What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We 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. Romans 6:1-4
Romans 6 opens with a powerful and profound rhetorical question that flows out of the apostle’s exposition of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith set forth in the previous chapters (especially 3–5). Paul has argued that God justifies sinners freely by His grace apart from their obedience to the Law (3:24–28; 4; 5:1–11).
This is because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers, just as the guilt of Adam was imputed to all mankind (5:12–19). Paul’s exaltation of divine grace reaches its climax in 5:20: “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Anticipating the charge of antinomianism that will be raised in response to such a statement, chapter 6 opens with “what shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” The answer is an emphatic “by no means!” The reason for Paul’s emphatic tone is because those who possess faith in Jesus Christ have “died to sin.” In verses 3–4 Paul sets forth a foundational truth that he unpacks in the balance of the chapter. The basic point is that our faith brings us into union with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ — signified by baptism. Let us consider three connecting or overlapping truths about our baptism into Christ: our union with Christ, the effects of that union, and exhortations in light of the effects of our union.