A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Sanctification: The Right Way of Union with Christ
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (6:11). We are to "know" this truth and then continually, second by second, moment by moment, hour after hour, day after day, we are to "reckon" it to be so! Don't ever lose sight of it. Don't doubt it! Don't let the devil say, "You did not die back there." You did die - you were buried with Him, raised with Him. That is the secret of a holy life. God declares it so, now "reckon" it to be so.
Whenever a young man who may be a member of an Orthodox Jewish family becomes a Christian, the father says, "This son is to me dead." He turns him out of his house. He never speaks to him again. If friends come in and ask about his son, he says, "My son is dead,: He is not actually dead, but the father considers that boy as dead. In the same sense, even though the old self is still alive, God says, "Reckon ye your selves to be dead unto sin."
It is like an old associate who exercised terrible influence over you. There is only one way to get liberty. Break it off once for all. Call him in and say, "You have exercised a powerful influence over me. From now on, it is to be as if I had died."
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin," but, on the other hand, "Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
That word "instruments" is a military term. It would be better translated by the word "weapons." Your hands, your feet, your tongue - the members of your body - they are weapons in "the good fight." "Now," Paul says, "don't take your weapons and give them to the enemy." It would be foolish if a man should hand over his arms to his enemy. But that is exactly what happens, for instance, when a person takes the tongue, which ought to be used as a weapon of righteousness, and uses it to wound somebody.
From the original Greek a thought unfolds out of this passage. It starts out with the words, "Neither yield," and the idea is a continuous yielding. "Do not yield all the time your members - day after day, hour after hour - giving up your weapons to sin, your enemy."
The thought goes on to imply once for all yield; here it is a different tense. At one great crisis point in your life, once for all yield to God. The Christian ought to come to this place where he says, "Lord, I yield once for all."
And then he closes with a promise (Romans 6:14). If we know these things - if we reckon these things to be so - if we yield our members unto God - them remember this: "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Why? Because you are not under the law, but under grace. Some people falsely say that sin will have dominion over you if you come out from under the law. Paul says the opposite: "sin shall not have dominion over you." Paul says about sin and law (1 Co. 15:56): "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." It is the grace of God that breaks the power of sin. The law cannot do it. The reason that sin shall not have dominion is because you are under grace and not under law.
Up to this point we have dealt with the fact of continuance in sin. Somebody is bound to say, "Well, all right, I won't continue in sin. I can see that now. But surely it won't hurt if I drop into sin once in a while." So Paul deals with that. Shall we commit even an act of sin? Is it not permissible to drop into sin once in a while because we are not under law? Paul's answer: "God forbid!"
He is going to show in this whole section from now on that no man can serve two masters. He will either serve sin or he will serve righteousness. He will either serve satan or he will serve God.
There is one word that occurs eight times in this section. It is the word "servant." That is the key word of this passage.
Paul starts with verse 16. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?" In other words, if you start to obey sin, you are thereby admitting the mastership of sin, and your very confession of Christ said, "you are my Lord and master." You cannot, therefore, if you are a Christian, start to obey sin without saying, "Christ is not my master. Sin is my master."
It is simply a development of Christ's own words: "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). Notice what Paul says (17-18). "Being then made free from sin." How were we made free from sin? We died to it. Therefore, sin is no longer our master.
We have not only died, but we have risen from the dead and now have a new life and a new master. That master is Christ and righteousness. So he says, "You have become the servants of righteousness." Somebody might say, "Is Christianity slavery?" Paul says, "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh." That is, "Christianity is not really slavery, but I have used that term in order that you might understand."
Verse 20 declares, "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." There was a time in your lie when you were a servant of sin, and righteousness had nothing to do with you. Now turn it around. Once you are free from sin, just the opposite is true. When you are the servant of righteousness, you have nothing to do with sin. You are free from it!
Verse 22 goes further and insists, "You have your fruit." You have something else also, namely, "the end." It is wonderful that you can have "the end" before you get there. The old way was explained this way: "if you are good, holy, and do not fall, someday, when you come to the end, God will give you eternal life." But Paul says if you die with Christ, if you reckon it to be so, you not only have the "fruit unto holiness," but you have the end right now.
Paul has shown us how to deal with sin in our lives. We are first to know that we died with Christ. Second, we are to reckon that thing to be so, never surrendering for a moment. Third, we are to yield our members. Then we are to remember that no man can serve two masters.
These great facts will grip the heart of a true believer and lead him in the paths of righteousness. But there may be among the professed people of God some that are not born of God. There are always some people who have never really bowed the knee to Jesus Christ; people who profess to be His but who have never obeyed Him and thus have never been born of God.
While all these truths may work in the lives of those who are truly saved, there may be some who are merely professed Christians who say, "Oh, we are saved, and it does not matter what we do." So Paul closes with a very solemn warning: "For the wages of sin is death" (6:23). Let no man take the grace of God and turn it into license. Let no man go in in sin (and, by the way, the true Christian cannot continue in sin). Therefore, should some man who is professing to be a Christian continue in sin, let him remember that "the wages of sin is death" and there has been no reduction in those wages!
But for such a man there is hope. "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (6:23). There are two servitudes. If you serve sin, you will be paid wages. You will get just exactly what is coming to you. If you serve God, He cannot pay you any wages. You do not deserve any. But He does have a gift, that of everlasting life!
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 49 - Sanctification: The Wrong Way by Works of the Law")