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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Romans Study #21 6:12-23

At times when i finish a study, i feel like i did not put enough into it. Not this time. Again the main reason i post these is so i will have an online record of them if/when my computer hard drive crashes.

Romans Bible Study # 21
Romans 6:12-23 The Power of Obedience

12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
13and 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.
14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
16Do 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?
17But 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,
18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19I 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.
20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.NASB

12-14That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God.
15-18So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
19I'm using this freedom language because it's easy to picture. You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?

20-21As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.

22-23But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

February 26, in My Utmost for His Highest, has much to say to us about our study of Romans 6;

"Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with." John 4:11

"I am impressed with the wonder of what God says, but He cannot expect me really to live it out in the details of my life!" When it comes to facing Jesus Christ on His own merits, our attitude is one of pious superiority - Your ideals are high and they impress us, but in touch with actual things, it cannot be done. Each of us thinks about Jesus in this way in some particular. These misgivings about Jesus start from the amused questions put to us when we talk of our transactions with God - Where are you going to get your money from? How are you going to be looked after? Or they start from ourselves when we tell Jesus that our case is a bit too hard for Him. It is all very well to say "Trust in the Lord," but a man must live, and Jesus has nothing to draw with - nothing whereby to give us these things. Beware of the pious fraud in you which says - I have no misgivings about Jesus, only about myself. None of us ever had misgivings about ourselves; we know exactly what we cannot do, but we do have misgivings about Jesus. We are rather hurt at the idea that He can do what we cannot.

My misgivings arise from the fact that I ransack my own person to find out how He will be able to do it. My questions spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, let me bring them to the light and confess them - "Lord, I have had misgivings about Thee, I have not believed in Thy wits apart from my own; I have not believed in Thine almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it."

So this devotional reading points out one of the main stumbling blocks to Romans 6, unbelief. The path and way to victory is shown. The inner workings of the process of sanctification are shown to be things that have already been accomplished by Jesus on the cross, “by grace through faith” we are connected to the power of the Spirit.

Vs. 12-14 Grace is the power of obedience, the power of resurrection. It gives us the will to will the will of God. Sin dwells in this mortal body and will continue to, until death is swallowed up in victory. The now victory, that is waiting for the ultimate victory is that, by the crucifixion of the old man I no longer have to serve sin. Under grace I am a warrior who can overcome the sinful desires. But since my body is still very much alive, its lusts are longing to be expressed and so the battle rages on.
Law kept me under sin, because law told me I had to stop sinning, but gave me no power to stop sinning.. Grace is the power to stop sinning. By grace, through faith, we have what we need to win the battle.
Verse 15 echos verse 2, why so repetitive? I think this is the main argument against grace. If you tell people they are not under the law anymore, they will go “buck wild.” The thing that keeps this from happening is that a true, deep conversion involves a realization of our own sinfulness and a ever-growing gratitude for the grace that we are shown. True conversions have as their foundation an overwhelming sense of sinfulness. Romans 7 times may still come, but they are then drawn back to their first love. Not out of compulsion, but volunteering by grace through faith. Psalm 110:3a “Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;"
Verse 16,17 A reminder that you are a slave, either to sin, before conversion, or to God after conversion. God’s way with us is not one of overpowering intimidation and manipulation. He is looking for willing obedience. Isaiah 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,"In repentance and rest you will be saved,In quietness and trust is your strength. But you were not willing," “He who is under grace can no more adjust himself comfortably to sin, than the sinner can toy with grace as with an alternative human possibility." Barth
Verse 18 Good news. This is a new slavery. We are not half in and half out of the kingdom of darkness. We are out of the old and in the new.
Verse 19 Again the progressive nature of sanctification is emphasized. Obedience leads to more obedience. Grace leads to more grace. I can definitely recall this principle in my “lawless” days. One act led to another and I could feel myself being drawn in deeper and deeper to darkness. Yesterday’s sins weren’t enough, I had to do more, worse, to get the same “high.”
Verse 20,21 The stark reality of sin, that the devil tries to veil our eyes/minds to. This road is leading to death. Often praying for the unsaved, we are lead to pray, remove the veil God and show them where this path that they are on is leading them too, ultimately.
Verse 22 The lead in to a great verse, simply contrasting the former life with the new life. It is positively amazing, how simple and pure and easy to get the gospel is. How blind we are to its truth and thinking that we are “free” and if we were to surrender our lives then we would be doing things that would take away our fun. The reality is turning to Jesus takes away DEATH, not fun.

Piper on verse 22
Becoming a Christian is not like standing neutral between two possible slave masters and having the power of ultimate self-determination, and then deciding, from outside any slavery, which we will serve. There are no neutral people. There are only slaves of sin and slaves of God. Becoming a Christian is to have the sovereign captain of the battleship of righteousness commandeer the slave ship of unrighteousness; put the ship-captain, sin, in irons; break the chains of the slaves; and give them such a spiritual sight of grace and glory that they freely serve the new sovereign forever as the irresistible joy and treasure of their lives. That's how we got saved. God freed us from one master and enslaved us to himself by the compelling power of a superior promise. So embrace this work of God. Receive Christ and his promise as the treasure of your life.

