Summary: Does it matter if we fight our sinful nature, or give up and give in? If faith is all that matters, why should we bother to live a godly life and listen to God’s commands? Paul’s question is one we also ought to ask ourselves: Who is your master?
Opening illustration: A pastor was teaching a Bible Information Class to a young couple who were brand new Christians. The first lesson was on law and gospel - the two basic messages in Scripture. The pastor explained the law: God desires us to be perfect, but we are sinful and can never reach perfection, and so we deserve God’s punishment for sin now and forever. The pastor explained the gospel: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, took our place under God’s law, lived a perfect life for us, suffered the punishment for our sin on the cross, died and rose again from the dead to open heaven for us. There’s nothing we can do to get right with God; Jesus did it all for us. After the pastor explained the gospel to this young couple, the woman said, “Then why does it matter how we live? This sounds much like a ‘License to have a sinful lifestyle’ and ‘Get out of hell free’ card!”
That’s a great question. Scripture is clear that Christ has done everything to make us right with God, and that gift of forgiveness is something we receive only by faith in Jesus and not by the things we do. If that’s true, does it matter how we live our lives? Does it matter if we fight our sinful nature, or give up and give in? If faith is all that matters, why should we bother to live a godly life and listen to God’s commands? Paul’s question is one we also ought to ask ourselves: Who is your master? Are you controlled by sin, or are you controlled by righteousness?
Let us turn to Romans 6 in God’s Word and check out the Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Rome on how their choice of the master would matter in the manifestation of their fruit and consequences.
Introduction: Billy Graham said, "The strongest principle of life and blessings lies in our choice. Our life is the sum result of all the choices we make, both consciously and unconsciously. If we can control the process of choosing, we can take control of all aspects of our life. We can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of our life. So start with what is right rather than what is acceptable. "If you don’t make a decision, then time will make it for you, and time will always side against you."
Paul responds to the supposition that grace encourages or permits sin. He uses the analogy of slavery to combat a casual attitude toward sin and issues a stern warning on the dire consequences of yielding to sin. We are freed from sin not free to sin.
How the choice of your master matters?
1. Choose Sin OR Obedience (vs. 15-18)
In the 1970s Bob Dylan sang a song entitled, “You Gotta’ Serve Somebody!” Dylan took this song straight out of Scripture. The apostle Paul states that every person serves somebody or something. He writes, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (6:15) Paul returns to his original question in 6:1: Does grace encourage sin? Once again his response is, “May it never be!” or “What in the world are you thinking?!” (My translation) Perhaps you’re thinking, “This sounds just like 6:1. Is this a case of déjà vu?” No, not exactly. In 6:1-14 Paul explained that Christ has broken the bonds of sin that enslave us; in 6:15-23 he warns that even though we are free we can become enslaved to sin by yielding to temptation. It is not enough to be a new person and have a new position. We must cooperate daily with the Holy Spirit and give ourselves away as “slaves” to who we are. True freedom is slavery to Christ.
We are slaves and we have no choice as to which master we serve. Your master is either sin, or it is righteousness. You do have a choice as to how you will serve that master, but not which one you serve. Consider any type of slavery you can think of, 19th American, 1st century Roman, 13th century Arabic, etc, and imagine the following scenario. A slave comes up to his master and says, "You know, you’ve been quite mean to me recently, so I have decided to leave your service and go be a slave to a nicer man." What would happen to that slave? Well, if he lived through the beating, he would continue to serve his hard master until his master decided to sell him, or was forced to release him by some power greater than himself. You might think you can "Pick your Master" as if you have any choice. There is no choice in this matter because you have no power or desire to leave your master of sin. But thanks be to God, that’s what the cross did for you and me. At the cross sin was relieved of those chosen by God. Not a one was lost or hidden by Satan to prevent God’s purpose from being accomplished. Every one of you washed by faith in the water and blood of baptism have been set free from sin and enslaved to righteousness. Sin leads to death and obedience to God and His Word leads to righteousness.