Justification, the basic blessing for every sinner who places his trust in Christ, implies union with the Savior, a union with him not only in his death but also in his resurrection. “For if we have become united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like this.” Now being partakers of Christ’s resurrection implies holiness, for it was the risen and exalted Christ who poured out upon the church his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of sanctification.
This means, of course, that those people who tried to use the doctrine of justification by faith as an excuse for leading a sinful life were dangerous heretics. Their slogan, “Let us go on sinning in order that grace may increase,” was an inexcusable and horrible distortion of the doctrine proclaimed by Paul. Therefore he exhorts the members of the Roman church as follows, “Do not allow sin to reign in your mortal bodies … but offer yourselves to God, as those who were brought from death to life, and offer your bodily parts to him, as weapons of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be lord over you, because you are no longer under law but under grace” (verses 1-14).
The sinister character of the antinomian heresy fills the soul of the apostle with such horror that for the moment he does not stop to give a further explanation of the statement, “You are no longer under sin but under grace.” He will, however, return to that subject a little later. See 7:1 f.; 8:1 f. For the present he continues to combat the soul-destroying heresy to which reference was made. He now points out that not only the sinful life should be avoided but so should even yielding to individual sins, for they have a tendency to make slaves out of those who fail to combat them. If allowed to gain the mastery over a person, they will lead him on to death. Paul is happy to be able to state, however, that those whom he addresses have abandoned their slavery to sin. They have exchanged death for life everlasting. He closes this chapter by saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 15-23).