Freedom and Slavery | Romans 6: 12-23

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Freedom and Slavery | Romans 6: 12-23

 

 

 Introduction

Some of you are here today and you are wondering if anything that I say this morning will make any difference in the real world.

Recap

We ended last week with the exhortation to get our minds right.  If you are a follower of Christ, you have been transferred from spiritual death to spiritual life.

  • The old life has ended.
  • The debt of sin is paid.
  • We no longer have to live according to our old nature.
  • Now we have a choice as to whether or not we are going to choose righteousness or choose to go back to sin.
  • We have the opportunity to live lives that glorify God.

SO…  God commands us to think about ourselves as new creatures and to act in accordance with the new life that He granted to us in Christ.

Introduction – Real World

Some of you are not still not convinced.  You hear all of that really great sounding theology and think, “Ya… right…. But I still live in the real world.  How does all that work out in reality?”  First of all, you and I need to realize that what happens in here is the real world.  Everything that goes on outside of those doors is temporary.  It will all pass away.  Do you know what will last?  You and me and our Lord Jesus throughout the rest of eternity.  This is the real world!

In the real world, disciples of Jesus are new creations who are presently living in a very temporary, corruptible bodies.  That creates some problems for us.  Some call it the paradox of Christianity.

The Paradox: We are dead to sin, but we live with sin – v 12, Romans 8:22-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:35

The Christian is dead to sin, but he still lives with it every day.  Disciples of Christ are spiritually alive, but right now, we are still living in mortal bodies.  You and I are declared fully righteous by God’s justification and yet we still are people who struggle with sin and are in the process of sanctification.

The Christian lives between two worlds: We are alive in this present age where we are struggling with sin and the flesh, and we also are alive in another world yet to come. The real world.  A world where there is no more pain or sin or death.  A world where we will be able to enjoy the riches of Christ our King perfectly forever.  We are fully alive in the spirit right now, yet still living in a mortal body of flesh.  We are between two worlds and that creates some struggles

In this present life, sin will always be a powerful and influential force that the Christian will need to wrestle with.  For a believer, sin is no longer master of their lives.  It is no longer Lord.  We no longer need to obey it’s wishes and desires.  In our passage today, sin is portrayed as a dethroned monarch.

Take a look at verse 12: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

The Greek word translated “reign” is a term largely associated with the authority and power of a king.  When a monarch is dethroned, two things are often true of defeated kings

  1. He is used to ruling and he is not happy if he does not get his way
  2. He will try to amass forces and take back as much ground as he can

Verse 12 is saying that sin no longer has the ability to rule over you as it did before salvation.

  • It has no right to reign.
  • It has no power to control.

The only time sin can take back any ground is when the believer chooses to let it back in and “obey its passions.”  BUT… Every time sin creeps back into a believers life, sin is trespassing on enemy territory.  Our new King, Jesus, is a more powerful ruler than sin ever was.  He is actively, and even painfully, rooting sin out of your life (and out of mine).

Sometimes there are major sin issues that you and I need to deal with in our lives and Jesus uses a sandblaster to carve out and clean out massive areas where the enemy has invaded and taken some serious ground.  Other times, Jesus is polishing and pruning and he take sandpaper to wear off some remaining rough edges in our lives. Either way, Jesus is active in our lives by confronting sin and conforming us to His righteousness.  Sometimes this process hurts, and honestly, the removal of sin is usually painful.  We call this process of removing sin, sanctification.

During the process of sanctification, we have the promise that as new creations, sin can’t touch our souls.  The eternal soul of the child of God is forever outside the reach of sin and death.  But, the believers body is a different story altogether.  The only remaining place where sin can get a foothold and take some ground back is in our mortal bodies.  One day, in the real world (in the heavenly kingdom), these bodies will be glorified and forever outside of the reach of sin.  But while we still remain between two worlds (between the natural and the eternal), our bodies are a battle ground.

Right now, our bodies are still susceptible to impure desires.  Our physical brains are still a product of a fallen world.  We are vulnerable to disease and death.  Satan often exploits our physical weaknesses to draw us away from the single-minded pursuit of Jesus.  He tries to constantly distract us with his second-rate temptations.

