A. The believer under grace and the problem of habitual sin.
1. (1) Should we live a life of sin so we can receive more grace?
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
a. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul introduced the idea that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20). He now wonders if someone might take this truth to imply that it doesn’t matter if a Christian lives a life of sin, because God will always overcome greater sin with greater grace.
i. After all, if God loves sinners, then why worry about sin? If God gives grace to sinners, then why not sin more and receive more grace? Some people think that their job is to sin and God’s job is to forgive, so they will do their job and God will do His job!
ii. In the early part of the 20th century the Russian monk Gregory Rasputin taught and lived the idea of salvation through repeated experiences of sin and repentance. He believed that because those who sin the most require the most forgiveness, therefore a sinner who continues to sin without restraint enjoys more of God’s grace (when he repents for the moment) than the ordinary sinner. Therefore, Rasputin lived in notorious sin and taught that this was the way to salvation. This is an extreme example of the idea behind Paul’s question “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
iii. But in a less extreme way, the question still confronts us. Is the plan of grace “safe”? Won’t people abuse grace? If God’s salvation and approval are given on the basis of faith instead of works, won’t we just say “I believe” and then live any way we please?
iv. From a purely natural or secular viewpoint, grace is dangerous. This is why many people don’t really teach or believe in grace and instead emphasize living by law. They believe that if you tell people that God saves and accepts them apart from what they deserve, then they will have no motive to be obedient. In their opinion, you simply can’t keep people on the straight and narrow without a threat from God hanging over their head. If they believe their position in Jesus is settled because of what Jesus did, then the motivation of holy living is gone.
b. Shall we continue in sin: The verb tense of the phrase continue in sin (the present active tense) makes it clear that Paul describes the practice of habitual sin. In this first part of Romans 6, Paul writes about someone who remains in a lifestyle of sin, thinking that it is acceptable so that grace may abound.
2. (2) A life of sin is unacceptable because our death to sin changes our relationship to sin.
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
a. Certainly not! For Paul, the idea that anyone might continue in sin that grace may abound is unthinkable. Certainly not is a strong phrase. It might also be translated, “Perish the thought!” Or, “Away with the notion!”
b. How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Paul establishes an important principle. When we are born again, when we have believed on Jesus for our salvation, our relationship with sin is permanently changed. We have died to sin. Therefore, if we have died to sin, then we should not live any longer in it. It simply isn’t fitting to live any longer in something you have died to.
c. We who died to sin: At this point, Paul has much to explain about what exactly he means by died to sin, but the general point is clear – Christians have died to sin, and they should no longer live in it. Before, we were dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1); now we are dead to sin.
3. (3-4) The illustration of the believer’s death to sin: baptism.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
a. Or do you not know: The implication is that Paul is dealing with fundamental concepts that every Christians should know.
b. As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus: The idea behind the ancient Greek word for baptized is “to immerse or overwhelm something.” The Bible uses this idea of being baptized into something in several different ways. When a person is baptized in water, they are immersed or covered over with water. When they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Acts 1:5), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with the Holy Spirit. When they are baptized with suffering (Mark 10:39), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with suffering. Here, Paul refers to being baptized – “immersed” or “covered over” – in Christ Jesus.
c. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead: Water baptism (being baptized into Christ) is a dramatization or “acting out” of the believer’s “immersion” or identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection.
i. “From this and other references to baptism in Paul’s writings, it is plain that he did not regard baptism as an ‘optional extra’ in the Christian life.” (Bruce)
d. We were buried with Him… as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life: Paul also builds on the idea of going under the water as a picture of being buried and coming up from the water as a picture of rising from the dead.
i. Of course, baptism also has the association of cleansing, but that isn’t particularly relevant to Paul’s point here.
ii. In this regard, baptism is important as an illustration of spiritual reality, but it does not make that reality come to pass. If someone has not spiritually died and risen with Jesus, all the baptisms in the world will not accomplish it for them.
iii. But Paul’s point is clear: something dramatic and life changing happened in the life of the believer. You can’t die and rise again without it changing your life. The believer has a real (although spiritual) death and resurrection with Jesus Christ.
