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, mainstream theology “claims” that Paul is telling us here that the Law of God given through Moses is done away with, that we are no longer obliged to keep it because we are not “under law”.
The mainstream premise is that “under law” means “required to observe and keep the Law of Moses”. Let’s test that…
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 given through Moses”, then was not Jesus “under law”? Wasn’t Jesus 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 or he would have been a sinner. However, the mainstream 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’. That 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. ‘Nomon’, or ‘Law’ is in the Accusative Case, therefore, according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Strong’s G5259 “hupo/ under” means as follows: subject to the power of.
The Law of God has the power to accuse us and bring charges against us when we violate it; when our sin has dominion over us we become ‘subject to that power’ and the Law then rightly judges us guilty, and thereby condemns us.
Romans 6:14 has nothing to do with whether or not the law is binding and should be obeyed. It has everything 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, i.e. broken the Law of God given through Moses, which leads to death. He says the Law came in order to show that sin abounds, or that sin exists in abundance. However, through the mercy and grace of God we have the free gift of redemption; our ransom has been paid and we are now freed from our bondage to sin (sins dominion over us); please read ‘Freed from the law of Sin and Death‘.
Paul starts 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?
Stop and think for a second. Ask yourself: “which sin” are we not to continue in?
According to Paul it’s the same sin he has been talking about for this entire letter, that is, the sin of ‘breaking the Law of God given through Moses’. This is the Law of chapter 5 verse 20 that “came in” to show that sin abounds; “Are we to continue in the sin of breaking the Law of God given through Moses that grace may abound?” Paul says “by no means”!
Do you see? ‘By no means are we to break the Law of God given through Moses!’, so says Paul. That’s the sin he has just been telling us we have all been guilty of and now he’s telling us that just because were are now subject to the power of grace we should by “no means“ continue in that sin.
Paul then claims that 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” v.14). Our ‘old man’, the slave to sin, having died to sin is now 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 himself, 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. The “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 continue to have dominion over us (shall we continue in sin? v.1). 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 given through Moses
- The Law “charges our sins against us”, holding us accountable before God
- The Law of Moses shows that sin exists in abundance
- The grace of God is a free gift
- Shall we continue to sin; i.e. continue to break the Law of God given through Moses so that grace may abound? Paul says, ‘No Way!’
- Those in Christ died to sin; i.e. died to breaking the Law of Moses
- The one who has died is justified; i.e. acquitted, from his past sins
- Therefore, do not let sin “have dominion” in your body all over again
- 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.
What Paul is saying is this: now that we are in Christ, ‘if we are in Christ’, we won’t choose to sin (break the Law of God given through Moses) because we have put to death the ‘old man’ of sin. And with that death, we have died with Jesus, and as he died to sin so must we consider ourselves dead to committing sin. In his death we are acquitted/justified from our “past” sins, no longer ‘subject to the power’ of Law to condemn us. 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 and Hallelu Yah!
So, 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 Paul 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 given through Moses; it always has been and always will be. The definition of sin has not changed, and Paul commands us not to continue in that sin .
How does Paul know what sin is? He tells us that the Law of Moses shows us what sin is ~
Romans 3:19-20 19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are in 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.
From where in the Scriptures does Paul and John understand that God’s definition of “sin” is breaking the Law of God given through Moses? ~
Numbers 15:22-23 22But if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments that the LORD has spoken to Moses, 23all that the LORD has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the LORD gave commandment, and onward throughout your generations
David understood that sin is wandering from the LORD’s commandments ~
Psalm 119:10-11 10With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments 11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
The prophets witness the same ~
Jeremiah 16:10-11 10What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?’ 11then you shall say to them: Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the LORD, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law
God’s Law defines what sin is; Paul said so in the verses above!
How does Paul feel about the Law of God given through Moses?
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 make void 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.
Please, please take note that Paul states in Romans 3:31, that we are to uphold the Law and not void it; read ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law‘ or watch it on YouTube to study and understand the Greek definitions of this verse.
Final thought: Paul himself obeyed and kept the Law of God 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
- For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, please see the blog posts at the bottom of this page. Be a Berean, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”. Please ‘share’ this study, and thank you for your time!