Romans 6, Part 5
Nov 08, 2010
In Romans 6:15-22, Paul appeals to the Law of Redemption, showing that a redeemed man must serve his redeemer. Before looking at Paul's discussion, let us again quote Lev. 25:53,
(53) Like a man hired year by year he shall be with him; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight.
The context shows that this is speaking of the redeemer and the redeemed one. He who is redeemed--even by a near-kinsman--is not free to live his own life. He is purchased from a stranger who does not love him. The near-kinsman is more likely to treat him with love and "not rule over him with severity." Even so, the redeemed one is still under authority as a slave. He has simply changed masters.
So it is with us. We were redeemed by our near-kinsman, Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:11-15). Our debt note was purchased by our Redeemer. We were bought with a price, Paul says elsewhere:
(1 Cor. 6:20) "For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
(1 Cor. 7:23) "You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men."
The fact that we were purchased means that we are not free to do as we please, but to serve our Redeemer. He owns us, and so we are not free to sin that grace may increase. Paul says in Rom. 6:16,
(16) Do you not know that when you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (17) But thanks be to God that though you WERE slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, (18) and having been freed [eleutheroo, "to make free; set at liberty"] from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
In other words, if we sin that grace might increase, we become a living testimony that we are yet slaves of sin, rather than of Jesus Christ. We have no right to tell our Redeemer, "Thanks for setting me free; see you later." God forbid! Our Redeemer has every right to invoke the Law and to place us under His authority. His authority is not based upon fear but upon love. Even so, the authority is real, and we should not take advantage of his love by continuing in sin.
Take note also that verse 18 above does not say that we are free TO sin, but free FROM sin. Neither does it say that we are free from the law, as if to say that the law has been put away as some sort of oppressor. Our Redeemer did not purchase us from the Law, but from sin (violation of the law). The redemption was done lawfully according to the Laws of Redemption.
(19) I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members [body parts] as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness [anomia], resulting in further lawlessness [anomia], so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Paul obviously has not put away the Law. He shows us that we have been redeemed from the slavery of lawlessness, so that we may now present our body parts as "slaves to righteousness," in direct contrast to lawlessness. Jesus uses that same term anomia in Matt. 7:23, where He says to those who did miracles in His name: "Depart from Me, you who practice anomia." The word nomosmeans "law", and anomia means "lawlessness."
(20) For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
In other words, those who are enslaved to sin are being commanded by their master to commit sin, and such people are not subject to the righteous Master who would command them to obey the Law. But when we have been redeemed, we are subject to righteousness, so that we are no longer lawless, nor even legalistic, but lawful.
(21) Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
Paul here is speaking of the second death, which is the result of our own sin. He is not speaking of the first death (mortality), which is the result of Adam's sin.
(22) But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, aionian life.
Here Paul states the Law of Redemption in his clearest terms. We are freed from Master Sin and have become "enslaved to God," as even Lev. 25:53 commands. This is Paul's conclusion in discussing the question set forth in verse 1: "Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?"
Of course, keep in mind that Paul was talking about sanctification, not justification. Paul's teaching about justification came in the earlier chapters, but now, having been justified, Paul goes to the next level. Sanctification has to do with our manner of life after we have been justified. Shall we continue in sin after being justified by faith? Shall we continue to serve the old master after being redeemed by Jesus Christ?
Let us not make sanctification the basis of our justification. We are not justified because we have been sanctified. We are justified in order that we might begin walking down a new path of righteousness, resulting in sanctification. While this may seem obvious to most people, there are many who yet labor under mental bondage, doubting their justification on the grounds that they are not yet sanctified.
One only needs to learn the story of "the church in the wilderness" under Moses. They were justified through Passover when they all came out of Egypt, being set free from Pharaoh. Their sanctification feast came about seven weeks later when they arrived at the Mount for their first Pentecost. Pentecost is the feast of sanctification. It is the feast celebrating the giving of the Law, whereby the intent of God is to write His Law in our hearts through hearing the Word and being led by the Spirit.
The "outcome" of sanctification, Paul says, is aionian life, which The Emphatic Diaglott translates "life age-lasting." Our justification reverses the effects of Adam's sin and turns mortality into immortality. But sanctification gives us a more specific reward, wherein we inherit Life in The Age. The reward is given sooner to those who are sanctified, for they inherit immortality in the first resurrection, so they may rule and reign with Christ during the Sabbath Millennium. They will be the examples manifesting the glory of God for the benefit of the rest of humanity who do not know Jesus Christ or His Love and character.
Thus, sanctification is important, for it is our primary focus once we have been justified. Justification by faith is not the end of the story, but only the door out of Egypt that begins our journey to the Promised Land. Sanctification is that journey. The end is the Glorification of the body through the feast of Tabernacles--our entry into the full Promise of God, which is our inheritance.
On the flip side of this, Paul says in verse 23,
(23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift [charisma] of God is aionian life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In other words, the wages of our personal sin is the second death, contrasted by the gracious gift of God, immortality in the first resurrection, which comes to those who are not only justified but also sanctified by the hearing of His word. The first resurrection is the special salvation given to those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10).
This is the final part of a series titled "Romans 6." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones