Romans 6:15-23

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Text: Romans 6:15-23

WE ARE DEAD TO SIN

INTRODUCTION:

As we study Romans 6:15-23 we see that the believer should no longer desire to commit a single act of sin.

Many people who profess to be born again believers seem to be constantly beset by sin; whereas, a few others seem to experience continual victory over sin. What is the secret of their victory?

We remind ourselves that we as believers were united together with Christ when we were saved, and we see that we are therefore to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin and also to reckon ourselves to be alive unto God. We are not to yield our members to sin any longer to be used as tools for unrighteousness. Instead, we are once and for all to yield our members to God to be used as tools for righteousness.

We see that -

I. WE ARE NOT TO COMMIT ACTS OF SIN BECAUSE WE ARE UNDER GRACE - 6:15

Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Paul introduces a possible objection to what he had written in verse 14 by what then? Shall we say must be supplied in the mind of the reader to complete Paul's thought. It is possible that this objection had actually been raised on many other occasions.

The objection is put in the form of a question, Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? In verse 1 Paul had asked if we should continue in sin by which he was asking whether we should continue to let our old sin natures exercise dominion over us. Here he asks if we should continue to commit acts of sin because we are under grace. The grace of God has resulted in our salvation and justification. Does that permit us to sin because we are no longer under law? Have we been set free so that we can commit sin? In other words, is it now all right to commit sin?

Under the law is used in the sense of under the rule of the law, under the control of the law, under the power of the law, under the sovereignty of the law, or under the command of the law. As in the previous verse, the is not in the Greek text before law. Hence, it has reference to law as a principle rather than specifically to the Mosaic Law.

Paul answers his own question with God forbid, the very strong negative which Paul has used several times earlier in this letter. It is understood in the sense of may it never be, absolutely not, perish the thought, by no means, or no way!

A. We are not under the law

In Romans 2:6-11 we see three things:

1. The Law required perfect obedience

2. The Law promised a reward for perfect obedience

3. The Law promised punishment for falling short of perfect obedience

Romans 2:6-11 - (6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (11) For there is no respect of persons with God.

B. We are under grace

1. Grace enables God to deal with us in a way which we do not deserve

2. Grace gives us power to obey - Hebrews 4:16

Hebrews 4:16 - Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

3. Grace teaches us that we should want to obey God - Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14 - (11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Not only do we see that we are not to commit acts of sin because we are under grace, but we also see that -

II. AT SALVATION WE BECAME SERVANTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS - 6:16-18

Romans 6:16-18 - 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? 17 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. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Verse 16 teaches a general truth.

In the past we obeyed the old sin nature. Now we have a new master whom we must obey - v. 17-18

There is no intermediate circumstance. We went from being slaves to sin to being slaves or righteousness. There is no in-between situation. When we were freed from being slaves to sin, we instantly became the slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:16 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?

Know ye not? is a question which expects a positive answer and is to be understood in the sense of you know, don't you? Yes. What is known is the rest of the verse.

To whom ye yield is the same term used in verse 13 meaning to whom you place yourselves at their disposal, to whom you bring yourselves, to whom you offer yourselves, or to whom you present yourselves.

Servants means slaves or bondslaves.

To obey is literally unto obedience or for obedience.

His servants ye are to whom ye obey is Paul's way of saying that people are slaves of whomever or of whatever they obey.

Servants again means slaves or bondslaves.

Ye obey is used in the sense of you follow or you are subject to and carries with it the idea of submission.

Whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness indicates the two possibilities. One can either be a slave to sin and thereby disobedient to God, or one can be a slave characterized by obedience to God. If someone fully surrenders to sin, he will serve as a slave of sin. The end result of serving as a slave of sin is death. By contrast, the end result of being a slave of obedience (to God) is righteousness. The supreme act of obedience is obeying or believing the gospel message.

Romans 6:17 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.

Verse 16 refers to a general truth that people are either slaves of sin or slaves characterized by obedience to God. By contrast verse 17 refers to the position of believers in Christ.

