“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”—Romans 6:16
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16). From Romans 6:16 until Romans 6:20, the objection raised in Romans 6:15 is explained. First, the apostle states that slaves are under obligation to obey their masters, whatever or whomever it may be: sin or righteousness. Whether one calls it a universal law or a principle, it is a truth spoken of the Master Himself, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17). These Roman Christians were the slaves of sin, but no longer. They were once wicked reprobates, but no more, so there is great reason now to give God thanks: they have received a new heart and a new Spirit from God through the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures (“form of doctrine”), which was preached to them. This is the transforming work of God in justification, by His grace and for His name’s sake:
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went…. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” —Ezekiel 36:22, 26-27
“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). The second part of this verse says literally, “You became enslaved to Righteousness.” This is a singular transaction; a transfer of ownership. Jesus gives us a clue to this transaction from the Sermon on the Mount: “No man can serve [can be slave to] two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). We are not merely slaves to “righteousness” as a concept or to good deeds themselves, but rather slaves to Jesus Christ, the LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16); as it is also written, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
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Read the previous article in this series, “The Blessed Bondslave” (Romans 6:16-20).
The Wednesday Word
by Miles McKee
Most of us know the story of Cain and Abel. In this story, there’s excellent instruction, especially about the blood. Cain’s great sin, the sin that led to his total downfall, was his refusal to come to God with the blood. In doing so, he refused to admit that he was a sinner, worthy of death, and in need of a substitute to save him.
Cain was not an atheist, he was a religious man, and being religious, he was the type of man who wanted to worship God in his own way. Like so many today, however, he despised the blood! He wanted to impress God with his own work (Genesis 4:3). He would not take his place before God as a ruined sinner in need of the death of a substitute. It is of no surprise then that, in Cain, we meet the first religious murderer (Genesis 4:8). Religious folk hate God’s message of ruin by sin and the gracious redemption by blood alone… it angers them.
Notice also how Cain’s religion made him a hypocrite; observe how he would not corrupt his altar with the blood of a lamb, but was willing to stain the earth with his brother’s blood (Genesis 4:2-8).
So let’s understand the truth about Cain … he rejected the blood!
When the blood was shed on an altar, the worshipper was saying, “I am guilty, and I justly deserve death, however, allow the death of this substitute be reckoned as my death.” Cain refused to do this; he was not prepared to take his place before God as a guilty lost sinner in need of mercy.
Furthermore, Cain, like all unbelieving religionists, could not see that, in blood sacrifice, there was also an acknowledgement of the righteous love and grace of God. In the blood sacrifice, the worshipper was saying by faith, “Not only am I guilty Lord, but Lord let your love grace and mercy, which I don’t deserve, now pour out on me.”
Mark this down, we must diligently avoid the error of Cain in coming to God on any other basis than the shed blood. We are baptized into Christ’s death, and, therefore, we glory in the cross (Galatians 6:14). Christ crucified was the payment of the sinner’s penalty, the extinction and tearing up of the debt that we owed.
As the cross is the payment, so the resurrection is God’s receipt that declares that the payment has been made in full. Again we must remember that our faith does not make the payment, but is rather the simple recognition on our part that our payment has been made by the Lord Jesus.
Faith unites us to Christ and identifies us with the one who died and rose again. The good news is that, because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus, we are reckoned to have paid the penalty due to our sins and are treated as if we were the ones who had died.
“Until I saw the blood,
‘Twas hell my soul was fearing:
And dark and dreary in my eyes,
The future was appearing,
While conscience told its tale of sin,
And caused a weight of woe within.
But when I saw the blood,
And look’d at Him who shed it,
My right to peace was seen at once,
And I with transport read it;
I found myself to God brought nigh,
And “Victory” became my cry.
My joy was in the blood,
The news of which had told me,
That spotless as the Lamb of God,
My Father could behold me,
And all my boast was in His name.
Through whom this great salvation came.”
And that’s the Gospel Truth
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“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” —Romans 6:16-20
In this portion, the Greek word for “servant” (δουλος) used six times and the term “became servants” (εδουλωθητε), once (but also again in Romans 6:22, δουλωθεντες). “Servant” would be more correctly translated as “slave.” This is a term readily understood by the New Testament apostles and prophets for they referred to themselves as slaves (δουλος, δουλοι, δουλους): (1) Paul did so in this letter, “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ…” (Romans 1:1; also of himself and Timothy in Philippians 1:1, and of himself in Titus 1:1); (2) James calls himself “a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1); (3) Simon Peter refers to himself as a slave (2 Peter 1:1); (4) Jude does as well (Jude 1:1); and (5) so does John (Revelation 1:1). And why wouldn’t they think themselves slaves to this majestic and magnificent Master, Jesus Christ? He purchased the elect with a price of infinite value: Himself. It is written, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). So let’s read it again, inserting the word “slave” for “servant.”
ROMANS 6 as slaves…
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves slaves to obey, his slaves ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the slaves of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the slaves of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members slaves to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members slaves to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the slaves of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
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Read the previous article in this series, “A License to Sin under Grace? No Way!” (Romans 6:15).
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” —Romans 6:15
Because of the incredible revelation of the freedom in Christ, a misunderstanding may arise and an objection made that God’s law is null and void. The objection follows along the lines of this kind of skewed logic:
Since Christ has fulfilled the law whereas no other man can keep it or observe it perfectly, and since we have been freed from the bondage of the law, does that mean that those who are in Christ by God’s grace are not under any obligation to holiness because we have been freed from the law and are now under grace?
The apostle’s answer: “God forbid.” No way! Absolutely not!
There are many Christians that have drawn this very same conclusion, and thereby, live a life of licentiousness (and certainly there are many professing “Christians” who walk in sinful superficiality, living as they please because their hearts are still dead to God, but the true believer is not immune from this attitude because the flesh lusts against the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:17). The difference between the bondage under sin and the pardon of sin is so incredibly vast in measure, and so overwhelming, that if a soul’s conversion is not tempered in the Word of God by the illuminating guidance of the Holy Spirit, licentiousness may be the outcome. Another may be legalism, but that will be covered a bit later.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Set Apart for Service to God” (Romans 6:14).