Union with Christ Breaks the Power of Sin

By | May 23, 2024

Romans 5:12–21 describes an amazing reality for believers. We were once sinners in Adam, under the reign of sin and death. Now, however, we have received the grace of God and free gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ. We have been declared righteous by God, and grace reigns over us, leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6 then brings out the practical implications of this change. If Rom 5:12–21 is the case—we have been transferred from the realm of sin and death into the realm of grace and life—then we are not to continue in sin or live in it (Rom 6:1–2). We have died, been buried, and raised with Christ. So, we should “walk in newness of life” instead (Rom 6:4; cf. 6:3–5).

Further grounding his point that we should not continue in sin, Paul states, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6). This verse warrants our close attention and yields three powerful truths that encourage us to overcome sin.

Our Old Self Was Crucified with Him

Our “old self” (literally, “old man”) is who we were in Adam, dominated by sin. The “old self” is unsaved and characterized by sin (Col 3:5–9a; Eph 4:17–22; cf. 4:25–32). By faith in Christ, this “old self was crucified with Him” (Rom 6:5). We “were also raised with Him” (Col 2:12) and “have put on the new self” (Col 3:10), which was “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24) and “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10).

The Body of Sin Was Brought to Nothing

The purpose for this crucifixion with Christ was “that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.” “The body” overlaps with “your mortal body,” “your members,” and even “yourselves” in Rom 6:12–13. The whole person is in view. However, Paul mentions “the body” to focus on how we sin. “The body of sin” is “an expression which may refer… more generally, to bodily existence as the sphere in which sin’s dominion is expressed.”1 Indwelling sin previously drove us to obey the passions of our bodies (Rom 6:12b; cf. 3:13–18). Now that our old self has been crucified with Christ, “the body of sin” is “brought to nothing,” rendered powerless for sin to dominate it again. Now we can use our bodies for good (Rom 6:13b; 12:1–2).

We Are No Longer Enslaved to Sin

Crucifixion with Christ was render the body of sin powerless over us. The purpose of removing the rule of sin and its influence was so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. A new ruling power has taken over—grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, we are empowered and commanded to pursue righteous living instead of sin (Col 3:9–10; cf. 3:5–9a, 12–17; see also Eph 4:21–32).

With these truths in hand, we are reminded that we should, can, and will persevere through Christ who conquers sin in us. May God help us to look more like His Son day by day as He renews us to be more like Him.

Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash

  1. Sinclair Ferguson, “The Reformed View,” in Christian Spirituality (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 59. []