I. Declaration (vs.1-2) – We are dead to sin (sin as a nature)
II. Description (vs.3-10) – How it is that we are dead to sin (standing)
III. Application (vs.11-23) – How this truth is to be lived out in daily life (state)
There are three key words in this chapter: "know" (v.3, 6, 9), "reckon" (v.11), and "yield" (v.13, 16, 19). I believe v.17 is a key verse on how to live the Christian life. God seeks to transform us from the inside out (Rom. 12:2).
Doctrine > Know > Spirit > Head (vs.1-10)
Heart > Reckon > Soul > Heart (vs.11)
Obey > Yield > Body > Hand (vs.12-23)
• Declaration (vs.1-2)
Paul anticipates and answers the wrong response to what he just stated (5:20-21). He knew that the natural mind that cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God would reason, “If grace is reigning in this age of grace, and the more I sin, the more grace God bestows, why not just continue in sin?” That is not the mindset of a true child of God that believes with all his heart that Christ shed His blood and died to take away his sins. Paul was slanderously reported as preaching grace as a license to sin (3:8). Those that stand for and preach the gospel of the grace of God should expect the same slander from religious people who vainly think that it’s the law that gives people victory over sin (6:14-15). Israel lived under the law for 1,500 years and was constantly backsliding from God! The law is righteous but it was given to show that we are unrighteous. It cannot make us righteous. Salvation by grace is not salvation TO sin but FROM sin (free from sin - 6:7, 18, 22).
• Description (vs.3-10)
Many think they must be emotionally stirred by preaching every Sunday if they are going live for God but at the root of our practical failures in the Christian life is our ignorance of the truth of God’s word, especially concerning our standing in Christ. We don’t know about this standing through our feelings or experiences. Do you feel dead to sin? But God said that we are! We must study the word of God daily if we are going to be spiritually strong. Sound doctrine is foundational to spiritual growth. We can’t believe and obey what we do not KNOW. We must know that upon salvation we were baptized by the Spirit into Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) and are therefore identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection (in Ephesians we learn that we are also ascended and seated with Him in heavenly places). We don't have to try and get victory over the flesh because Christ already accomplished it for us and we are complete in Him (Col. 2:10)! By the way, the spiritual baptism that Paul talks about in his epistles is NOT the same thing as the baptism "WITH the Holy Ghost" that was prophesied to Israel and was always accompanied by signs and wonders. There is a difference between Christ baptizing His disciples with the Holy Ghost for power and the Spirit baptizing us into Christ for salvation.
• Application (vs.11-23)
We must reckon (count it so) in our heart the doctrine that we know and then yield ourselves in obedience to the Spirit (Gal. 5:25; Rom. 12:1-2). Just like we chose to obey the lusts of the flesh we can now choose to obey the leading of the Spirit. Trust and obey!