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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Eighty-Second (Romans Part 11)

Another week forward, and another week where we take a deeper look into Paul's letter to the believers in Rome.  We're moving on to chapter six, and much like some of the previous chapters there's some key topics Paul gets into in this chapter.  Also, like previously, they center on the concept of sin and of grace, leading to righteousness.

The two topics in this chapter are being dead to sin and the wages of sin.  Being dead to sin is a concept difficult to understand.  Paul uses the burial and resurrection of Yeshua, and our corresponding baptism into those events, to try to help the believers understand.

He starts this chapter building off the last chapter, where he compared the sin of Adam and Yeshua's sacrifice.  When you keep that in mind, rather than look at this chapter on its own, you see that the chapter starts with Paul trying to get the reader to recognize the gravity of Yeshua's sacrifice as connected to our sin.  In other words, that lie that you told yesterday, or that extra day you decided to work instead of spending time with YHWH (making work, or money, an idol), the fact that you can do those things without the consequence of death is due directly to the brutal torture and death Yeshua went through.

So the first thing Paul says is just because we have the ability to sin without consequence of death should we sin even more so that there's more grace (Romans 6:1)?  In this question, if you read the different translations, there's various words used to convey the idea of grace increasing.  Some say abound, and some say increase, but the Greek word used is pleonazo, which means increasing in number.  In fact, it's the same word used in the previous chapter when Paul discussed sin and transgression increasing.

The point being made here is that for each sin, a corresponding grace must be given, so from that we can understand that it's not like Yeshua's sacrifice was a blanket grace for all sins committed.  His once and for all sacrifice does cover all our sins, but Paul is saying each sin requires a measure of this sacrifice.  If this nuance doesn't quite make sense, it's helpful to review the process of covering sin Israel went through, according to the Law given to Moses which was a representation of Yeshua's sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins (Leviticus 4-5).  This process required a sacrifice, one discrete event of sacrifice, for each sin committed either purposely or unintentionally and discovered later.  In some cases, this even required a confession of the sin committed (Leviticus 5:5).  While Yeshua does not have to continually come down to be a sacrifice multiple times like the multiple animal sacrifices that were required, the concept is the same in that we require His blood for each sin we commit, intentionally or unintentionally, in order to receive the grace of that sin being cleansed from us and allowing us to receive righteousness.

Paul then talks about being dead to sin (Romans 6:2), but what exactly is that?  When you look at the word used for being dead here, the first occurrence is obviously of a physical death.  It was used in the account of the demonic pigs running into a lake and dying (Matthew 8:32).  In fact, all occurrences of this word, except for some here and there in Paul's writings, refer to a physical death.  So, that makes dying to sin even more confusing.  How can we physically die to this spiritual concept?

The understanding lies in our motivations and desires.  Before we get to that though, Paul correlates our baptism in Yeshua to this death to sin concept (Romans 6:3-4), and after this correlation he uses a "therefore."  Our baptism into the body of Yeshua resulted in us being baptized into a spiritual death that aligned, or mirrored, His physical death.  Because of this spiritual death, Paul states, we should walk in a new life (Romans 6:4).

What Paul is really getting at is based on our baptism in Yeshua, we should not be motivated by, or desire to commit, sin.  His death made sin powerless, and we should not want to work for it (Romans 6:6).  But there again is something confusing: what does it mean to work for sin?

This is where the concept of the wages of sin comes in.  Whether you like it or not, when you commit sin you perform things that result in something being paid to you.  However, unlike a physical job in this world, you don't get something you can use to live or perhaps improve your quality of life.  Instead, you receive death (Romans 6:23).  Yes, physical death was a consequence of sin, since we were no longer allowed to access the tree of life (Genesis 3:22).  But despite how painful and devastating physical death can be, this is not the wage you are working for when sinning.  You're working for the the death of your soul...a permanent death (Matthew 10:28, Hebrews 6:1-2, Revelation 20:14-15, Revelation 21:8).  

Now, when Paul says we "should" walk in newness of life, and that we shouldn't let sin reign in our body, obeying its desires (Romans 6:12), he's clearly saying that these temptations and desires, the motivations to sin, are still there after our baptism in Yeshua.  We still have to have self-control not to sin and we still have to choose who to obey (Romans 6:13, 16-17).  What he's not saying is we don't have to worry about sinning anymore.  In fact, he's emphasizing over and over that we do need to worry about it.  He states again and again, we should not sin, and in order to do that we need to know what is a sin and what isn't.  Remember, sacrifice (Yeshua's blood) is required whether the sin is intentional or unintentional.  By sinning, we obey sin and therefore are slaves to it.

Through Yeshua's death and resurrection, we have an opportunity to be freed from that slavery, but each time we fall into it again we have to call on Him in order to be freed of it.  That's why Paul said to "present ourselves to YHWH" and "offer [the parts of your body] in slavery to righteousness" (Romans 6:13,19).  The tense of the words Paul uses for "present" and "offer" are of the imperative mood, meaning they are commands Paul is giving.  They are also in the active voice, meaning we as believers have to take action for this to occur.  This is in contrast to the passive voice, which, in this particular case, would mean something (such as Yeshua's blood or His sacrifice) would be acting on us in order to bring about our presenting to YHWH or the offering of the parts of our body.

The final thing Paul leaves us with in chapter six is the distinction between the results of slavery to sin and slavery to YHWH.  As we saw earlier, with slavery to sin your result is a payment: death of your soul.  In other words, this is a transaction.  You do something and you get something.  With slavery to YHWH it is not transactional, it is a gift: eternal life (Romans 6:22-23).

The last thing we'll leave with this week is a side note on something to notice about the relationship Paul says Yeshua has with death.  Paul states that "death no longer has dominion over [Christ]" (Romans 6:9).  In order for this to be true, there had to be a time where death did have dominion over the Son of YHWH, and obviously this time was when He physically died and was buried for three days and three nights.  This is confirmed when Peter tells the crowd that death could not hold Yeshua (Acts 2:24).  It is interesting to note that the Son of YHWH, who was (and is) above all (John 3:31) and was given all things (John 3:35, Matthew 11:27), was actually under the dominion of something.  What's more interesting is that when you recognize the fact that being under the dominion of death means that you physically die, and that man still physically dies today, it reinforces that not all aspects of the prophecy in the book of Revelation are complete.  Namely, in this specific case, Death has not yet been thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).  So don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

That concludes our look into Romans 6.  Next week, we'll move on to chapter seven and see how Paul explains our relationship to YHWH's Law after Yeshua's crucifixion.  Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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