5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. – Romans 6:5-7
How is the body of sin “brought to nothing”? How can we be free from the effects of sin? Well, sin and death can only reign in our mortal bodies:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned- – Romans 5:12
so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21
It is really hard to get our head around this issue. Although we are alive on this earth, living in our bodies that are made of flesh and bone, the word of God says we are dead in our sins. But when we repent and accept that Jesus is Lord of Lord’s, the Holy Spirit comes in to our body and lives in us:
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. – Romans 8:10
The Holy Spirit gives us life and is a guarantee of our eternal salvation:
and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. – 2 Corinthians 1:22
However, we are still living in our mortal bodies and they are still subject to sin. We still have the desire to sin and rebel. We still choose to go our own way. The difference for a Christian is that our “old self”, sometimes called “the flesh” has been crucified with Christ. When Christ died it was as if we were in Him. And here Paul gives us the promise that we will be resurrected as He was. We have died to sin and are alive to Christ:
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- – Ephesians 2:5
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, – 1 Peter 3:18
This spiritual reality is stronger and more real than the mortal reality we currently experience. We are dead to sin. We are freed from the control of sin, no longer enslaved. We are free to follow Jesus and obey the word of God. That is true freedom. God does not enslave us. We are free to chose to be obedient. Whereas sin does enslave us, making us captive to our selfish desires. Christ makes us free to be able to walk with Him, no longer enslaved:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16
In the rest of this chapter Paul will give more examples of how this spiritual reality works, being dead to sin and alive to Christ.