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Romans 6:16-23 (web)

Sanctification and Sin II

Set Free From Sin
Slaves with Respect to Behavior

6:15 What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be!
6:16 Don't you know that to whom you present yourselves as servants to obedience,
his servants you are whom you obey;
whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?

6:17 But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were bondservants of sin,
you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered.
6:18 Being made free from sin, you became bondservants of righteousness.

6:19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh,
for as you presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to wickedness upon wickedness,
even so now present your members as servants to righteousness for sanctification.
6:20 For when you were servants of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
6:21 What fruit then did you have at that time in the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.

6:22 But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God,
you have your fruit of sanctification, and the result of eternal life.

6:23 For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Discussion Questions

Is the idea of a slave to sin in this section talking about sin determining our destiny or sin controlling our behavior?

How do you answer people, according to this section, who may ask "If Christians are freely forgiven and if their salvation status is not dependent upon their performance, then why should they worry about not sinning? If salvation is secure, then why not do whatever you feel like doing? What incentive is there for not sinning?"

What corrupting effects can sin have in a person's life?

What benefits do you and will you get from living righteously?


Freed from Sin, but not Freed to Sin

Rom 6:16-18
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. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

It is an oxymoron to say we are free to sin, seeing as sinning is a form of slavery.  But even back in New Testament times there were those who claimed to be Christians but preached that Christians should feel free to continue in sin. "For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity— for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." 2Peter 2:18,19

Deception is the sinful nature's most effective weapon, convincing the regenerate that it's sinful desires are our desires. They're not. Paul will elaborate upon this distinction later in chapter 7 and chapter 8. Obedience to God is characteristic of those born of God, as Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 Thus "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." 1John 2:3  Obedience accompanies saving faith. And while there is a struggle against the flesh in the process of obedience, it is not begruding, legalistic obedience, but rather from the heart. In fact to avoid a legalistic sense of obedience, God has given very few regulations with regards to Christian living. Rather most commands given to the Christians found in the epistles are about attitude, commands which cannot be followed if one weren't doing so with one's heart.

Let not people have the misconception that being set free from sin we are free to do whatever we want. For "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 And the regenerate nature in a sense enslaves us to do what is right. Thus "No one who is born of God will (characteristically) continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot (characteristically) go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9

What Fruit Would You Prefer?

Rom 6:19-21 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.

I reckon one thing that motivates behavior is considering the end product. Sin begats sin. Compromises can lead to greater sins and addictions in which one can become entrenched. Paul described the general process of depravity in chapter 1. There he also spoke of shameful lusts (Rom 1:26) But while the unregenerate may not feel ashamed, when a person comes to Christ, shame for sinful deeds follows. Shame for sinful deeds is indicative of a healthy conscience. And consequently the conscience can motivate one to right behavior, as also one's perception of the outcome of sin. Sin brings shame and while it doesn't bring condemnation for those born of God, it does bring depravity and unfruitfulness, so why sin? Sinning is unproductive. Notice how this kind of motivation differs from the law of sin and death. This is walking by the Spirit. It's motivated by perspectives and attitudes which are a product of faith in Christ.

The believer has the potential of living a fruitful life. In fact with regards to his own life Paul didn't even consider it possible that his life would be unfruitful. For he says, "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me." Php 1:22a For Jesus said, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit" John 15:5b

The Wage vs. The Gift

Rom 6:22,23 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.

While slavery has a negative connotation, in fact we are all slaves. Among other things, we are either slaves to God or slaves to sin. But realize also that being a slave is not the same as being a puppet. Slaves have a free will to obey or disobey their master, but those who are slaves to sin are coerced by the sinful nature to sin, while those who are slave to God have pledged allegiance to Jesus as Lord and are given such a nature such as obedience to God becomes natural. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph 2:10

Death with respect to our relationship with God is the wage of sin. But eternal life is not the wage of God but the gift of God. Remember back in chapter 4 he made a contrast between a wage and a gift. "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:4,5 People work to be condemned. They deserve condemnation because they worked for it. But we don't earn eternal life. Eternal life is God's gift. Consequently the believer does not produce fruit to holiness in order to be saved. Rather we are first saved, guaranteed eternal life, and then work to be holy - a process known as sanctification.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 28,2022