4. (5-10) Considering the implications of our death and resurrection with Jesus.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
a. United together: This expresses a close union. The phrase “exactly expresses the process by which a graft becomes united with the life of a tree… The union is of the closest sort, and life from Christ flows through to him” (Morris). This fits in with Jesus’ picture of abiding from John 15.
i. This close union is both in His death and in His resurrection. God has both experiences for us. Paul expressed a similar idea for his own life in Philippians 3:10-11: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Some are all too ready to be united together in the glory of resurrection, but are unwilling to be united together in His death.
b. Certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection: Our participation in the death of Jesus makes our participation in His resurrection certain.
i. It is too easy for some Christians to focus solely on the “crucified life,” failing to see that it is a part (and an essential part) of a bigger picture: preparation for resurrection life.
c. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him: The death of the old man is an established fact. It happened spiritually when we were identified with Jesus’ death at our salvation.
i. The old man is the self that is patterned after Adam, the part of us deeply ingrained in rebellion against God and His commands. The system of law is unable to deal with the old man, because it can only tell the old man what the righteous standard of God is. The law tries to reform the old man, to get him to “turn over a new leaf.” But the system of grace understands that the old man can never be reformed. He must be put to death, and for the believer the old man dies with Jesus on the cross.
ii. The crucifixion of the old man is something that God did in us. None of us nailed the old man to the cross. Jesus did it, and we are told to account it as being done. “In us there was nothing even to sicken and to weaken our old man, much less to murder him by crucifixion; God had to do this.” (Lenski)
iii. In place of the old man, God gives the believer a new man – a self that is instinctively obedient and pleasing to God; this aspect of our person is that which was raised with Christ in His resurrection. The New Testament describes the new man for us.
· The new man, which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
· The new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10).
d. That the body of sin might be done away with: God uses our death to the old man, the sin nature, to liberate us from sin. A dead man can no longer have authority over us, so we are to remember and account the old man as crucified with Him.
i. The two other places in the New Testament which mention the old man remind us to consider him done away with, telling us to put off the old man as something dead and gone (Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9). Strictly speaking, we don’t battle the old man. We simply reckon him as dead.
ii. “Evil enters us now as an interloper and a stranger, and works sad havoc, but it does not abide in us upon the throne; it is an alien, and despised, and no more honored and delighted in. We are dead to the reigning power of sin.” (Spurgeon)
e. Done away with: If the old man is dead, why do I feel a pull to sin inside? It comes from the flesh, which is distinct from the old man. It’s hard to precisely describe the flesh; some have called it “the screen on which the inner man is displayed.” Our inner being has desires and impulses and passions; these are played out in our mind, in our will, and in our emotions. The flesh is what acts out the inner man.
i. The flesh is a problem in the battle against sin because it has been expertly trained in sinful habits by three sources. First, the old man, before he was crucified with Christ, trained and “imprinted” himself on the flesh. Second, the world system, in its spirit of rebellion against God, can have a continuing influence on the flesh. Finally, the devil seeks to tempt and influence the flesh towards sin.
ii. With the old man dead, what do we do with the flesh? God calls us, in participation with Him, to actively do day by day with the flesh just what He has already done with the old man – to crucify it, make it dead to sin (Galatians 5:24). But when we allow the flesh to be continually influenced by the old man’s habits of the past, the world, and the devil, the flesh will exert a powerful pull towards sin. If we let the new man within us influence the mind, the will, and the emotions, then we will find the battle less intense.
f. That we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin: Our slavery to sin can only be broken by death. In the 1960 film Spartacus, Kirk Douglas played the escaped slave Spartacus, who led a brief but widespread slave rebellion in ancient Rome. At one point in the movie Spartacus says: “Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he is not afraid of it.” We are set free from sin because the old man has died with Jesus on the cross. Now a new man, a free man, lives.