AND… It is not just our bodies that are a product of the fall.  When Adam sinned, the entirety of creation was affected.  Paul says in Romans 8:22-23:

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Paul repeated this teaching again when he wrote to the Philippians.  Philippians 3:20-21 says:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

And again he gave a similar teaching to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:53:

53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

We are between two  worlds – between the temporary world we live in and the real world of eternity.  We have been made a new creation spiritually, but our bodies are still susceptible to sin.  Paul is referring to this important truth when he writes the exhortation in verse 13 and 14.  Romans 6:13-14 says:

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Notice that Paul is not warning about sin reigning in your soul or in your spirit.  Sin and death can’t touch the soul of the Child of God.  But… it can sure touch your body.  Paul is warning about sin reigning in your body.  That means:

  • You will struggle with sin as long as you are one this earth
  • I will struggle with sin as long for as I am on this earth
  • AND… you and I are in good company, because the Apostle Paul struggled with sin when he was on this earth.  Just one chapter over he writes these famous words,“22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:22-24

The Christian’s war with sin is waged in our bodies.  For this reason Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” And then he wrote over in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Sin is a weapon that brings destruction in our bodies – v. 13, John 18:3

If it were not possible for sin to reign in the body of a believer, then Paul would not be addressing it.  It is clear from the text the sin CAN reign in your life and mine.  In fact, the text implies that the presence of sin in our lives can do a great deal of damage. Verse 13 says, “Do not present your members 

[your body parts] to sin as instruments for unrighteousness…”  The Greek word “hoplon” translated “instruments” is most often translated as “weapon” or “armour.”  It is nearly always used in a military context.

In fact the same word “hoplon” was used in John 18:3 to describe the arrest of Jesus.  It says, “So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons (hoplon).”

Many Bible translators suggest it would be proper to translate Romans 6:13 this way,““Do not present your BODY PARTS to sin as WEAPONS for unrighteousness…” Unrighteousness in the life of a believer can be a loose cannon.  Sin is the most devastating, debilitating and disintegrating power that has ever entered the sphere of creation.  It wreaks havoc, injures and destroys.

Before we came to know Jesus, the Bible has some pretty startling descriptions about what sin did to us.  Listen to how the Bible describes the destructive power of sin in our lives before we came to know Jesus.

  • Sin is called a pollution of the soul. The Bible says it does to the soul what corrosion does to precious metal.  (Is 30)
  • Sin is compared to the venom of a serpent and the deadly poison of cobras (Deut 32)
  • It is said to be so disgusting that even the good works of a sinner appear to be just filthy rags to God. (Isaiah 64)
  • It is a defilement of the flesh and the spirit (2 Cor 7)
  • Sin is rebellious.  It ignores and sometimes even tramples God’s word.  It is called the ‘would-be-murderer’ of God himself… meaning that is sin had its way, it would destroy God along with all of His righteousness
  • Sin takes God’s blessing and uses those blessings to serve itself.  It is selfish and ungrateful.(2 Sam 14-15)
  • Sin overpowers the mind and overcomes mankind like the darkness overpowers the night
  • It bring about satanic control into the lives of men so that they are bound to carry out Satan’s will
  • Sin promises satisfaction and delivers misery and hopelessness instead (Job 5)
  • Worse of all, sin condemns the unredeemed soul to Hell and outside of Jesus, there is no escape from its consequences.  In our own effort, not even one sin can be erased.

One puritan writer said, “if a sinners [repentant] tears where as numberless as all the drops of rain that have fallen since the first day of creation, they should still not be enough to wash away even a single sin.”

But natural man would never shed a tear over sin.  Naturally (without Jesus), we are willingly enslaved in sin.  Unsaved people love sin.  They often hate the consequences of sin, but the sin itself is treasured in their hearts.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that , “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” Before we knew Jesus, sin was a terrible, life wrecking, soul-condemning reality that resided in our hearts and was growing like an incurable cancer.

