they are [always] asked What are your goals for your life?  Have you ever heard one of the contestants respond I want to use my crown to bring world peace, so that I will no longer be a slave to sin?  I have never heard that.


I am not critical of them, because if someone were to ask me to name my top goals, I assure you that not being a slave to sin would not make my top twenty.  I do not think about it very much.


That is our problem.  However, if we could get a glimpse from God’s perspective of our life, if we could see what our lives would be, and if we were to have the power of sin broken, we would desperately want that.  I know we would.


I truly believe that if we had God’s perspective on our life, we would be shocked at how many of our difficulties come because we are slaves to sin.  Let me be very careful — it does not mean that if we are having a lot of difficulties, we are to automatically conclude it is because we are slaves to sin.


Jesus’ disciples made that mistake [when discussing a man blind from birth]:

And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?  Jesus answered, “It was neither this man sinned, nor his parents.” (John 9:2-3)

The man’s blindness was not because of specific sin.


So we cannot conclude that if we are having difficulties, it means we are slaves to sin.  However, it is a biblical truth that if we were to have the power of sin broken (not become sinless, but have the power broken), our lives would be dramatically different and there would not be as many difficulties.


That is why it would be a desirable thing—not because it would make us more religious—because our slavery to sin brings disaster into our lives.  And I believe that many times we do not see the connection; if we could, we would want it broken.


Paul is saying that it already was broken.  That is what he means when he says Our old self died.  But this is difficult to understand.  For one thing, I am still walking around.  He says I died, but I am here—seemingly alive.  And another thing, I was born in the 20th century; how could I have died in the year 31 A.D.?


In verse 6, we learn that it was Our old self that was crucified with Jesus.  Old does not mean aged; it means former or previous.  It means the person that we were before we were saved (redeemed).


There is something else that is obvious from this verse—we see something about what we were like before we were saved.  He said that we should no longer be slaves to sin.  Logically, what does that imply that we were before?  That seems to tell me that we were slaves to sin before.


What does it mean to be a slave in regard to freedom?  What kind of freedom does a slave have?  None.  So Paul is saying that sin was our master and we were obligated to do his bidding.


What I love about this passage is that here, and in Romans 7, Paul personifies sin: he presents sin as this person – an evil person – our master with an agenda.  And he says that we were his slave.  We had no choice; we had to do his bidding.  What was his bidding?  His bidding was that we sin!


This is a little bit strong though, to say that before we were saved we were slaves to sin.  It is a little bit strong to say that every unbeliever is a slave to sin.  Many unbelievers are very moral people.  Some of them go to church – take care of their families – they are honest – they would not steal anything.  How could they possibly be slaves to sin?


This is a classic example of how very differently God sees things that we do.


The Bible says that there are two kinds of external activities that can be produced by human beings; and they are divided up, not by the quality of what comes out, but by their source:


Human activity—



Springs from Holy Spirit (from Spirit of God)


Springs from flesh (from self)


When God is judging works, He does not look at the externals—He does not look at what comes out.  God only looks at the source, which are activities produced by Holy Spirit.  For these works, God goes right through those activities; He identifies the source That work came from My Spirit; therefore, they are good, acceptable, perfect works.


However, let us say that there is activity produced by the flesh.  God does not even look at those activities, per se.  He cuts right through them and asks What is the source of that?  It is flesh; therefore, it is sin.


If the source of the work is the flesh, it does not matter what comes out.  All that matters is the source of those activities, because the flesh can produce a variety of different things, such as going to church – giving money to charitable organizations – living a good, moral life – being a murderer.  The Bible says that it is all flesh.  And what amazes me as I look in the Bible, especially through the Old Testament, is that flesh is always pictured as just about the same.  There is really no differentiation among the various works of the flesh.  If it is flesh, it is bad, it is all filthy.  Do you know why?  It does not matter what the work is; all that matters is the source of the activity.






Is it really fair that God does not even look at what is produced?  He ignores the activity and looks at the source only.  Is that fair?  Sure it is.


Remember, in a previous study (see Grace #6), we discussed roaches—the ones you find in the flour, which is in the pantry.  How about the one you find in your salad?  How about the half of one you find in your salad?  How about that one?  As we saw, if you see a roach in your food, you are not going to sit there and try to analyze the totality of things that he does, are you?  You would not think He probably does not do all things bad, so let me just check him out and see.  No!  You would kill him as soon as you possibly could – and violently.  And if you flush it, you will flush two or three times to make sure he does not swim back.  You do not care if he was a pretty good roach.


Do you know why?  You are doing what God did.  You are not even thinking about the actual activities produced by that roach.  We do not want to know about his activities, do we?  When we see a roach, we are not thinking I wonder what all he does?  The reason we kill the roach is because we have already judged his works to be bad because the source came from a roach – because of the source, and that is what God does.  All that can come out of a roach is roach stuff, because he is a slave to his roach hood.  Since the source is a roach, anything he does is filthy.  And even if they had a little roach church somewhere, we would track them down and kill the whole church, no matter what they are doing.


It is totally fair for God to completely ignore the actual works that are produced, whether it is going to church or being a murderer, and to go straight to the source—if it is produced by flesh, it is sin.  It is filthy.  For someone without Holy Spirit living inside, the only possible source of activity for that person is flesh. There is no other choice; therefore, everything he does is sin; he is a slave to sin and he cannot change.  Can a roach decide I am tired of being a roach, so I believe I will be a robin?  Absolutely impossible?  He is a slave to being a roach.


Even a Christian can go to church every Sunday, can read the Bible everyday, can lead a very good, moral life, but if the source of all activity is flesh, then it is all worthless.  There will not be any judgment—there will not be any condemnation—it is just worthless.



Paul says that is the way we were before we were saved.  Although our works were manifested in a variety of ways, God did not see them in that way.  God saw the following:


q       Sin was our master; Sin was our boss.

q       Sin did not have us work for free; Sin paid us.

q       Everyday he would whip us—make us do his bidding, which was sin—and then he would pay us.

q       Do you know how Sin pays though?


Sin pays with death

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)


Sin is the brutal master.  He not only forces people to do his bidding, he repays people for their loyalty to him by offering them up death.




Next: Radical Grace #10) Romans 6, Part 3 – Our Body of Sin – “Done Away With?”


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