g. Having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him: Since we have already died to sin with Jesus, death no longer has dominion over us. The new man not only has life; he has eternal life.
h. The life that he lives, he lives to God: The new life we are granted isn’t given so we can live unto ourselves. With the new life, he lives to God. We aren’t dead to sin, free from sin, and given eternal life to live as we please, but to live to please God.
i. “If God has given to you and to me an entirely new life in Christ, how can that new life spend itself after the fashion of the old life? Shall the spiritual live as the carnal? How can you that were the servants of sin, but have been made free by precious blood, go back to your old slavery?” (Spurgeon)
ii. This change in the life of the one who is born again was understood and predicted as a feature of God’s New Covenant, where because of new hearts our innermost being wants to do God’s will and be slaves to righteousness (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
iii. The eleventh of the original 42 articles of the Church of England states this truth with a beauty that Sixteenth Century English expresses well: “The grace of Christ, or the holie Ghost by him geven, dothe take awaie the stonie harte, and geveth an harte of flesh.” God takes away our rock-like heart and gives us a soft heart of flesh.
5. (11-12) Practical application of the principle of our death and resurrection with Jesus.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
a. Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin: Reckon is an accounting word. Paul tells us to account or to reckon the old man as forever dead. God never calls us to “crucify” the old man, but instead to account him as already dead because of our identification with Jesus’ death on the cross.
b. Reckon yourselves to be… alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord: The death to sin is only one side of the equation. The old man is gone, but the new man lives on (as described in Romans 6:4-5).
c. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body: This is something that can only be said to the Christian, to the one who has had the old man crucified with Christ and has been given a new man in Jesus. Only the person set free from sin can be told, “do not let sin reign.”
i. The Christian is the one truly set free. The man or woman who isn’t converted yet is free to sin, but they are not free to stop sinning and live righteously, because of the tyranny of the old man.
ii. In Jesus, we are truly set free and are offered the opportunity to obey the natural inclination of the new man – which wants to please God and honor Him.
d. Therefore do not let sin reign: The old man is dead, and there is new life – free from sin – in Jesus. Yet, many Christians never experience this freedom. Because of unbelief, self-reliance, or ignorance, many Christians never live in the freedom Jesus paid for on the cross.
i. D. L. Moody used to speak of an old black woman in the South following the Civil War. Being a former slave, she was confused about her status and asked: “Now is I free, or been I not? When I go to my old master he says I ain’t free, and when I go to my own people they say I is, and I don’t know whether I’m free or not. Some people told me that Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation, but master says he didn’t; he didn’t have any right to.”
ii. This is exactly the place many Christians are. They are, and have been, legally set free from their slavery to sin, yet they are unsure of that truth. The following verses give practical help in living out the freedom Jesus has granted us.
6. (13-14) How to walk in the freedom Jesus has given us.
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
a. Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God: A person can be “officially” set free, yet still imprisoned. If a person lives in prison for years, and then is set free, they often still think and act like a prisoner. The habits of freedom aren’t ingrained in their life yet. Here, Paul shows how to build the habits of freedom in the Christian life.
i. In the fourteenth century two brothers fought for the right to rule over a dukedom in what is now Belgium. The elder brother’s name was Raynald, but he was commonly called “Crassus,” a Latin nickname meaning “fat,” for he was horribly obese. After a heated battle, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him and assumed the title of Duke over his lands. But instead of killing Raynald, Edward devised a curious imprisonment. He had a room in the castle built around “Crassus,” a room with only one door. The door was not locked, the windows were not barred, and Edward promised Raynald that he could regain his land and his title any time that he wanted to. All he would have to do is leave the room. The obstacle to freedom was not in the doors or the windows, but with Raynald himself. Being grossly overweight, he could not fit through the door, even though it was of near-normal size. All Raynald needed to do was diet down to a smaller size, then walk out a free man, with all he had before his fall. However, his younger brother kept sending him an assortment of tasty foods, and Raynald’s desire to be free never won out over his desire to eat. Some would accuse Duke Edward of being cruel to his older brother, but he would simply reply, “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” But Raynald stayed in that room for ten years, until Edward himself was killed in battle.
