Freedom to say NO!

Romans 6:1-14 (ESV)

“1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We 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. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”


Romans 6 starts with “What shall we say, then?” it is rather unusual that this chapter starts with a rhetorical question. As we learn from the book of Romans, we know that Paul’s letters to the church are equivalent with FAQs in our modern society. Paul skilfully included all potential questions about Salvation, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification from his audience with his comprehensive answers.

In Chapter 5, Paul provides an explanation of the Justification from God through Christ. Therefore, Paul explains from the start of Chapter 5 that:

  • Some people may want to die for a good person, but Christ laid His life for us when we were sinners.
  • Sin was amongst the us since the fall of Adam, we live with the consequences and we know it. Because the law is first written in our conscience before it was handed to Moses. The written law on the tablets was to make it obvious without any shred of doubt about the consequences of sins.
  • But when the Law was given then obviously the number of people being charged increased significantly but, where sin increased, grace increased all the more.

Apparently, some Christians from the church in Corinth took the verse and applied it to support their sexual immorality conduct (I Cor 5:1-13). They believed that the more you commit sins the more you will receive grace from God. Unfortunately, not only did the church in Corinth have the same issue, but this also happened in Rome and this was one of the reasons Paul wrote the letters to the church in Rome while he was in Corinth.

So, what has happened in the church in Rome? There was a conflict between two groups of Christians in Rome.

  • First group represents the Jewish who put Moses’ law above all and believed that salvation was brought about not only through Christ but also by obeying the law diligently. God is holy, therefore we should be holy too
  • Second group represents the Gentiles (Greek) who believed God is love because regardless of who they are, they have been saved through the work of Christ on the cross. It is all about love so don’t worry too much about your actions, God is full of forgiveness and love.

Reading Romans 6:1-14 we straightaway are provided with lots of messages about baptism, death, burial, raised, dead to sin, etc. these are really hard to miss. If we think the passage is only about Paul suggesting us to be baptized because it is one of a Christian’s must do or a box to tick, then we are completely missing the mark. Paul wrote this passage to provide a good rebuttal of Romans 5:20The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase but where sin increased, grace increased all the more” and how can we free from the dominion of sin.


My Journey to Freedom

If you have known me well enough for the last 3 years then, you probably have recognised that I lost a bit of weight. I have been the same weight perhaps for the last 2 years and still some people at church say, “oh, you look skinnier now, did you lose weight?” As a courtesy, I will smile and say, “yes, it has been like this for 2 years”.

So, today I am going to settle the account. I want to tell people about my diet and how to achieve this summer body figure. To summarise, there are three things that we need to understand and acknowledge before we can commit to our diet:

  1. Truly understand the implication of your unhealthy lifestyle to your wellbeing, your life and your future

Point 1

I have been struggling with my weight for quite some time and the implication was my health. I always so afraid to do a yearly blood test even though I know it is critical. Why? Because I know definitely I will receive a call from the Dr’s office the next day to come to talk about the blood test result. It is never a good thing when the doctor’s office calls you as soon as you are done with your blood test.

I still struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. My weight is up and down. Until one day, the doctor gave me the ultimatum that I need to take a high blood pressure tablet or lose 5 kilos. I still remember clearly that I made a commitment that I want to live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle and play with my grandkids, take them to school, etc. I lost 10 Kilos in 9 months.

My point is: “until the risks and implications of your bad lifestyle sink into your mind and heart then you will struggle to commit.

Point 2

Everyone probably can tell straightaway that the benefits and result would be:

  • Good for the environment – Recycle – less spending because now fit into your jeans from 5 years ago
  • Feeling positive and good about yourself; increase in confidence, social activities, etc.
  • Not getting a call from the doctor’s office the next day after the blood test
  • Having a good exercise and healthy eating habits
  • Having a good self-control of what, when and how much you can eat and exercise

But why the consequences?

  • Now more than ever you have to say “NO” to all the temptations:
    • NO to KFC, Dominos, Pizza Huts, Indomie, Korean Noodles, BBQs
    • NO to excessive chocolates, muffins, croissants, brownies, ice cream, desserts
    • NO to allow ourselves into the temptation. Never tempt yourself and never think that you can handle the temptation.
  • Left behind all the “Good Things” and replaced them with “New Things”. Human nature is always resistant to change, especially major changes that significantly impact your comfort zone
  • Build a new habit from scratch, change your schedule, change your friends, change your way of thinking, change your activities, etc.

This is the hardest part because your mind and body are used to all the “good things” before and it is not unusual that your mind will be against the new habits and look for any excuses to get away with it.

  • It is too cold, too dark, too early to exercise. I will do it later.
  • It is a cheat day, I can eat whatever I want. I have been working hard.
  • Don’t be too strict, we need to balance it out

Point 3

At this stage, you start to incorporate the good habits into your daily life and “maintain” it. The key word is “Maintain” but not because you “Can” but because you “Understand”. To maintain a good lifestyle is never easy as temptations will keep coming. Temptations are patient, persistent and they persevere. They work 24/7 and have no public holidays either. In fact, on public holidays they work the hardest because most likely you are also on holidays.

