Study Through Romans: Lesson 17 :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 6: 1-14

We are all slaves; who is your master?

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

How are you doing with the ‘stay at home’ orders? We have some lines here in Southern Ontario, some long, some not so long. Our stores are well-stocked and we have not had any real shortages. Our church as well as many churches are meeting using the Zoom platform, and we find that to be very useful. If you ever want to see some of our messages, you can find them on our FB page at Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church. If you like the page, then you will get all of our messages each week. I love what the Lord is doing in that He is flooding the airwaves with lots of good Bible teaching. There are some that are not so good, and so you have to be discerning. But there is a lot more good stuff out there than there was a few weeks ago.

The idea of socialism has reared its ugly head in the past 50 years or so. It is constantly trying to come into North America and, to some degree, it has. We here in Canada have a government-paid-for health care system that one would argue is a kind of socialism. One of the problems with socialism is that the roles of government and citizen are reversed. In the free market system and under the idea of God-given rights, the idea is that the government serves the people and not the other way around. In socialism, their ideals sound good, but when people realize that no matter how hard you work, you will never get any further than the people who don’t, they stop working; then, everything is broken, and the citizen ends up working for the state; the government. Both freedom and socialism require work; in one, the citizen works to rise up and do better. In socialism, the state works to keep the citizen down.

In our text today, we are going to look at slavery. This is not a loved term in our modern vocabulary. But we are all slaves. If you are a child of God, saved and washed in the blood of Jesus, then you should be a bond slave (a slave out of love for Jesus), to do what is right. If, on the other hand, you are a lost person, then you are a slave to the sin nature in you.

Paul is about to begin to deep-dive into the battle that we have in the flesh each day. A battle that will never be over until we die or Jesus comes to get us. A battle that is so real and so painful it can leave scars in our minds and in our hearts. It is a battle that every born-again person must fight to some degree or the other. Some battles are entrenched in a deep, dark corner of the mind; some are very visible in the flesh. Some of these battles we have learned to mask in piety, and some eventually give in and stop fighting.

  1. Slavery to Sin.

What Paul writes about here, is surrender. He says that we are slaves to whatever ‘force’ we surrender our bodies to (verse 13); we are slaves to whom we present our bodies. The obvious observation here is that we have volition, the power to choose. We can live for the Lord in our bodies or we can live for the flesh. There is a school of thought that says that we cannot sin once we have been saved, that we are no longer able to sin. I have seen, on YouTube, preachers that claim to be sinless. Their words are found to be mere lies in the wake of the scriptures.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 

Notice that he writes in the present, I am chief. He could have said that ‘I was chief,’ meaning that, at the point of salvation, he was the chief sinner, but now he does not sin. Instead, Paul, under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, said I am chief. He was, at the time of the letter to Timothy, still the head of all sinners, in his mind. Further, the Apostle John says this in 1 John 1:8-10,

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

John, again under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, makes it clear that if we say that we are not sinners, then we make God out to be a liar and His word is not in us. In 1,2 and 3 John, the apostle is writing to a local church and addressing saved persons in that church. He is telling the saved persons that they are sinners and need to confess their sins regularly. We are told that every High Priest, except Jesus of course, had to first offer a sacrifice for his own sins, Hebrews 5:3:

“Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.”

You see that the High Priest had to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well. We are all sinners. But even as a sinner, we have the ability since we are born-again to surrender our bodies to sinlessness, even though we will not ever be sinless on this side of eternity. How does one become sinless? We are given some great tools to help us as we live this life. The first is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

First of all, you and I are not unique. The devil has not concocted some formula that is unique to you. Every temptation that you face is the same temptation that all men face. Now, there may be different flavors of temptation, but they all fall under one of three categories: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

We are tempted in one or all of these three ways, and the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that each time we are tempted, the Lord will provide a way of escape. So, the devil tempts, and the Lord provides a way out. You and I are required to exercise our volition; we are required to make choices. We are not robots pre-programmed to react. We are humans made in the image of God with free will and the ability to serve the God we want to serve.

And, this leads us to the second way that we can choose not to sin, and that is to resist the devil. In James 4:7, we see this admonition:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Notice that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. But before we are able to resist the devil, we must first be submitted to God. One provides the power to do the others. Thus, in the moment of temptation, one has to choose who they would like to be the slave to and of. That choice will determine the actions that follow being tempted.

  1. Slave to Righteousness.

The choice is ours to make. We can be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. In Jesus, those of us who are saved and who have the Holy Spirit in us can choose our paths. As you know, there are a lot of ‘good’ people in your neighborhood and at work, and they don’t seem to be ‘bad’ sinners. They don’t have Jesus, so what does that mean if they are not sinning? Sadly, it means nothing. You see, no matter how much they don’t sin, their very nature has not been changed. So, the little old grandma who knits scarves for all the homeless people, yet rejects the grace of Jesus, is just a rotten sinner. The devil wants God’s people to fail, and to fail miserably so as to cause scorn on God and His ways.

Remember that if we live right, we glorify God, we let people see the truth about God, and we point people to God.

Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

We are called to live in such a way, once we are saved in and by Jesus, so that persons who come in contact with us will see God the right way. Are you and I doing that?

Go back and reread James 4:7. We are called to submit ourselves to God first. Paul, writing in Romans, tells us that in verse 13 (b) “but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” James says ‘submit,’ and Paul says ‘present.’ The idea is that you and I have to choose whom to serve. We need to stop trying to run our own lives and submit to God. We are called in the same fashion in Romans 12:1-2, to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God and for Him to change us. The context of James and even here in Romans is that, yes, there is a ‘one-time’ surrender to God, but in the real world and in real life, it is a moment-by-moment decision. You are deciding that you will take on a lifetime of deciding.

If we take an honest look at the apostles, we will see that they struggled with the flesh even as they traveled with Jesus, and even after, as they were building and expanding the Lord’s churches; they did not always make the right decisions. In the overall view of their lives, it is obvious that they were surrendered and had presented their bodies for righteousness in the long run; but, at certain times, they did sin. There are many of our Bible heroes that had flaws; men like Samson, Jacob, David and others were sinful men; and yet, in the overall overview of their lives, they were righteous men.

What is the overall overview of your life? Would you say that in general you are surrendered to God with bouts of sinfulness or that you are surrendered to sin with bouts of righteousness? These are honest questions that we need to ask ourselves. I will confess that I struggle with sin. I have very violent battles with my flesh in the dark recesses of my mind; and sadly, I don’t win them all. I am surrendered to righteousness and I am surrendered to God, and there are times when I am able to resist the devil and he leaves me. Unfortunately, not every time turns out this way and I sin. I confess my sins and beg God for His mercy; He is faithful to me and to all His children who will confess.

Who then is your master, my master? Is it our flesh and the sinfulness that lives in it, or are we surrendered to God and long to live righteous lives daily? Remember Jesus’ words about money or mammon, but they can be applied here as well, Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

God bless you,

Pastor Sean Gooding

Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church