Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

A New Kind of Master (Romans 6:15-23)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able, please remain standing and give your attention to God's word in Romans Chapter six, Roman six verse fifteen, to the end of the chapter. Here God's Word Roman six, verse fifteen. 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'm speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations, for just as you once presented yourselves 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, you 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, please be seated. We come to this passage sort of like coming to the middle of a debate. You come in and you're hearing argue. Your hearing an argument made that is based on arguments that have already been made, objections that are being answered, based on other things that are presupposed. So we have to go back a little bit and understand something of what is going on here and what Paul is doing. He begins with this question. It's an objection. It's the other side of the debate. What, then, are we to sin? Because we are not under law but under grace. You see what this objection is asking? It is saying that Paul has set up these categories, these changes of status or ways in which we identify ourselves under law or under grace, and based on that conclusion, this hypothetical person is offering this objection saying, well, Paul, you say this one thing that people are under law or under grace. Well, if they're under grace, then why should they not sin? Won't they sin? Here's another way to put the objection. What would compel a person to be good if they're no longer under the law? Why would they? Why would a person work towards obedience if they're not under the law? So, to understand what that objection really means, to understand the weight of it, you have to understand these categories of law and grace. They're so important to understand. These are the ways that Paul is categorizing you. He is saying that each and every one of you that are here today, each and every person that has ever lived, is either in one category or...

...the other. Which one do you belong in? Are you under law or you under grace? Now those are big terms, the terms that are used broadly and in various ways in scripture, and so we have to ask what does Paul mean by them here? What Paul means by them here is the particular relationship that we have with God. Do we relate to God by means of the law or what we sometimes call the covenant, of Works that relationship, or do we relate to God by the means of the Gospel or by grace or what we sometimes call the covenant of Grace. Under the law, we relate to God as those that are in that are held to the law, as those that must be entirely obedient to the law. That's how you get blessing. You obey and your blessed very simple. You Obey God, you are righteous, you serve him, you do the things that you've been commanded to do and he who has made you blesses you, gives you good things. The problem is that, Paul has been saying from the very beginning of Romans, the problem that you know in your own hearts is that you don't obey. So how do you relate to God in any kind of positive way? You're disobeying. If you are under the law and yet you are breaking the law, then you are what a Lawbreaker, a criminal? What are the wages of sin? What kinds of things do you get as a law breaker, as a disobedient person? Paul Says Verse Twenty Three, the wages of sin is death and in other places of in the Romans. So far he's been telling us all of the terrible things that are attached to this the wrath of God, the curse of God. That's what it means to be under the law. It means to be one who is accountable to the law, and yet we know that we have all broken it. Well then, what does it mean to be under grace? Well, it means that you are no longer obligated to keep the whole law to earn blessing, because the whole law has been kept for you. God has given it to you, he has kept it for you, and he's done that through Jesus. At the very beginning of the book of Romans, Paul Brings out right away that the grace that we receive is the righteousness of God given to us. That's the present we get. We get Jesus's righteousness. All these good works he did, all the things that he did were things that were given for you. More than that, he not only gives us this righteousness and says here it is though you have kept the whole law, but he also forgives our sins. That's why SOSM thirty two is like. So on thirty two says, when David speaks about the forgiveness of sins, the blessing of being forgiven of being healed, of being in a good relationship with God. He's talking about someone who has received that gift of someone who knows he's a lawbreaker, knows he's a sinner and yet stands in a good relationship with God, calls God a friend. It happens not because what is David say? He said. It doesn't happen because he finally started obeying. It happens because he's sins were forgiven. Look at Verse Twenty Three again at the end of that chapter, Chapter Six. Notice how there's a parallel, but also something that's not parallel. There's one thing that leads to another. The wages of sin...