Just because you understand the reason, and are willing to change, have seen the result, the benefits, gone through the hard times, does not mean you are immune or can’t fall into the temptation in any given day. We definitely can fall into the temptation, but the difference now is, when we caved in we felt bad because it is not our habitat anymore. The enjoyment is short lived and replaced with regrets.

Up to this point, you will ask me, “What do these 3 points have to do with Romans 6:1-14?”

There are 3 points that Paul wanted us to learn:

Point 1 – Truly understand the implication of being slaves to sins, the outcomes and the future


Tim Keller summarised this beautifully:

The word “Slave” is a controversial term in our modern society and rightly so. However, the word “Slave” being used by Paul in this passage has a slightly different context to what we understand in modern times. In 1st century society, a slave was a person who owed a debt that he couldn’t pay back and had to offer himself as a slave to work until the debt was paid.

Paul says in verse 6-9 that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

What does that mean?

It is to do with 1st commandment under Moses’ Law – “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have other gods before me”. It is interesting that Paul in Romans 6:6-9 says that we should no longer be slaves to sin, meaning, at some stage in our life we were slaves to sin. In Romans 6:22-23 Paul again says that we have become slaves to God.

So technically, we only have 2 choices here; slaves to sin or God. There are no third choice that we can choose. Whether you are aware or not, everybody lives for something in their life. It is the main way you feel significant, valuable, appreciated or secure in your life. It can be anything from your career, family, wealth, position, approvals or acceptance from others, romance because you need to feel loved, etc.

The point is, you live for something whether you realise it or not. As Jesus says, “you can’t worship both God or Mammon”. Some of us in this place might think, I am not living for all these worldly things, I live for Christ. How do you know?

  • I pray, tithe, come to church, read my bible, have quiet time with God and I will say, the Pharisees did the same thing and Jesus didn’t like them.
  • Yes, I also follow all the commandments and have been living righteously since I was young – The wealthy young ruler in the Mat 19:16-30 did the same and he missed the Christ

There are quick tests that you can do to know if you are live for something or someone. I hope we can be honest with ourselves when we reflect on these questions.

  • Fear Test

Therefore, Paul in Romans 6:1-9 says, that if we are truly born again, believe in the work of Christ on the cross in redeeming our sins then we should not be slaves or offering ourselves to a different master. Why? Because, when we are baptized then our old self who have been slaves to sin has died together with Christ. When a person is dead then he/she can no longer commit sin. So, if we are still live in our sinful nature or habitat or as people in Corinth and Rome believe that they can still commit then:

  • We don’t truly understand the significant work of Christ on the cross, or
  • We have not been born again in the first place

Point 2 – Acknowledge and recognise the scope and extensiveness of the work of Christ on the cross

Martin Luther says, “The default of man’s heart is “Religion”. Therefore, even though you have been born again your heart will eventually go back to the default unless, you deliberately set it to Gospel mode.”

Our life goes on, so what happens next? This is the part where Paul extensively explains Baptism. Baptism is not something optional for Christians and needs to be taken seriously. It is also not simply a symbolic thing that we died and resurrected with Christ. It is more than that.

Romans 6:1-5

What does it mean by baptized & united into His death?

First of all, who are the baptised? Are they the apostles? The Pharisees? No, it is all the people who offer their life to Christ.

It is one thing to fall in love with a person and another thing to give or offer yourself to another person. There are commitments, loyalty, strife to do the best for that person, intimate relationship, forgiveness, etc. It is way stronger than just a normal relationship. Not only are we baptized but also united.


Not only Baptized but also United

The word “united” means being grafted into the root or inserted into the life of Christ. We have been united into Christ’s past and future. The “Past” talking about His death on the cross which has broken all the bondage, justified us from our sin and welcomed us back into the family but the “Future” is talking about Christ being raised and seated in the right hand of God. Paul used “certainly” as meaning definitely, as there is no ambiguity in the sentence that we will definitely part of Christ’s future.

So, what have we covered so far?

  • We know that we live for something in this world
  • We know that we should offer ourselves to sin but rather to God
  • We know that we are baptised and united with Him

Everything seems on track but do why we still struggle in our life?

The main problems are; we are human and live on earth. What does it mean? Remember I mentioned that this is the hardest part! This is the time we need to say NO to KFC!

Romans 6:10-12

What does it mean by “Consider” and “reign”

It is an active word meaning, an action that we should take before you make any decision. In my line of work, I use a lot of this word to:

  • Remind a person in case he/she may have missed something i.e. Have you consider about this process or the risk or the cost, etc
  • To make a better decision or judgement i.e. comparing all the pros and cons

What Paul wanted to learn in this passage is, given all the pros and cons that we have discussed so far, we need to consider every thought, decision, or deed before you execute it. Why? Because we are human, and the default is to do the wrong thing. Our flesh is weak!

We need constantly to remind ourselves of what Christ has done for us. It sounds boring but it is not, it is a live saver.

