Sin Is Not Your Master - Part 8

Romans 6:1-14

Tom Pennington  •  July 2, 2017
Audio   •  PDF
  • Share:

Well eventually we're going to get to Romans, chapter 6, but I want to start this morning in James, chapter 1. Turn with me to James, chapter 1. In Romans 6, we're dealing with the issue of sin, the struggle that sin is in the life of believers; and here in James 1, James is dealing with the same problem. And we gain some great insight here in James, chapter 1, look at verse 13, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God.'" James says, and he's talking to believers here, he says, "Listen, don't ever blame God for your temptations to sin. Don't ever blame God directly and just in His face, tell Him it's His fault, and don't blame Him indirectly." How do you blame Him indirectly? By blaming anything but yourself. If you blame your parents, your circumstances, your surroundings, your coworkers, your friends, the Internet, whatever it is; if you blame anything but yourself, indirectly, you're blaming God. And he's saying, don't say it's God's problem. It's not God's problem, and he gives two reasons in verse 13.

First of all, "for God cannot be tempted by evil." Literally, the Greek text says, "God is untemptable by evil." It can't happen; it's against His nature; He is holiness personified; He is holy, and therefore He cannot be tempted to sin. In addition, verse 13 says, "He Himself does not tempt anyone." God is not responsible for your temptation or for your sin. But if God isn't responsible, what is? Well, verse 14 makes that very clear, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." Notice each one. Temptation is a universal reality, and again he's talking to believers here; it's true of unbelievers as well, but it doesn't cease to be true for those in Christ, each one. And then literally the text says is being tempted. In other words, this is a constant reality; this is relentless day after day after day. Each one is being tempted, notice, "by his own lust." Here is the source of our sin and temptation. This is where it comes from; it comes from our own lust.

Now, as I've pointed out to you, that word lust in English is usually used of sexual lust and that's included in this word, but it's a much broader, more general word than that. It simply means craving; each one is tempted by his own craving, by his own strong sinful desires. The primary characteristic of our flesh, Christians, that part of us that remains unredeemed, the beachhead of which is our body, continues to be these corrupt longings, passions, and cravings. And notice he says, "his own lust."

It's an interesting expression. You see, each of us is capable of harboring any craving; there's no temptation that any of us is above; and yet our circumstances - what we've inherited, the package of sin we've inherited, the influence of the people around us - those things tend to make us most susceptible to a particular set of cravings or lust.

In fact, Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22, that there are even unique cravings that go with each period of life. He tells Timothy in that passage, flee the cravings of youth. There are particular kinds of cravings that go along with each category, each period of life. Our own cravings are as well suited to catching us as the different kinds of bait and lures that fishermen use for catching different kinds of fish. They're very attractive to us, maybe not to everyone else, but to us. At the same time, they're not unique to us. You know, sin loves to make us feel alone; sin loves to make us feel like I'm the only one who's ever experienced that. That's simply not true. And what does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "[There has] no temptation overtaken you but such as is common to man." It doesn't mean everyone experiences your particular cravings; it means they're common to humanity. There are plenty of people who struggle with whatever your particular cravings might be.

The point here in James though is this, our real problem is the enemy within. In fact, look at verse 14 again, he says, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." Those two words carried away and enticed, those are fishing words. They picture the bait being dropped in front of a fish and his being attracted to that, and he's there in the weeds, minding his own business, has no intention of doing anything; the bait falls; he finds an internal attraction and he responds. That's exactly how sin works in our lives. There is within us an enemy, and there's something external often that happens - some event, circumstance, a person, something we see - and that awakens and attracts that craving within us, and we respond.

How do we deal with the sin that remains in us? That's the question that Paul is really answering for us in Romans, chapter 6. I invite you to turn there again, Romans, chapter 6. He's dealing here with key lessons in how we as believers in Christ can deal with the issue of the sin that remains in us as Christians. Now the point of this section, chapter 6, verses 1 to 14, is that we are no longer slaves of sin, and he develops that, as I've noted for you, in three points that develop as you flow through this passage.

First of all, the first point he makes in verses 1 and 2 is a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin. He brings up an objection that undoubtedly some of his opponents had, a misunderstanding perhaps that some Christians have had, that if grace covers sin, if grace abounds and covers all sin as he says of the end of chapter 5, maybe we should just live in sin so grace can abound even more. Verse 2, he says, "May it never be!" And then he makes this amazing statement, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" As we've explained, we died to sin means that every true Christian, at the moment of conversion, at the moment of salvation, died to the reign of sin in his life, died to the power of sin, to the domination, the slavery of sin; it was broken at that moment. Sin is still a reality, but it doesn't reign in the way that it once did. He goes on then in verses 3 through 10 to provide a detailed explanation of what he means when he speaks of the believer's death to sin; we looked at that in detail.

