Romans, Lesson 11: God’s Work in Baptism Frees You from the Law

In Romans 5, Paul spoke of what Jesus did objectively for all: save them.  He also spoke that faith receives and trusts in what Jesus did and does.  We know we need salvation because the Law shows how much we’ve trespassed against God.  But God’s grace reigns all the more, leading to eternal life. 

So, how then does the Christian understand sin in his life?  Paul answers that next, beginning with a “what then,” connecting what he just said to where he is going.


The structure of Romans 6

Paul organizes chapter 6 into two sections: 6:1-14 and 6:15-23.  He begins each section with a hypothetical objection someone may have to what he just said.

  • Romans 6:1: The Jewish-Christian objection: Does God’s grace give someone a license to sin?

Paul responds in Romans 6:2-11, using indicative language (descriptions to indicate who the Christian is).  He then commands, using imperative language, the Roman Christians to act in a way that corresponds to what he had just written (Romans 6:12-14).

So, Paul organizes Romans 6 into two sections, each with three parts: objection, response, and encouragement.


Who You Are: Dead to Sin

Read Romans 6:1

  • What does Paul immediately deal with concerning how our sinful nature will understand God’s grace?


  • How does this question deal with both the Jewish Christian’s worldview (works righteousness) and the Gentile Christian’s worldview (license to sin)?


Read Romans 6:2

  • Why doesn’t the Christian choose to live in sin?


  • Being dead to sin describes what reality for the Christian?


If the Christian has died to sin, Paul next addresses how and when that happened.

Read Romans 6:3

  • How and when does the Christian die to sin?


  • Paul uses the passive voice: Christians “have been baptized.” What does this reveal about who is doing the doing in baptism?


  • How does this verse undercut the Jewish Christians’ demand that Gentiles undergo circumcision and that circumcision is what the person does for God? (Remember Colossians 2:11-13)


Read Romans 6:4

  • If the Christian is baptized into Jesus’ death, what else is He baptized into?


Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • What does that mean for the Christian on the Last Day, when Jesus returns?


The baptism Jesus instituted is distinctively Christian (Matthew 28:19; Acts2:38, 41; 8:12; 10:48; 1 Corinthians 1:16; Galatians 3:27; Hebrews 6:2; 1 Peter 3:21).  Jesus commanded His Apostles to baptize and teach (Matthew 28:19), which pastors continued as they were appointed and ordained (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:7, 4:1-2; Titus 1:5).  Christian baptism is according to Jesus’ institution (Acts 10:48), which is “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) and involves washing with water (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:28).



What Scripture Attributes to Baptism

Scripture Passages that Teach Baptism Does Nothing

·         Supersedes Old-Covenant circumcision as God’s instituted rite to bring someone into God’s Covenant (Colossians 2:11-13)

·         “Saves” the person because it gives him a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21)

·         A washing of regeneration through which the Holy Spirit works (Titus 3:5)

·         The person receives the benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5)

·         The old, sinful nature is put off and the new clothing of Christ’s righteousness is put on (Galatians 3:27)

·         The person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 12:13)

·         The person is now identified with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27; Galatians 3:27-28), hence a “Christian”


·         None


Below is a baptismal font in Speyer, Germany, which is the oldest baptismal font north of the Swiss Alps.  The baptismal font was designed to make two clear statements through its architecture.




  • The baptismal font includes a cross in its shape. What is the cross supposed to convey?


  • The baptismal font also has eight sides. What is eight supposed to show about what takes place in baptism?


Read Romans 6:5-6

  • What does Paul restate?


  • What does the repetition help make clear?


Paul now uses a chiasm, emphasizing who is responsible for the Christian’s identity, that is, someone who is dead to sin.



Read Romans 6:7-10




“with Christ”: In this verse, Paul explains that if we die “with Christ,” we will live with Him.  Being “with Christ” also brings much more.  This dying “with Christ” also includes being:

  • crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:19)
  • buried with Christ (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12)

Living with Christ also includes much.  We are:

  • raised with Christ as a past event (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12, 3:1)
  • coming to life with Christ (Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13)
  • being seated with Christ in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6)
  • with Christ in this life (Romans 8:17, 29; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 13:4)

This means we will eventually be:

  • delivered with Christ (Romans 6:5, 8; 8:17, 32; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:11)
  • with Christ after death, including His return on the Last Day (1 Thessalonians 4:17, Philippians 1:23)

If the point is missed through the chiasm in Romans 6:7-10, Paul now explicitly states his conclusion.


Read Romans 6:11

  • What conclusion does Paul make?


  • Why (or in whom) can the Christian consider himself dead to sin and alive to God?


“in Christ Jesus”: It’s not just “with Christ Jesus” but also “in Christ Jesus.”  The phrase “in Christ Jesus” occurs for the first time here in Romans 6, making clear that believers are alive, not in themselves, but in Christ.  This life comes to us from God, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.  This life, this salvation, doesn’t make the believer a self-contained, independent unit but joins him to Christ, through whom life comes to the believer.  This union in Christ also joins the believer to the body of believers because all Christians are joined to Christ.  He does the joining.


Who You Are Shapes How You Live

Read Romans 6:12-13

  • What does Paul tell the Christian not to do?


“let not sin reign”: This is a present-tense imperative, with an ongoing action of what not to do: stop letting sin…, do not continue to let sin…

Paul reveals that we can let sin rule us if we stop resisting, but we can never make ourselves righteous.  So, we have an influence on the impact of the negative (sin) but not the positive (righteousness).  How can this be so?  This is only true if righteousness is something from outside of us, for if it something within us, then we can influence it just as we can with sin.

  • “Its passions” refers to what?


  • What does this reveal about what is within us, even if we don’t feed “it passions”?


Read Romans 6:14

  • Why will sin not rule over the Christian?


“grace”: Greek charis, a gift.  The favor, grace, God bestows on someone is a gift.

Paul started Romans 6:1 dealing with the false notion that being “under grace” encouraged someone to sin.  Now, he states that being under grace is the reason why sin will not rule.  What seemed to be the problem has become the solution.

Paul does do a bit of a twist.  For he is not saying that you won’t sin anymore, but that sin no longer rules you, has dominion over you.  Why?  The Law no longer condemns you, for you are under grace.

The Jewish Christians had turned the Torah, the Mosaic Law, into a standard of works righteousness for the Christian.  So, either way, the Law does not condemn.

  • Concerning the Torah, a Christian does not need to be circumcised, for baptism (which is God’s work, not the person’s) supersedes circumcision.
  • Concerning the works righteousness connected to observing the Law, that Law has no power to condemn the Christian either. For the Christian is under grace, which is all gift, charis, not based on what he does.


Click here to go to the next Lesson.