Last week we looked at the desperate need for passion in the Church today. Is there anything else we need? Yes! We need to understand that God’s Grace has made us free from the bondage of sin to serve Him freely and powerfully. We need to become servants of righteousness.
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 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.” Romans 6:15-18
Paul uses an excellent technique to emphasize and drive home his point — “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” This question is similar to the one Paul posed in verses 1 & 2 of chapter 6: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”
The Believer’s Responsibility
Sin no longer dominates us. We are free from the requirements of the Law. We can choose to do whatever we want. But should we choose sin? No!
“shall we sin” — notice this is slightly different than verse 1. The question there is “shall we continue in sin.” Verse 1 deals with sin as a habit, a continual lifestyle of sin. Paul says we shouldn’t continue in sin. Verse 15 is aorist subjunctive — it refers to a single act. Can’t we just commit a single act of sin since we’re not under law, but under grace? “May it not be!” “Away with the thought!” “By no means!”
Verse 16: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” The NIV reads: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
Paul is again dealing with our “position.” As believers, we have changed masters. Christ lives “in” us. We belong to Him.
The word “servants” means “slaves.” It is the most abject and servile term for a slave in the Greek language. It carries the idea of “one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another.” The will of Satan is that sinners sin and continue to sin. That leads to death. God’s Will is that sinners obey Him and continue to obey. That obedience leads to righteousness.
Verse 17: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants [slaves] of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
Literal – “But thanks to God that you were slaves of sin, but out of the heart you obeyed a form of teaching to which you were delivered.”
Paul taught that believers obeyed “a form” of teaching. The word “form” in the Greek is “the representation or pattern” of anything. It is a mold or frame. The Greeks used the term for a frame or cast into which molten material was poured so as to protect its shape. Keep that picture in your mind. “…which was delivered to you” should be “to which you were delivered.” Paul’s teaching, his doctrine of the Gospel of God’s Grace, is the frame or mold. We were delivered into it. We fit the mold, not the other way around.
What is the outcome of this obedience? Verse 18: “Being then made free from sin, you become the servants of righteousness.” The NIV reads: “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” The literal is: “having been freed from sin you were enslaved to righteousness.”
Paul presents our position in “black and white” terms. There is no gray area. We were slaves to sin. Christ died, rose and freed us from sin. The word “free” means “liberated.” We were liberated from sin! It’s like someone who is under a death sentence and receives a last-minute pardon to go free from prison. We are free from sin! We used to live under a sentence of death. Now we are alive in Christ and are servants of righteousness.
What about our personal behavior? “Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Away with the thought!”
The Gift of God
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from things wherof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:19-23
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” What Paul is saying is that he’s putting things in human terms. It’s almost an apology for using such human language for high spiritual truths, but he did it because of the frailties or weakness of the natural self.
“…for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”
“Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness and holiness.” NIV
Paul gives us further background into the way things used to be: “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” We were free of its control in our lives. “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” What good did all that sinning do for us? Now we’re ashamed of our former behavior. All the stuff that used to be so important is now nothing. In fact, our former behavior is an embarrassment to us! Those things resulted in death.
Things are different now. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Paul already told us we are servants of righteousness. The fruit of our service leads to holiness, sanctification, and the end for us is not an end at all–it is eternal life!
Paul summarizes his points in a powerful and memorable way. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin pays its workers. The wages are “death.” Sin leads only to death. God, however, does not pay a wage to workers. He gives a “gift” to those who will receive it; to those who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. His gift to them is eternal life.
God’s Gift is a Gift of Grace. We don’t work for it. We don’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. We receive it as a free gift from God. It is the Gift of Eternal Life. It is our Salvation. It is our Hope.
If you have received God’s Gift of Grace, rejoice! Enjoy it every day.
If you have not received God’s Gift of Grace, do it now. There’s no need to wait any longer. Life doesn’t get better without it. We only get closer to death. When we receive God’s Gift through Jesus Christ, we receive eternal life.
Pray a prayer similar to this now if you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
“God, I know you love me because you said so in your Word. I know I am a sinner and I agree with You that sin leads to death. God, I believe in you and I believe in your Son Jesus Christ. I believe He died for me, was buried for me, and rose from the grave for me. I believe in His power to save me and give me eternal life. Right now, I place my faith and trust in Him. I know that by believing in Christ I have eternal life. I know that you have forgiven my sins. I know I will be with you forever. Thank you. In Jesus Name. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, please write me. I would love to tell you more about life in Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,