Romans 6:14
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
6:11-15 The strongest motives against sin, and to enforce holiness, are here stated. Being made free from the reign of sin, alive unto God, and having the prospect of eternal life, it becomes believers to be greatly concerned to advance thereto. But, as unholy lusts are not quite rooted out in this life, it must be the care of the Christian to resist their motions, earnestly striving, that, through Divine grace, they may not prevail in this mortal state. Let the thought that this state will soon be at an end, encourage the true Christian, as to the motions of lusts, which so often perplex and distress him. Let us present all our powers to God, as weapons or tools ready for the warfare, and work of righteousness, in his service. There is strength in the covenant of grace for us. Sin shall not have dominion. God's promises to us are more powerful and effectual for mortifying sin, than our promises to God. Sin may struggle in a real believer, and create him a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex him, but it shall not rule over him. Shall any take occasion from this encouraging doctrine to allow themselves in the practice of any sin? Far be such abominable thoughts, so contrary to the perfections of God, and the design of his gospel, so opposed to being under grace. What can be a stronger motive against sin than the love of Christ? Shall we sin against so much goodness, and such love?For sin ... - The propensity or inclination to sin.

Shall not have dominion - Shall not reign, Romans 5:12; Romans 6:6. This implies that sin ought not to have this dominion; and it also expresses the conviction of the apostle that it would not have this rule over Christians.

For we are not under law - We who are Christians are not subject to that law where sin is excited, and where it rages unsubdued. But it may be asked here, What is meant by this declaration? Does it mean that Christians are absolved from all the obligations of the law? Ianswer,

(1) The apostle does not affirm that Christians are not bound to obey the moral law. The whole scope of his reasoning shows that he maintains that they are. The whole structure of Christianity supposes the same thing; compare Matthew 5:17-19.

(2) the apostle means to say that Christians are not under the law as legalists, or as attempting to be justified by it. They seek a different plan of justification altogether: and they do not attempt to be justified by their own obedience. The Jews did; they do not.

(3) it is implied here that the effect of an attempt to be justified by the Law was not to subdue sins, but to excite them and to lead to indulgence in them.

Justification by works would destroy no sin, would check no evil propensity, but would leave a man to all the ravages and riotings of unsubdued passion. If, therefore, the apostle had maintained that people were justified by works, he could not have consistently exhorted them to abandon their sins. He would have had no powerful motives by which to urge it; for the scheme would not lead to it. But he here says that the Christian was seeking justification on a plan which contemplated and which accomplished the destruction of sin; and he therefore infers that sin should not have dominion over them.

But under grace - Under a scheme of mercy, the design and tendency of which is to subdue sin, and destroy it. In what way the system of grace removes and destroys sin, the apostle states in the following verses.

14. For Sin shall not have dominion over you—as the slaves of a tyrant lord.

for ye are not under the law, but under grace—The force of this glorious assurance can only be felt by observing the grounds on which it rests. To be "under the law" is, first, to be under its claim to entire obedience; and so, next under its curse for the breach of these. And as all power to obey can reach the sinner only through Grace, of which the law knows nothing, it follows that to be "under the law" is, finally, to be shut up under an inability to keep it, and consequently to be the helpless slave of sin. On the other hand, to be "under grace," is to be under the glorious canopy and saving effects of that "grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (see on [2205]Ro 5:20, 21). The curse of the law has been completely lifted from off them; they are made "the righteousness of God in Him"; and they are "alive unto God through Jesus Christ." So that, as when they were "under the law," Sin could not but have dominion over them, so now that they are "under grace," Sin cannot but be subdued under them. If before, Sin resistlessly triumphed, Grace will now be more than conqueror.

In the Romans 6:12 it was an exhortation, but in this it is a promise, that sin shall not reign in and over us. Rebel it may, but reign it shall not in the regenerate. It hath lost its absolule and uncontrolled power. It fares with sin in such as with those beasts in Daniel 7:12, who, though their lives were prolonged for a season, had their dominion taken away. It is an encouragement to fight, when we are sure of victory.

For ye are not under the law, but under grace: he adds this as a reason of that he had asserted and promised: you are not under a legal, but gospel dispensation; so some expound the words; grace is often put for the gospel: or, you are not under the old but the new covenant.

The law and grace thus differ; the one condemns the sinner, the other absolves him; the one requires perfect, the other accepts sincere, obedience; the one prescribes what we must do, the other assists us in the doing of our duty. This last seems to be the genuine sense: q.d. You may be sure sin shall have no dominion over you; for you are not under the law, which forbids sin, but gives no power against it, or which requires obedience, and gives no strength to perform it (like the Egyptian taskmasters, who required bricks but gave no straw); but under the gospel or covenant of grace, where sin is not only forbidden, but the sinner is enabled to resist and overcome it.

Question. But what shall be said of the godly in the times of the law; were not they under grace?

Answer. They were, Acts 15:11 Hebrews 4:2; but not in the same degree. The godly had help and assistance under the law, but they had it not by the law. How believers are said not to be under the law: see Romans 7:4. For sin shall not have dominion over you,.... It has dominion over God's people in a state of unregeneracy: and after conversion it is still in them, and has great power oftentimes to hinder that which is good, and to effect that which is evil; it entices and ensnares, and brings into captivity, and seems as though it would regain its dominion, and reign again, but it shall not. This is not a precept, exhortation, or admonition, as before, though some read it as such, "let not sin have dominion over you"; nor does it express merely what ought not to be, but what cannot, and shall not be; it is an absolute promise, that sin shall not have the dominion over believers; and respects not acts of sin, but the principle of sin; and means not its damning power, though that is took away, but its tyrannical, governing power: "it shall not lord it over you", as the words may be rendered; for in regeneration, sin is dethroned; Christ enters as Lord, and continues to be so; saints are in another kingdom, the kingdom of Christ and grace; could sin reign again over them, they might be lost and perish, which they never can: now this is a noble argument why saints should use their members as weapons of righteousness for God and against sin; since they are sure of being conquerors, and are secure from the tyrannical government of sin over them. The Jewish doctors say (x), there are three persons, , "over whom the evil imagination", or "sin, had not the dominion"; and these are they, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but these are not the only persons, for all Abraham's spiritual seed, all that are of the faith of Abraham, enjoy the same favour: the reason of this is,

for ye are not under the law; by which is meant, not the law of nature; nor the civil law of the Jews; nor their ceremonial law; but either the law of sin, as a governing principle; or rather the moral law: this they were under, so as to obey it, but not in order to obtain righteousness by it; or as forced to obey it by its threats and terrors; they were not under its rigorous exaction; nor under its curse and condemnation; nor as irritating sin, and causing it to abound; or as a covenant of works:

but under grace; under the covenant of grace, and in the enjoyment of the blessings of it; under the Gospel, and the dispensation of it, which leads and teaches men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; under and in the possession of the grace of justification and pardon, which strongly influence to righteousness and holiness; and under regenerating and sanctifying grace as a reigning governing principle in the soul. The apostle's view in this is, to affect the saints with their present privilege, and to engage them in a cheerful conflict with sin, and to stir up in them an abhorrence of living in it.

(x) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 17. 1.

{7} For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

(7) He grants that sin is not yet so dead in us that it is utterly extinct: but he promises victory to those that contend bravely, because we have the grace of God given to us which works so that the law is not now in us the power and instrument of sin.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 6:14. Not the ground and warrant for the exhortation (Hofmann), in which case the thought is introduced, that obedience is dependent on the readers; but an encouragement to do what is demanded in Romans 6:12-13, through the assurance that therein sin shall not become lord over them, since they are not in fact under the law, but under grace. Comp the similar encouragement in Php 2:13. In this assurance lies a “dulcissima consolatio,” Melancthon, comp Calvin. They have not to dread the danger of failure. Understood as an expression of good confidence, that they would not allow sin to become lord over them (Fritzsche), the sentence would lack an element assigning an objective reason, to which nevertheless the second half points. Heumann, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, and Umbreit take the future imperatively, which is erroneous for the simple reason that it is not in the second person (Bernhardy, p. 378).

οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑπὸ νόμον (Galatians 4:21), ἀλλʼ ὑπὸ χάριν: For not the law, but divine grace (revealed in Christ) is the power under which you are placed. This contrast, according to which the norm-giving position of the law is excluded from the Christian state (it is not merely the superfluousness of the law that is announced, as Th. Schott thinks), is the justification of the encouraging assurance previously given. Had they been under the law, Paul would not have been able to give it, because the merely commanding law is the δύναμις τῆς ἁμαρτίας (1 Corinthians 15:56), and accumulates sins (v. 20), in which reference he intends to discuss the matter still further in ch. 7. But they stand under a quite different power, under grace; and this relation of dependence is quite calculated to bring to the justified that consecration of moral strength, which they require against sin and for the divine life (Romans 5:21; Romans 6:1 ff.). “Gratia non solum peccata diluit, sed ut non peccemus facit,” Augustine.Romans 6:14. They can obey these exhortations, for sin will not be their tyrant now, since they are not under law, but under grace. It is not restraint, but inspiration, which liberate from sin: not Mount Sinai but Mount Calvary which makes saints. But this very way of putting the truth (which will be expanded in chaps. 7 and 8) seems to raise the old difficulty of Romans 3:8, Romans 6:1 again. The Apostle states it himself, and proceeds to a final refutation of it.14. For sin, &c.] It is not quite clear whether this verse closes or opens a paragraph. Meyer takes it as opening the new section of argument. But it is quite in place as closing the previous one, while yet pointing forward also. On this view, St Paul makes the statement on purpose to animate the disciple to that exercise of will which yields his whole being to God. He is reminded of the reality of Justification, with its results of strength-giving peace and joy.

