Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary

Positional Sanctification
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (NKJV)






The Apostle Paul wrote the letter of Romans to the church in Rome. These are God’s words to the Christians there, both Jews and Gentiles.

Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, Greece during a three month visit to the church there in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.

In previous passages of this book, we looked at the act of Justification. Justification is the action of declaring someone righteous in the sight of God.

When we become a Christian, God’s righteousness is imputed upon us. We are declared righteous by God. We are justified.

We become “justified freely by His grace” (Romans 3:24). We receive justification by the Judge, Jesus Christ Himself, who will one day judge the world.

We cannot earn this justification. We are “justified through faith” in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, by his grace (Romans 5:1).

Jesus’ judgment is to drop all charges against us. We are found innocent, His blood shed on the cross has covered all of our sins. They are cast “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12).

The previous passage was a bridge passage between the previous topic of justification and the topic for chapters 6-8, sanctification. Sanctification can be defined as the process of being made holy.

Paul teaches sanctification as both positional and practical. Positional is our standing with God and practical is how we work out this standing in our lives.

In this commentary, we look at positional sanctification. In the next commentary we will look at practical sanctification.

The previous passage informed us that Grace reigns over sin. As sin increases, God’s grace increases even more.

So, Paul begins this passage with a rhetorical question “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (v. 1). In other words, after we become a Christian, since grace is so wonderful should we continue to sin in order to display God’s wonderful grace even more?

Paul’s answer is “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (v. 2). We cannot sin. We have become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our standing with God has changed. We are now under positional sanctification and are unable to live a lifestyle of sin.

Everyone who becomes a Christian was “baptized into Christ Jesus” and was also “baptized into His death?” (v. 3). When we become a Christian, we identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We do not have to be baptized in order to be a Christian. However, Jesus was baptized, he commanded us to be baptized (Mt. 28:19). and baptism is our public identification with Christ, that we have made the decision to become a Christian.

Here Paul seems to be saying that being baptized is just a natural part of becoming a Christian. After all, who would want to start out their Christian life by ignoring a commandment from Christ?

Baptism is pictured as a burial when Paul writes “we were buried with Him through baptism into death” (v. 4a). Biblical baptism consists of a “burial”, a full body immersion in water.

Then, just as we are raised out of the water, baptism is pictured as being “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (v. 4b). Walking “in newness of life” is a picture of being sanctified, being made holy, more Christlike, as we walk with God one day at a time.

So, when we are baptized and become a Christian, we become united with Christ. “If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (v. 5).

We are united with Christ through His death and resurrection. The baptism represents His death and resurrection.

“Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (v. 6). Our “old man” is Adam. Before we became a Christian we were represented by Adam, a slave to sin.

But “he who has died has been freed from sin.” (v. 7).  After we become a Christian, we are represented by the second Adam, Christ. We no longer are a slave to sin, we die to sin.

Positionally, our old sinful self has died. Dead people are not capable of sin. As Christians, positionally we are dead to sin.

So, “if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (v.8). We died to sin and live to holiness.

“Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” (v. 9). Just as death could not have dominion over Christ after He was resurrected, sin has no dominion over us after we become a Christian.

 “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (v. 10). On the cross, Christ finished the work of sin. Sin died and Christ was risen to “live to God” a new life as the Resurrected Christ.

In conclusion, Paul teaches that our standing with God after becoming a Christian is one of holiness. We have died to sin and it no longer has a hold on our life.

We are now free to walk in the newness of life, a life of holiness. We call that positional sanctification.