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Slaves to Righteousness (Romans 6:15-23)

Romans 6:15–23 - 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone 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 from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 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. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. What does today’s passage say? In this passage, Paul tackles the question of whether grace gives us a license to sin. He adamantly denies this notion - grace does not permit willful disobedience (vv. 15-16). Instead, grace has liberated us from slavery to sin and made us obedient followers of righteous living (vv. 17-18). Therefore, just as we once freely gave ourselves to pursuing immorality, we should now actively pursue purity and holiness (v. 19). Paul reminds us where these two paths ultimately lead - a life of sin ends in death and eternal separation from God in hell, but God’s free gift to us is eternal life in Jesus (vv. 20-23). The choice is clear: will we use our freedom to indulge our flesh or glorify our Savior? Sin's payment is destruction while God mercifully offers us salvation. How can I apply Romans 6:15-23 to my life? In this passage, Paul directly confronts the dangerous mistaken belief that God's grace provides permission to sin. He makes abundantly clear that grace does not give us a license to indulge in wickedness. Rather, this undeserved gift frees us from enslavement to sin, empowering us to live righteous lives that please God. This passage calls every Christian to honestly self-reflect - do we truly understand grace? Or do we sometimes use it as an excuse for disobedience? Have we fully submitted ourselves to Christ's authority? Or are there areas where we still cling to personal control? Paul leaves no room for compromise. As followers of Jesus, we have been forever changed. Now we must live in newness of life through the Spirit's power. Here are some basic principles from this passage we should apply to our lives:

  1. Resist the Temptation to Sin, Knowing That You Are Under Grace (vv. 15-16): Paul directly confronts the flawed thinking that grace gives believers a license to sin. Since we are no longer under law but under grace, one might assume there is freedom to occasionally indulge in sinful behaviors or choices. However, Paul makes an unequivocal statement that we as followers of Jesus should vigorously reject any line of reasoning allowing willful sin in our lives. True freedom in Christ means we have been liberated from slavery to sin and now have the power through the indwelling Holy Spirit to resist temptation and walk in newness of life, characterized by obedience and righteousness. Giving ourselves over to wickedness leads only to spiritual decay and death, whereas devoting ourselves to holiness and godliness brings increasing victory and conformity to the image of Christ. We must firmly renounce attitudes, thought patterns, or behaviors treating grace as a permit for planned disobedience. Instead, grace empowers us to joyfully fulfill God's good and perfect will for our lives through the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Our position under grace gives us both the motivation and means to live righteously by God's power at work within us (Titus 2:11-14, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16).

Food for Thought: What mindsets or actions suggest you think God's grace gives you permission to sin? How can renewing your mind with kingdom principles protect you from flawed thinking? How does depending on the Holy Spirit's power help you walk in newness of life and resist temptation?

  1. Wholeheartedly Obey God's Teaching, Which Leads to Righteousness (vv. 17-18): After correcting the misunderstanding about grace permitting sin, Paul reminds believers of the transformation that has already occurred in our lives. Before Christ, we were enslaved and obedient to sin, but then God in His mercy revealed His truth to us. As we heard and understood the gospel message, we fully surrendered our hearts and wills to God's ways. Our sincere faith and repentance allowed us to be set free from sin's mastery through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now we eagerly follow after righteousness out of hearts made alive by the Spirit. Wholehearted obedience to scriptural teaching is essential for growing in holiness and living in a way that honors God. As we devote ourselves to knowing and applying God's commands, our minds are renewed, perspectives shift, habits change, and our conduct increasingly models Jesus. Staying grounded in biblical truth while relying on the Spirit's help allows us to walk in freedom and bear good fruit. Let us determinedly obey all the Lord has commanded from hearts filled with love and gratitude (Joshua 1:8, John 14:15, James 1:22-25).

Food for Thought: Why is simply having intellectual knowledge of God's Word inadequate for true heart transformation? What specific actions demonstrate wholehearted obedience to the scriptures in your life?

  1. Offer Yourself as a Slave to Righteousness, Leading to Holiness (v. 19): Paul draws a sharp contrast between a believer's conduct prior to salvation versus how they should live now as followers of Christ. Before knowing Jesus, we freely gave ourselves over to lawlessness and wickedness without restraint. Our sin nature controlled us and we willingly offered our bodies to moral corruption and spiritual decay. But through faith in the gospel, we died to that old self-centered way of living and have been made alive to righteousness by the Spirit. As those ransomed and redeemed by God, we now deliberately offer ourselves to virtue and purity, with the goal of holiness. This daily surrender and sacrifice of praise involves fixing our eyes on Jesus, communing with the Holy Spirit, prayer, and being in the word. As our minds and hearts become saturated in truth, our actions will follow. Let us consciously yield our physical bodies to honor God and serve others, rather than squandering them on fleeting sinful pleasures. Our bodies belong to Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Romans 12:1-2, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

Food for Thought: What thoughts, environments or habits easily entangle you in impurity? How can you proactively safeguard yourself? What does offering your body as an instrument of righteousness look like in practical daily choices?

  1. Embrace Your Freedom from Sin and Servitude to God, Resulting in Eternal Life (vv. 20-23): Paul ends this passage with a sobering reminder of the dreadful consequences of continuing in sin contrasted with the glorious future assured those in Christ. Prior to salvation, we were slaves to unrighteousness, practicing lawlessness, hurting others, and storing up wrath and judgment for ourselves in the life to come by indulging our sinful desires. Make no mistake - the ultimate outcome of persisting in sin is spiritual barrenness now and eternal separation from God later in hell. But praise Jesus that through placing our faith in His finished work on the cross, we have been rescued from the grip of sin and the fear of death! As born again believers, the chains that once bound us have been broken and we now joyfully serve our Redeemer out of hearts overflowing with gratitude. While sin pays wages of destruction and death, God lavishes us with the undeserved gift of eternal life through His Son. Let us then live in light of our glorious future reward in heaven, allowing those heavenly hopes to shape our earthly choices each day. Since we have passed from death into life, may we continually pour ourselves into purposes which further God's Kingdom for His glory (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 John 5:11)!

Food for Thought: How does reflecting on the coming reality of either heaven or hell impact your daily priorities and decisions? What mindsets or habits reinforce your new identity as one who has been freed from sin's mastery? The liberating truth Paul proclaims leaves no middle ground - we either walk in new life by the Spirit’s power or drift back into sin’s chains. This passage makes clear that grace is not a license for disobedience. Rather, it empowers us to pursue sanctification. As those who have been gloriously transferred from slavery to sin into freedom in Christ, we must leave behind excuses rooted in deception. Through relying on the Spirit working within us, we can discover victory over tempting strongholds. When we stumble, grace allows us to repent, receive cleansing, and walk again in the light. Our eternal destiny hinges on who we choose to serve - sin unto death, or God unto righteousness. The Lord who conquered the grave now lives within us! Why would we waste time any longer to the twisted desires of our flesh when we have been made new creations in Christ? This passage challenges us to live daily in light of our glorious inheritance reserved in heaven. One day the full revelation of our adoption into God’s family will appear. Until then, we fix our eyes above, take up our cross in obedient surrender, and walk by faith as beloved children who delight in bringing our Father glory. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would shine light on any areas where I have clung to deception regarding Your grace. Reveal to me if I ever use grace as an excuse for disobedience or failure to pursue holiness. Create in me an unwavering desire to offer myself fully to You in obedient service. I pray that Your Spirit would empower me to walk in newness of life, overcoming temptation through trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Increase my eternal perspective that I might live daily in light of my eternal life in Your presence. I pray that my life would clearly display that I have been transferred from slavery to righteousness through Your loving redemption. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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