In chapter six of the book of Romans, Paul paints a vivid description of slavery. The first half of chapter six informs believers that we are free from slavery to sin.
Sin no longer has power over us, and we are free to “disobey” our inclination to sin.
In the second half of chapter six, Paul discloses the beauty and benefits of slavery. Yes, slavery can be a very good thing. Slavery to God, that is. The burden of the passing pleasures of sin can never compare with the freedom Christians experience as slaves to God. Do you experience it? There is a distinct quality of beauty in slavery . . . to God.
The first is in Romans 6:1: “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?”
The second is in Romans 6:15: “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?”
Both questions challenge the notion that salvation is by grace apart from works. We are going to focus on the second question and explain that just because the new believer is free from the law it does not mean he will live a life characterized by sin. It is true that he will not be condemned because of his sin—salvation really is free. But he will not live a life of bondage to sin—the believer has a new Master.
To understand this beauty, we have to ask a couple of questions:
1. What is the reality of our lives?
You’ve got to serve somebody.
The fact of life is that nobody is absolutely free; everybody serves somebody. Either we are slaves of sin, resulting in death, or we are slaves of obedience, resulting in righteousness.
The new believer has the choice of serving sin or serving righteousness. Salvation brings freedom from the bondage to sin and allows the believer to choose another master.
Serving sin brings broken fellowship, shattered dreams, ruined health, painful relationships, and legal problems. Having sin as a master means death; it means heartache, guilt, and spiritual destruction.
Serving obedience brings purity, freedom, and fulfillment. Having obedience as a master means sanctification; it means peace, joy, and spiritual growth. The new believer is free to serve the One who makes his life worth living.
2. What are the consequences of our choices?
Consequences are the outcome of our choices…
The believer must make a choice between shame and death or righteousness and sanctification.
The consequences of that choice are either the wages of sin or the gift of God. A focus on keeping rules and obeying the Law of Moses will not help a person towards sanctification. That focus will produce failure and discouragement, even though he is not under the law.
The life of a new believer will change because he is identified with the death and resurrection of Christ and because he has a new Master who offers eternal life to anyone who will believe in the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. It is the work of the new birth, not the law that produces sanctification in the lives of believers.
It has already been clearly established in chapters 1-5 that salvation is by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Now in Romans 6:19-22, he introduces the idea of sanctification (becoming godly).
The new believer in Christ is saved from sin by grace through faith, but how is he sanctified? How is he made like Jesus Christ? What are the means by which he actually becomes a better person? Is the believer saved by grace and sanctified by works? What is the believer’s role in this process of transformation (change)?
What Is Sanctification?
“Present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” Romans 6:19.
Sanctification is the process by which the believer is made increasingly like Jesus Christ in heart and in practice. Literally, sanctification refers to the process of being set apart from the worldly ways of unbelievers and set apart to the worship and service of God. Sanctification has to do with becoming more righteous in daily conduct.
The two different aspects of the believer’s sanctification
- When the believer is born again by the Spirit of God, he or she immediately receives the perfect, righteous righteousness of Christ that makes the new convert absolutely acceptable in God’s sight. This sanctification is instantaneous (immediate), perfect, and irreversible (cannot be undone). This is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been given to even the worst of sinners. This is called positional sanctification, and it is true of all believers, without exception.
- The second aspect of sanctification refers to the experience of the new believer whereby he or she becomes increasingly like Jesus in thought and in deed (action). This sanctification is progressive, imperfect, and variable, even in the godliest of saints. This work of the Spirit called progressive (ongoing) sanctification never reaches perfection this side of Glory, and it varies from person to person. When the Lord Jesus comes back, and believers receive their glorified bodies, then positional and progressive sanctification will be exactly the same, and the believer will be sealed forever in perfect conformity (agreement) to the righteousness of Christ.
What Does Sanctification Look Like?
Sanctification means the believer is less characterized (defined) by indwelling sin and more characterized by the indwelling Spirit.
Less characterized by the sinner he is in the flesh and more characterized by the saint he is in Christ.
More aware of his utter unworthiness in the flesh before a holy God and more confident of his absolute acceptance in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Dealing with progressive sanctification is the greatest struggle in the believer’s life, and understanding positional sanctification is the greatest blessing and beauty in the believer’s experience.
Like a tree in its fullness. The seed that the tree grew from had everything already in it to be a tree. All it needed was to grow.
When we allow ourselves to be enslaved by God we become instantly perfect, righteous and acceptable, in the eyes of a perfect God. Now, all we need to do is grow into this fullness. Now that’s beauty!
Belonging, Engaging, Attitude, Unifying, Testifying, Yielding…
Belonging – 1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him
Engaging – 1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
Attitude – Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
Unifying – Ephesians 4:1-5 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Testifying – Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace
Yielding – Proverbs 8:19 My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver
Slavery to God is true BEAUTY, true freedom.
Slavery – A civil relationship in which one person has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another.
Now it’s your choice…