The greatest gift that God gave to fallen mankind was a remedy for their sinful condition.  If you and I really understand how badly sin affects our lives, why would we ever let it creep back in?  The greatest gift that you are I ever received was freedom from the clutches of this soul-destroying force in our heart called sin and the opportunity to serve righteousness instead.

Righteousness is a weapon that overcomes sin – v. 13-15

It is just as clear from this text that sin DOES NOT HAVE TO REIGN in our bodies any longer.  The power of Christ in you (and the power of Christ in me) is greater than the power of sin.  As a result Paul gives this command: “… present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members [body parts] to God as instruments (Weapons – hoplon) for righteousness.” Romans 6:13

In verse 14, Paul give one last encouragement to the believer by saying, “14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”  Verse 14 leads right to the leading question in verse 15.  Given the introduction of God’s grace, someone might ask questions like these:

  • If I’m under grace and not under law, do I really need to get up and read my Bible in the morning?
  • What is the motivation for me to have self-control if I am not under the law any longer?
  • Can’t we just do anything we want to do?

In verse 15, Paul again restates the question from verse 1: “15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”  And once again, he give the same emphatic response, “By no means!”

IN light of the fact that we are alive to Christ and dead to sin, how could we go back to a sinful lifestyle?  Why wouldn’t we want to pursue righteousness?  Paul is now going to begin with a new illustration to demonstrate our new life in Christ.  The very essence of our conversion required us to turn from our slavery to sin in repentance and ask Jesus to be our new Master.  The proof that Jesus really is our New Master is shown by our obedience to His commands.  We were given freedom from sin not a freedom to sin!

The Apostle continues his explanation by asking a rhetorical question.  Look at verse 16

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Everyone is a slave to something – v. 16-18

The concept of presenting yourself to someone as an obedient slave may be foreign to us.  We tend to think of slaves either being people who were captured in war or kidnapped from a remote country and sold in the marketplace.  However, in Roman times, people who were living in dire poverty would often offer themselves willingly as slaves in order to get food and shelter.  The same kind of thing happens today.

Right now in some parts of the word there are so few jobs that men are desperate for work.  One man that I know in the middle east works for a company that goes into communities with staggering unemployment rates and offers jobs to men if they will move to the Middle east…  BUT there is a catch.

They are not told the nature of the work and they must make a two year commitment in order to work off the moving expenses incurred by the company.  When these workers arrive in the Middle East, the company takes their passports so they cannot leave and they are introduced to a very dangerous jobsite.  They are held as indentured servants for at least two years… maybe more… until their debt to the company is paid off.  This is the kind of slavery that Paul is using as an analogy.

A slave or indentured servant could not expect to willingly submit themselves to a contractual two year agreement to work for a company and then also expect to be able to work anywhere they wanted to work.  You can’t be both obligated and free at the same time.

It is the same idea with spiritual slavery.  Self-surrender leads to slavery.  Previously (by nature) we surrendered ourselves to sin.  A slave to sin receives a wage, but the wage is spiritual death.  God is offering us something better.  He is offering us the opportunity to serve Him.  Serving Him as Lord and Master leads to righteousness and life.  The incredible rewards offered to servants of the Lord caused Paul to break out in a spontaneous outburst of praise.  Look at verse 17-18.

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Conversion to Christianity is an act of self-surrender.  Being surrendered to the Lord brings with it a radical and total commitment to His service.  Given the nature of our relationship with God, it is crazy to assume that we can serve him while we are still living in sin.  You can’t serve two masters.  There is no way that God would turn a blind eye to one of his servants who obeys a different set of commands other than the ones He had issued.

