A Slave to Righteousness

Romans 6:15-23


Jerry A Collins



Ł      Can we sin because we are now under grace?

Ł      Does living under grace give us a license to sin?

Ł      Why is death the consequence of sin?


Yesterday I officiated a wedding for a good friend of mine. As I watched Richard and Annie during the rehearsal and then in the ceremony, it was evident that they both were voluntarily giving themselves to one another. Their vows expressed this. Their demeanor it. The whole marriage ceremony was about yielding themselves to one another for the rest of their lives to one another. This kind of voluntary dedication is what Romans 6 teaches us about our spiritual lives. In verses 1-14 Christ has broken the bonds of sin that enslave us before we come to Christ. Now we are warned that even though we are free we can become enslaved to sin by yielding to temptation. Instead, we should voluntarily yield ourselves as slaves to righteousness 15-23. We can do this now because in Christ the power of sin has been severed and we are free now to live righteously. Sanctification begins with regeneration, the implanting of spiritual life in a believer. Sanctification is Godís progressively separating me from sin to Himself and transforming my total life experience toward holiness and purity. This process of transforming my life demands that I yield myself to itís work.


The question here is not a repeat of verse 1. There he asked if we could continue in sin or go on sinning. Here he asked Shall we sin? In the sense of committing an act of sin now and then. There he was looking at continual sinning. Here with the specific acts of sin. The point being, that a sinful lifestyle as well as individual acts of sin now and then, are both inappropriate for a believer who is living under Godís gracious authority. The answer is stated decisively: May it never be! This is unacceptable. We should never accommodate our old sinful nature. Grace is not a license to sin but is the liberty to now be righteous. We now live within a new sphere of grace. That requires a completely different disposition, dedication and determination. And why is this so?


We have an explanation given in the remainder of the passage as to why we must not accommodate it.

A. Obedience determines who one is enslaved to 16-20 We cannot be our own masters. There is no autonomy. Everybody is a slave to something or someone.

(1) Principle Stated 16: you are slaves of the one whom you obey 16 The fact is, there is no middle ground between being a slave of sin and a slave of obedience to God. But for the believer, having presented himself to God (Vs 13) he needs to obey Him. The outcome of dedication to sin is death (16, 21, 23). Sin always delivers death-dealing consequences. It always brings about the death of something. Sin never builds up or brings life, only death. But the outcome of dedication to obedience leads to righteousness, that is oneís progressive sanctification. Since the power of sin has been broken in our lives because of our union with Christ, we can choose to dedicate ourselves in obedience to God and become transformed in our lives as we obey our new master.

(2) Because of our new status we obey a new master 17-18:(17) Before responding to the gospel we were slaves to sin. However, having responded from within to Christian truth, that of Christ and the apostles, believers committed themselves to those teachings. Willingly embracing this teaching.

(18) The result was a new position having been freed from sin and manifested now in daily life and became slaves of righteousness. We are not to give in to sin because we are dead to it and no longer slaves of it. It is contrary to Godís plan for slaves of righteousness to become enslaved to sin. This slavery to righteous ness is voluntary. It seems that because of our very nature we must be the slave of something. In our case. We must be enslaved to godly living. The difficulty here, is even tho we have died to sin in Christ, sin has not died to us. If a believer does not dedicate himself to God he will continue to practice sin.

(3) Exhortation: So be a slave of righteousness 19-20:

--Exhortation (19): The imagery of slavery to explain our relationship to sin and then to righteousness was an attempt to explain what has happened using human experience. This was donebecausethe nature of the illustration could apparently make a stronger impact upon them. Having formerly presented selves to sin and its consequences, now need to deliberately present, offer, selves as slaves to righteousness. The result would be their progressive sanctification. We do not simply grow up spiritually by default but it requires our dedicating ourselves to this. What is it?

(1) Dedication involved our physical bodies. It has to do with what we physically do all day long here.

(2) Dedication is a decision to not be conformed to this world (Rom 12:1-2).

(3) Dedication is a decision, or series of decisions, to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So it has to do with consciously moving our minds in the direction of Godís will. It is not just turning away from the world but it is turning our mind toward God! (Rom 6:13; Eph 4:1; 1 Cor 6:20; James 4:7).

--Explanation (20): As an added incentive, reminded that when we chose slavery to sin in the past we did not become more righteous in our conduct. Slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness are mutually exclusive!

B. Enslavement determines oneís destiny21-23

(1) An appeal to past experience 21The benefit or fruit of enslavement to sin was that it produced things that a believer is now ashamed of. But even worse, the end of those things he says is death! Shame was its immediate result and death its final fruit. When you look back upon your past sins, there is only shame and death-dealing consequences. So why would you want to pursue that anymore?

(2) An appeal to present experience 22 Now in contrast, we are free from sins tyranny because of union with Christ. Presenting selfto God we can anticipate the benefit or fruit of progressive sanctification, holiness, and ultimately eternal life, the final product of progressive sanctification.

(3) An appeal to eternal realities 23 Here is a summary of these contrasts. The wages or pay of sin is death, ultimately eternal, but also the death-dealing consequences associated with sinful lifestyles or choices. Sin always has consequences. By contrast eternal life is a gift free to those who rely on the work done by Jesus Christ. A gift that cannot be earned.

(1) Tho we have died to sin, sin has not died to us.

(2) I fight temptations of my old sinful nature by strengthening my new nature.

(3) Spiritual perfection is not obtained during this life.

(4) As long as we are on this side of heaven we will sin.

(5) We must confess our sin, agree with God that it is sin, and He forgives us.

(6) I must dedicate myself to righteousness every day.