But indicates that this contrast is about to be given.

God be thanked is literally thanks to God. The reason God the Father is to be thanked is given in the rest of the verse.

That is used in the sense of because.

Ye (i.e. you) were indicates continuous action in past time and implies that it is no longer this way.

The servants of sin is literally slaves of sin.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast.

The tense of have obeyed indicates an action completed in past time. Obeyed is the same term used in the previous verse which means follow or be subject to.

From the heart indicates that they believed the gospel message wholeheartedly.

That form of doctrine is the gospel message.

Form means figure or pattern.

Doctrine means teaching or instruction.

Which was delivered you is actually passive and is literally unto which you were delivered.

Delivered is handed over, given over, or entrusted. They were entrusted with the gospel message, and they responded by believing it.

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Verse 18 tells what happened when they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered them.

Being then made free is understood either as after you were freed or because you were freed. Both are true.

From sin indicates what the believers were set free from. They have been slaves to sin, but now they have been set free from this bondage.

Ye (i.e. you) became the servants of righteousness is you were made slaves of righteousness, you were enslaved to righteousness, or you were subjected to righteousness.

Sin and righteousness are personified as slave owners or masters. People either serve the one, or they serve the other. There are no other alternatives.

In addition to having become servants of righteousness, we see that -

III. WE MUST YIELD OUR BODIES AS SERVANTS TO RIGHTEOUSNESS - 6:19-20

In the past we yielded our members as slaves to uncleanness and sin. Now we must yield our members as slaves to righteousness unto holiness (i.e. with a view toward holiness).

Romans 6:19-20 - 19 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. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Things are different now that you are saved. Before you were saved, you yielded your bodily members to sin, but now you are to yield them to righteousness. Paul explains that his manner of speaking is after the manner of men. By this he means that he was speaking in human terms.

Because of the infirmity of your flesh is because of the weakness of your flesh. Paul is speaking in human terms because of the weakness of his readers' flesh.

For as . . . even so indicates that a comparison is being made.

Ye have yielded is you offered, you presented, or you put at someone's disposal.

What they yielded in the past is their members, i.e. their (body) parts or limbs.

They presented them as servants or as slaves.

Furthermore, they presented their body parts to uncleanness, which is personified as a master or owner of slaves.

They also presented their body parts to iniquity, i.e. lawlessness, which is also personified as a master or owner of slaves.

To iniquity unto iniquity means that they presented their members as slaves to commit one act of iniquity or lawlessness after another, i.e. they repeatedly committed acts of lawlessness. In the past the lives of believers were characterized by sin.

Now things are to be different, and the contrast is introduced by even so.

Yield is the same term used to describe their action in the past. Its tense indicates a one-time presentation. It is a single act of dedication which is never to be repeated. The same verb is used in the same tense in Romans 12:1 where it is translated present.

Yield your members servants to righteousness. Now they are to present their bodily members as slaves to righteousness instead of to uncleanness and to iniquity.

Unto holiness is used in the sense of to consecration or to sanctification. Whereas they had performed one act of lawlessness after another, now they are to perform each act of righteousness with consecration in view. Whereas they had been dedicated to committing evil deeds, now believers are to be completely dedicated to committing acts of righteousness because they have been set apart for God's use. Their lives are to be lived with holiness in mind.

Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

In verse 20 Paul begins an explanation of what he has written in verse 19 as is indicated by for.

When suggests at the same time that.

Both verbs are identical and are translated you were, and their tense indicates continuing action in past time.

You were the servants of sin is you were slaves of sin. For a period of time in the past they were slaves of sin. Sin is again personified as a master of slaves.

At the same time that they were slaves of sin, they were free from righteousness.

Free is used in the sense of independent of (or not bound with reference to) righteousness.

Righteousness is also personified as a master of slaves. While they were slaves of sin, they were free with reference to righteousness, i.e. they were not slaves of righteousness. It would be impossible to be slaves both of sin and of righteousness at the same time because they are opposites.