Slavery is a helpful but limited analogy – v. 19, Matthew 11:29-30

It is difficult to explain God-sized ideas and complicated truths in a way that human minds can grasp.  Paul admits that his analogy does not paint the entire picture of God’s relationship with us.  Look at verse 19… “19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

Verse 19 is almost an apology for the natural and human terms he is using to describe our justification.  The slave/master relationship does paint a good picture of the exclusivity of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  BUT…. Slavery is not an altogether accurate or appropriate metaphor of the Christian life for 2 reasons:

  1. The analogy does not take into account the gentle spirit by which he leads and cares for us.  Matthew 11:29 says, “29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  We serve a righteous King who is totally unlike the prideful and self-centered kings in our world. King Jesus is gentle and humble
  2. The analogy does not consider the fact that Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light.  The next verse in Matt 11:30 Jesus says, “30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Serving the Lord is no drudgery.  Serving the Lord is filled with Joy and our New Master is willing and eager to shoulder the heavy burdens for us.  No earthly master would dream of doing such a thing!

Now having recognized that the analogy of slave and master is not a complete analogy, Paul turn back to it to explain a few last concepts.  There are only two positions that we can have in this life.  Either we are a slave to sin or we are a slave to God.  There is no one who is the master of their own life.

No one is the master of their own life – v. 20-22

American’s don’t like to hear this truth because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Freedom without Jesus is nothing more than having a choice of what sin you are going to be enslaved to, but it is not really true freedom.  It’s only freedom from righteousness.  Here’s another paradox of the Christian life…Slavery to righteousness is freedom from sin but freedom from righteousness is slavery to sin.

Look at verse 20.  “20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”  Many people resist the claims of Christ because they are afraid of giving up their cherished “freedoms.”  The reality is that, without Jesus, they have  freedoms to lose.  They are absolutely not free.

The unsaved person is not free to choose between good or evil.  He is bound and enslaved to sin and the ONLY thing he can do is sin.  His only real choice is when, how, why and to what degree he will sin.  Freedom from the control of righteousness is a license to sin but it leads to the deadly consequences of sin as well.  Look at verse 21:

21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.”

BUT… when we received new life in Christ, we were cut loose from the consequences of sin.  Verse 22

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Freedom from sin leads to eternal life – v. 23

One commentator made this observation (Martyn Lloyd Jones), “As you go on living this righteous life and practicing it with all your might and energy….you will find that the process that went on before, in which you went from bad to worse and became viler and viler, is entirely reversed.  You will become cleaner and cleaner and purer and purer and holier and holier and more and more conformed to the image of the Son of God.”

Freedom from sin does not mean incapable of sin, but it means that a person is no longer its helpless subject.  The freedom from sin that Paul is referring to here is not a long range objective or something that might happen someday later on in eternity.  It is a reality of the life of a believer right now.

Without exception, every person who trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord is freed from sin and is a servant of God’s.  Every disciple is granted the same powerful indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and every disciple is given the same incredible rewards. Look at verse 23

 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Life Application

These verses today teach us how to live out, maintain and enjoy our new life in Christ.  We have a new found freedom –  a freedom from sin.  We have a new Master…. A master who we were created to serve and in whom we find perfect satisfaction in his service.

Verse 13 said that parts or member of your body were created to carry out a design or a purpose.  Being a servant of God means that we are continually offering our bodies to the Lord in a way that aligns with the reality of our new position as servants of the King.

Verse 18-19 tell us that we have been set free from sin.  We have entered a new realm and there is a new power at work within us.  We no longer need to be controlled by our feeling or impulses, but in Christ we have the power to live according to the directions of our Lord.

In the end any inconvenience or trouble or trial we go through in the service of our king is more than made up for.  This world will pass away soon, but in the real world – in the eternal heavenly kingdom – there is a promise of eternal life for all those who receive the free gift of God’s grace.

Teaching Outline

The Paradox: We are dead to sin, but we live with sin – v 12, Romans 8:22-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:53

Sin is a weapon that brings destruction in our bodies – v. 13, John 18:3

Righteousness is a weapon that overcomes sin – v. 13-15

Everyone is a slave to something – v. 16-18

Slavery is an incomplete analogy – v. 19, Matthew 11:29-30

No one is the master of their own life – v. 20-22

Freedom from sin leads to eternal life – v. 23

 

Applications

In Christ we have the power to live according to the directions of our Lord

There is a promise of eternal life for all those who receive the free gift of God’s grace

 

 

Introduction

 

Some of you are here today and you are wondering if anything that I say this morning will make any difference in the real world.

