Whose Slave Are You?

Sermon Study Sheets

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

July 7, 2002

Whose Slave Are You?

Romans 6:12-23

The year is 1849. The place is the state of Virginia. You are 24 years old.
Your father was born in the country now called Angola. He was captured during a
battle with another tribe and then subsequently sold to slavers and eventually
ending up in Virginia. Your mother was born in the land called the Congo, but
she was captured in a raid on her village and also subsequently sold to slavers
and eventually also end up in Virginia. All you have ever known is slavery, but
your parents have talked about what it was like to be free and you know it is
something that you want for yourself.

Your master is an adventurer and upon hearing about the discovery of gold
California, he takes you along with the rest of his family. It does not work out
like he had hoped, and lacking money, he sells you to another family. Your
former master had been harsh and demanding. Your new master is kind and gentle.
A month after being sold, while doing an errand for your new master, you meet
your old master in the store, and he starts telling you what he wants you to do
and that he expects it to be done promptly. He even threatens to whip you if you
do not obey immediately. What will you do? That will depend on who you believe
your master to be. Is it this fellow who has always told you what to do, or is
it the man who sent you on the errand that morning?

Ten years later, your new master has proven to be a wonderful man. He has
taught you to read and trained you in both trade and living skills. Out of his
own generosity he has also set you free. You are no longer his slave, though you
remain with him and his family as a servant because they have been so kind to
you. When they travel back to the East Coast, you go with them with the hope
that perhaps you will have opportunity to see your parents and siblings and free
them from slavery. The opportunity finally comes make it back to Virginia. You
see your family for the first time in over a decade, but you also see your
former master, who immediately picks up where he left off and starts telling you
what he wants you to do and that he expects to be obeyed immediately or he will
have you whipped. What will you do? Again, it depends on who you believe is your

In Romans 6 we find that Paul uses this analogy of slave and master to
describe the relationship of man and sin. The Christian has a new master, but
the question remains of who the Christian will obey? The new master or the old

Follow along as I read Romans 6:12-23.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey
its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin [as]
instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive
from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For
sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. 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.

At this point in the book of Romans, Paul has presented the gospel message
and is dealing with the consequences of being justified by God’s grace through
faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the first three chapters Paul
explained the relationship the natural man has with God. God and man are
separated because God is holy and righteous, and man is ungodly and unrighteous.
Man can not bridge that gap by any means of his own. Man’s best effort not
only falls short of God’s standard, but in reality no man actually even seeks
God on his own (Rom. 3:11,12). Even man’s best religious efforts distort God’s
image into one of man’s own creation. What the religion requires is not what
God has said, but what men have decided for themselves would appease God.
Religion exchanges the true God for one of man’s own making. Therefore, God’s
wrath properly abides on man, and without divine intervention, man is condemned
to God’s wrath being upon him throughout eternity.

Romans 1,2 & 3 prove that for anyone to talk about having a positive
relationship with God apart from Jesus Christ is foolishness, for apart from
being justified by Jesus Christ, man is eternally condemned by God the Father.
In the last part of Romans 3 through chapter 7, Paul is dealing with being
justified from our sin through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and

its consequences. Paul presents Abraham in Romans 4 as the example this faith
which can justify. It is through Jesus Christ and only Him that man is brought
into a right relationship with God the Father. Justification comes as a gift of
God’s grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus and apart from any
work of man (Rom. 3:24).

It is important that we understand justification. Justification is the
judicial action of God who accepts the death of Jesus Christ as the substitute
payment for your sin so that you stand acquitted of your transgressions of God’s
standards. It then attributes to the sinner the righteous standing of Christ.
These are the two sides of justification. As J.I. Packer explains (Evangelical
Dictionary of Theology, Elwell, pp 593-597), "On the one hand,
[justification] means the pardon, remission, and nonimputation of all sins,
reconciliation to God, and the end of His enmity and wrath (Acts 13:39; Rom.
4:6-7; 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 5:9ff). "On the other hand, it means the bestowal
of a righteous man’s status and a title to all the blessings promised to the
However, please note that this is not sanctification.
Justification is your legal standing as righteous before God, not your actions
of living a righteous life. Justification makes sanctification possible and
should result in righteous living, but justification and sanctification are
different things. Paul will deal with the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification
in our life in chapter 8.

There are consequences of being justified by faith in the person and work of
Jesus Christ. Paul points out in chapter 5 that the first consequence is having
peace with God. This is a peace that gives a hope that cannot be diminished, for
it is based in the love of God which was proven for all time and eternity when
Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. I have a confident assurance
as I face the future because God’s promises are true and He will keep them. I
can joyfully face any circumstance for I am assured that God is at work maturing
me and making me more like Christ.