shall not have dominion] i.e. in the way of claim and doom. Same word as Romans 6:9, where see note. The future means that this freedom from condemnation shall be mercifully continued to them in their conflict; they “shall not come into condemnation.” This truth was to be their invigoration.

for] This clause fixes the reference of the last to justification, when read with the commentary on “law” and “grace” supplied by ch. 4.

under the law] Lit. under law; and so best here. Law in its widest reference is meant; a code of precepts, to be fulfilled as the preliminary to acceptance.—The Gr. suggests the paraphrase, “Ye are now placed not under the law but under grace;” with the idea not of the mere position, but of the transferring process.Romans 6:14. Οὐ κυριεύσει, Shall not have dominion) Sin has neither the right nor the power; it will not force men to become slaves to it against their will.—ὑπὸ νόμον, under the law) Sin has dominion over him, who is under the law.Verse 14. - For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but under grace. As to the force of the future here, οὐ κυριεύσει, see what was said under ver. 5. Here also no more seems, at first sight, to be meant than that God, if we respond to his grace, will not let sin have dominion over us; we shall, in fact, if we are willing, be enabled to resist it. "Invitos nos non coget [peccatum] ad serviendum tibi" (Bengel). And the reason given is suitable to this meaning: "For ye are not under law" (which, while it makes sin sinful and exacts its full penalty, imparts no power to overcome it), "but under grace" (which does communicate such power). Thus understanding the verse, we see the distinction between βασιλευέτω in ver. 12 and κυριεύσει here. In ver. 12 we are exhorted not to let sin reign; we are to own no allegiance to it as a king whose rule we must obey. But it still will try to usurp lordship over us - in vain, however, if we resist the usurpation: οὑ κυριεύσει ἡμῶν. The sense thus given to the verse is what its own language and the previous context suggest. But ver. 15, which follows, suggests a different meaning. "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace?" Such a question could not arise on the statement of the preceding verse, if its meaning were understood to be that grace will enable us to avoid sin; it rather supposes the meaning that grace condones sin. Hence, in ver. 15 at least, a different aspect of the difference between being under law and being under grace seems evidently to come in; namely, this - that the principle of law is to exact complete obedience to its behests; but the principle of grace is to accept faith in lieu of complete obedience. If, then, ἁμαρτία ὑμῶν οὐ κυριεύσει in ver. 14 is to be understood in agreement with this idea, it must mean, "Sin, though it still infects you, shall not lord it over you so as to bring you into condemnation." Calvin has a good note on the verse. He allows the first of the expositions of it given above to be "una quae caeteris prohabilius sustineri queat." But he thinks that ver. 15, following, requires the other, and he concludes thus: "Vult enim nos consolari apostolus, ne animis fatiscamus in studio bene agendi, propterea quod multas imperfectiones adhuc in nobis sentiamus. Uteunque enim peccati aculeis vexemut, non petest tamen nos subigere, quia Spiritu Dei superiores reddimur: deinde in gratia constituti, sumus liberati a rigida Legis exactione." It may be that the apostle, when he wrote ver. 14, meant what the previous context suggests, but passed on in ver. 15 to the other idea in view of the way in which his words might be understood. In what follows next (vers. 15-23) is introduced the second illustration (see former note), drawn from the human relations between masters and slaves. It comes in by way of meeting the supposed abuse of the statement of ver. 14; but it serves as a further proof of the general position that is being upheld. The word κυριεύσει in ver. 14 suggests this particular illustration. We being under grace, it had been said, sin will not be our master, whence the inference was supposed to be drawn that we may sin with impunity, and without thereby subjecting ourselves to the mastery of sin. Nay, it is replied, but it will be our master, if in practice we consent to be its servants.
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