We not only have new obligations and new duties, but in addition -

IV. WE HAVE NEW REWARDS - 6:21-23

In the past the fruit we could expect was death, i.e. the consequences of sin. Now the fruit we have is holiness (i.e. sanctification) and everlasting life.

Romans 6:21-23 - 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In verse 21 Paul reminds his readers of the consequences of their former way of life. The English text leaves untranslated a word which means therefore, so, consequently, or accordingly.

The tense of had ye indicates continuous action in past time in the sense of you (plural) were having.

Paul inquires what fruit had ye (i.e. were you having) then (i.e. at that time). The implication is that their fruit at that time would have been no good. It would have been either bad or non-existent.

In which means over which, and now is contrasted with then. The time represented by now is the time after or since you were saved; whereas, the time represented by then was before you were saved.

The tense of you are . . . ashamed indicates continuous action in past time. The believer continuously views his life prior to his salvation with shame, and the reason for this is introduced by for, which is used in the sense of because.

The end is the goal toward which a movement is being directed, and in this context it refers to the final destiny which awaits unbelievers.

The end of those things (which you did before you were saved and of which you are now ashamed) is death. In verse 23 death is contrasted with eternal life; therefore, it must mean the second death spoken of in Revelation, i.e. eternal death in Gehenna or the lake of fire. By no stretch of the imagination, however, can this eternal death be twisted to mean annihilation which is falsely taught by some. Along with Satan all unbelievers will be tormented day and night forever and ever. As physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, so spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God in the lake of fire.

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Verse 22 is contrasted to verse 21 as is indicated by but now.

Now is emphatic.

Being made free is literally having been made (or set) free. It can be understood in a temporal sense, i.e. after you have been set free; but it can also be understood in a causal sense, i.e. because you have been set free, since you have been set free, or inasmuch as you have been set free.

What believers were set free from is sin. Sin no longer is master or ruler over those who believe.

And become servants is literally having become slaves, i.e. having been made slaves or having been enslaved. As with being made free, become slaves can also be understood as indicating time, i.e after you have been made slaves; or it can be understood as indicating cause, i.e. because you have been made slaves. Whereas, prior to their salvation, believers had been slaves of sin, they were set free from sin as their master at the time of their salvation. Also, at the time of their salvation they became slaves to God.

Whereas, prior to their salvation, the fruit they had was worthless and their final end was death; now that they have been saved, they have their fruit unto holiness.

Holiness was also used in verse 19. It is to be understood in the sense of consecration or sanctification.

Now, instead of death, their end is everlasting life.

Of those things, which refers to their conduct as believers, should be supplied from the previous verse with end. It is the end or final destiny of believers.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 23 was written in order to explain Paul's meaning in verses 21 and 22. It also functions as a summary of what Paul wrote in chapters 5 and 6. In verse 21 he wrote, For the end of those things is death, and in verse 22 he wrote, And the end everlasting life.

Wages was used to mean ration-(money) paid to a soldier. It later came to mean pay, wages, and even salary or compensation. It is not just wages; it is the wages. The use of the before wages indicates that it is the specific wages of sin that is being indicated. It leaves no doubt that there are no other wages sin pays. Death is the only wages sin pays.

The wages of sin is best understood as the wages paid by sin, although the wages earned by sin is also possible.

The wages paid (or earned) by sin is death. In this context death is eternal death as contrasted with eternal life.

A contrast is indicated by but.

The gift is the same word translated free gift in Romans 5:15 and 16. It is not just any gift, either; it is the gift. It is the gift of God, which may mean either that it is God's gift which He gave or the gift from God. There is little difference, and in either case the gift is eternal life.

In Greek there is no difference between everlasting life in verse 22 and eternal life in verse 23. They are the same Greek words.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord is the identical phrase used in Romans 6:11 . It means the gift of eternal life is available exclusively through (or by means of) Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION: