Free From Sin (Part 6)
Romans 6:23
"Only the Son of God could have paid the cost of salvation. But He calls His followers to pay the cost of discipleship" ~ John MacArthur
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Published November 22nd, 2018
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The Absolute (6:23)
Romans 6:23
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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)
What is revealed about God in this passage?
Questions for Clarification
Quotes
notes
The Absolute (6:23)
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Romans 6:23 NASB
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Romans 6:23
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23 For the wages of a sin is death, but the free gift of God is b eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
Paul is giving his Roman audience the reason why living as a slave to sin results in death, and why living as a slave to righteousness results in eternal life - 1. Slaves to sin earn the reward of death and eternal punishment as a wage of sin; while 2. slaves of righteousness receive the free gift of eternal life as a result of what Christ did for them.
What's the difference between us and the biblical audience?
In the context of this passage, there is only similarities. This verse's truth is equally true for, and applicable to us as it was for them.
What's the theological principle(s)?
1. Slaves of sin receive the just reward - the wage - that they earned as a result of their sin, rebellion and rejection of God as Creator and Lord over everything He created. 2. Slaves of righteousness receive the free gift of eternal life from God, not as a result of their righteousness or works, but as a result of what Christ did for them.
How does the theological principle(s) fit with the rest of Scripture?
Eph 2:8-9 - We are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is a gift of God and NOT as a result of our own achievements, for the sole purpose that we won't have reason to boast about ourselves. God gets all the glory. (Acts 4:12) - By no one else other than Christ can we get salvation. (John 14:6) - Jesus makes it clear that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that NO ONE can come to the Father except through Him. (Matt 16:24-25) - Jesus explains that, even though the gift itself is free, it is not cheap. Anyone who would receive the gift needs to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. (Matt 13:44-46) - In these parables, those who would have it sold EVERYTHING they had in order to obtain it.
How should individual Christians today live out the theological principle(s)?
1. We must realize, first of all, that we don't deserve eternal life, nor can we earn it. The only thing we can earn and that we do deserve is eternal punishment. Accepting this requires humility and devotion to God's opinions instead of our own. This is God's mercy - not giving us what we do deserve. 2. We must be thankful that God decided to instead give us what we don't deserve - eternal life. This is God's grace - giving us what we don't deserve. 3. We must realize finally, that even though this gift is free, it is not cheap. The price God paid to give us this gift is more than we can ever understand. How can we expect to receive a gift like this, and then turn it into a license to sin and live our lives any way we want to? Anyone who would receive the gift needs to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus (Matt 16:24-25). God's free gift includes not only justification (the act of being made right with God), but also sanctification (the process of being made like God), and finally glorification (the final act of removal of sin and eternal reunion with God). If all three aren't present, none of them are present.
Free From Sin (6:15-23)
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Romans 6:15-23
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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;
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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 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.
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.
For a when you were slaves of sin, 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? 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.
v For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 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. 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.
Ὅτε γὰρ δοῦλοι ἦτε τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ἐλεύθεροι ἦτε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. τίνα οὖν καρπὸν εἴχετε τότε ἐφ’ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε; τὸ γὰρ τέλος ἐκείνων θάνατος· νυνὶ δέ, ἐλευθερωθέντες ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας δουλωθέντες δὲ τῷ θεῷ, ἔχετε τὸν καρπὸν ὑμῶν εἰς ἁγιασμόν, τὸ δὲ τέλος ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
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For the wages of a sin is death,
The Absolute (6:23)
d For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
τὰ γὰρ ὀψώνια τῆς ἁμαρτίας θάνατος, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ ζωὴ αἰώνιος ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν.
but the free gift of God is b eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Their Position Paul thanks God, because they (his Roman audience) have become slaves of righteousness, obedient from the heart.
Their Practice 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.
