THE TWO MASTERS OF MAN
In the previous passage Paul has been teaching doctrine and the new man's ability to appropriate and live out that doctrine by faith in its truthfulness. After stating the doctrine and that we are by faith to appropriate it, he now states the practical daily experience to see whether we have made it our own or not. Doctrine truly combined with belief always has corresponding verifiable actions (CIT).
Our union with Christ secures not only our pardon, but also destroys the power of sin that was our old master and allows us the opportunity to serve God and live under the reign of the Gospel.
If we have died with Christ to sin and been raised by resurrection power that enables us to walk in new life, we can determine whether acts of sin or acts of righteousness will come from our life. For man cannot serve two masters.
I. Sin's Seizure, 12.
II. Submissions's Service, 13
III. Sanctification's Supply, 14.
Verse 12 hums with energy and urgency as believers are call to action. The cross and resurrection of Jesus have broken the power of sin, and believers at last stand before a real choice. We now can choose not to sin. After counting on what Christ has done, we can stop allowing sin to reign supreme in our lives. When this is understood, the believer must make some decisions to make. The one found in verse 12 is the command not to let sin use our earthly bodies."Therefore you must not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts."
First Paul deals with the negative of not yielding yourselves to sin, then he will deal with the positive replacement of giving yourself to God (vv 13b). Sin seeks to seize you in its power. It seeks to reign over your life. Reign ( ) is a present imperative and could be translated; "you must not let sin continue to reign as it once did" (5:12). Your sinful nature has been dethroned and divine nature has been imparted.
The dominance of the sinful nature has been broken, therefore God can make such a demand of the Christian who is living in the knowledge of the power of the Cross and reckoning himself dead to sin. Although the dominance of the sinful nature has been broken this does not mean it has been eradicated. The believer will no longer constantly live in sin, but he will experience an opposing force.
No one acquainted with the life of David would deny that he was indeed a child of God; in fact he was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). Nevertheless, at times he allowed sin to reign in his mortal body, and David is not the exception. It is therefore understandable that the Bible urges believers to constantly be on guard against this great danger of surrendering to evil passions, passions like those in the case of David that entice fleshly desires.
You must not let sin reign in your mortal body. Mortal ( ), meaning that which is subject to death. What the Bible is saying is that sin manifests itself through the organ of our body. The reign of sin in a life demands obedience of our mortal bodies to its sinful lusts.
Routine and habit are powerful task masters. When we do something over and over again we learn it deeply. A child plays scales up and down the piano keyboard again and again to master them. A college student writes out foreign words again and again in order to let them become part of him. An athlete practices and practices his shots on the court so he will not have to consciously think about them on game day. Habits, in this sense, can be helpful and positive.
But we all know that he threads of a habit can become a steel cable. Charles Layhton starred as the villain in the classic movie, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." He said that he had to strap himself in a harness and tie himself hunched over in order to look like a genuine hunchback. But as the days of the films stretched into weeks, Layhton found that it took longer for him to stand up straight after the days's filming. His body was getting used to being bent over.
This happens morally, too. A person can choose to stay bent over and misshapen morally instead of standing up straight in Christ. One can choose the darkness and live more like an animal than a human being made in God's image.
The believer has the responsibility of keeping the sinful nature from mounting the throne of his heart, the place which the Lord Jesus should occupy. The believer is well able to do this. His will is free. He has the divine nature and the Holy Spirit urging him to, by faith, appropriate the power of the Cross and Resurrection and obey the Word.
The reign of sin in the believer's life should be over. He need never indulge himself with what Christ died to save him from. Since the believer is united with Christ in His death and life he should live accordingly.
II. SUBMISSION'S SERVICE, 13.
The appeal to the Romans in verse 13 is that since Christians are dead to sin, let them henceforth live to God! "And you must not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but you must present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
Man has been created as a servant (Phil. 2:7) and he will serve. He will be obedient to sin or he will be obedient to God. Either God or sin will reign in his life. Verse 13 tells us which one we will serve.
[STAY OUTA THEM PLACES] You've probably heard the story of the man who walked into the office of a country doctor, clutching his arm and in great pain. "Doc, you gotta help me," he moaned. "I broke my arm in two places. What should I do?" "Well," responded the doctor, "there's only one thing for you to do. Stay outa them places!"
That may have been useless advice for that patient, but in the spiritual realm there is great protection in avoiding situations that tempt us to sin. It may be that the conversation during lunch with one of our co-workers always turns into complaining about our boss. Perhaps when we play golf with John we use his bad language after a poor shot. Maybe frequenting a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet caters to our desire to overindulge. Or it could be that whenever we shop at a certain store we pick up a pornographic magazine.
Breaking sinful habits is difficult. The patterns may be deeply established. Our bodies and minds crave the release some things seem to bring. Sinful patterns can be broken only as we present ourselves to God and depend on the Holy Spirit to warn us and help us "stay outa them place" where we are sure to fall.
The word "presenting" ( µ , pres. act. imper.) means standing along side. What the text is saying is stop the habit of putting yourself or your members in those sinful attitudes, circumstances or situations. Members ( µ ) are the faculties that make up our bodies. Our members are the instruments which sin uses to regain its dominion over us.
Sin is here personified as a dictator who demands alliance, service, and obedience. Believers are commanded to not let sin be their master. But (is emphatic, ) you must present (aor. Act. imper.) yourselves to God." Do it now, do it decisively, do it completely! The Bible is saying do not continue to put yourselves at the disposal of sin. but right now, completely and decisively, put yourselves at God's disposal. Offer yourselves unreservedly to Him!