In chapter 6, Paul points out another great benefit of being justified by
faith in Jesus Christ. I had inherited a sin nature from Adam that condemned me,
but in Jesus Christ I have been changed. Paul uses the analogy of baptism to
explain the nature of this great change. Before being justified by Christ I was
controlled by sin. I lived in it, and all that I did manifested it, but the
person I was then was crucified with Christ, so that I no longer live, but
Christ lives in me, and the life I now live, I live by faith in Jesus (Gal.

Three weeks ago I detailed out the meaning of baptism as an identification of
the believer with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The
believer identifies with Jesus death and burial as he goes under the water, and
with His resurrection to newness of life as he comes up out of the water. Jesus
commanded His followers to be baptized in the Great Commission (Mt. 29:19,20).
It is a public identification with Him. Jesus said in Mt. 10:32,33, "Everyone
therefore who shall confess Me before men , I will also confess him before My
Father who is in heaven. "But whoever shall deny Me before men , I will
also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
There is serious
reason to question the salvation of someone who professes faith in Jesus Christ,
yet refuses to identify with Him in water baptism. If you are making a
profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but have not yet been baptized by immersion
in water, then pick up the paper on baptism in the information rack in the back
of the church, or get the tape from June 16, and then contact me and I will
arrange for you to follow our Lord in this step of obedience.

Paul’s point in Romans 6 concerns how a Christian should live. Paul does
not want anyone to think that it is proper for a Christian to continue in sinful
living. Some had developed the misguided idea that their sin would cause God to
be glorified because His grace would then have to increase to cover the sin.

The Christian should not continue in sin because it is contrary to the new
nature that a Christian receives upon faith in Jesus Christ. We are to consider
ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).

The problem of the Christian sinning is not a lack of power or ability. I
know that each of us feels at times that we have no choice but to sin. We feel
like we lack the power and ability to resist the temptations that come upon us.
Admittedly, it is a tough battle at times. We will see the depth of this battle
in chapter 7 in a couple of weeks. We face the cravings of not only our own
flesh for what is sinful, but we also have the enticements of the world and the
schemes of the devil to satisfy our pride and desire for pleasure in ways that
are not pleasing to God. But regardless of what we may feel, we must come to
grips with the fact that what we have become in Christ has given us new
abilities that we did not posses before. We can resist the temptations of our
flesh, the world and the devil. As Paul states in 1 Cor. 10:13 "No
temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the
temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure

Please note that 1 John 1:8-10 points out the fact that as Christians we will
still sin. It also points how to deal with that sin once it occurs through
confession. Having the ability to resist does not mean that we always will
resist. We must learn to deal with our tendency to sin and overcome it. How can
the Christian overcome temptations? By going back to basic facts in remembering
what we were saved from, what we were saved to, and then obeying our true

As Paul points out here in Romans 6:12-14, we are no longer to let sin reign
in our bodies to obey its desires. Why? Because we have come under God’s grace
in Jesus Christ and have died to sin (vs. 2). We were saved from sin and should
quit living in its corpse. We must no longer give in to our sinful desires but
instead consciously present ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness,
for that is what we were saved to. We are saved from sin to righteousness. That
takes forethought and action of the will. It is often, if not usually, a failure
at this level that leads us to stumble into sin. We have not prepared ourselves

to stand against it. Instead we set ourselves up to fall. In Romans 13:14 Paul
tells us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the
flesh in regard to [its] lusts,"
yet that is exactly what we often do.
We make provision to fulfill the lusts of our flesh, to seek pleasure and feed
our pride. We present ourselves to the world and the devil as instruments of

For example, and this one comes to my mind because I gained a few pounds
while away the last couple of weeks, if you struggle with gluttony, then a
buffet is not a wise place to go. Yet, as my kids would point out at times,
every time we stopped at a buffet – (I do that while traveling because I have
found them to be a cheaper way to feed my three boys) – there were always people
there that should not have been there. Their girth and the great piles of food
on their plates made their temptation to gluttony obvious. They were feeding
their lusts.

Another example. If you struggle with pornography, and that is an increasing
problem in our society, then you have to take steps to protect yourself. You can
not purchase pornography if you refuse to go to any place that sells it.
Tragically, many pastors have been falling to pornography on the internet. You
have to take the steps to protect yourself. Get a filter for your computer that
will not allow access to those sites. Set up your e-mail to filter out the
solicitations for it. Keep your computer in a place where other people can walk
by at anytime and see what you are doing. Have others hold you accountable. You
may even have to take even more drastic measure to avoid those temptations. I
heard about one man that purposely drove out of his way to avoid shops and
billboards he did not want to see. Others have moved away from areas in order to
protect themselves and those they loved. Is that drastic? Perhaps, but remember
what Jesus said in Matthew 18:8, 9? "And if your hand or your foot
causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to
enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into
the eternal fire. "And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and
throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having
two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell."
The temptation to sin should
be taken seriously.

