Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.Romans 6:12-14
We hope you are enjoying your study of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. You can read the last part of our study here. We will link you to free eBooks from previous studies at the end of this article.
We continue our study of Romans 6 beginning in verse 12.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts
μη ουν βασιλευετω η αμαρτια εν τω θνητω υμων σωματι εις το υπακουειν αυτη εν ταις επιθυμιαις αυτου
μη ουν βασιλευετω η αμαρτια (mē oun basileuetō hē hamartia) “not therefore let reign sin” .. mē (not) is a negative adverb and joins with the present imperative verb basileuetō (reign, to be king) .. the construction means to “stop” something .. in this case, stop the reign of sin .. oun (therefore) looks back at the previous verses within the context (especially to 6:11) and states the logic of what Paul proposes in verse 12.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:11
εις το υπακουειν αυτη εν ταις επιθυμιαις αυτου (eis to en tō thnētō humōn sōmati) “in the mortal of you body” .. the present imperative to “stop” sin is in our “mortal body” .. thnētō humōn sōmati means “flesh” that is “subject to death” .. every part of our flesh (e.g. skin, bones, ligaments, brain, heart, lungs, etc) is mortal (subject to death) ..
The Apostle Paul addressed the idea of sin and death “reigning” within us earlier in his letter to the Romans –
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.Romans 5:12-14
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)Romans 5:17
Keep in mind what Paul wrote in the last verses of Chapter 5 –
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 5:20-21
We saw two types of “thrones” within us – sin and grace. Sin “reigns” in death, while grace “reigns” through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Which will “reign” in our mortal bodies? That is what Paul addressed in verse 12.
The antithesis implied is not between reigning and existing, but between reigning and being deposed.Word Studies In The New Testament, Marvin R. Vincent, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887
The sinful nature is a dethroned monarch. The believer has the responsibility of keeping it from mounting into the throne of his heart, the place which the Lord Jesus should occupy.Romans, Kenneth Wuest, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955
that you should obey it in its lusts
εις το υπακουειν αυτη εν ταις επιθυμιαις αυτου
εις το υπακουειν αυτη εν ταις επιθυμιαις αυτου (eis to hupakouein autē en tais epithumiais autou) “for the to obey the lusts of it” .. hupakouein means “to listen, attend to, obey under hearing, obey what is heard” .. epithumiais means “passionate desire, longing, lust” ..
We see the word first used in the New Testament by Jesus –
… and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:19
Jesus shared an important insight to the source of our lusts –
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.John 8:44
Paul also connected the “lusts of the flesh” to the domination of Satan in his letter to the Ephesians –
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.Ephesians 2:1-3
When Paul wrote the Romans to “not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts,” the apostle was pointing back to the Garden of Eden where the terrible reign of sin began. That’s why the “therefore” is there for. We must remember the immediate context because it is the key to living out the Christian life in our mortal bodies.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11
Sin is personified as a sovereign ruler who would make us obey the cravings of our bodies that are destined for death. But in Christ we have died to sin. Sin no longer has the authority to enforce its demands. Death has severed the relationship.Robert H. Mounce, New American Commentary Vol 27: Romans, B&H Publishing Group, 2012
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
μηδε παριστανετε τα μελη υμων οπλα αδικιας τη αμαρτια αλλα παραστησατε εαυτους τω θεω ὡσεὶ εκ νεκρων ζωντας και τα μελη υμων οπλα δικαιοσυνης τω θεω
μηδε παριστανετε τα μελη υμων οπλα αδικιας τη αμαρτια (mēde paristanete ta melē humōn hopla adikias tē hamartia) “neither yield the members of you as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” .. mēde paristanete means “neither present, place beside” .. paristanete is present active imperative and is the idea of placing something at someone’s disposal habitually, putting at the service of someone .. melē means “part belonging to the whole, member of” .. hopla means “tool, implement, implement of war, weapon” .. adikias means “injustice, unrighteousness” .. hamartia means “missing the mark, failure, sin” ..
This is Paul’s second imperative. First, he wrote “do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” Next, he wrote “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin.” These both work together. Christians should not allow sin to exercise kingly power (reign) in their mortal body and they should not place members of their body at the service of unrighteousness to fail by missing the mark (sin). These “members” would include the will as well as emotion that leads someone to “present” their “members” as “weapons.”
What then should Christians do with members of their mortal bodies?
αλλα παραστησατε εαυτους τω θεω (alla parastēsate heautous tō Theō) “but present yourselves to God” .. alla means “but” and is a strong contrast with the mēde (neither) .. notice that the word parastēsate is used a second time in this verse, however, the tense is different .. the first use of the word was present active imperative which was the idea of habitual action .. stop being in the habit of presenting your members .. the second usage is aorist active imperative .. the idea is to do something now and completely .. the first time was a negative action (“do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin”) .. the second time is a positive action (“present yourselves to God”) once and for all .. “Put yourselves at once, and once for all, at the disposal of God” (Wuest) .. decide that God is King of your life and act accordingly .. present the members of your body to His service and His service alone ..
ὡσεὶ εκ νεκρων ζωντας (hōsei ek nekrōn zōntas) “as out from the dead living” .. hōsei means “out from and to” in the sense of from the interior to the exterior .. it has the idea of exiting from some place .. nekrōn means “the dead, a corpse, that which is subject to death” .. zōntas means “to live” .. Paul emphasized the amazing change that had occurred in the lives of God’s people .. they were dead, but are now alive .. that should elicit a positive reaction from us ..