ii. This accurately illustrates the experience of many Christians. Jesus set them forever free legally, and they may walk in that freedom from sin whenever they choose. But since they keep yielding their bodily appetites to the service of sin, they live a life of defeat, discouragement, and imprisonment.
b. Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: This is the first key to walking in the freedom Jesus won for us. We must not present the parts of our body to the service of sin. The New Living Translation communicates the idea well: Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning.
i. Your members are the parts of your body – your ears, lips, eyes, hands, mind, and so forth. The idea is very practical: “You have eyes. Do not put them in the service of sin. You have ears. Do not put them in the service of sin.”
ii. Instruments could be better-translated weapons. The parts of our body are weapons in the battle for right living. When the parts of our body are given over to righteousness, they are weapons for good. When they are given over to sin, they are weapons for evil.
iii. An example of this is how God used David’s hands to slay Goliath in the cause of righteousness. Later, sin used David’s eyes for unrighteousness when he looked upon Bathsheba.
c. But present yourselves to God: This is the second key to walking in the freedom Jesus won for us. It isn’t enough to take the weapons away from the service of sin. They must then be enlisted in the service of righteousness – and, as in any warfare, the side with superior weapons usually wins.
i. The idea is similar to the manner in which the priests in the Old Testament consecrated their bodies to God. Sacrificial blood was applied to the ear, to the thumb, and on the big toe, showing that those parts of their body (and all other parts) belonged to God and were to be used for His glory (Exodus 29:20).
ii. We present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead. This first has the idea that all connection with the previous life – the old man – must be done away with. That life is dead and gone. Secondly, it has the idea of obligation, because we owe everything to the One who has given us new life!
d. For sin shall not have dominion over you: Spurgeon said that these words give us a test, a promise, and an encouragement.
i. It is a test of our claim to be Christians. Does anger have dominion over you? Does murmuring and complaining? Does covetousness have dominion over you? Does pride? Does laziness have dominion over you? If sin has dominion over us, we should seriously ask if we are really converted.
ii. It is a promise of victory. It doesn’t say that “sin will not be present in us,” because that will only be fulfilled when we are resurrected in glory. But it does promise that sin will not have dominion over us because of the great work Jesus did in us when we were born again.
iii. It is an encouragement for hope and strength in the battle against sin. God hasn’t condemned you under the dominion of sin – He has set you free in Jesus. This is encouragement for the Christian struggling against sin, for the new Christian, and for the backslider.
e. For you are not under law but under grace: This is the path, the means, by which we can live in this freedom. It will never happen in a legalistic, performance oriented Christian life. It will happen as we live not under law but under grace.
i. Law clearly defined God’s standard, and shows us where we fall short of it. But it cannot give the freedom from sin that grace provides. Remember that grace reigns through righteousness (Romans 5:21). Grace, not law provides the freedom and the power to live over sin.
ii. This shows again that a life lived truly under grace will be a righteous life. Grace is never a license to sin. “To treat being under grace as an excuse for sinning is a sign that one is not really under grace at all.” (Bruce)
f. Not under law but under grace: This is another way to describe the radical change in the life of someone who is born again. For the Jewish person of Paul’s day, living life under law was everything. The law was the way to God’s approval and eternal life. Now, Paul shows that in light of the New Covenant, we are not under law but under grace. His work in our life has changed everything.
i. Paul has answered his question from Romans 6:1. Why don’t we just continue in habitual sin so grace may abound? Because when we are saved, when our sins are forgiven, and God’s grace is extended to us, we are radically changed. The old man is dead, and the new man lives.
ii. In light of these remarkable changes, it is utterly incompatible for a new creation in Jesus to be comfortable in habitual sin. A state of sin can only be temporary for the Christian. As Spurgeon is credited with saying: “The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul.”
