Slaves of Righteousness, Not Slaves of Sin
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 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? 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. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 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. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 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. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:15-23)
Believers in Jesus Christ are under grace. That means that we are in a constant state of Divine favor. God has justified us, we have peace with Him, and we have been reconciled to Him. We are not under law. The law isn’t being held over us as a threat of some sort; God is not using the law to keep us in line. We have been justified by faith. Justification is a legal term, having to do with our righteous standing with God apart from the law (Romans 3:21-24).
Since believers are under grace, shall we just go on sinning? Is sin sinful for the believer? The answer: certainly not! We must not go on sinning. And yes, sin is sinful for the believer.
Sin is a violation of the law (1 John 3:4), and sin is missing the mark (Romans 3:23). When the believer intentionally commits sin bad things happen: the purpose of God for our humanity is thwarted, fellowship with God is broken, and the Spirit of God is grieved (Ephesians 1:18, Colossians 1:27; 1 John 1:5-10; Ephesians 4:30). When sin becomes continual, another form of slavery occurs. This new slavery is slavery to sin. Habits, addictions, and bondages can rapidly form. Even the believer can once again be trapped by sin. The shame and death of past sin resurfaces, and he has once again put himself in the powerful grip of sinful desires. That is not a good thing, ever. As Pastor Jon Courson said, “Sin is not bad because it’s forbidden; it’s forbidden because it is bad.”
The exciting alternative is slavery to righteousness … and to God Himself. This scenario is possible due to the freedom with which Christ set us free (Romans 6:5-7; John 8:31-32; Galatians 5:1). When obedience to God is continual, there is slavery to doing what is right; the habits of goodness and the fruit of the Spirit appear in our lives. This new slavery is what it means to be truly free. Freedom to sin is not freedom at all; freedom from sin is the way of joy, love, and holiness.
All that sin pays us is death; the gift of God is the exact opposite, life eternal through Jesus Christ.
For Further Review
1. What does it mean for believers to be under grace and not under law? How does this affect our relationship with God?
2. Why is sin sinful for the believer? Why is it wrong for a believer to continue in willful sin?
3. What are the results of continued sin in a believer’s life?
4. What are the results of obedience to God in a believer’s life?
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