Recap

We ended last week with the exhortation to get our minds right.  If you are a follower of Christ, you have been transferred from spiritual death to spiritual life. 

·        The old life has ended. 

·        The debt of sin is paid. 

·        We no longer have to live according to our old nature. 

·        Now we have a choice as to whether or not we are going to choose righteousness          or choose to go back to sin. 

·        We have the opportunity to live lives that glorify God. 

SO…  God commands us to think about ourselves as new creatures and to act in accordance with the new life that He granted to us in Christ. 

Introduction – Real World

Some of you are not still not convinced.  You hear all of that really great sounding theology and think, “Ya… right…. But I still live in the real world.  How does all that work out in reality?”  First of all, you and I need to realize that what happens in here is the real world.  Everything that goes on outside of those doors is temporary.  It will all pass away.  Do you know what will last?  You and me and our Lord Jesus throughout the rest of eternity.  This is the real world! 

In the real world, disciples of Jesus are new creations who are presently living in a very temporary, corruptible bodies.  That creates some problems for us.  Some call it the paradox of Christianity.

The Paradox: We are dead to sin, but we live with sin – v 12, Romans 8:22-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:35

The Christian is dead to sin, but he still lives with it every day.  Disciples of Christ are spiritually alive, but right now, we are still living in a mortal bodies.  You and I are declared fully righteous by God’s justification and yet we still are people who struggle with sin and are in the process of sanctification. 

The Christian lives between two worlds: We are alive in this present age where we are struggling with sin and the flesh, and we also are alive in another world yet to come. The real world.  A world where there is no more pain or sin or death.  A world where we will be able to enjoy the riches of Christ our King perfectly forever.  We are fully alive in the spirit right now, yet still living in a mortal body of flesh.  We are between two worlds and that creates some struggles

In this present life, sin will always be a powerful and influential force that the Christian will need to wrestle with.  For a believer, sin is no longer master of their lives.  It is no longer Lord.  We no longer need to obey it’s wishes and desires.  In our passage today, sin is portrayed as a dethroned monarch.

Take a look at verse 12: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

The Greek word translated “reign” is a term largely associated with the authority and power of a kingWhen a monarch is dethroned, two things are often true of defeated kings

1.      He is used to ruling and he is not happy if he does not get his way

2.      He will try to amass forces and take back as much ground as he can

Verse 12 is saying that sin no longer has the ability to rule over you as it did before salvation. 

·        It has no right to reign. 

·        It has no power to control. 

The only time sin can take back any ground is when the believer chooses to let it back in and “obey its passions.”  BUT… Every time sin creeps back into a believers life, sin is trespassing on enemy territory.  Our new King, Jesus, is a more powerful ruler than sin ever was.  He is actively, and even painfully, rooting sin out of your life (and out of mine).

Sometimes there are major sin issues that you and I need to deal with in our lives and Jesus uses a sandblaster to carve out and clean out massive areas where the enemy has invaded and taken some serious ground.  Other times, Jesus is polishing and pruning and he take sandpaper to wear off some remaining rough edges in our lives. Either way, Jesus is active in our lives by confronting sin and conforming us to His righteousness.  Sometimes this process hurts, and honestly, the removal of sin is usually painful.  We call this process of removing sin, sanctification.

During the process of sanctification, we have the promise that as new creations, sin can’t touch our souls.  The eternal soul of the child of God is forever outside the reach of sin and death.  But, the believers body is a different story altogether.  The only remaining place where sin can get a foothold and take some ground back is in our mortal bodies.  One day, in the real world (in the heavenly kingdom), these bodies will be glorified and forever outside of the reach of sin.  But while we still remain between two worlds (between the natural and the eternal), our bodies are a battle ground. 

Right now, our bodies are still susceptible to impure desires.  Our physical brains are still a product of a fallen world.  We are vulnerable to disease and death.  Satan often exploits our physical weaknesses to draw us away from the single-minded pursuit of Jesus.  He tries to constantly distract us with his second-rate temptations.