iii. John states the same idea in another way: Whoever abides in Him does not [habitually] sin. Whoever [habitually] sins has neither seen Him nor known Him… Whoever has been born of God does not [habitually] sin, for his seed remains in him; and he cannot [habitually] sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:6 and 3:9).
iv. The changes may not come all at one time, and they may not come to each area of one’s life at the same time, but they will be there and they will be real and they will be increasing as time goes on.
g. Under grace: God makes us “safe” for grace by changing us as we receive His grace; He sets us free and equips us to live righteously before Him. Once dead to sin, it is unthinkable to continue our former practice of sin. Once the caterpillar has been made a butterfly, the butterfly has no business crawling around on trees and leaves like a caterpillar again.
i. “God has so changed your nature by his grace that when you sin you shall be like a fish on dry land, you shall be out of your element, and long to get into a right state again. You cannot sin, for you love God. The sinner may drink sin down as the ox drinketh down water, but to you it shall be as the brine of the sea. You may become so foolish as to try the pleasures of the world, but they shall be no pleasures to you.” (Spurgeon)
B. The believer under grace and the problem of occasional sin.
1. (15) A new question is asked: shall we sin (occasionally) because we are not under law but under grace?
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
a. Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Paul has convinced us that a lifestyle of habitual sin is not compatible with one whose life is changed by grace. But what about an occasional sin here and there? If we are under grace and not law, must we be so concerned about a little sin here and there?
b. Shall we sin: Again, the verb tense of the ancient Greek word sin is important (the aorist active tense). It indicates dabbling in sin, not the continual habitual sin described in the question of Romans 6:1.
i. “The verb in verse one is in the present subjunctive, speaking of habitual, continuous action. The verb in verse fifteen is in the aorist subjunctive, referring to a single act.” (Wuest)
2. (16-17) Spiritual principles we need to understand in order to answer the question.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
a. To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves: Whatever you present yourself to obey, you become its slave. For example, if I obey my appetite constantly, I am a slave to it. So we have a choice in our slavery: sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness.
i. One way or another, we will serve somebody. The option to live our life without serving either sin or obedience isn’t open to us.
b. Though you were slaves of sin: Paul puts it in the past tense because we have been freed from our slavery to sin. He also says that we have been set free by faith, which he describes as obedience from the heart. The faith is put in God’s Word, which he describes as that form of doctrine. All in all, the point is clear: “You put your faith in God and His Word, and now you are set free. Now live every day consistent with that freedom.”
i. As was seen earlier in Romans 6, we can be legally free and still choose to live like a prisoner. Paul has a simple command and encouragement for the Christian: be what you are.
ii. Obeyed from the heart is a wonderful description of faith. It shows that faith comes from the heart, not only the mind. It shows that faith results in obedience because if we really believe something, we will act according to that belief.
c. That form of doctrine: This phrase is part of a beautiful picture. The word form describes a mold used to shape molten metal. The idea is that God wants to shape us – first He melts us by the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then He pours us into His mold of truth – that form of doctrine and shapes us into His image.
i. Adam Clarke on that form of doctrine: “Here Christianity is represented under the notion of a mould, or die, into which they were cast, and from which they took the impression of its excellence. The figure upon this die is the image of God, righteousness and true holiness, which was stamped on their souls in believing the Gospel and receiving the Holy Ghost. The words… refer to the melting of metal, which, when it is liquefied, is cast into the mould, that it may receive the impression that is sunk or cut in the mould; and therefore the words may be literally translated, into which mould of doctrine ye have been cast. They were melted down under the preaching of the word, and then were capable of receiving the stamp of its purity.”
3. (18) Why not then, occasionally sin? Because sin is not our master, and we no longer serve it.
And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
a. Having been set free from sin: What does it mean to be free from sin and to become a slave of righteousness? It means that sin is no longer your boss or your master. Now righteousness is your boss, so serve righteousness instead of sin. It isn’t right to think about pleasing your old boss when you change jobs.
b. Slaves of righteousness: What does it mean to be a slave? A slave was more than an employee. The noted Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest defined the ancient Greek word for a slave here by these terms:
· One born into a condition of slavery.
