Romans 6:12-23
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12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, - Romans 6:12


"Therefore..." In other words, since this is the truth of the matter, since this was established when you received Christ. In our previous lesson we learn how those in Christ are dead to sin and alive to God. Paul, having spent time establishing that (see last study on Romans 6:3-11) now continues with life application of this reality.


Question: Why do you think Paul needed to instruct us to make life application of something that was a reality?


Answer: Because even though the fact we live by the Spirit is the reality (Gal. 5:25), if we don't believe we live by the Spirit we won't utilize the Spirit and will keep walking according to the flesh. Satan, "the father of lies" (John 8:44) has power as long as people believe the lie. His power is in the lie itself (2 Cor. 12:7). If he can get you to believe a lie he can render you ineffective. If however a Christian does not yield to the lie but rather takes up the shield of faith we will be victorious against "all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph 6:16).


Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. - Proverbs 4:23


A dear friend of mine was raised in a home that had some interesting ideologies. Through a series of interactions he was raised with the belief that you don't turn the heaters in the house up for risk of causing a fire. (There are many variables that could have ingrained this belief in him, that's a moot point here.) When he got married and moved out, his wife toward winter got cold and turned up the heater and he, according to his words, "freaked out". "You're gonna burn the place down!" he shouted to her as he turned the heater back down. He was raised that if you were cold you put a coat on rather than risk a house fire. She was raised that it was ok to use the heater and coats were for the outside. After they discussed it, they turned the heaters up and have used them since. Had his view not been corrected, though he had a perfectly working heater at his disposal, he may have still been sitting there in the winter days bundled up in his house, seeing his own breath.


If you can get a woman to believe she's not beautiful, she will act as one who is ashamed of her appearance. If you can get a man to believe he's not smart, he will act as one who lacks intelligence. If you can get a Christian to believe they are hopeless they will act is if they are without hope (John 21:3). If you can get a Christian to believe they are still bound by their sin they will act as if still bound by their sin. Though Jesus has unlocked the prison doors and set us free, if a Christian doesn't believe it, they will act as though they're not free. Paul is saying since you are free (Rom. 6:7), believe you are free! (Rom. 6:11). Since Jesus has opened the prison cell door, walk out of it!


Having established in verses 1-10 that in Christ (and He in us) we are dead to sin and alive to God, and in verse 11 encouraging us to take that position on faith, now starting in verse 12 Paul is instructing us to make life application of this reality of who we are in Christ.


" not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts," Sin once reigned in us, but now, having newness of life (Rom. 6:4) as we discussed last week, the old self has been severed from us and is no longer us. Furthermore, having been born again and alive to God our mind which was once hostile to God (Rom. 8:7) is this way no longer but now by God's doing it concurs with God! (Rom. 7:22). Since this is the reality, Paul is encouraging us to walk in that reality. When a man is born again by the Spirit, his spirit comes alive and takes reign over the soul.


13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. - Romans 6:13


"and do not go on..." Paul understands and God understands that we were sold into slavery to sin when were born the first time of the flesh (Rom. 7:14) and that this is the reality for everyone who walks/walked the face of the earth (Rom. 5:12) (which should give us compassion toward the lost, understanding they are being ruled by their flesh). But he is saying for those in Christ is is this way no longer and therefore believe it and no longer act as though you still were. Notice the separation between "yourselves" and "your members". This is a division between the new self and old self as we discussed last week. Paul is now identifying to the recipient, specifically all those that have been born again the two parts at play and he's encouraging us to present ourselves (new self) as alive to God and also pull into obedience our members (old self) to also serve as instruments of righteousness to God. In other words, as a Christian I can use my hands for good or I can use my hands for evil. I can use my body, my members to sin, or I can use my body, my members to glorify God. In Romans 12 Paul will urge us to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). Paul has written that we should be imitators of him as he is an imitator of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). So let's look at Paul's example.


20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20


If we had no fleshly desires anymore then we would not have to take this position of faith as Paul gives us an example here. If we weren't still living in this body where the desires of the flesh are manifested then we would not need to live by faith in the flesh anymore. However since we are in this body still, we have to take a position of faith. What is this position of faith? It's a position of faith where we believe the reality that we (new self) are dead to sin and alive to Christ and in believing we walk in this reality. Now when we get to Romans 8 Paul will talk about when we no longer need to take this on faith when he speaks of all of creation groaning and suffering, waiting for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:22-23), but this hasn't happened yet. What a wonderful day that will be! Until then there will be a war between this redeemed spirit of ours and the body it currently inhabits. The two are in opposition to each other. The flesh sets it's desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh (Gal. 5:17). Both are warring against the other to control our mind. We are to take a stand of faith, we do not have to be ruled by our fleshly desires and are called to reckon that we are dead to that part of us.