AND… It is not just our bodies that are a product of the fall.  When Adam sinned, the entirety of creation was affected.  Paul says in Romans 8:22-23:

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Paul repeated this teaching again when he wrote to the Philippians.  Philippians 3:20-21 says:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

And again he gave a similar teaching to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:53:

53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

We are between two worlds – between the temporary world we live in and the real world of eternity.  We have been made a new creation spiritually, but our bodies are still susceptible to sin.  Paul is referring to this important truth when he writes the exhortation in verses 13 and 14.  Romans 6:13-14 says:

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Notice that Paul is not warning about sin reigning in your soul or in your spirit.  Sin and death can’t touch the soul of the Child of God.  But… it can sure touch your body.  Paul is warning about sin reigning in your body.  That means:

·        You will struggle with sin as long as you are one this earth

·        I will struggle with sin as long for as I am on this earth

·        AND… you and I are in good company, because the Apostle Paul struggled with sin when he was on this earth.  Just one chapter over he writes these famous words,“22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:22-24

The Christian’s war with sin is waged in our bodies.  For this reason Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” And then he wrote over in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Sin is a weapon that brings destruction in our bodies – v. 13, John 18:3

If it were not possible for sin to reign in the body of a believer, then Paul would not be addressing it.  It is clear from the text that sin CAN reign in your life and mine.  In fact, the text implies that the presence of sin in our lives can do a great deal of damage. Verse 13 says, “Do not present your members [your body parts] to sin as instruments for unrighteousness…”  The Greek word “hoplon” translated “instruments” is most often translated as “weapon” or “armour.”  It is nearly always used in a military context.

In fact the same word “hoplon” was used in John 18:3 to describe the arrest of Jesus.  It says, “So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons (hoplon).” 

Many Bible translators suggest it would be proper to translate Romans 6:13 this way,““Do not present your BODY PARTS to sin as WEAPONS for unrighteousness…” Unrighteousness in the life of a believer can be a loose cannon.  Sin is the most devastating, debilitating and disintegrating power that has ever entered the sphere of creation.  It wreaks havoc, injures and destroys. 

Before we came to know Jesus, the Bible has some pretty startling descriptions about what sin did to us.  Listen to how the Bible describes the destructive power of sin in our lives before we came to know Jesus.

·        Sin is called a pollution of the soul   The Bible says it does to the soul what                  corrosion does to precious metal.  (Is 30)

·        Sin is compared to the venom of serpent and the deadly poison of cobras                  (Deut 32)

·        It is said to be so disgusting that even the good works of a sinner appear to be            just filthy rags to God. (Isaiah 64)

·        It is a defilement of the flesh and the spirit (2 Cor 7)

·        Sin is rebellious.  It ignores and sometimes even tramples God’s word.  It is                 called the ‘would-be-murderer’ of God himself… meaning that is sin had its way, it         would destroy God along with all of His righteousness

·        Sin takes God’s blessing and uses those blessings to serve itself.  It is selfish and          ungrateful.  (2 Sam 14-15)

·        Sin overpowers the mind and overcomes mankind like the darkness overpowers          the night

·        It bring about satanic control into the lives of men so that they are bound to                  carry out Satan’s will

·        Sin promises satisfaction and delivers misery and hopelessness instead (Job 5)

·        Worse of all, sin condemns the unredeemed soul to Hell and outside of Jesus,          there is no escape from its consequences.  In our own effort, not even one sin can          be erased.

One puritan writer said, “if a sinners [repentant] tears where as numberless as all the drops of rain that have fallen since the first day of creation, they would still not be enough to wash away even a single sin.”

But natural man would never shed a tear over sin.  Naturally (without Jesus), we are willingly enslaved to sin.  Unsaved people love sin.  They often hate the consequences of sin, but the sin itself is treasured in their hearts.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that , “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” Before we knew Jesus, sin was a terrible, life wrecking, soul-condemning reality that resided in our hearts and was growing like an incurable cancer.

The greatest gift that God gave to fallen mankind was a remedy for their sinful condition.  If you and I really understand how badly sin affects our lives, why would we ever let it creep back in?  The greatest gift that you are I ever received was freedom from the clutches of this soul-destroying force in our heart called sin and the opportunity to serve righteousness instead.

Righteousness is a weapon that overcomes sin – v. 13-15

It is just as clear from this text that sin DOES NOT HAVE TO REIGN in our bodies any longer.  The power of Christ in you (and the power of Christ in me) is greater than the power of sin.  As a result Paul gives this command: “… present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members [body parts] to God as instruments (weapons – hoplon) for righteousness.” Romans 6:13

In verse 14, Paul give one last encouragement to the believer by saying, “14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”  Verse 14 leads right to the leading question in verse 15.  Given the introduction of God’s grace, someone might ask questions like these:

·        If I’m under grace and not under law, do I really need to get up and read my Bible          in the morning?

·        What is the motivation for me to have self-control if I am not under the law any                longer?

·        Can’t we just do anything we want to do?

In verse 15, Paul again restates the question from verse 1: “15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”  And once again, he give the same emphatic response, “By no means!” 

IN light of the fact that we are alive to Christ and dead to sin, how could we go back to a sinful lifestyle?  Why wouldn’t we want to pursue righteousness?  Paul is now going to begin with a new illustration to demonstrate our new life in Christ.  The very essence of our conversion required us to turn from our slavery to sin in repentance and ask Jesus to be our new Master.  The proof that Jesus really is our New Master is shown by our obedience to His commands.  We were given freedom from sin not a freedom to sin! 

The Apostle continues his explanation by asking a rhetorical question.  Look at verse 16

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Everyone is a slave to something – v. 16-18

The concept of presenting yourself to someone as an obedient slave may be foreign to us.  We tend to think of slaves either being people who were captured in war or kidnapped from a remote country and sold in the marketplace.  However, in Romans time, people who were living in dire poverty would often offer themselves willingly as slaves in order to get food and shelter.  The same kind of thing happens today.

Right now in some parts of the word there are so few jobs that men are desperate for work.  One man that I know in the middle east works for a company that goes into communities with staggering unemployment rates and offers jobs to men if they will move to the Middle east…  BUT there is a catch.

They are not told the nature of the work and they must make a two year commitment in order to work off the moving expenses incurred by the company.  When these workers arrive in the Middle East, the company takes their passports so they cannot leave and they are introduced to a very dangerous job site.  They are held as indentured servants for at least two years… maybe more… until their debt to the company is paid off.  This is the kind of slavery that Paul is using as an analogy.

A slave or indentured servant could not expect to willingly submit themselves to a contractual two year agreement to work for a company and then also expect to be able to work anywhere they wanted to work.  You can’t be both obligated and free at the same time.

It is the same idea with spiritual slavery.  Self-surrender leads to slavery.  Previously (by nature) we surrendered ourselves to sin.  A slave to sin receives a wage, but the wage is spiritual death.  God is offering us something better.  He is offering us the opportunity to serve Him.  Serving Him as Lord and Master leads to righteousness and life.  The incredible rewards offered to servants of the Lord caused Paul to break out in a spontaneous outburst of praise.  Look at verse 17-18.

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Conversion to Christianity is an act of self-surrender.  Being surrendered to the Lord brings with it a radical and total commitment to His service.  Given the nature of our relationship with God, it is crazy to assume that we can serve him while we are still living in sin.  You can’t serve two masters.  There is no way that God would turn a blind eye to one of his servants who obeys a different set of commands other than the ones He had issued. 

Slavery is a helpful but limited analogy – v. 19, Matthew 11:29-30

It is difficult to explain God-sized ideas and complicated truths in a way that human minds can grasp.  Paul admits that his analogy does not paint the entire picture of God’s relationship with us.  Look at verse 19… “19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

Verse 19 is almost an apology for the natural and human terms he is using to describe our justification.  The slave/master relationship does paint a good picture of the exclusivity of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  BUT…. Slavery is not an altogether accurate or appropriate metaphor of the Christian life for two reasons:

1.      The analogy does not take into account the gentile spirit by which he leads and cares for us.  Matthew 11:29 says, “29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  We serve a righteous King who is totally unlike the prideful and self-centered kings in our world. King Jesus is gentle and humble

2.      The analogy does not consider the fact that Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light.  The next verse in Matt 11:30 Jesus says, “30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Serving the Lord is no drudgery.  Serving the Lord is filled with Joy and our New Master is willing and eager to shoulder the heavy burdens for us.  No earthly master would dream of doing such a thing! 