...leads to death. The Gift of God leads to eternal life. So one thing leads to another. Sin Leads to death, this gift leads to life. But notice they come in very different ways. It doesn't say, for the wages of sin is death and the wages of obedience is eternal life. That options ruled out because of sin in us. What does it say? It says the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life. In Christ Jesus, that's how we receive eternal life. That's how we become friends of God. That's how we have peace with God, as Paul says in Romans Five, through the free gift. So when he says at the beginning of this chapter, yes, this or the beginning of Verse Fifteen, and he asked this question about under law, under grace, that's what the under grace parts talking about. That you, as a person under grace who has believed in Jesus Christ, are someone who's forgiven, as someone who has had their sins cleansed and washed away. You are someone who no longer stands under the power and demands of the law because Jesus is already obeyed the law. For you, you are justified. So now, understanding those terms, here the objection. Well, Paul, if a person has been justified, if a person no longer is obligated to keep the law in order to have eternal life, what is going to compel them to obedience? If there's no longer this threat of punishment or promise of reward for obedience, then why would a person obey? What is going to compel a person to do that? As parents, if your parents, or we've all had parents or been in situations where there has been these kinds of legal relationships, so to speak. You Clean Your Room, you get a bull ice cream. You don't clean your room, you get a time out. These things are very motivating. You practice your violin for a certain amount of time, you will play a certain number of songs. Then x number of good things happen. You don't, bad things happen. Now those are might be added on or sometimes we talk about natural consequences. These things we are so used to dealing with, aren't we? Same in the workplace. You do a good job, you make sales or you get promoted or you keep your job. You do a bad job, you lose your job or you don't make as much money. We're so used to dealing with things. I'm in this way that grace is somewhat surprising and the question is a kind of natural if you take away the threats and you take away the reward, then why is a person going to pay obey? What will compel them to do that? Well, this is an accusation that always comes at the Gospel. It has for a long time. Paul deals with it here. Sometimes it comes from outside the church, but in my experience, which isn't everything, but in my experience it often comes from within the church, from people that Paul Themselves Christians, and it seems like this might be Paul's experience as well, because he says here that he's sang these things in verse nineteen. Because of your natural limitations, he speaks to you. The spirit speaks to us, to me, because of our natural limitations. We struggle with this concept. And so he speaks to us here and he answers this question. What will compel...

...us to obedience? He answers this question using a very, very powerful metaphor, slavery. It's hard to think of another relationship that is quite as powerful as this one, as slavery, and maybe it's even a little offputting or a little shocking that Paul would compare our relationship with God to slavery. Especially for us, and I would think most people, the experience or knowledge of slavery has been entirely negative. It's usually bound up with all kinds of other terrible evils, murder and theft and man stealing and all kinds of other things in the past and even today. So why does Paul Speak About Slavery in this way? He speaks in this he uses this external human institution to describe an internal spiritual relationship that we have either with sin or with God, or obedience, as he puts it in another place. To understand why he does that, think about what a slave is and it's most kind of basic sense. A slave is someone who is compelled to obey right, someone who is compelled to obey because of some thing or someone that is greater and more powerful than they are. Now in human institutions that's often because of a legal power or just brute force or any kind of other number of things, but it can happen in other ways. To here he talks about an inward in spiritual terms and he says that under these two categories, under law and under grace, you either serve one master or another, you either serve slay. You're either a slave to sin or you're a slave to obedience. So listen to what he says in Verse Sixteen. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one to whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or obedience, which leads to life or to righteousness? Then in verse Seventeen, he speaks to Christians in particular and he says, 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, having been set free from sin and become slaves of righteousness. Some people live their lives, though they say they are Christians, as though this is not true. They say they're Christians, but they don't seem to be obligated to anyone. They don't seem to do a be obligated and obedience to anyone, or to God, we might say. Especially they say they're Christians, but yet they live as though they are slaves of sin and slaves of disobedience. They live in a way that is confusing. The profession doesn't match of the actions. How can this be, Paul is saying, because a person who is no longer a slave to sin is a slave to obedience. It's either one or the other. So what's Paul's answer to this question? What compels a person to be good who is no longer on into the law? Paul says that there's an inward a spiritual change that happens when we become a Christian in other words, we...

