We are Slaves, Either to Sin or to Christ
Truth Taught- There are really only two masters, we are either enslaved to sin resulting in eternal death or slaves to Christ resulting in eternal life.
Paul knows the depth of sin and depravity of the human heart. He knows that we all will seek to justify ourselves any chance we get. He knows that we will twist the truth to benefit ourselves.
Last week he addressed objection number 1. This objection went like this:
Romans 6:1–2 (ESV)
6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
The logic behind this verse goes something like this…Since we have been told that in a believer, where sin increased grace also increased to stay ahead of sin then why not keep sinning in order that God would be magnified by His overcoming grace?
Or as we might think, as a believer, since God is going to forgive me anyway why not just keep on sinning?
Last time we learned that the reason we must not continue in sin is that we are dead to sin. We are dead to sin and alive to Christ; we are dead to the eternal effects of sin and sin no longer holds any authority over us, therefore we cannot allow sin to reign in us any longer.
This week he answers another objection that sinful man might bring up in order to dodge the work of holiness and remain the same sinner he used to be.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
In this second objection, We may think that because we live in the realm of grace now and not in the realm of the Law we can keep sinning.
Paul uses the example of an obedient slave to his master. Believers before conversion were servants of sin and now, after conversion they are servants of righteousness. Before, believers were under an evil influence and were dead to God, this secured their slavery to sin. Now, believers are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which secures our obedience to Christ. The consequence of slavery to sin is death and similarly, the consequence of a life yielding to the Spirit is eternal life.
Here’s another way to state this reality…before salvation a person is enslaved to sin or we could say obedient to sin. After salvation a person is enslaved to Christ and obedient to Him. Now the flip side of this is to say a person who is not obedient to God is still serving or obedient to sin. When we know the truth and have been converted we will obey what God tells us.
Here are two very sobering quotes from very trusted theologians concerning these verses…
If a man can live at peace with sin, he has no peace with God—Charles Hodge
If a man voluntarily sins, on the pretext that he is not under law but under grace, it is proof that the grace of God is not in him—Robert Haldane
One more introductory truth…We must notice the contrast between the rewards of these two types of servitude. The servant of sin earns death but the servant of God is given eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen
Romans 6:15–23 (ESV)
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
We can try to convince ourselves of something different but the reality and the biblical truth presented is simple. There are two Masters in the universe… We either serve sin or we serve Christ. That’s it, there are no others, no substitutes, no in-betweens we either serve one or the other.
Once we realize this, we can think through the reality that whichever one of the two I obey, that’s who I’m enslave to. What’s not an option is to say I’m enslaved to no one or to say I’m enslaved to myself. No, the options, according to God, are either we serve sin or we serve Him through obedience. We obey sin or we obey God. There is no such thing as human autonomy. Beloved listen, we are NOT in charge…ever. There are no neutral areas, no base, as in tag. There is no place where we can ever go to escape this truth.
So, you can’t escape to serve no one…that’s not an option. We are also told in the Bible that you cannot serve both.
Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
2 Peter 2:18–19 (ESV)
18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
What we must recon with is that all lost people, including us before we were converted were enslaved to sin. We did sin’s bidding. What’s more, not only were we slaves to sin but we were willing participants. No one made us sin, rather we sinned because we wanted to sin. Not only were we willing participants but we even cherished those sins so much that we refused to give them up. We were happy, willing servants. We wanted to serve sin and we did so with all our hearts.
What we must also realize is that by God’s grace we have believed the good news and are trusting Christ as Savior, knowing there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. As we have faith we are now serving obedience, which leads to righteousness because no one can have two masters. Are you thankful today that we cannot have two masters?
Now that we are in Christ we are enslaved to Him through obedience all this is by faith. As believers we are currently serving Him and not sin, because we cannot serve both.
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Paul, here gives thanks to God that you and I are no longer slaves to sin. His prayer of thanksgiving is that those in Rome and all who make up the church are no longer slaves to sin. Beloved if you are a believer you have been set free from sin’s enslavement to serve God.
Now, Paul knows that because we have to serve either sin or Christ that when we are set free from sin we automatically begin to serve Christ.
18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Just as we were willing participants and loved our old master and did sin’s bidding, we are now seeking to willingly love and obey our new Master, Jesus Christ.
I want us to notice something that is vital to our assurance. Do you see that Paul is NOT saying that we went from sinning to doing acceptable deeds as if it’s the outward deeds that are the proof of our salvation but he says, that as believers we begin to engage in acts of obedience from the heart. The acts are not simply things we do but a visible outflow from the heart or we could say we do what we want now and what we want to do is serve God and His people.
That Paul is not speaking about merely outward righteousness is made clear from his declaration that you became obedient from the heart. God works His salvation in a persons innermost being. Through the grace provided by His Son, God changes men’s very natures when they trust in Him. A person whose heart has not been changed has not been saved. Righteous living that issues from an obedient … heart is habitual. And just as God’s grace operates only through a trusting heart, His righteousness operates only through an obedient heart.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Now is where the Apostle Paul reminds us again that the real issue is not someone else but the real issue is me. Here’s where he has taken us to stand before God to get a reality check before it’s too late. Our tendency to blame others and point fingers is over.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God,
We cannot blame others or point our fingers the issue is where do I stand before God? Am I standing before God as a slave to sin or a slave to Him?
In old English Court Rooms there was a thing called a dock. In a criminal trial the one being tried stood there while the trial and sentencing took place. This is the image Paul wants us to see here. The verdict the judge passes based on slavery to sin is guilty and sentenced to eternal death.
Eternal death as given to us in the Bible is a place of eternal judgment and wrath of God. This is what a lost person will someday experience.
Speaking to all believers, he tells us… that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This verse expresses two inexorable absolutes. The first is that the wages of sin is death. Spiritual death is earned. It is the just and rightful compensation for a life that is characterized by sin, which is every life apart from God.
The second inexorable absolute is that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 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).
If a person wants what he deserves-eternal death-God will give that to him as his just wages. And if person wants what he does not deserve-eternal life-God offers that to him as well, but as a free gift, the only source of which is Christ Jesus our Lord.
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.
Acts 4:12 (ESV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
So, for the believer what’s the challenge in serving from the heart or obeying from the heart? Sometimes our heart isn’t in it…
There is a world of difference in asking your son to mow the grass and he goes and does it with a good attitude and does a good job verses him doing it but he really doesn’t want to and does a poor job. You see there’s more to it than just doing the act. God wants us to mow grass from the heart.
So, what is the secret in obeying Christ from the heart? We must be honest, sometimes we might do what God wants with a less than agreeable attitude and then other time we may not do it at all.
Let’s look at what the Psalmist tells us in…
Psalm 100:1–5 (ESV)
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Notice that what we are told is that we can do what God commands with a great attitude when we realize who God is and what He has done for us…
GROUND…THEREFORE or FOR or BECAUSE
If we don’t feel like obeying or serving God from the heart then there is something we are getting mixed up or something we don’t understand.
When we think we are autonomous then we think God should serve us. When we know that God is God and He made us and we belong to Him and He has made us His people and He cares much for us then we serve Him with gladness.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 346). Chicago: Moody Press.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 352). Chicago: Moody Press.