The meaning of baptism into Christ
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid! We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live in it? 3 Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through a baptism into his death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin. 7 For he that has died is set free from sin. 8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him. 10 For the death that he died, he died to sin once, but the life that he lives, he lives to God. 11 Even so count yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
A change of masters- from sin to Christ
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts of it. 13 Neither present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead; and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you- for you are not under law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law but under grace? God forbid! 16 Do you not know, that to whom you present yourselves as slaves to obedience, his slaves you are whom you obey? Whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that whereas you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching which was delivered to you. 18 And being made free from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your human nature; but as you presented your limbs as slaves of uncleanness and iniquity, now present your limbs as slaves of righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had you at that time in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the result of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit unto holiness- and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
6:3 Paul didn't just decide to write about baptism in Romans 6; the classic exposition of baptism which we find there is within a context. And it's not an appeal for people to be baptized- it's written to baptized believers, appealing for them to live out in practice the "in Christ" status which they had been given as a result of their baptisms. If we really feel the result of our baptism, we will not "continue in sin". Martin Luther used to overcome temptation by taking a chalk and writing baptizatus sum- 'I am baptized'. We simply cannot continue in servitude to sin.
6:5 Going under the water is like death or burial; death to the old life. Coming up out of the water is like resurrection with Christ, giving the sure hope of resurrection to eternal life when He returns to earth.
6:11 Count yourselves- We are not fully ‘dead to sin’, but God counts us as if we died with Christ and rose with Him, and He is now ‘dead to sin’. It’s hard, but we must try to have the same positive view of ourselves in Christ as God has of us.
6:18 We changed masters at baptism, from sin to righteousness. In this sense we are never totally ‘free’. The life of sin, doing what we want, isn’t freedom- it’s slavery to sin. So we are either slaves of sin or of God. But in His service we find freedom- this is the wonderful paradox.