Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
This verse is often “cherry-picked” without referring to the Greek or the context of the surrounding verses. Simply put, the mainstream Christian church claims that Paul is telling us here that the Law is done away with and we are no longer obliged to keep it because we are not “under law”.
The premise is that “under law” means “required to observe and keep the Law of Moses”.
Let’s see, Paul says in this verse “for sin has no dominion over you since you are not under law”. Then logically, when you are “under law” sin does have dominion over you.
Now, if “under law” means “required to keep and obey the law of God as given through Moses”, then was not Jesus “under law”? Wasn’t he required to keep and obey the Law of Moses? Of course he was. As a son of Israel from the tribe of Judah, Jesus was required to obey the Law of Moses, which he observed and kept perfectly.
However, this premise then requires Jesus to also be under the dominion of sin!
The argument falls apart right there.
“For Sin had dominion over Jesus since Jesus was under law”; this makes absolutely no logical or doctrinal sense.
“Under law” can NOT and does NOT mean “required to keep and obey the law”. If it did, then according to Paul, sin would have had dominion over Jesus.
And what about “under grace”? If “under law” means required to observe and keep the law then, “under grace” must mean required to observe and keep the grace.
Again, this makes no sense whatsoever.
Let’s break it down.
“For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law”; Paul directly links sin not having “dominion over you” with not being “under law”. Therefore, if sin had “dominion over you” then you would be “under” law.
“under law” is “ὑπὸ νόμον/hupo nomon” in the Greek. “Law” is in the Accusative Case, therefore, according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Strong’s G5259 “hupo” means as follows: subject to the power of.
Romans 6:14 has nothing to do with whether or not the law is binding and should be obeyed or not. It has to do with what power you are being subjected to now that you are in Christ, compared to before when you walked according to the flesh.
Context, context, context.
What is the context of the surrounding verses?
In Chapter 5 Paul explained that all have sinned, broken the Law of God, which leads to death. He also says that sin is not reckoned or accounted when there is no law, however, the law did come in and shows that sin abounds, or that sin exists in abundance. But through the mercy and grace of God we have the free gift of redemption and reconciliation through Christ Jesus.
Paul starts out chapter 6 by asking “shall we continue in sin now that we are in Christ?” ~
Romans 6:1-3 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Paul then claims that we, those united in Christ, have crucified their “old man” so that we are no longer enslaved to sin, (“sin will have no dominion over you”); for the old man having died is acquitted from breaking the Law of God or justified from our sin (not guilty “under the law”). ~
Romans 6:5-7 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We 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. 7For one who has died has been justified from sin.
Then Paul refers to the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead because, having no sin, death had no dominion over him; now alive he lives to do the will of God ~
Romans 6:8-10 8But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; 9knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death no more hath dominion over him. 10For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he lives, he lives unto God.
The next 3 verses by Paul highlight the context that culminates with the verse in question. And that context is sins dominion or reign in our lives. Paul is telling us that if we are alive in Christ, we must consider ourselves dead to sin. We must not let ourselves “obey” the lusts of the flesh anymore, which would let sin have dominion over us, all over again. Paul then commands us to present ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. ~
Romans 6:11-13 11Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: 13neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
So, the context up to now has been:
- All have sinned, i.e. broken the Law of God
- The law “charges our sins against us”, holding us accountable before God
- The law shows that sin exists in abundance
- The grace of God is a free gift
- Should we continue to sin, continue to break the Law of God, so that grace may abound? No!
- Those in Christ died to sin, died to breaking the Law
- The one who has died is justified from his sins
- Therefore, do not let sin “have dominion” in your body
- Be righteous before God ~
~ present your members to God as instruments of righteousness because sin has no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace.
Paul is not telling us to “present our members as instruments of righteousness to God because we don’t have to obey His Laws anymore”. What he is saying, is now that we are in Christ, if we are in Christ, we won’t choose to sin (break the Law of God) because we have put to death the old man of sin. And with that death, we are acquitted/justified from our past sins, no longer subject to the power of the Law to condemn. The Law cannot judge us guilty or hold us accountable for our prior sins because now we are subject to the power of grace.
Amen, Hallelu Yah!
However, what does Paul say in the next verse?
Romans 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
This is a repeat question that He asked in verse one ~
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!
Are we to break the Law and sin anyway because now we are under the power of grace through faith? Paul says no way both times!
Is Paul redefining sin here? Is sin whatever we want it to be? Who is the Potter and who is the clay? Do we as mere humans get to redefine sin? Of course not.
The sin that we are not to continue in is the same sin that put us in the position of needing grace in the first place, and that sin is disobeying the Law of God as given through Moses. The definition of sin has not changed, and Paul commands us not to continue in that sin.
How does Paul know what sin is? The Law shows us what sin is ~
Romans 3:19-20 19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 7:7 Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
John is a second witness ~
1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
God’s Law defines what sin is; Paul said so!
And what does Paul say about the Law of God?
Romans 2:18b and know His will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;
Romans 2:20b an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—
Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Final thought: Maybe that’s why Paul himself obeyed and kept the Law of God as given through Moses~
Acts 2:24b Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you (Paul) yourself also live in observance of the law.