Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 6:15-23
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 6:15
v15: Again Paul poses a question which a Jewish opponent of his gospel, one who understood the Law of Moses, might ask (also: 3:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 31; 6:1, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:6, 14, 19; 10:18; 11:1, 11). We should note that he uses this question and answer approach all through this letter to the Romans. At times he even turns the table on his opponents and challenges them with questions (2:3, 4, 17-21, 22, 23, 26, 27). He also raises questions his Gentile readers might ask (3:29; 11:19) and even asks questions of himself just so he can clarify a matter (6:2, 3; 7:24; 8:31, 32, 33, 34, 35; 9:30, 32; 10:8, 14, 15; 11:7, 24). In the previous verse (v14) he stated, “…for you are not under the Law but under grace,” so now he imagines an opponent asking, “If believers are no longer judged by the standards of the Law and no longer need to fear its threatened punishments, then does this mean they are free to break its codes, particularly its moral code, without being held accountable by God?” In other words, does the gospel of righteousness by faith give someone a license to sin?

Monday: Romans 6:15-17
vs15-16: Paul emphatically rejects such thinking, “Yes it matters” he says. Sin is addicting. It becomes compulsive and, if left unchecked, can separate us from God, placing us back under His judgment. If believers habitually submit to sinful impulses, those impulses will in time re-enslave them. But if they make themselves God’s slaves (Ro 1:1), living in such a way as to voluntarily surrender to God’s will, they will live righteous lives that please God and avoid returning to sin’s additions. v17: Paul thanks God that those to whom he is writing believed the gospel of righteousness by faith when it was taught to them, and changed their lifestyles accordingly. We recall it was not Paul who brought the gospel to Rome, but whoever did must have preached the truth because many Romans were genuinely saved.

Tuesday: Romans 6:18, 19
v18: As a result they themselves had experienced the realities to which Paul is pointing. They knew what it meant to be freed from the compulsive power of sin and to have new hearts that longed to please God. v19: Paul has just described believers as “slaves of righteousness” (v18) and he feels somewhat uncomfortable with the term because, as he’ll make very clear elsewhere (Ro 8:15-17; Gal 4:5-7), believers are not enslaved to God, but rather become His children and joint-heirs with Christ. So the term isn’t exactly accurate, but he’s trying to make a point, and there is one particular sense in which the word “slave” does apply: it captures the radical nature of a believer’s desire to obey God. He reminds both the Jews (Ro 2:17-24) and the Gentiles (Ro 1:28-32) in the Roman churches that before they were saved they had been slaves to sin and as a result had participated in all kinds of activities that were impure and lawless.

Wednesday: Romans 6:19
v19 (continued): In that condition they had been weak and totally unable to obey God. In fact their lives had spiraled downward from one form of wrong behavior to the next, leading them deeper and deeper into bondage. But when they became believers, Jesus set them free from that cycle making it possible for them to voluntarily enter another kind of slavery, a self-imposed slavery to God. Paul’s point is: God didn’t set believers free so we could return to doing what we please—only this time without fear of punishment. He set us free so we could serve Him with the same selfless obedience as His Son. This is what he means by the term “slaves to righteousness”: people whose obedient spirit takes control over their bodies by drawing on the power of the Holy Spirit; people whose obedience to God is a form of heart-felt worship for all He has done for them (Ro 12:1); people who keep on obeying until it becomes a regular pattern causing their lives to grow pure and Christ-like.

Thursday: Romans 6:20, 21
v20: Paul reminds the Roman believers: when you were “slaves of sin” you were powerless to serve God even if you had wanted to. Your spirit was rebellious, you were addicted to your flesh and your conscience was dull, so at least as far as your will was concerned, you felt no pressure to obey God. v21: He then asks them to reflect for a moment on the kind of lives they lived before they met Christ. He asks what kind of “fruit” those lives produced, and immediately answers his own question. He says, like anyone who is enslaved to sin they had been involved in the various sorts of behaviors that drag people into eternal death.

Friday: Romans 6:22, 23
v22: But he doesn’t leave them in the midst of memories about their shameful past very long. He quickly turns their thoughts to the new realities God was producing in their lives after they became believers. They had submitted themselves to a new master, and their surrendered lives were now producing much different types of “fruit,” such as selflessness, purity and love. In fact, the changes that had taken place in them were so dramatic they served as signposts confirming they were indeed on their way to eternal life. v23: But those who make themselves God’s “slaves” still have a free will and can disobey Him if they want to, so a warning is in order. Yes, Jesus forgives us, but it’s one thing to struggle against a sin trusting the cross for grace while learning to live free of it, and it’s quite another to willfully indulge until the sin recaptures us and smothers the faith that saved us in the first place.

Saturday: Romans 6:23
v23 (continued): Does it matter if we keep on sinning since we are no longer under the law (v15)? Yes, it certainly does. Sin is a dangerous enemy. Each sinful act produces a measure of death which can severely damage us and others even when we ask for and receive forgiveness. In order to warn us about the effects of sin, Paul chooses a word commonly used for a soldier’s pay. Soldiers’ wages in any society are usually reliable and paid on time, so Paul probably uses the word because he wants us to realize that sin pays out its wages just as reliably as that. When a sin is committed we can be certain that its “death wage” will be paid. So believers should never take old, sinful behaviors for granted. They should be eliminated as soon as possible (1Co 9:27; 2Pe 2:19-22). But Paul very intentionally changes the words from “wages” to “free gift” when talking about the rewards God gives believers. When we “enslave” ourselves to Jesus, as our Lord, He doesn’t pay us “wages” as if we had somehow earned eternal life by doing righteous deeds. Instead eternal life is a “free gift” given to those who are “in Christ Jesus,” that is, joined to Him by faith.

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