Verse 23 The black and white, no shades of grey, truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We earn only death, but God gives only life. The amazing exchange!
1 Corin. 1:22-25
22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

This is a analogy or illustration that John Piper used to put verses 12-14 in picture form.

First, then, I see verses 12-14 as the description of a great conflict or battleground in the life of a typical believer. This is you and me here. Not an unbeliever. So who and what make up this conflict? Let's describe the situation here. I see eight things in the warfare of these verses. I'll mention them, and then come back and make some brief comments about them in relation to our lives.

1. There is a kingly throne or reign. Verse 12: "Do not let sin reign." There is a reign that is being contested in this passage. A throne. The word "reign" is simply the verb form of the word for king.

2. There is a challenger to this throne, a revolutionary, a rebel who wants to take over the kingdom, namely, sin. "Do not let sin reign." He is in revolt and mutiny and means to lead a coup and gain the throne. And you are called to resist.

3. There are a town and castle that are under attack by the challenger to the throne, namely, your body. "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body."

4. There are servants in the castle who may become deceptive secret agents of the rebel leader and use their inside servant role to seduce and capture parts of the castle. These servants are called "desires." "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires." The word is neutral. They may become "evil desires" or "lusts," but not if the rebel sin does not capture them.

5. Incremental surrender is possible. That's what the word "obey" signals in verse 12. "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires." If sin, the leader of the revolt, takes some desire captive and sends it in behind the castle walls with a deceptive promise of immunity and reward for capitulation, the obedience to that desire would be the surrender of part of the castle.

6. There are weapons in the castle that may be captured and turned around and used by the enemy for his unrighteous purposes. These weapons are the parts of your body – your eyes and ears and tongue and hands and feet and sexual organs. Verse 13: "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as weapons of unrighteousness." The word, o[pla (hopla), in all its four other uses in the New Testament (three in Paul and one in John 18:3) means "weapons," not just instruments. In other words, I am not just making up this battle imagery. Paul is pointing to it. Don't let the rebel, sin, capture the members of your body and turn them into weapons against the true King.

7. There is a true king over the realm, namely, God. Verse 13b: "Do not surrender the members of your body to sin – the rebel contender for the throne – so he can make them weapons of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness to God." So the true King is God. Sin is the rebel and the insurrectionist. Stay loyal to the true King with all your weapons and all your servants – all your desires and all your members.

8. Finally, there is the constitutional authority of the kingdom, namely, grace, not law. Verse 14: "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace."

King, Power, and Desire

That's the situation Paul describes, the conflict. Now let me make three comments of application to us.

First, God is our King. To him belong the castle of the body and the service of our desires and the weapons of our members and the throne of the kingdom. The call here is for us to be loyal to the King. He made us alive and made us his dwelling place through Jesus Christ. Keep trusting him and depending on him and submitting to him. Resist all contenders for the throne of your life. It belongs to God.

Second, sin is a power, not just an act. Verse 12: "Let not sin reign in your mortal body." Sin threatens to reign. It is not just the acts we do but the power that takes us captive through desires and brings actions about.

Third, the desires of the body are not sin in and of themselves, but are servants of the body and can be captured by the rebel leader, sin, and made into internal enemy agents that seduce us into handing over members of our body that become weapons of unrighteousness. In verse 12 ("Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires."), "its" refers to the body, not sin." (auvtou [autou] is neuter, not feminine and so agrees with sw,mati [somati], not a`marti,a [amartia]). In other words, the desires of the body can be captured by the power of sin and made to serve anti-God aims. Parts of your body can be captured by Judas-like servant-desires and handed over to the enemy for unrighteous acts.

Our Desires – Servants or Secret Agents?
Pleasing Delilah was a legitimate thing for Samson to do while she was a faithful wife. But when she was a secret agent of the enemy, Samson's surrender to her meant destruction. So it is with our desires and sin. If they are faithful desires, loyal desires, reflecting the truth and value of God, then we may please them. But if sin captures them and makes them his deceptive agents, then our pleasing them would be joining the conspiracy and may become treason.

Specifically, there is, for example . . .
The desire for food (hunger) which serves us well, but when sin captures it, the desire becomes gluttony or bulimia or anorexia and it rules us for the sake of the enemy, and our tongue and mouth and stomach become weapons of unrighteousness.
The desire for drink (thirst) which serves us well, but when sin captures it, the desire may become alcoholism or caffeine addiction, and the tongue becomes a weapon of unrighteousness.
The desire for sexual satisfaction which is a good servant of procreation and marriage joy, but if sin captures it, the desire becomes lust for pornography or masturbation or fornication or adultery or homosexual relations, and our sexual organs become the weapons of unrighteousness.
The desire for rest and sleep which serves us well, but if sin captures it, the desire becomes sloth and laziness.

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