Now having recognized that the analogy of slave and master is not a complete analogy, Paul turned back to it to explain a few last concepts.  There are only two positions that we can have in this life.  Either we are a slave to sin or we are a slave to God.  There is no one who is the master of their own life. 

No one is the master of their own life – v. 20-22

American’s don’t like to hear this truth because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Freedom without Jesus is nothing more than having a choice of what sin you are going to be enslaved to, but it is not really true freedom.  It’s only freedom from righteousness.  Here’s another paradox of the Christian life…Slavery to righteousness is freedom from sin but freedom from righteousness is slavery to sin. 

Look at verse 20.  “20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”  Many people resist the claims of Christ because they are afraid of giving up their cherished “freedoms.”  The reality is that, without Jesus, they have no freedoms to lose.  They are absolutely not free. 

The unsaved person is not free to choose between good or evil.  He is bound and enslaved to sin and the ONLY thing he can do is sin.  His only real choice is when, how, why and to what degree he will sin.  Freedom from the control of righteousness is a license to sin but it leads to the deadly consequences of sin as well.  Look at verse 21:

21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.”

BUT… when we received new life in Christ, we were cut loose from the consequences of sin.  Verse 22

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Freedom from sin leads to eternal life – v. 23

One commentator made this observation (Martin Lloyd Jones), “As you go on living this righteous life and practicing it with all your might and energy….you will find that the process that went on before, in which you went from bad to worse and became viler and viler, is entirely reversed.  You will become cleaner and cleaner and purer and purer and holier and holier and more and more conformed to the image of the Son of God.”

Freedom from sin does not mean incapable of sin, but it means that a person is no longer its helpless subject.  The freedom from sin that Paul is referring to here is not a long range objective or something that might happen someday later on in eternity.  It is a reality of the life of a believer right now.

Without exception, every person who trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord is freed from sin and is a servant of God’s.  Every disciple is granted the same powerful indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and every disciple is given the same incredible rewards. Look at verse 23

 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Life Application

These verses today teach us how to live out, maintain and enjoy our new life in Christ.  We have a new found freedom –  a freedom from sin.  We have a new Master…. A master who we were created to serve and in whom we find perfect satisfaction in his service.

Verse 13 said that parts or members of your body were created to carry out a design or a purpose.  Being a servant of God means that we are continually offering our bodies to the Lord in a way that aligns with the reality of our new position as servants of the King.

Verse 18-19 tell us that we have been set free form sin.  We have entered a new rhelm and there is a new power at work within us.  We no longer need to be controlled by our feelings or impulses, but in Christ we have the power to live according to the directions of our Lord.

In the end any inconvenience or trouble or trial we go through in the service of our king is more than made up for.  This world will pass away soon, but in the real world – in the eternal heavenly kingdom – there is a promise of eternal life for all those who receive the free gift of God’s grace.

Teaching Outline

The Paradox: We are dead to sin, but we live with sin – v 12, Romans 8:22-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:53

Sin is a weapon that brings destruction in our bodies – v. 13, John 18:3

Righteousness is a weapon that overcomes sin – v. 13-15

Everyone is a slave to something – v. 16-18

Slavery is an incomplete analogy – v. 19, Matthew 11:29-30

No one is the master of their own life – v. 20-22

Freedom from sin leads to eternal life – v. 23

Application

In Christ we have the power to live according to the directions of our Lord

There is a promise of eternal life for all those who receive the free gift of God’s grace

By | 2016-11-07T20:10:44+00:00 January 18th, 2015|New Testament, Romans, Romans - New Life In Christ, Sermons|0 Comments

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