Their Promise Paul explains two facts to his Roman audience in making his point : 1. that they did not receive any benefit from being slaves of sin and free from righteousness. Instead, the only possible outcome of that slavery is physical and spiritual death and eternity in hell; and 2. that they do receive a benefit from being slaves of righteousness - sanctification and eternal life. In doing so, Paul is showing them why they should present themselves as slaves to God, and why they should be concerned about the sanctification that results from it (see 6:19 ) - because unlike before, they now have a real benefit - the promise of the present benefit of sanctification, and the promise of the present and eventual benefit of eternal life.
The Argument - Explaining the Two Slaveries (6:17-22) 1. Paul tells them what their position is - they have become obedient from the heart and slaves of righteousness. 2. As a result, they should let their practice correspond to their position - presenting themselves as slaves of righteousness. Why should they do this? Because it has the only real benefit - sanctification and eternal life.
They shouldn't use grace as an excuse to sin, because you are a slave of the one you obey. Obeying sin purely proves who's slave you are!
discourse
What is revealed about God in this passage?
This passage reveals both God's wrath and fury and righteousness in the way He deals with sin and those who choose slavery to it, as well as His great mercy and grace and love toward those who choose slavery to Him. It is to those, they who believe, that He then bestows a higher status still - that of sonship - being adopted as sons of God Himself.
Questions for Clarification
Q. What is meant by "the wages" of sin being death? A. "Spiritual death is earned. It is the just and rightful compensation for a life that is characterised by sin, which is every life apart from God... If a person wants what he deserves - eternal death - God will give that to him as his just wages." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one " (Rom 3:12). Christ said that "there is only One who is good" (Matt 19:17). We are all guilty of sin, and "if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8), and even just one single sin is enough to condemn us, "for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10). Jesus' disciples rightfully asked hopelessly, "Then who can be saved?" (Matt 19:25). We all stand guilty before God. We've earned that guilt. And because God is just, He will pay the wages that are due . If we live as if we don't want God and His righteousness, enslaved to sin, God will give us what we want - freedom from Him and eternal separation from Him. He will give us the wages we insist on getting . Q. What is the significance of the free gift of God contrasted against the wages of sin? A. Unlike the wages of sin - eternal death - which can be only be earned, the free gift of God - eternal life - can never be earned, but can only be received as what it is - a free gift. "By definition, a gift is free, but lest anyone underestimate the magnitude of God's grace, Paul speaks of God's free gift. Salvation cannot be earned by works, by human goodness, by religious ritual, or by any other thing that man can do. 'For by grace you have been saved through faith,' the apostle reminded the Ephesian believers; 'and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast' (Eph 2:8-9). That is Paul's great climax to chapter 6 of Romans - Jesus Christ is the only way from sin to righteousness, from damnation to salvation, from eternal death to eternal life." ˜MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans
Quotes
"Only the Son of God could have paid the cost of salvation. But He calls His followers to pay the cost of discipleship. 'If anyone wishes to come after Me,' Jesus said, 'let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it' (Matt 16:24-25)." ˜MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "Jesus Christ is not looking for people who want to add Him to their sin as insurance against hell. He is not looking for people who want to apply His high moral principles to their unregenerate lives. He is not looking for those who want only to be outwardly reformed by having their old nature improved. Jesus Christ calls to Himself those who are willing to be inwardly transformed by Him, who desire an entirely new nature that is created in His own holy likeness. He calls to Himself those who are willing to exchange their sinfulness for His holiness. He calls to Himself those who are willing to die with Him in order to be raised with Him, who are willing to relinquish slavery to their sin for slavery to His righteousness. And when men come to Him on His terms, He exchanges their destiny from eternal death to eternal life." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "In a fitting conclusion, Paul puts God over against sin, gift over against wages, eternal life over against death, crowning it all with the acknowledgment that the mediation of "Christ Jesus our Lord" accounts for the shift from the one camp to the other... particularly striking here, in a context where the emphasis has been on the need to live righteously, is the breaking of the parallelism encountered in the immediately preceding verses. Now life is the result not of righteousness but very noticeably of "the gift of God." Salvation for Paul is always a matter finally not of righteous works but of God's sovereign and free grace. And it is always the result of what Christ has done for us." ~ The Expositor's Bible Commentary Vol 11
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