Summary: Dead to sin, slaves to righteousness
August 8, 2010
What do you think would happen if I told my wife that I want to stay married, but I also want the freedom to date other women on occasion?
It probably wouldn’t go over very well, would it?
Or what if you told your boss that you’d like to receive a full paycheck each week, but you’ll also be working for a competing company?
I doubt you’d have your job long.
You see, you can’t be married and date other people. You can’t work for two competing companies at the same time. You have to choose one or the other—do you want to marry or date? Do you want to work for one or the other?
Jesus tells us that no one can serve two masters (Mt. 6:24). In our text tonight Paul continues to address the believer’s new relationship with sin. We saw last week that we’ve been united with Christ. Because of this we’re dead to sin, and we’re no longer to obey it.
Dead to Sin, Slaves to Righteousness
1. We are all slaves to whomever we obey (:15-18)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Since I’m no longer under the law, and since I’m now under grace, what keeps me from sinning? Why wouldn’t I do whatever I want since it’s all covered?
This is a big question for those who don’t believe in eternal security. “You mean that you think you can do whatever you want because you’ve been saved, and you’ll still go to heaven?”
The answer is “yes” and “no.”
“Yes” because I’m under grace, and because my salvation is in Christ Jesus.
“No” because when I’m transferred from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness, I no longer obey sin; I’m free to submit to righteousness!
16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Isn’t it interesting that obedience equals slavery? When men and women do what they want, they think it’s because they’re free. In fact, Scripture tells us, they’re not free at all; they’re slaves to sin, and they’re stuck doing its will.
On the other hand, those who are joined with Christ are slaves to Him in that He is Lord and they obey His will.
Slavery to sin results in death, but slavery to Christ results in righteousness. I want to be clear about this point: we’re not talking about works for salvation. Rather, we’re talking about works because of salvation. The man lost in his sin is dead and his righteousness is non-existent. He’s guilty before God. But the man who’s repented and been joined with Christ now lives in Christ and his righteousness is Christ’s righteousness.
The lost man continues in slavery to sin, but the saved man is now free to live in righteousness. This describes the church at Rome:
17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
2. Submission to sin leads to more sin, but submission to righteousness leads to sanctification (:19)
19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.
Paul says, “I’m using an illustration you can understand since you’re having such a hard time.”
For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Here’s a simple principle: sin leads to sin and righteousness leads to righteousness.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
When you live for your flesh, you’ll find yourself doing it all the more. If I plant corn, I’ll find myself eating corn. The more I plant, the more I’ll eat. If I dabble in sin, I’ll find myself eating the fruit of my sin. The more I plant, the more I eat.
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you (I Thess. 4:1-8).