14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:14


"For sin shall not be master over you" Paul conceived sin as a power that enslaves, and so personified it. Rebel it may, but as affirmed in 6:12, reign it will not! This verse isn't just a suggestion, as something that ought to be, but rather it's an absolute promise, as something that's guaranteed to be! That is, that sin will not reign nor be master over us! It's an encouragement to fight when we are sure of victory. Why are we sure of victory? "for you are not under law but under grace."


Question: What does it mean to not be under law? In modern day America, if a person was not subjected to the laws in America would it be possible for them to be convicted by it? No. Why? Because the law cannot convict whereas it has no authority to do so. If a king of a certain country were to decree "Ryan has immunity from the law" then I could finally drive as fast as I wanted in that country and no speed limit would have authority over me. On a smaller scale, perhaps one easier to relate too, if a parent says "My eldest child is of age and therefore not subjected to bedtime rules" then while the younger siblings would still be under the bedtime rules implemented by the parents the eldest would be free to stay up as late as they want.


In terms of God's law, when we entered into union with Christ we were and are covered by His grace. We are no longer under the law of Moses nor the restraint of the old testament prophets, but in Christ we are covered by God's grace! And that's ALWAYS how it is and therefore it's a sure thing (Rom. 4:16)! Sin only has power to rule over those under the law (Rom. 7:11), once a person is no longer under the law, sin loses all authority over that person. This was written for the follower to know that He can cheerfully engage with the conflict of sin without fear of the law. As the songwriter states, we're no longer a slave to fear. We always have the safety net of God's grace. This is the perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).


Question: How many times can we blow it? How many times can we fail and go to God for grace? Peter asked a question along these same lines (Matt. 18:21-22).


15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! - Romans 6:15


This is a similar objection to that proposed in verse 1 (see study on Romans 6:1-2). Paul once again is anticipating the objection by those who erroneously see Paul preaching licentiousness (meaning free to sin without consequence). To those who hold to some measure of a legal regiment Paul's words here about being under grace, and therefore under God's unearned, unmerited, unwarranted, and undeserved favor are disturbing to them. The idea of Paul preaching that a person in Christ is under grace and therefore our actions are free from any consequences imposed by the law bothers them, yet this is how it is! God gives grace and He gives it unconditionally, therefore we can be assured of our victory over sin because sin only has power whereas the law has power. When the law loses it's authority and can no longer condemn, sin through the law no longer has a way to kill (Rom. 7:11). Such legalistic focused people lose sight that it's actually in this freedom, in this grace where we can actually learn to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and that we can learn to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:12), a feat the law was unable to accomplish (Rom. 8:3-4). On the other end of the spectrum, to those who would see God's grace as nothing more than a license to sin, Paul continues.


16 Do 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? - Romans 6:16


It is only the flesh that would see God's grace as a license to sin, this is never, ever, ever, communicated by the Spirit. To those in Christ, God's grace is seen as marvelous, beautiful, and as love for them that provokes them to love Him back! (1 John 4:19, Gal. 2:10b, 2 Cor. 5:14). If a person is only ever viewing God's grace as a license to sin then such a person is only getting messages from the flesh. Like we discussed before, you cannot be both dead to sin and alive to sin (Rom. 6:2). Yet one who views God's grace as an opportunity to sin more is alive to sin. Paul is saying here that you are a slave to that which you obey. It makes since. You cannot be a slave to one master and obey another. If I call myself a slave to God and yet I present myself a slave to sin, ready to obey it's rule, then I'm really a slave to sin since I seek to serve it.


24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Matthew 6:24


"...two masters..." An accurate way to view the flesh and the Spirit. Prior to being born again and made alive in the Spirit we only had one master, the flesh. Interestingly, after coming to Christ there becomes two masters. The former does not go away, not right away (Rom. 8:22-23). If we submit to one then we hate the other or at least despise the other. Both have different dominions so you cannot dwell with both. Both have different goals, different objectives, different demands and they are in opposition to one another (Gal. 5:17). Choosing to obey one is at the same time choosing to deny the other. This is what's known as a double-action. When you turn to Christ you essentially are turning away from sin (Acts 26:20). Does this mean as Christians we won't struggle with paying attention to the demands of the old master? No. We will even falter. But what it does mean is that our inner man will now hate and despise the old master even when we falter.


17 But 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, - Romans 6:17


By the inherent nature from Adam everyone is born into captivity under the rule of sin (Rom. 5:17). However when a person hears the gospel (Eph. 1:13) and heed (take to heart) the good news, to God's credit (Eph. 1:14) that person is set free from the former master (sin).


18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. - Romans 6:18


Being free from sin and becoming a slave to righteousness is a double action. If you've left one dominion you've joined the other. In terms of a Christian, when we are made alive spiritually, in doing so, God writes His laws on our hearts and on our minds (Eze. 11:19, 36:26, Heb. 10:16) and from the heart we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) and therefore not grudgingly but joyfully we became slaves of righteousness. We are not forced into righteousness (1 Peter 2:16), Christ came to set us free, but being freed men and women who are no longer slaves to sin we have a longing for righteousness (Phil. 2:13).