· One whose will is swallowed up in the will of another.
· One who is bound to the master with bonds only death can break.
· One who serves his master to the disregard of his own interests.
i. The following was once true in regard to our slavery to sin:
· We were born as slaves to sin.
· Our will was swallowed up and captive to sin within us.
· Our bondage to sin was so strong that only death – spiritually dying with Jesus on the cross – could break the bondage.
· We were so enslaved to sin that we served it to the disregard of our own interest, even when sin destroyed us.
ii. Now the following is true in regard to our slavery to righteousness:
· We are born again, now as slaves to righteousness.
· Our will is now swallowed up in the will of God. It is His will that matters to us, not our own.
· We are bound to Jesus with bonds that only death can break; but since He has triumphed over death and given us eternal life, those bonds will never be broken!
· We now willingly choose to serve Jesus to the disregard of our own (selfish) interests.
c. Set free from sin: This means that we never have to sin again. Though sin is inevitable until our flesh is resurrected in glory, it isn’t because God has designed a system by which we must sin.
i. Sinless perfection in this body is an illusion. 1 John 1:8 makes this clear: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Yet we know that in the power of Jesus we each can resist the next temptation – and that is what Jesus wants us to be concerned with.
ii. “Because of the frailty of man, the Christian at infrequent intervals does yield to the evil nature and sin. But the point is, God has so constituted him, that he need not do so.” (Wuest)
iii. It is mockery to tell a slave, “Don’t behave as a slave” – but you can say that to someone who is set free. Jesus Christ tells us to no longer behave as if we were slaves to sin. We have been set free; now we are to think and live as free people.
4. (19-23) How to keep from enslaving ourselves.
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
a. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh: The Apostle Paul apologized for using slavery as an illustration, because it was so degrading and pervasive, and especially because many of his Roman readers were slaves. Yet he knew this was an accurate and meaningful illustration.
b. You presented your members… so now present: Paul repeats a point made earlier. First, present your members as slaves of righteousness. This means that we don’t show up for work to our old boss.
i. Can you imagine? A new job, and the first day on the new job you leave work at lunch time and go to your old job and ask your old boss what he wants you to do. It just isn’t right!
c. Lawlessness leading to more lawlessness: Paul describes a principle ingrained in human nature. Lawlessness leads to more lawlessness. Righteousness leads to holiness – which is more righteousness. This describes the dynamic power of our habits and how we move along in the direction we are pointed.
i. Think of four trees in a row: the first at one year of growth, the second at five years, the third at ten years, and the last at 15 years. Which tree will be the most difficult to pull up out of the ground? Obviously, the longer we are rooted in a behavior the harder it is to uproot it – a principle that works both for good and evil.
d. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness: Paul’s point is almost humorous. When we were slaves of sin, we were free all right – free in regard to righteousness. Some freedom!
e. What fruit did you have then: To walk in victory over sin we must think rightly about the fruit of sin. To say, “The end of those things is death” means that the end product of sin is death – not fun. But the end product of righteousness is everlasting life.
i. In a time of temptation, these truths can seem unreal – so we must rely on God’s Word. When we are tempted, faith reminds us of the bitter fruit of sin when our feelings may forget that bitter fruit.
f. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord: When you work for sin, your wages are death. When we serve God we get no pay – but He freely gives us the best benefit package imaginable.
i. Wages of sin: “Every sinner earns this by long, sore, and painful service. O! What pains do men take to get to hell! Early and late they toil at sin; and would not Divine justice be in their debt, if it did not pay them their due wages?” (Clarke)
ii. Answering his question from Romans 6:15, Paul has made it clear: As believers, we have a change of ownership. The Christian must fight against even occasional sin because we need to work for and work under our new Master. It isn’t appropriate for us to work for our old master.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission