Friday, August 2, 2019

Romans Bible Study #12 "Slaves To Righteousness" Romans 6:14-23 (Video and Lesson Notes)

To go to the beginning of the series on Romans, click here...

To go to the last study (#11), click here..
To watch the entire series on YouTube, click here...


Romans 6:6-9 AMPC
We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. [7] For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, [9] Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

Romans 6:10-11 AMPC
For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him]
Passion Translation...12 Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings. 13 So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose.[g]14 Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God.

Warren Wiersbe...Reckoning (Vs. 11 NASB “Consider yourselves” in KJV “reckon yourselves”) is a matter of faith that issues in action. It is like endorsing a check: if we really believe that the money is in the checking account, we will sign our name and collect the money. Reckoning is not claiming a promise, but acting on a fact.”

Wiersbe...Literal translation of vs. 13…”Do not constantly allow sin to reign in your mortal body so that you are constantly obeying its lusts. Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons (or tools) of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all yield yourselves to God.”

Read 6:15-23

In verse 15, Paul restates the same question that he asked in verse 1 in a different way. It is as the “heckler in the audience” rises up again and seizes on the last thing that Paul said in verse 14…”you are not under law but under grace.” The heckler says, “Well, then, if we are under grace and not under law, then that is another reason that we can continue in sin, isn’t it?” (This guy really likes to sin, doesn’t he?). Paul again expresses this most negative of terms which we’ve encountered several times already, translated “May it never be!”

Vs. 16 Paul again turns to the analogy of slavery, which he’s going to stick with through the rest of the chapter.
(say a few words here about the difference in Roman slavery and American slavery...Roman slavery not based on race...could be prisoner of war, abandoned baby, or could sell yourself into slavery in order to eat)

It’s important to keep in mind that Paul was not talking about slavery based on race here. Many of the slaves that Paul were familiar with sold themselves to their owner. They presented themselves to that person and were purchased by them. That may be what he was referring to in this verse. In any event, the idea is that you cannot be the slave or servant of one person and work for another. It doesn’t work that way.

Let’s look at this in modern terms. You are hired by a company. This company is a great company to work for. You used to be employed by one of their rivals. Your old company was a terrible company to work for. You had long hours and little pay. No appreciation. The more you work, the more your old employer required of you. Now you are free from that old master. You are employed by the new company. You show up for work at your new company for a few days, and then...they can’t find you. They ask around and they find out that you are back working for your old company. You’ve put yourselves back under the bondage of the old employer. Now...even though you have been hired by the new company, who are you really working for? What do you think your new employer is going to think of these arrangements? Wouldn’t it be right for your new employer to say, “Well, if you like your old employer so much, you can just go work for him again! You’re fired!” This makes as much sense as a Christian going back to his or her old lifestyle.
In vs. 16, one obedience leads to death (you’re fired!) while the other obedience (to the new employer) results in righteousness (your new employer is pleased with you because you are doing the right thing).

Vs. 17 Paul rejoices that we are freed from our old master (law and sin). This was done when we were “baptized into his death”, entering into a new life. We obeyed from the heart (that is the obedience of faith) that form of teaching to which we were committed (or delivered). We weren’t only delivered from sin, but we were delivered into “a form of teaching.” “Form” means “pattern”, “type”, or “example.

Vine’s…”The metaphor is that of a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its shape. The gospel is the mold.”

So when we voluntarily surrendered to Christ, we exchanged our old master for a new master. Vs. 17 says that we were poured into a mold so that we would become like our master!.

Vs. 18 states this even more explicitly. We were freed from the old master of sin and at the same moment we became slaves to right standing before God and to righteous living.

John Stott…”All human beings are slaves, and there are only two slaveries, to sin and to God. Conversion is a transfer from the one to the other.”

At the beginning verse 19, Paul seems to be apologetic about using slavery as an analogy to our conversion experience. It is important to understand that all analogies in the Bible eventually break down at some point. Paul says that he uses slavery as an example because of the weakness of our flesh.

The next part of verse 19 describes first our experience under sin.
“For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness…” This means that when we yielded to our old master, things just got worse and worse. Lit. “lawlessness unto lawlessness”...also translated NIV “ever-increasing wickedness.” Those who are under sin can only get worse. We see this today in the world at large. Things that were considered out of bounds or even morally repugnant even ten or twenty years ago are now only not tolerated but celebrated...and if you don’t celebrate them you are on the hit list!

The last part of verse 19…”so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Paul is saying here that just as you devoted yourself to unrighteousness in the past resulting in more unrighteousness, now devote (or yield) yourself to righteousness which results in sanctification. (We will talk about sanctification more in a few minutes)

We might rephrase verse 20 as saying “When you were slaves of sin, you had nothing to do with righteousness.” The implication is that now that you are “slaves to righteousness”, you should have nothing to do with sin!

Paul has a final argument to make to the Roman believers as he continues to make the case that they have nothing to do with sin. This time, he turns to their own experience. This is a question everyone who has escaped sin should ask themselves…”What benefit did you derive from your life of sin? The word translated “benefit” literally is “fruit.” What was the fruit of your life of sin? He answers it for them. The outcome...the fruit is death. Separation from God. Separation from all that is good and right. Eternal blackness. Eternal death. That is the end of that road.

Another way of putting this is...where is this road taking you? Is it taking you towards God, towards love, peace, joy, etc., or is it leading you to death

In verse 22, Paul continues to draw contrasts. Now that we have been freed from our old wicked slaveowner of sin and have come under God’s employ, the result, he says, is sanctification, which leads to the ultimate outcome, eternal life.

Now let’s talk about sanctification. (If you missed Sunday’s message on sanctification, you missed a really good one! Pastor Mike’s message is available now on our YouTube channel and our website).

This is the first time that we’ve encountered this word in Romans. Pastor Mike gave us one meaning of sanctification on Sunday which is to consecrate or to dedicate to one purpose. There is a finality to this. Look back at verse 13. Sanctification is the “presenting of yourself to instruments of righteousness to God.” Instruments can mean a tool or a weapon. Remember the paraphrase we started out with? “Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons (or tools) of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all yield yourselves to God.” This is the beginning of our sanctification…”it is once and for all.” It is a transfer of ownership from one master to another. It’s really what we’ve been talking about all along but now we have a word for it!

Sanctification also means “to be separate” or “to be separated.” You might be surprised that sanctification and holiness are almost interchangeable in scripture. In fact, they both come from the same root. What is translated “sanctification” here in NASB is actually translated “holiness” in many other versions. Holiness is what God is. John Piper calls it “his utterly unique, divine essence.” In this sense, it means utterly separate. His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts.

God is often described as righteous and holy and we are called to righteousness and holiness. What is the difference in these two terms? Righteousness generally describes actions. God is “righteous is his ways” it says in Psalm 145. What he does is righteous. What He is is holy. Hebrews 7:26 describes Christ as our Great High Priest. It says He is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” That is a pretty good description of what He is.
Correspondingly, we are called to be not only righteous but holy. Righteousness is what we receive when we trust in Christ. It is truly a gift from God. Holiness is higher than righteousness. It is becoming like Christ. It is becoming more and more conformed to the image of God’s Son.

It is significant to me that the word “holy” or “holiness” does not appear one time in Genesis. Noah was called a righteous man. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Where do you suppose we find the word “holy” in the Bible for the first time? It is in Exodus 3:5. Let me read it to you and see if you remember the context.

Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Moses at the burning bush. What made that ground holy? It was where God was. It was transformed by his presence. God is getting ready to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egyptian slavery to the freedom of Canaan’s land. We will encounter the word holy 46 more times in Exodus. God is not just wanting to make a righteous people. He is wanting to make a holy people.

Look back at verse 19 of Romans 6. Let’s read this substituting “holiness” for “sanctification.”
(It seems to me that generally sanctification is the process while holiness is the end result of sanctification). We yield ourselves to righteousness first. As we yield ourselves to God, who has made us righteous in Christ, we begin to do the right thing more and more. This doing the right thing changes us as we begin more and more to be conformed not only in our actions but in our thinking.

Look at verse 22. This seems to take it a step further. We are freed from sin and enslaved to God, which results in sanctification (or holiness), the end of this is eternal life. That is the outcome of the process of sanctification. It doesn’t mean we earn eternal life, but it means that’s where we’re headed. We will never be fully sanctified until we get to the other side.

BTW, what is a saint? It is a person being sanctified! Remember in the first chapter, Paul describes the Romans as “called as saints” or “called to be saints.” A saint is not someone who lives a perfect life. Rather, it is a person who is in the process of being made Christ-like. Are you a saint? You bet you are?

Let’s look at verse 23 now. Paul wraps this section up with this very famous verse. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” What is the end of sin...death. God’s free gift is eternal life. We don’t often hear this verse in context. Do you see that it is connected with sanctification? Eternal life is a free gift, but so is sanctification. Being made sanctified can be quite a painful process. We talked earlier about being poured into a mold. That doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? Yet, even the process of sanctification is in itself a gift...a free gift from God. Let’s thank God not only for the end result but for the process that God uses to get us there!