19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. 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. - Romans 6:19


"I am speaking in human terms..." (cf. Rom. 3:5). It was estimated in those days that approximately 1/3rd of the Roman population were slaves and another 1/3rd of them had formerly been slaves. Paul is speaking to them in a way that would be easier for them to understand "...because of the weakness of your flesh", an analogy that they all can relate with, but using the word "slave" when applying it to Christians who are free in Christ naturally presents a problem. "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." This may be the "human terms" Paul was speaking of. He makes a comparison to the recipient between how they used to present their members as slaves to impurity and how they should now in like fashion present their members as slaves to righteousness. All men should be able to relate to how they previously submitted themselves as slaves to impurity since all men have been doing this since they were born in the flesh. Therefore even new Christians would have experience to draw from on this subject. So if we understand the dynamic behind how that worked when we submitted our members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, then Paul is saying, do likewise but unto righteousness which yields a completely different result. He then continues to elaborate.


20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. - Romans 6:20-21


" in regard to righteousness." Meaning when we obeyed the old nature, we were free from having anything to do with righteousness. In other words you weren't doing righteous things. The pursuits of the flesh can be found to be in one of three categories, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life and they are not of God.


15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. - 1 John 2:15-17


"Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?" In other words, looking back on your life under the old ruler of sin, what benefit did you derive from the things you did, what do you have to show for it? How did these pursuits benefit you? What true value was found in doing those things? If you ask an unbeliever this question you will frustrate them. They (and formerly us) work hard chasing "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16) and showing them the futility upsets them. Nobody likes it being revealed that they are in a mouse wheel, that all their striving is pointless. This is because they focus on these things and yet miss the bigger picture. They would desire to own the entire world if they could yet missing the glaring obstacle to come. Jesus puts it this way.


26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? - Matthew 16:26


Question: How does the world measure success? What kind of things do those in the world pursue? What is the lasting value of those things (if any)?


There's an age old saying "he who dies with the most toys still dies". Power, wealth, and health, none of their possessors will escape the grave, all of these ways still lead to death. There is nothing worthwhile or lasting that is done in the flesh. It's interesting that men know this but not having a new nature they still obey the demands of the flesh nature. In fact, lacking wisdom I've heard them counter this age old saying with "he who dies with the most toys dies happy" not only disillusioned that having more things somehow bring happiness but missing the elephant on the wall (you heard me) being the fact death is coming and they will lose everything and there's nothing they can do to stop it. People work hard to buy things like houses denying the fact that in 100 years someone else won't be living in their very spot, and if still standing someone else will be in their very house, laying claim to what was once there's and there's nothing they can do about it. Midlife crisis is often triggered by someone being brought back to this reality when they get sick or someone close to them passes away. It forces them, even if but for a moment, to no longer deny that there is an elephant on the wall being death is coming (Ecc. 7:2). In lieu of the wisdom Jesus is offering here Paul is asking some tough questions. He says consider these times you chased these things demanded by your old nature and tell me, what true benefit were you then driving from them? Tell me, how were you truly profitable from these things which you are now ashamed?


22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. - Romans 6:22


In comparison consider the benefits of being enslaved to God. One might ask what benefit there is of which there are many (Psa. 16:11, Rom. 14:17 to name a few). Paul shows in contract to the results of being enslaved to sin and how those things lead to death, He now shows the benefit of being enslaved to God which is "eternal life".


If you can picture being a slave to a master, in this case the old nature, and thus submitting to all of it's decrees and desires, Paul is saying do likewise just like you did then but do so unto your new master, as one no longer enslaved to the things that we're now ashamed of but as one who is enslaved to God. He then encourages us to consider the result of the two. The former, who's outcome is death which we submitted to when were were under it's rule, now, being freed from sin and being enslaved to God, we derive a real benefit resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. Therefore unlike the previous master which outcome was death we have every reason to be encouraged to obey the new master which results in our sanctification, that is, holiness, living a holy life, no longer polluted by the things of the world and the things of the flesh, and the end result is 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 6:23


"the wages of sin is death" this has never changed. The reward of a sinful life is death. But in contract, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.


So here we are with a choice. To live after the flesh or to live after the Spirit. To yield my body, my members to sin, or to yield my body, my members to God, to His Spirit, for Him to use it for His purposes. To walk after the flesh or to walk after the Spirit. God has made provision where I don't have to be ruled by the flesh any longer, I can now live a new life ruled and governed by the Spirit, and it's my choice whether or not my life will be ruled by the flesh or by the Spirit but the wages of sin is death, but this wonderful gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ!


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