Thursday, November 21, 2013

Victory in Christ -- Part 6

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Now another question arises. Since we are not under the law, but under grace, should that be a motivation to sin? And the answer is the same as before. Of course not! Then he goes on to explain the implications of that answer.

Principle 7: You are not under the law but under grace.

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

First he points out that even though we have been set free from the dominion of sin, yet to whomever we present ourselves for obedience, we are that person's slave. Verse 16 tells us there are two choices: we can present ourselves to sin leading to death or we can present ourselves to obedience leading to righteousness. So even though we aren't technically in bondage to sin any longer, by offering ourselves to sin as a servant, we are in effect a slave of sin. Whoever's will we do, we are a servant of that person.

Let's follow those two lines of thought through these verses. First, the train of thought he uses when we present ourselves to sin. In vs. 16 he shows us the end or result: “whether of sin leading to death.” In verse 19 he pictures a person presenting his members as slaves of uncleanness and lawlessness with the result that it leads to further lawlessness. In verse 21 he focuses on the end which is death. So it goes like this: self --> sin --> uncleanness --> lawlessness --> death.

What is the alternative? Presenting ourselves to obedience. Beginning in verse 16 we present ourselves to obedience, and then to righteousness in verse 18, and then to holiness in verses 19 and 22, and the end of that line is eternal life. So that sequence goes like this: self --> obedience --> righteousness --> holiness --> eternal life. Reread the Scripture passage with these paragraphs in mind and I think you'll see it laid out for you there.

So there are these two choices – either present ourselves to sin with the result of death or present ourselves to obedience with the result of eternal life. Here again, it's a decision we make moment by moment.

This is similar to Paul's teaching in the book of Galatians where he tells us that when you sow to the flesh you reap corruption but when you sow to the Spirit you reap life everlasting (6:8). His warning there reminds us that we reap what we sow. Christian or non-Christian, corruption results from sowing to the flesh.

Now this isn't salvation by obedience and living righteously. That would contradict other passages of Scripture some of which we will be looking at as we go along. But I think it is saying that grace and salvation take us down the obedience, righteousness, holiness path. In other words it's a mistake to think that you can possess salvation and yet be on the path that leads to death. That would be a contradiction.

Principle 8: In effect you are a slave to who you obey--either sin which leads to death or righteousness which leads to life.

Part 7 can be found here.

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