Free From Sin (Part 4)
Romans 6:19
"God delivers men from enslavement to sin for the sole purpose of their becoming enslaved to Him and to His righteousness." ~ John MacArthur
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Published November 12th, 2018; Updated November 12th, 2018
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The Argument - Explaining the Two Slaveries - Their Practice (6:19)
Romans 6:19
NASB
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
What's the difference between us and the biblical audience?
What's the theological principle(s)?
How does the theological principle(s) fit with the rest of Scripture?
How should individual Christians today live out the theological principle(s)?
Free From Sin (6:15-23)
Questions for Clarification
What is revealed about God in this passage?
Quotes
notes
The Argument - Explaining the Two Slaveries - Their Practice (6:19)
Having become obedient from the heart and slaves to righteousness, they should now act like it.
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Romans 6:19 NASB
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Romans 6:19
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19 a I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just b as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, 1 resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, 2 resulting in sanctification.
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
Following Paul's argument about their position - even though they were slaves of sin, they have become obedient from the heart and slaves of righteousness (6:17-18) - he now urges his Roman audience to let their practice correspond to their position, by presenting themselves to God as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.
What's the difference between us and the biblical audience?
The biblical audience would have understood the analogy of slavery for how Paul meant it. Slavery was an every day thing for them, and they understood it in a much clearer and first-hand experience, whereas we have no personal experience with it, and we are greatly influenced by myths, movies, etc. Slavery, as the biblical audience knew it, is an important concept for us to understand, if we are to understand Paul's analogy the way that the biblical audience would have understood it.
What's the theological principle(s)?
Every single Christians was, from birth, slaves of sin, but at the moment of salvation, have been freed from sin, and at the same time became obedient from the heart and slaves of righteousness (6:17-18). Having this new position, they should a) present themselves to God as slaves of righteousness, b) in the exact same way that they previously presented themselves as slaves to sin. c) Doing this results in sanctification.
How does the theological principle(s) fit with the rest of Scripture?
Rom 12:1 - Paul urges us to present ourselves as living and holy sacrifices to God. James 1:21-22 - We are exhorted to receive the Word implanted, but warned that if we aren't proving ourselves as doers of the Word but merely hearers, we are deluding ourselves. 1 John 3:10 - We are given a test - a way of seeing, in an obvious way, who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil - anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God. Luke 6:46 - Jesus rebukes the Jews, asking them why they call Hi "Lord, Lord," while not doing what He says. Matt 7:23 - Jesus gives a serious warning to everyone who regards themselves as religious, but who were deluding themselves as James 1:22 warns. He will say to them "I never knew yo. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." Matt 6:24 - Jesus makes it clear that you cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. The whole of Scripture shows that obedience (sanctification) will follow salvation (justification). Although we are not saved by obedience, but by faith alone, obedience evidences the authenticity of our faith. Your practice proves your position. What we do proves to which group of slavery we belong.
How should individual Christians today live out the theological principle(s)?
We were, from birth, slaves of sin, but at the moment of salvation, we have been freed from sin, and at the same time became obedient from the heart and slaves of righteousness ( 6:17-18 ). Having this new position, we should a) present ourselves to God as slaves of righteousness, b) in the exact same way that we previously presented ourselves as slaves to sin. c) Doing this results in sanctification.
Free From Sin (6:15-23)
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Romans 6:15-22
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What then? a Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
The Antagonist (6:15a)
Τί οὖν; ⸀ ἁμαρτήσωμεν ὅτι οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν; μὴ γένοιτο·
b May it never be!
The Answer (6:15b)
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Do you not a know that when you present yourselves to someone as b slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of c sin 1 resulting in death, or of obedience 2 resulting in righteousness?
The Axiom (6:16)
οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ᾧ παριστάνετε ἑαυτοὺς δούλους εἰς ὑπακοήν, δοῦλοί ἐστε ᾧ ὑπακούετε, ἤτοι ἁμαρτίας εἰς θάνατον ἢ ὑπακοῆς εἰς δικαιοσύνην;
But a thanks be to God that 1 though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that b form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been a freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
The Argument - Explaining the Two Slaveries (6:17-22)
But o thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the p standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, q having been set free from sin, r have become slaves of righteousness.
χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ·
a I am speaking in human terms
s I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For t just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members u as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
ἀνθρώπινον λέγω διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν· ὥσπερ γὰρ παρεστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ καὶ τῇ ἀνομίᾳ εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν, οὕτως νῦν παραστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ εἰς ἁγιασμόν.
because of the weakness of your flesh.
ground
For just b as you presented your members
as slaves
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to impurity and to lawlessness,
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1 resulting in further lawlessness,
actionresult
so now present your members
as slaves
to righteousness,
2 resulting in sanctification.
comparison
For a when you were slaves of sin,
v For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Ὅτε γὰρ δοῦλοι ἦτε τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ἐλεύθεροι ἦτε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ.
you were free in regard to righteousness.
Therefore what 1 a benefit were you then 2 deriving 3 from the things of which you are now ashamed?
w But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things x of which you are now ashamed? y For the end of those things is death.
τίνα οὖν καρπὸν εἴχετε τότε ἐφ’ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε; τὸ γὰρ τέλος ἐκείνων θάνατος·
For the outcome of those things is b death.
But now having been a freed from sin and b enslaved to God, you 1 derive your 2 c benefit, 3 resulting in sanctification, and d the outcome, eternal life.
The Absolute (6:22)
But now that you z have been set free from sin and a have become slaves of God, b the fruit you get leads to sanctification and c its end, eternal life.
νυνὶ δέ, ἐλευθερωθέντες ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας δουλωθέντες δὲ τῷ θεῷ, ἔχετε τὸν καρπὸν ὑμῶν εἰς ἁγιασμόν, τὸ δὲ τέλος ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
Paul thanks God, because they (his Roman audience) have become slaves of righteousness, obedie nt from the heart.
discourse
Questions for Clarification
Q. What does it mean that Paul is "speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh"? Why does Paul say this here? A. Paul is referring here to his using the analogy of slaves when speaking about their relationship to sin vs obedience. He is explaining this relationship using an analogy that they can relate to and understand, and one that will convict them. "It is difficult to put divine principles and truths into terms that finite human minds can comprehend. In saying, 'I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh,' Paul meant that the analogy of masters and slaves was used as an accommodation to his readers' humanness." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "Reviewing his own remarks, Paul grants that he has spoken 'in human terms.' This is a kind of apology for having described the Christian life in terms of slavery to righteousness. Paul's reason for this reference to slavery is 'because you are weak in your natural selves.' The nature of the weakness, while not expressed, likely relates to one's moral fiber. After all, Christians have just come from lives characterized by slavery to 'impurity' and 'ever-increasing wickedness.' The readiness and zeal with which they once served sin now becomes the basis for a challenge." ~ Expositor's Bible Commentary The following quote describes not just this passage, but Scripture as a whole, showing how God reveals Himself to us in the images and words that we are familiar to us, so that we can understand it. In the same way, we use the language and images that children understand at their appropriate age level, so that they better understand us : "In making Himself known to humankind, God uses the principle of analogy, whereby something in one area of experience and language is used to explain something in another area. In special revelation we are concerned with the area of God's experience of Himself and His eternal self-expression of it on the one hand, and the area of human experience and our expression of it on the other. God chooses those elements within our area of experience and language which can serve as relevant analogies of the truth of His own area of experience and self-expression. He alone knows Himself, but as Creator and Redeemer, He also knows us, and can, therefore, sovereignly establish points of contact where His area of experience is truly reflected within ours. The material expression of this analogical self-disclosure of God is the Scriptures" ~ Know the Truth by Bruce Milne Q. What is the purpose of the "for" in 6:19c? A. Paul explains what he is "speaking in human terms," in 6:19c-19f by further using the picture of slavery, as a grounds for his argument - that just as they were willing slaves of sin, they should now be willing slaves of righteousness. Q. What is the difference between impurity and lawlessness (6:19e)? Why are they named individually and separately? A. "Impurity" refers to inward sin, and "lawlessness" to outward sin. "The unregenerate person is both internally and externally sinful." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans. Unbelievers are impure on the inside, defiled, and the outworking of that condition is expressed in lawlessness - a rejection of God's holy standard. Q. How did they "present their members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness" (6:19c)? A. The unregenerate person not only has no choice other than to sin, but he freely gives himself over to his sin. He uses his members to serve this master of his, and he does so under compulsion, under obligation, but at the same time, willingly. He cannot stop sinning, and even if he could, somehow, by his own power, he wouldn't want to. Just like the Jews Jesus spoke to in John 8:43-44, this is because they are of their father the devil, and they want to do the desires of their father. Why does he want to do his father's desires? Because he loves his father the devil and he is devoted to him. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus makes it clear that no one can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve sin and righteousness. A choice has to be made - rejection, or repentance. Q. How, or in what way, does this (presenting their members as slaves) result in further lawlessness? A. "As he (the unregenerate person) lives out his sinfulness, it results in still further lawlessness. Like a cancer that reproduces itself until the whole body is destroyed, sin reproduces itself until the whole person is destroyed." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans Sin doesn't walk alone. it has companions. One sin inevitably leads to another, and the level at which we sin never keeps satisfying us indefinitely. It is often seen that people who sin in a small way, will eventually start sinning in bigger ways. The sin of theft might start out by stealing something small and insignificant. Later, sinful flesh seeking greater satisfaction, ends up killing others to get what it wants. Pornography might start out by looking at things that are even considered "socially acceptable" and on the "softer" side of the scale, but sinful flesh, not staying satisfied for long, easily ends up looking at things that are illegal. Left unchecked, sin spreads and multiplies. In the words of R.C. Sproul, "Sin can bring pleasure, but never happiness." But human beings desperately seek happiness. Hoping to find happiness in our sins, we keep sinning more and bigger in the hope of finding the happiness that eludes us. Once the momentary pleasure passes, emptiness and a sense of our own guilt before a holy, righteous and just God is all that remains. And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:13-15) Q. What is the meaning of the word "sanctification"? A. "The process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle... We are set apart to God in conversion, and we are living out that dedication to God in holiness." ~ Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary - It is effected by God (Jude 1:1). - It is effected by Christ (Heb 2:11; 13:12) - It is effected by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:11) - We are sanctified through Christ's atonement (Heb 10:10; 13:12) - We are sanctified through the Word of God (John 17:17, 19; Eph 5:26) - All believers are growing in sanctification (1 Cor 6:11) - Sanctification should lead to mortification of sin (1 Thess 4:3-5) - Sanctification makes us useful for service to God (2 Tim 2:21) - Without sanctification, no one can inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-11) Q. How, or in what way, does presenting your members as slaves to righteousness result in sanctification? A. "Because it is possible for them to resist sin and to live righteously, believers should now present their members as slaves to righteousness. And just as the life of sin leads to further sin, so the life of righteousness leads to further righteousness, whose ultimate end is complete sanctification." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "As you go on living this righteous life, and practicing it with all your might and energy, and all your time... you will find that the process that went on before, in which you went on from bad to worse and became viler and viler, is entirely reversed. You will become cleaner and cleaner, and purer and purer, and holier and holier, and more and more conformed unto the image of the Son of God." ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Romans: An Exposition of Chapter Six
What is revealed about God in this passage?
God not only commands us to be obedient, but He also works it out in us. He gives us the desire to obey Him, and He causes us to carry out the desire (Phi 2:13). He puts His Spirit in us, and causes us to walk in His statutes, and makes us careful to observe His ordinances (Ezek 36:25-27). This passage reveals the faithfulness of God in terms of the whole plan of salvation. If He says He will do something, He does it. If He begins a good work in us, He his faithful to complete it (Phi 1:6).
Quotes
"As you go on living this righteous life, and practicing it with all your might and energy, and all your time... you will find that the process that went on before, in which you went on from bad to worse and became viler and viler, is entirely reversed. You will become cleaner and cleaner, and purer and purer, and holier and holier, and more and more conformed unto the image of the Son of God." ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans: An Exposition of Chapter Six) "Paul here changes the focus from position to practice, admonishing believers to make their living correspond to their new natures. Although it is still possible for Christians to sin, they no longer are bound by sin. Now they are free not to sin, and they should exercise that divinely provided ability in obedience to their new Lord and Master." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "No one stands still morally and spiritually. Just as unbelievers progress from sinfulness to greater sinfulness, a believer who is not growing in righteousness, though never falling back altogether out of righteousness, will slip further and further back into sin." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "God's purpose in redeeming men from sin is not to give them freedom to do as they please, but freedom to do as He pleases, which is to live righteously. When God commanded Pharaoh to let His people go, He also made clear His purpose for their deliverance: 'that they may serve Me in the wilderness' (Ex 7:16). God delivers men from enslavement to sin for the sole purpose of their becoming enslaved to Him and to His righteousness." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans
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