Christians should present themselves to God once and for all as those who have exited from “the dead to live.” As Paul wrote the Ephesians – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). And the Colossians – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). That’s why Paul wrote just a couple of verses earlier – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). We were spiritually dead, but because of what Jesus accomplished in His death and resurrection we are now spiritually alive. That fact alone should cause us to “present” ourselves to God once and for all.
και τα μελη υμων οπλα δικαιοσυνης τω θεω (kai ta melē humōn hopla dikaiosunēs tō Theō) “and the members of you as weapons of righteousness to God” .. dikaiosunēs means “justice, righteousness” ..
The members of our body are weapons. That includes our brain, our heart, our hands, our feet, our eyes, our ears, our tongue – to name several. How Christians use their bodies as weapons is a choice each of us has to make on a daily basis. We can present the members of our body instruments of unrighteousness to sin or instruments of righteousness to God. Which seems more reasonable based on what God has done for us?
Paul spelled out in practical terms what it means to transfer our obedience from sin to God. We are no longer to place any part of our bodies at the disposal of sin to be used as an instrument of unrighteousness.Robert H. Mounce, 2012, New American Commentary Vol 27: Romans. B&H Publishing Group
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
αμαρτια γαρ υμων ου κυριευσει ου γαρ εστε υπο νομον ἀλλὰ υπο χαριν
αμαρτια γαρ υμων ου κυριευσει (hamartia gar humōn ou kurieusei) “sin for you not will rule over” .. kurieusei means “to be lord of, have authority, rule, have dominion over” .. it is the type of rule or authority that an owner would express about something that belonged to them .. another literal rendering is “shall not lord it over” ..
ου γαρ εστε υπο νομον ἀλλὰ υπο χαριν (ou gar este hupo nomon alla hupo charin) “not for you are under the law but under grace” .. hupo is often used with the idea of being under the authority of someone or something ..
This is one of my favorite verses in Romans. It states in one brilliant sentence what Paul has been explaining from the previous chapters. Christians are NOT under the authority of the LAW but under the authority of GRACE. That’s what sets us apart from other people – Jew and Gentile. Not that we’re better than other people, but that we have a saving relationship with God. Every person in the world is under the authority of the Law until they believe the Gospel, which is the power of God to salvation – “for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Here are some other translations of Romans 6:14 –
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.ESV
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace.NASB
For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].AMP
… for (then) the sinful nature will not exercise lordship over you, for you are not under law but under grace.WET
The way Paul addressed this issue demonstrates that while sin still wields some power in a Christian’s life, it is not our ultimate authority. That authority is the grace of God. Christians, unlike unsaved people, can choose to live in a way where sin does not rule over them. That was Paul’s call to Christians in Rome and it is God’s call to us today. We are called to live differently than people who have not been saved.
Christians can choose to NOT let sin reign in their mortal bodies to obey the lusts of the flesh. Christians can choose NOT to present members of their bodies as instruments of unrighteousness to sin. Christians can choose to present themselves to God as being alive from the dead and members of their bodies as instruments (weapons) of righteousness to God. Sin no longer has dominion over Christians. Why? Because we are NOT under the authority of the law. We are under the authority of the amazing grace of Almighty God!
Believers no longer live under the condemnation of the law but with the realization that God by his grace has placed them in a totally new relationship to himself.Robert H. Mounce (2012) New American Commentary Vol 27: Romans. B&H Publishing Group
The strongest motives against sin, and to enforce holiness, are here stated. Being made free from the reign of sin, alive unto God, and having the prospect of eternal life, it becomes believers to be greatly concerned to advance thereto. But, as unholy lusts are not quite rooted out in this life, it must be the care of the Christian to resist their motions, earnestly striving, that, through Divine grace, they may not prevail in this mortal state. Let the thought that this state will soon be at an end, encourage the true Christian, as to the motions of lusts, which so often perplex and distress him. Let us present all our powers to God, as weapons or tools ready for the warfare, and work of righteousness, in his service. There is strength in the covenant of grace for us. Sin shall not have dominion. God’s promises to us are more powerful and effectual for mortifying sin, than our promises to God. Sin may struggle in a real believer, and create him a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex him, but it shall not rule over him. Shall any take occasion from this encouraging doctrine to allow themselves in the practice of any sin? Far be such abominable thoughts, so contrary to the perfections of God, and the design of his gospel, so opposed to being under grace. What can be a stronger motive against sin than the love of Christ? Shall we sin against so much goodness, and such love?Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
… for ye are not under the law, but under grace—The force of this glorious assurance can only be felt by observing the grounds on which it rests. To be ‘under the law’ is, first, to be under its claim to entire obedience; and so, next under its curse for the breach of these. And as all power to obey can reach the sinner only through Grace, of which the law knows nothing, it follows that to be ‘under the law’ is, finally, to be shut up under an inability to keep it, and consequently to be the helpless slave of sin. On the other hand, to be ‘under grace,’ is to be under the glorious canopy and saving effects of that ‘grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (see on Ro 5:20, 21). The curse of the law has been completely lifted from off them; they are made ‘the righteousness of God in Him’; and they are ‘alive unto God through Jesus Christ.’ So that, as when they were ‘under the law,’ Sin could not but have dominion over them, so now that they are ‘under grace,’ Sin cannot but be subdued under them. If before, Sin resistlessly triumphed, Grace will now be more than conqueror.Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
We will look at Romans 6:15-17 as we continue our study of the Gospel of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.