...are freed. We're freed from this kind of disobedience and slavery to Sin, but we're not just kind of let out of the cage, so to speak, to go live on our own and do our own thing, because where withou that wind us up? Well, back in the cage, back under sin, back under disobedience. We have to have something that's not just a release from it, but a being brought into something else. The flesh hates the idea of being obligated to God in our sin, but when our wheels are changed by the Holy Spirit, something different happens. Notice what he talks about. He talks about wholehearted obedience. He talks about being set free to the service of God. This is his idea here. It's it's like finding a new home. If you come out of one bad and evil country and come into the country of a good king and you are under the obligation to obey him. What's the problem with that? There's no problem. You could compare it to a tree that is withering and dying because the soil it is in is is poisonous and and and and incapable of producing anything good. But you transplant that plant into a place where it should be, a plan, a place where that plant was designed to thrive. And what happens? It blooms, it grows, it thrives. This is what it's like for the Christian. Would you you? Might? You speak of it in this Paul speaks of it in this strong way of slavery, to show the to describe the way that a tree, for example, is compelled to produce that fruit. It does it right, if you put it good tree and good soil, does what it does. It's compelled to do it. But does a tree to personify it, hate that? Is it frustrated? No, it's Indian. Enjoys it. There's a pleasure in it. Christians are like that too, when God changes our hearts, when he changes our wills, yes, there's a kind of compulsion in that. We will do the things he has called us to do, but it's a wholehearted, full throated, happy kind of obedience. Consider, for example, this way that these two images of a man in a tree or combined in Psalm. One blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law. He meditates day and night. He's like a tree planted by streams of water and yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither, and in all that he does he prospers. You see the picture here. This is a happy tree. It's by the streams, it's being fed by this water, it's producing strong leaves that don't wither and die. It's producing good fruit. This is a good thing, a blessed tree first, for then in Psalm, one goes on. The wicked are not so. They are like chaff that the wind drives away. They're unstable, they're consumed by curse and and wrath. But when we are changed by the spirit of God to be who we ought to be, then we are who we are. Christians are slaves in...

...the sense that they are compelled to do something because their nature has been changed, but they're not compelled in a way that they don't want to do it any more. A Christian is someone who wants to obey the Lord word, who wants to do that, and that's not because the threat and reward have been taken away, it's because they've been changed inside. To go back to the relationship of parents and children. Parents, that's what you want, right you want your kids to obey, not because they're going to get a piece of candy or or have to have a time out or something like that. You want them to obey because they want to obey. They love to obey. It's a part of who they are as your children. Now, we don't have a lot of control over that, do we? And so we pray and we ask God to work these things in them. That's the same thing for us, as sons and daughters of God. We aren't automatically obedient. We have to be changed. The Lord has to work this in us, and that's why this objection, that's is I'm put and that Paul describes for us, doesn't make any sense. Remember the objection. If you take away frets and reward, why will people obey? Paul's answer because they haven't. That's what they do. Somebody who no longer serves slave and a slavery and sin no longer someone who is no longer a slave to sin is someone who is compelled, who is a slave, who is a servant and wholeheartedly and willingly of God. They no longer fear the threats, they not no longer hope for a reward based on their obedience, because they are fully trusting in Jesus Christ to give them those things. So when we consider our own obedience and in our own lives, when we feel our own natural limitations in understanding these things, consider what Paul says here. If you find yourself in a position and you look inside your heart and you say I am not a slave of God, I am not a person who is compelled to obedience by the spirit, but for me what matters is this threat and promise of Wrath and reward, then you need to pay attention to what Paul has said in these first six chapters. You have no hope for reward. Disobedience is what belongs to you, because you are not a slave to anything other than sin. Under the law, that is what you are compelled to do. But if you believe in Jesus, if you call yourself self a Christian, then what Paul teaches here, what God teaches here through his serve and is that something else is operating inside of you, a compulsion to do good things a desire to do those good things and, when we do the bad, to feel the sting of it, to feel sadness and sorrow and repentance, because that's not us, that's not who we are as those people who have been changed. So there's kind of a self evaluation a passage like this calls for. But if, upon evaluating yourself, you know yourself to be one who is in Jesus, one who has received these gray and blessed gifts of God, then our response is given for us here and in verse seventeen, thankfulness,...

...thanks be to God, and, of course, service as well. If you are a servant and obedient child and God's household, you will serve and it will be your pleasure. It is your pleasure, isn't it, to love, to obey, to know him in this way? Going back to just a few verses, and will close with this before Verse Fifteen, remember what Paul says. They're based on this reality, based on this changed based on this transplantation that has happened. Let sin, therefore, let not sin. Therefore reign in your mortal bodies to make you obey its passions. Don't present your members to sin as instruments for UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, your members to God as instruments of righteousness. Christians, this is what you have been called to do. Enjoy it, have pleasure in it, seek it, pursue it. There's blessing in it, comfort in it, joy in it, assurance in it. Give your lives, your members, your very bodies and your whole hearts over to the Lord, for you have been bought and purchased for this very end, and know that when you stumble and when you fall, God will not let you go. He has changed you, he has transplanted you and he will work in you to the very end because of the sure salvation that we have in Jesus. So that means that when you fall, do the same thing you did at the very beginning. Put your faith in Jesus over and over and over again, and you will find great blessing in the Lord. Let us pray.

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