NKJV Study Bible…
Most often this verse has been used as a promise of regeneration. The phrase “eternal life” is used 42 times in NT, and it ususually refers to something we receive as a gift at the moment of belief in the gospel (as in John 3:16). But 11 of these 42 times, eternal life is presented as something to be attained. Thus we learm from the Bible that eternal life is not simply a static entity. It is a dynamic and growing relationship with Jesus Christ Himself. (See John 10:10, 17:3). Through living in faith and obedience, Christians can fully enjoy God’s free gift of eternal life.”

I’d like to end by sharing the story of one sanctified life. It’s good to see a see someone who is farther down the road than we are. And this man was far, far down the road from me.

His name was Nicolas Herman. He was born in France in 1611 to a poor family and he received little formal education. As a young man, Nicolas joined the army and fought in the Thirty Year’s War against England. At age 18, while he was still in the military, he had an experience with God that began his spiritual journey. A short time after his conversion, he had a serious injury that left him lame and in pain for the rest of his life. This forced him to leave the army, and he spent a period of time in solitude. Eventually, he entered a monastery in Paris. He took the name Lawrence of the Resurrection. He was then known as Brother Lawrence.

His lack of education kept him from qualifying as a priest. He spent the rest of his life within the monastery, working in the kitchen for most of this time and then later as a cobbler. While assigned to the kitchen, he developed the practice of living always in conscious awareness of God.

Despite his humble position in the community, his reputation attracted many visitors from the outside who sought spiritual guidance from him. The practical wisdom that he shared would later become the basis for this book, The Practice of the Presence of God. His death in 1691 occurred in relative obscurity, but his teachings continued to live on in his words.

I’d like to read a little from that book:

He told me that it all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything that does not lead to God. In this manner we develop the practice of continual communion with Him in freedom and simplicity. We just need to recognize God as intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. When in doubt, we can ask His assistance in knowing His will. We can also ask his help in performing those things which we know He requires of us. We should offer everything to Him before we do it and give Him thanks after we have finished.

Our sanctification does not depend upon changing what we do, but in doing for God’s sake what we normally do for our own sake.

I cannot describe what happens within me now. There is no suffering or difficulty because I have no will but God’s will. I attempt to accomplish God’s will in all things. I am so surrendered to God that I would not pick up a straw from the ground against His will, or from any other motive but love of Him. I have stopped practicing all forms of devotion and set prayers, except those which I am obliged to participate in. I make it my practice only to persevere in His holy presence. I do this simply by paying attention to, and directing my affection to, God. I call this the actual presence of God. It is a habitual, silent, and secret communion of the soul with God. This often causes such joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, that I am forced to make an effort to moderate them to prevent their appearance to others. In short, I am certain beyond all doubt that my soul has been with God above during no the last thirty years.

I consider myself the most wretched of men, full of wounds and uncleanness. I have committed all sorts of crimes against my Sovereign. Prompted by heartfelt repentance, I confess all my wickedness to Him. I ask His forgiveness and give myself fully into His hands. He may do whatever He wants with me. But my Lord, who is full of mercy and goodness, does not punish me. Hi Instead he embraces me in love, seats me at His table, and serves me with His own hands. He hands me the key to His treasure trove. He converses with me and shows his delight in me incessantly in thousands of ways. He treats me in all respects as His favorite son. This is how I come into God’s holy presence. Most often my method is a simple attention to God combined with a general sense of hunger for God. I find myself often attached to God with the great sweetness and delight of an infant at the mother's breast. I hesitate to use the expression, but the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there is as if I were at the bosom of God at all times. Sometimes my thoughts wander away from God by necessity or infirmity. But soon an inner desire brings me back to God. This inward yearning is so delightful and delicious that I am ashamed to describe it. I desire that Your Reverence reflect upon my great wretchedness, of which you are well aware, rather than upon the great blessings which God bestows on me, of which I am unworthy and ungrateful. My set hours of prayer are only a continuation of the same exercise I have been describing. Sometimes I consider myself as a stone before a sculptor, who is making a statue. I present myself to God, and I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.

The spiritual life is neither an art nor a science. To arrive at union with God all one needs is a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, do nothing but for His sake, and to love Him only.

He told me that it all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything that does not lead to God. In this manner we develop the practice of continual communion with Him in freedom and simplicity. We just need to recognize God as intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. When in doubt, we can ask His assistance in knowing His will. We can also ask his help in performing those things which we know He requires of us. We should offer everything to Him before we do it and give Him thanks after we have finished.

Our sanctification does not depend upon changing what we do, but in doing for God’s sake what we normally do for our own sake.

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