May we consider for a few moments Paul’s statement in Romans 6:17-18, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
Now notice that Paul says that the Romans brethren were made free from sin, and had become the servants of righteousness. When did they become free from sin? When they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. This word form suggests the idea of pattern or print. Now just what is that pattern of doctrine that Paul speaks about? Well let’s look back in verses 3-5, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” That form of teaching is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We follow the Lord in a similar pattern in faith, when we die with Christ, are buried with Christ, and are resurrected with Christ, then we raise to walk in a new life with Christ. Are people made free from sin before they obey this form of doctrine? The answer is of course no! In verses 6-7, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” When are free from sin? When we die. When do we die? When we are planted together in the likeness of his death, which takes place at baptism, verse 5. Sad to say, but those who fail to follow this form of doctrine have not been made free from sin!
— Dan McKibben