Romans 6:1-23 is dealing with the truth that believers are dead to sin and alive to God showing that their justification through faith in Christ always leads to sanctification through faith in Christ.
True and biblical justification never fails to issue in true and biblical sanctification. This means that there will be a noticeable change in the life of the truly justified person. He or she will become a brand new creature obeying the Lord out of love because of what He has done for him or her. This is why we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” It is based on our justification that we will begin to have victory over sin and grow in sanctification.
In our studies of Romans 6 we have been looking at the truth of how we can achieve victory over sin. The first instruction for attaining victory over sin is “know” (Romans 6:1-10) – this involves the mind. We are to know that we are dead to sin (Romans 6:1-7). Christian living is based on Christian learning; Christian devotion is based on Christian doctrine; Christian behavior is based on Christian belief. We must know if we are going to believe – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
We are to know that we are alive to God (Romans 6:8-10). Knowing that Christ’s death and burial was a substitute for our sins we also know that His resurrection was necessary and also was on our behalf. This means that we should love and serve Him and no longer live for ourselves but for Him who loved us and gave Himself up for us. This means with Jesus as our Lord that we are dead to sin and alive to God.
But not only are we to know that we are dead to sin and alive to God, the second instruction for attaining victory over sin is believe (Romans 6:11) – this involves the heart. We must also believe what we have heard (Romans 6:11). It isn’t enough to hear it we must also believe it and if we believe it we are going to live it. That is why Christian behavior is based on Christian belief.
Now we come to where the rubber meets the road. Here is where we learn how to behave because of what we believe. This is where we become doers of the Word and not just hearers who deceive themselves.
The third instruction for attaining victory over sin is present/yield (Romans 6:12-23) – this involves the will.
The word present/yield is found five times in this section (Romans 6:13 – twice, Romans 6:16 – once, Romans 6:19 – twice) and means “to place at one’s disposal, to present, to offer as a sacrifice.” If we will present or yield our bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice for His glory then we will attain victory over sin (Romans 12:1-2). We are to give ourselves to the Lord (present/yield) and live for the Lord.
How we are to present/yield ourselves (Romans 6:12-13).
This is an act of the will based on the knowledge we have of what Christ has done for us. It is an intelligent act and not an impulsive decision based on some emotional stirring. In other words we understand or know the truth that we have died to sin and are alive to God through our identification with Christ as pictured in baptism (Romans 6:1-10) and we believe and consider that we are dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11). Based on this we present or yield ourselves to God as those alive from the dead (Romans 6:12-13). We are His. We have been bought with a price. We are not our own and do not want to be our own. We give ourselves to God.
We need to consider the tenses of the verbs used in these two verses. A literal translation is: “Do not constantly allow sin to reign in your mortal body so that you are constantly obeying its lusts. Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons [or tools] of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all present/yield/surrender yourselves to God” (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Romans 6). Our once and for all surrender to God is based on His mercy and love toward us and is described in Romans 12:1.
There must be in the life of the believer that once and for all surrender of the body to Jesus Christ. In other words we must make application with the implications of the gospel – we must surrender ourselves totally to the Lordship of Jesus. We do this willingly because of the beauty of Christ as seen in the gospel. We understand that we have been bought by the King who loved us and gave Himself up for us so we willingly become His slave, His servant because we now love Him for what He has done for us. We surrender all to Him. We sing of this once and for all surrender in the hymn Living for Jesus (348). The chorus goes like this – “O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee; for thou in thine atonement, didst give thyself for me; I own no other Master, My heart shall be thy throne; my life I give hence-forth to live, O Christ, for thee alone.”
This does not mean that there will be no other steps of surrender, because there will be. We lived all our lives up to the point of salvation under sin’s dominion and self-rule. We practiced sin and became very good at it. As a matter of truth, sinning was not our second nature – it was our nature. And now, having once and for all yielded or presented ourselves to God through faith in Christ we must daily submit ourselves to Him rather than to sin. We must learn to live by our second nature (new nature) and not our first nature (old nature).
Ours is a journey of faith where we die daily, trust Christ and do His will and not our own. We should be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). However, we cannot have any further steps of obedience to Christ as Lord without the first step of once and for all yielding or presenting our bodies to Him as His servants. And remember – we give ourselves to Him because He gave Himself for us!
Without understanding the gospel with the mind, believing it with our hearts, and from that willingly yielding our bodies to Jesus once and for all exclusively for His use we will not have victory over sin. Actually the person who has never once and for all yielded to Jesus as Lord has misunderstood the gospel, misbelieved the gospel, misapplied the gospel, and has not been saved by the gospel. Why? Because there has not been a willing transferal of ownership and loving loyalty to Jesus as Lord based the truth of the gospel. This means that there is no growth in victory over sin because there has been no justification which always issues in Jesus being our Lord which always issues in sanctification – “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
We must know and understand that the gospel is not, “Invite Jesus into your life!” Nowhere in the Bible will you be able to find that phrasing or thought. We do however find the truth that Jesus is to be our life in the Bible – “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). When we yield to Jesus as Lord we are not inviting Him into our lives – we are dying to our lives and He is becoming our life. This means that we are no longer lord of our lives but He is! This means that we are no longer governor of our lives but He is! This means that we are not our own for we have been bought with a price; therefore we are to glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The gospel is that Jesus invites us into His death so that as He was raised from the dead He can become our lives and raise us up to walk in newness of life under His loving Lordship. He is Lord and He deserves our loyalty.
The gospel rightly understood and rightly believed will issue in the gospel being rightly applied, which means that we will willingly submit to Jesus as Lord. How do we yield or present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead? By willingly presenting our bodies to Jesus as Lord for His use and His glory!
“Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding allegiance glad-hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me. O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee; for thou in thine atonement didst give thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be they throne; my life I give hence-forth to live, O Christ, for thee alone” (Baptist Hymnal, Living for Jesus, 1975 edition, 348).