The idea of "instrument" here (o{plon
/ hoplon) is being a tool or a weapon. It is not just that we let sin get an
upper hand on us and we stumble into sin with the temptation, but we become
tools of sin that affect the lives of others too. Some examples: A) We allow
ourselves to get angry and then spread that anger to others who in turn spread
it to still others. Consider how many people drive and then our own reactions.
B) Some, having become numbed to the immorality of our society, go on their
merry way watching and talking about movies and television shows that are
anything but pleasing to God. They encourage others to join them in what is an
affront to our holy God. C) In pursuit of the so called "American
dream," we get others to join us in the rat race of coveting the
materialism of our society. We spend more time talking about the stuff we want
to get rather than in the things of the Lord – what we are learning about Him,
how He is using us, how we can reach the lost around us. D) Instead of talking
to someone directly about something that bothers us, we talk to other people and
involve them in our gossip. They in turn share the tidbits of poison with still
others. The list can go on and on can’t it?

Instead of wallowing in sin ourselves and being tools used by Satan to cause
others to stumble into sin, we should be those who are pursuing holiness
ourselves and be tools in God’s hand to encourage others to do the same. The
Christian should be an instrument of righteousness, not a tool of

Starting in verse 15 Paul addresses a problem that is still common today.
Paul has just stated that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace. There
are those that take this to mean that the Christian has no relationship at all
to God’s law because they are under His grace. They end up in an antinomian
position that does not recognize sin. They believe they can do whatever they
feel like doing because God’s grace will cover it all. Paul’s answer to this

is as strong as it can be. May it never be!

The Christian is no longer under the law in several senses. Jesus Christ has
paid the penalty of the Law on our behalf so the Christian is no longer under
the Law’s condemnation and penalty. Jesus is the propitiation who has already
satisfied God’s wrath, so the Christian does not have to keep the law in order
to appease God. Christians have the Holy Spirit within them to teach and guide
them in righteousness, so the Law is no longer the sole source of God’s
standard of righteousness. And finally, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is
imputed to the Christian as part of being justified by faith, so the Christian
does not have to keep the law in order to be righteous before God. However, none
of this means that the Christian is free to do whatever they want, nor does it
mean that the Christian is not still subject to law.

Paul says in Gal. 6:2 that we are to "Bear one another’s burdens, and
thus fulfill the law of Christ."
James 2:8 tells us that we should be fulfilling
the royal law
, which he defines from Scripture as "You shall love
your neighbor as yourself"
which Paul says is a fulfillment of the
whole Law (Gal. 5:14). Jesus has given us commandments which He not only expects
us to keep, but also to teach others. That is part of the Great Commission – teaching
them to observe all that I command you"
(Mt. 28:20). The Christian is
not under the Law as the non-Christian is, but neither is the Christian
antinomian (i.e. without law). The Christian is still subject to the commands of
God for they still reveal God’s standards of righteous living that He expects
His followers to keep.

Paul’s use of slavery as an analogy here brings out this point of our
obligation to keep God’s commands to live in righteous. Prior to becoming a
Christian we were enslaved to sin. It was our master. After becoming a Christian
we have a new master. But as Paul points out in verse 16, saying you have a new
master is of little value if you keep obeying the old one. For all practical
purposes, the claim is not true. To go back to the story I began the story with,
if you started obeying your former master then you have enslaved yourself to him
and have lost your freedom. And as bad as slavery in America could be, it was
good compared to slavery to sin.

Those who claim to be Christians, but remain enslaved to their sin only show
that they have not yet switched masters. Obedience to sin results in death.
Obedience to the gospel results in righteousness. Paul commends the Romans in
verse 17,18 that though they had been slaves of sin, they had become obedient to
the teaching they had received. This teaching was the obedience of faith (cf.
Rom. 1:5; 16:26) of believing God and following Him. This was the faith that
Abraham demonstrated and that the Romans were also now exhibiting. It is this
obedience of faith that has freed them from sin and made them slaves of

There are many today that do not like to have the words "obedience"
and "faith" in the same sentence because they do not think the two can
be used together, but Paul did not think so. True faith always takes action (cf.
Rom. 4; James 2:14f). If it does not, then it is merely intellectual assent
which leaves the person still enslaved to their sin.

Note that Paul says that they became slaves of righteousness. This is an
aorist passive form of the verb doulovw /
douloo. They did not make themselves slaves, they were made slaves, and slave is
the proper term. Slaves do not choose for themselves what they will or will not
do. Their will becomes subservient to that of their master. They do whatever
their master chooses for them to do. God’s grace frees the believer from sin,
but that does not mean in anyway they are now autonomous in the universe to do
whatever they want. They are no longer under sin’s bondage and they can now
obey God. That is the purpose of their redemption.