Present yourself - give God full authority over your life; all you are, and all you possess. Present yourselves not who you were in the old man, but who you are now, belonging to Christ through His purchase of you by His death on the Cross (1 Cor. 6:10, 20). Don't let yourself be used to bring about deeds of death, but deeds of life!
[MEMBERS PRESENTED TO GOD] A Christian was traveling by train and found himself in a car with three non-Christians who wanted to pass the time playing poker. Lacking a fourth to complete the game, they invited the Christian to join them. "I am sorry to disappoint you," he said, "but I cannot join your game for I have not brought my hands with me." "Whatever do you mean" they asked in bland astonishment. He replied, "This pair of hands does not belong to me, they belong to the Lord."
Presenting yourself to God implies a recognition that you are altogether His. This giving of yourselves is a definite thing. There is a specific definite time when your life passes out of your control into His control. After you have presented your whole self, your total being, you will need to also dedicate each member, each separate faculty of your being to God as His tools for righteousness; that is instruments by which righteousness may be effected.
Both God and sin are looking for instruments to use. God works through human instrumentality. If He wants a message spoken, He finds a man that will speak it. If He wants a deed done, He finds a person willing to uplift someone. In the same way, if a sin is going to get perpetrated, it must lure someone into doing it. There is a battle between God and sin and God is demanding that those who are born again choose to do righteousness.
It is our wills that are in question here. That strong self-assertive will of mine must go to the Cross and I must give myself wholly to the Lord. We cannot expect a tailor to make us a coat if we do not give him any cloth, not a builder to build us a house if we let him have no building material; and in the same way, we cannot expect the Lord to live out His life in us if we do not give Him our lives in which to live. Without reservations, without controversy, we must give ourselves to Him to do as He pleases with us (Nee, The Normal Christian Life, p. 105).
You are no longer dead in trespasses and sin, necessitating that you serve sin, but your are alive, raised out of the dreadful consequences. Who, having been restored to life, would desire to return to the decaying consequences of the grave?
III. SANCTIFICATION'S SUPPLY, 14.
Verse 14 let's us know that our struggle with sin in not a hopeless matter because Christians are under the dominion of grace not law. "For sin will not be your master, for you are not under law but under grace."
The previous imperatives reach their climax in this great promise. It is not a hopeless struggle in which the believer is engaged, but one in which victory is assured. It is joyful confidence to know that the power of sin has been effectually broken and the triumph of holiness secured by the work of Christ.
The law is able to do many things: it commands, demands, rebukes, condemns, restrains, and even points away from itself to another. There is however, one thing law can never do. It cannot save. "By work of law will no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16).
But God has brought about a solution. Read Galatians 3: 10-14. Yes, by God's grace Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. And truly "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (8:1). By accepting the Son of God's death for your sins on the Cross as the only means of your acceptance before God, you are accepting the way of grace. And grace not only saves you, it empowers you.
In Christian discipleship the ethical imperatives are based on our new life relationship with Christ. We are not confronted with a higher ethical code and then ordered to keep it in our strength only. But God grants grace day by day that we might walk in His will, in obedience to Him. If a Christian fails morally, it is not because the needed power was not available. It is because it was not appropriated.
The law demands obedience, but grace supplies the power to obey; hence grace breaks the mastery of sin as law cannot. If sin is continuously mastering you, you prove yourself to be living under law instead of being recipient of God's amazing grace which would strive against sin and deliver you from its power over you.
[ "Do this and live, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word the gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings." Wings in scripture speak of supernatural power. ]
[Made to Soar] When I visit the zoo I'm saddened at the sight of caged eagles. I can't stand the pain of seeing those majestic birds sit there on their perches day after day, their burnished brown wings draped over them like an ill-fitting old coat. They were created for the heights, to dance among the clouds, not to be prisoners in a cage. Those birds were made to fly.
Many people who profess that they are Christ's men and women are like those caged eagles. They are made to live as free citizens of heaven, but they are imprisoned by their own sin. Their condition must break God's heart. He knows what they could become, but they have put themselves in a cage. And the irony is that it is a cage with open doors.
The apostle Paul said that we who have put our trust in Christ have died with Him to the sin that confined us in our old life. And we are now alive in Him. We are not the person we used to be. Therefore, we must stop facing life as we used to face it.
Think long about those truths. Remind yourself of them often. Through Christ, you have been set free! You were never meant to be imprisoned in a cage. Confess your sin and trust God anew. You were made to soar.
You may be feeling that sin has its grip on you and you are bound to fail. Paul says don't be discouraged and don't despair; sin will not master you if you will simply receive the daily living grace of God and present yourself to Him and do what He would have you do. Only in submitting yourself to God can you find the grace or power needed to live the life of righteousness God has for you. If you attempt to live life in your own power, sin will gain dominion over you.
Daily you must choose to serve God and surrender yourself to Him or you will serve sin. If you are obedient to God you will find the Christian life not a legal burden to be borne, but a privilege to be lived up to. No longer trying to satisfy the demands of law, but trying to be worthy of the gifts of love. And God's redemptive love will inspire you to go beyond your best. Because of what God has done for you, you choose God and surrender yourself to be His instrument in your daily life.
Sing "Let Him have His way with you."