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Summary: In our study today, Paul teaches us that there are only two masters in the spiritual world, and Christians are slaves--happy slaves--to obedience.

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Scripture

Let us read Romans 6:15-23:

"15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

"20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:15-23)

Introduction

In his commentary on Romans, John MacArthur (from whom much of today’s sermon is taken) says that “sin is the most devastating, debilitating, degenerating power that ever entered the human stream.” Sin has impacted every area of life; there is nothing that has not been impacted and affected by sin.

Sin, however, is often misunderstood. Let me give you an example.

Last week I mentioned that Oprah Winfrey has teamed up with Eckhart Tolle on Monday evenings to teach an interactive Web event on how to have a better way of life. Eckhart Tolle’s teaching is not at all compatible with Biblical truth. Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, says it well, “Let me cut right to the chase: Tolle’s supposedly groundbreaking message is simply the same old New Age thinking in pretty packaging. While Tolle acknowledges something wrong with the human condition (what Christians call ‘sin’), he preaches the need not for repentance and salvation, but for a new ‘awakening.’”

Tolle admits that there is something fundamentally wrong with all humanity. He says that all religions call it something different, but they are essentially describing the same “inherited dysfunction.” This is how he says that Christianity understands it:

"According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition."

The problem with Tolle’s view of sin is that he has explained only one facet of sin when in fact sin is multi-faceted. Sin is indeed “to miss the mark,” but it is also “to fail in duty,” “transgression,” “overstepping set limits,” “rebellion,” “trespassing God’s kingly prerogative,” “incurring guilt,” “a false step out of the appointed way,” “trespass on forbidden ground,” “iniquity,” “perverseness,” “wrongness,” “lawlessness,” and “lawbreaking.”

Sin is not merely a failure to live up to one’s potential; it is an inability to do anything at all that is pleasing to God.

And so, the greatest gift God could give to fallen sinners is freedom from sin, and it is that very gift that he offers through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Lesson

In our study today, Paul teaches that there are only two masters in the spiritual world, and Christians are slaves—happy slaves—to obedience.

I. The Question (6:15a)

Paul begins with a question in verse 15a: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”

Paul anticipates the question of some that because we are the recipients of God’s amazing grace, we can now sin freely.

The doctrine of grace has always been subject to that false charge, which Paul first answered in the first half of chapter 6. But because the misunderstanding was so common and the issue so critical, he answers again from a slightly different perspective.

II. The Answer (6:15b)

Paul gives the same forceful and unambiguous answer he gave in verse 2: “By no means!” (6:15b).

The idea is, “No, no, a thousand times no!” The mere suggestion that God’s grace is a license to sin is self-contradictory, a logical as well as a moral and spiritual absurdity.

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