As Paul points out in verse 19, when a person is in bondage to sin, their
practice is to present themselves as slaves to impurity and lawlessness
resulting in further lawlessness. They do what they want when they want. They
yield themselves to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and pride.
When that bondage of sin is broken through faith in Jesus Christ, then the
practice of life is also to change. The Christian is to now consciously present
themselves ("your members" here refers to the different aspects of who
you are) as slaves to righteousness. The result of this is sanctification which
is a life which is increasingly set apart from the world to God.

Those who are slaves of sin are free from righteousness (vs. 20). They have
no ability to do anything righteous because even their attempts to do so are as
filthy rags before our holy God. The contrast between the Christian and the
non-Christian should be greatest at this point. One is a slave of righteousness
and the other is the exact opposite, a slave to sin.,

Paul contrasts the results of these in verse 21,22 pointing out somewhat
sarcastically that what they thought was beneficial when they were enslaved to
sin, they now understand to be things for which they are now ashamed. Those who
become Christians later in life usually understand this very well. They very
things they once sought after as great things to do or achieve, then now find to
be shameful. The final outcome of sin is death.

If you are freed from sin, then you are enslaved to God. There is no middle
ground here. Paul equates being a slave of righteousness to being a slave of God
for doing God’s will is to do righteousness. The result of this is
sanctification. You become more righteous and less sinful. The final outcome of
this is eternal life.

Paul concludes in verse 23, The wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Christian should not
continue in sin because it is the very opposite of why a Christian is saved and
what he is supposed to be. Those who continue in sin earn for themselves death.
This is not a reference to just physical death, but also spiritual death of
being eternally separated from God. God has given to the Christian eternal life
as a free gift. No one deserves it. No one earns it. It comes solely by God
grace through Jesus Christ. And as I have pointed out before, eternal life is
not about the length of existence, for the wicked will also exist eternally.
Eternal life is a reference to that existence being in the glorious presence of
God forever.

If you profess to be a Christian, then take sin seriously. Too many think
they have their fire insurance policy and so will escape hell even though they
continue to live as slaves of sin. They have fooled themselves. Sin is still
their master and the wages of sin is death. The true Christian will still
stumble into sin, but he will also confess that sin for he knows it is wrong and
it is against his desire to obey his true master, God, in righteousness.

Who is your master? Who do you obey?

If you have not yet placed your faith in the person and work of the Lord
Jesus Christ, then you are a sinner who is still earning the wages of death. But
you do not have to stay in that condition. You can switch masters. You can
receive God’s gift of eternal life today. Talk with myself or one of our
church leaders today and let us introduce you to Jesus Christ and His
forgiveness of your sin.



Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s
Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw
a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to
your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:
1) Count how many times words for "slave/servant" are mentioned. 2)
Discuss with your parents what it means to be a servant of God


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon
with others. What is the question Paul is answering in Romans 6:15-23? Is sin a
serious issue for the Christian? Why or why not? What is the difference from
being under the Law and being under grace? Which are you under? Why? What does
it mean to "present yourself to someone as slaves for obedience?" How
do you do that in your own life? Who or what tends to be master over you? How is
a person freed from sin and enslaved to righteousness? How does this work out in
practical terms in everyday life? Can a person be free from both sin and
righteousness? Why or why not? What benefits does sin offer? Short term? Long
term? What benefit does righteousness offer? Short term? Long term? What is
sanctification? How does it affect your life personally? How has God changed you
since you became a Christian? What changes are you making in your life to become
more sanctified? Is it optional for the Christian to be sanctified? Why or Why
not? What are wages? Why does sin bring death? How does a person get the free
gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus? Do you have this free gift? If not, why
not? What keeps you from turning from your sin to Jesus?


Sermon Study Sheets

Sermon Notes – 7/7/2002 am

Whose Slave Are You?
Romans 6:12-23




Justification is the judicial action of God who accepts the death of Jesus
Christ as the substitute payment for your sin so that you stand acquitted of
your transgressions of God’s laws. It then attributes to the sinner the
righteous standing of Jesus Christ.



The Christian should not continue in sin because it is contrary to the new
nature that a Christian receives upon faith in Jesus Christ – Rom. 6:11.



Overcoming Sin (12-14)

1 Cor. 10:13

1 John 1:8-10

Battling Sin’s Lusts


Not Being an Instrument of Unrighteousness


Grace & Law (15)

Gal. 6:2; James 2:8; Gal. 5:14; Mt. 28:20


Whose Your Master?

Who do you obey?



Slavery to Sin & Its’ Consequences


Slavery to God & Its’ Consequences



Summary Statement