Slaves to Righteousness

Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 7:27 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Into His Death

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When John the Baptist was fulfilling the call of God upon his life in being a witness for Jesus Christ, and in preparing the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry, and for people’s hearts to receive him, he said of Jesus, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Now, I know there are many interpretations of what this means, so I will share what I believe scripture teaches with regard to what John said, and in relation to this passage in Romans 6. To baptize literally means to cleanse (purify) by submerging or immersing. The word immerse means, besides the obvious, “to throw yourself into.” It carries with it the idea that you enter into something wholeheartedly and with great eagerness and enthusiasm.

Ok, so in looking at Romans 6 we get a pretty good idea of the meaning of “baptism” here, as well. When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death. We get the picture here that, through this baptism, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ so that we might walk in newness of life, free from the power of sin over our lives. So, could this be water baptism being spoken of? I don’t believe so. Why? Because we read in Acts 10:47NIV: "Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." They received the Holy Spirit via faith in Jesus Christ prior to water baptism. We receive the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus Christ, which is when we die with Christ to sin and are resurrected with Christ to newness of life. So, I believe this is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is God’s work of grace in our lives in cleansing us from sin, and in giving us new lives in Jesus.

Now let’s go back to this definition of “immerse,” in relation to God (the Spirit) baptizing us into Christ Jesus, which means to purify us by immersing us. We were immersed into Christ’s death, i.e. we were “thrown into” his death, by God’s grace, but also through faith, which is our willing participation in his death to sin. We can’t be “thrown into” his death to sin if we do not willingly cooperate with God’s work of grace in putting sin to death in us and in giving us new lives in Christ Jesus. That is why the scriptures say here that the purpose of this death is so we might walk in newness of life, and why Romans 8:3-4 says, “And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

The question is posed, then, as to whether or not we should continue in sin now that we are under grace and no longer under the law, which is then answered with a resounding “NO!” “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” This is not speaking of living in sinless perfection, nor does it suggest that we will never fail God again or will no longer have need to repent of sin and to be cleansed. In Romans 8 we read that if we live according to the sinful nature, we will die; but if by the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body, we will live, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (see: vv.13-14). In 1 John 1:6-7 we read, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

So, what is this saying? This is speaking of lifestyle. We have learned previously that “belief” in Jesus for salvation, in the Greek, is literally “believing,” which is present, active and continuous, which is supported by the teachings of Paul and the other apostles, and by Jesus, too. We also learned previously that “being saved” is also present, active and continuous. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present, continuous), and we will be saved (future). This is Biblical. The Christian life is not a one-time event that guarantees us heaven with nothing required in between. We must continue in Christ, and remain in his love, and we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer (in lifestyle) walk according to the flesh. This involves us, by the Spirit, daily putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, and it involves walking (in lifestyle) in the light of truth and in the Spirit. When we do this, the Lord purifies (present, not just past) us from all unrighteousness.

No Dominion

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, we can be set free from eternal damnation in hell, and we can be given the hope of heaven when we die. Yet, he also died so we would be free from the control of sin while we still walk the face of this earth, and so we would live for him, who gave himself up for us. Also, because of what he did for us in putting our sin to death, so that we could die with Christ to sin, by faith in him, we are to not let sin reign (have control and authority over, or rule) in our bodies so that we obey its passions. Jesus freed us from the control of sin! Amen! So, we should no longer live like he didn’t set us free, but we should walk in that freedom. We should live like we have been set free instead of living like we are still enslaved to sin. Amen! God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse and without repentance. By God’s grace sin should no longer be our master. God’s grace, in fact, teaches us to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live upright, godly and self-controlled lives while we wait for Jesus’ return (See: Tit. 2:11-14).

If we spend most of our time and/or most our free time indulging in participation in sin, and/or in being entertained by what is sinful, knowingly and willfully, in open rebellion against God and against his rules for godly living, then we are still slaves to sin, because we are slaves to the one we obey. Again, this is not speaking of living in sinless perfection, for we won’t reach perfection until we get to heaven. This is speaking of lifestyle, i.e. what we regularly practice day in and day out, and usually without guilt or a sense of conscience about sinning, and with no repentance. So, again we must know that God’s word says that if we claim to have fellowship with God but we continue (in lifestyle) in sin, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: 1 Jn. 1).

So, what is our responsibility here, based upon what The Word teaches? Just as we used to offer ourselves to slavery to impurity and wickedness, now we should offer ourselves in slavery to righteousness, leading to holiness, and the result is eternal life (and the result is eternal life). To be holy means to be set apart from (unlike) the world because we are becoming like Christ. When we were slaves to sin, we were free from the control of righteousness. This is a very important truth here, so we don’t want to miss it. If we continue to give ourselves to impurity and to wickedness, as a regular and consistent practice of our lives, so that we obey the passions and desires of our flesh, then we are free from the control of righteousness, i.e. we can’t live holy lives pleasing to God. We can’t have our feet in both worlds, in other words. Again, this is not saying we will never sin again, or that we will never fail to please God, but that we should be persisting (continuing) in daily putting off the flesh, and in daily walking in the Spirit, by the Spirit. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness
Of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord,
I humbly pray.
Be my desire,
Set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in
Fellowship with You,
Listening to You;
Sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently,
Guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting
For Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts
Be King today.
Help us to live for
You ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from
Your word within us,
Help us obey You,
Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment,
Lord, in Your presence,
Our off’rings to You bring.

Help us to love You,
Lord, our master;
Be an example
Of Your love,
Helping the hurting,
Lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You,
Follow You always,
Bearing their cross and
Turning from sin;
Walking in daily
Fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.