In this passage, Paul takes on, and devastates, the arguments of critics who assert that the doctrine of justification by faith alone will lead to "license", i.e. acts of evil that may be washed away.
"Shall we sin to our heart's content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God? What a ghastly thought! We, who have died to sin--how could we live in sin a moment longer?" (J.B. Phillips trans.)
Does it make sense to wage war that peace may increase? Or pollute the earth so as to hasten the apocalypse? Or, on the personal level, do conscious evil so that we may experience subsequent forgiveness all the more?
These thoughts indeed are to Paul's mind, ghastly altogether. In more than a figurative sense, those who submit to baptism in Christ also have a share in his crucifixion, burial in the tomb, and resurrection to new life, because what once they were, now is dead.
Lord, may we reaffirm each day that we have been crucified with Christ, and raised with him to life everlasting. Amen.