Paul continues to remind us on verse 12 not to let sin reign in your mortal body because you have been freed from the power of sin. This is another action that we need to consider in our daily life. It is an active decision that we need to make. “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace”. This is not only your get out of jail free card, but it is more than that, it is the Declaration of Independence. We are free and we should exercise our power to say No to sin.

Another point I would like to make here is, when we born again, God does not expect us to live sinless from day 1. Sanctification is a journey. If you somehow believe this was the expectation of God, then you have insulted God’s intelligent.

This unrealistic expectation plus the legalism has made a lot of Christians frustrated in their journey with God. Why? Because they are tired and feel ashamed every time they fall into sin regardless of how hard they try.

Henry M Morris says” Paul is not setting forth a doctrine of sinless perfection, but of freedom sin’s domination. The Christian may sin but sinning is out of character. It is a declension (moral deterioration) from his norm, not his habitual practice

Point 3 – Live daily with your new identity

We are living in a house which is around 60-70 years old. It is a good and nice house but as it starts to age, things start to deteriorate. I was scrubbing the bathroom wall and suddenly one of the tiles just fell off. Our toilet will start making noise when it rains. Anyway, it is time to move.

Let’s say, one day there is a person who lives with us and he starts to look at the things in the house and offers to fix it.

Of course, nothing is better than free labour, right! This person starts to fix the bathroom tiles, toilets, the backyard and then suddenly he starts to build the porch, the driveway, extend the building to create extra room, etc. We probably think this person will create another room for him to stay but the fact is that this person is building a completely new mansion so he can live with us.

That’s how Christ comes into our life. He starts slowly to build his home in our heart so he can live with us. As Christ builds our life, our life will be transformed into a completely new life, with a new heart and we should not be able to recognise our old self anymore. In my previous example, I can’t see my old house in the new mansion anymore.

Once we have our new identity, don’t try to go back and find our old self. Paul says in verse 13, the temptations will always be there but it is passive in nature until you take the first step and use the tools which is your body to commit sins. How do we maintain our focus?

Tim Keller says, “The gospel is therefore not just the ABCs of the Christian life but the A to Z of the Christian life.

Our problem is we think about the gospel in sequential ways. We thought that a Christian’s life is segregated in multiple phases that have no link to each other. For example; the Gospel is only needed when you accept Christ the first time then, you move to another phase which is baptism, discipleship, leaders, etc.

The Gospel will change you from inside out. It changes your paradigm, which is more powerful then self-motivation seminars.

For example;

People who are stingy:

  • Legalism will say you need to give otherwise you will not be blessed. You need to tithe otherwise you will not be protected by God’s hand.
  • Liberalism will say that you don’t have to give because God does not need your money and in fact He knows we need the money to support our life
  • Gospelism will reveal that Jesus has given everything He has and has withheld nothing including his life. He guarantees your future by uniting you with His resurrection. As a father, I would go hungry as long as my kids are full. If my kids know that then I am confident they will not hold back anything for me.

I am a living example of how Gospel has changed my life. I am not perfect and I have made mistakes. I don’t need to tell you my mistakes or sins because a lot of time, people are only interested in the sin and not the gospel. We give too much credit and airtime to sin rather than the Gospel.


Sin becomes less attractive as the day goes. I see the power of His cross in my life and my sincere prayer tonight is that, one day every single one of us will feel the same as I do.

On the other hand, do not underestimate the power of temptations. Been there and done that.

In my previous example, when you crave for some snacks, don’t walk to the pantry and have a look at what is inside. The same point with our spiritual life, don’t go back to your previous life and see if anything good is left in there.

“Feeling remorse and regret is just a part of the self-salvation project. Repentance must go deeper than just regret and remorse for individual sins. A born again Christian not only repents based on the list of mistakes they make but to the roots of their righteousness: “the sin of seeking to be our own saviour and lord.”

One important thing that I learn with the new lifestyle, I look for any opportunity to exercise, it is a conscious and active decision considering of all the bad things that I left behind and all the good things ahead of me.

Same thing with my life now, I find every single opportunity to preach gospel to myself. Yes, you hear right because I need this to help me move and stay on track.

Let me tell you why?

  • I was born as a sinner and I don’t have a say about it. I don’t have a choice.
  • I was slaved to sin in my early days and I don’t know what is right or wrong
  • I was condemned and doomed for eternal punishment and I don’t know what to change it or get out of it.
  • I was tempted in every aspect of my life and I have no strength to say No
  • I was alone and no one knows my struggle deep inside my heart

But Now!

  • He gives me a Way Out from the No Way Out!
  • He gives me Hope from the doom and gloom of eternal life
  • He gives me Choice when I don’t have one
  • He gives me Reason to wake up each day and why I am here
  • He gives me New Perspective to see through all challenges in this life
  • He gave the Freedom of sins and power to say No
  • He is Faithful and always with me even in my darkest time
  • He has done this to me before I even know Him
  • He has asked nothing in return apart from please follow Him

Why wouldn’t you? Why would not I give to find a time to remember His grace, goodness, and sacrifice.

You have nothing to lose and lots to gain.

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