Now he finishes this paragraph with a third point and that is in verses 11 to 14, the practical application of the believer's death to sin, practical application. And his application consists of a series of five imperatives. This is how you ought to respond to what we've learned so far in this chapter. We've studied two of them already. Number one: "Consider yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to God," verse 11. He's saying, understand the truth of what I've taught in the first ten verses; believe it and live in light of it. In other words, remind yourself of this; get it in your head; think of yourself this way; reckon it to be true that you died to the reign of sin. You don't have to live as its slave anymore. Volume one of your life is over; and with your conversion, volume two began; you are a new person in Jesus Christ. Think about it that way because it's true; consider it to be true.

Secondly, second imperative: "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body," verse 12. He personifies sin as a king, the king under whose sovereignty we used to live our lives and he says, don't let sin reign; don't let it exercise authority; don't let it be king; don't let sin shout at you from across the road, the field where you used to live before Christ and keep giving you orders as if it still had a right to give you orders; it doesn't anymore. Don't let it reign. In regeneration, your slavery to sin was broken, and you don't have to be its slave anymore.

But while sin doesn't reign over us anymore, sin still dwells in us. Sin is still a reality with us. In fact, sin's base of operations in us is now our physical bodies. Look at verse 12, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body." What does that mean? Well, the end of verse 12 explains, "So that you obey its lusts." You let sin reign when you obey the body's cravings. Now by the body's cravings, he's not just talking about the craving for sleep or drink or sex or those desires of the body itself. He also means mental cravings because remember your brain is part of your body as well, the physical brain.

In fact, as I mentioned to you last week, our souls, that immaterial part of us that has been redeemed, regenerated, is still attached to our unredeemed physical bodies, and what is the link between the material part of you and the immaterial part of you? It's your brain. And that physical brain has been deeply affected by your sin. Before Christ, our sinful souls etched sinful patterns of thinking and acting into the physical neural pathways of our brains. Last week I used the illustration of a computer, that piece of flesh between your ears, your brain. It's like a computer; and when you were born, you got that computer, and it was preloaded with some propensities and tendencies that came to you from your parents in what we call original sin, and then you added your own set of sins and evil to that computer over the years as you've used it and misused it as a sinner. And those sinful patterns were part of us, both through the original sin we inherited from our parents and through our own thinking and behavior before Christ. And those habits and patterns, listen carefully, are still carved into the neural pathways of our brains.

In Christ when you were saved, you were made a new person; your soul became a new you. You are a new creature in Jesus Christ, but that redeemed soul still uses the same computer it used before Christ, and that computer has not been redeemed. That computer still has all the trash that you and I filled it with before Christ and to some extent even after Christ. And those habits and patterns that are still carved into the neural pathways of our physical brains constantly seek to take control of us, of our bodies. Now the good news is this, since we are in Christ since we've been made new, sin will never again be the master of our souls in the same way that it was before Christ. I love the way Lloyd-Jones puts it in his commentary on Romans 6, he says:

I myself as a new man in Christ am indeed dead unto sin, but it is here still in my mortal body, and it will continue to worry me, and I shall have to deal with it as long as I am in the mortal body. Thank God I know that it can never get me back under its dominion. Never again can it master me. Never again can it ruin my soul. It's impossible! All it can do is to worry me in the body.

Nevertheless, what Paul tells us here in Romans, chapter 6, is we are to make it our constant practice not to let sin reign again in these bodies.

Now that implies that for a time at least I can allow the sin that remains in my body and in my brain to dominate me through the body if we don't keep it under control. It wants to reign, but that's not who we are. And if you're truly a Christian, if you have truly been redeemed, then it's not what you want; you want what Paul wants in Romans 7. You want to please God; you want to obey His law; you want to do what honors Him.

So how can you keep from allowing sin to reign in your mortal body? Well, the next three imperatives that appear in verse 13 explain how. You keep sin from reigning in your body when you obey these next three imperatives. Let's look at them together.

Imperative number three: Do not present the members of your body to sin. Look at verse 13, "And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness." Now notice, first of all, that this is a command addressed to all Christians; it's addressed to our wills. This is something that, if you're Christian, you can do. You can do this.

So, what is it we're commanded to do? Well, the Greek verb that is translated present here is best translated and is in other places translated, "to put something at someone's disposal, to put something at someone's disposal." In fact, in Matthew 26:53, Jesus is talking to His disciples about His crucifixion, and He says this, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal [there's our word present that He will not put at My disposal] more than twelve legions of angels?" That's the meaning of this word, present - put something at someone's disposal. And here he says, don't go on putting the members of your body at sin's disposal.

Now the Greek construction in that command could be a command to stop what you've already been doing. That's how the NAS takes it. You'll see they say, "do not go on presenting the members of your body." It could be that, or it could be a general command. In other words, it's the idea as a habit and pattern of life, do not put your members at sin's disposal as a pattern of life. Which does Paul mean? I think he means both here. Because before Christ, we were doing this and he says don't go on doing what you did before Christ, don't go on presenting yourself, putting your members at the disposal of sin, and do this for the rest of your life. Do this as a pattern of life.

But the key part of this verse is that expression, "the members of your body." What does that mean? Now I know you're looking at that and you're probably looking at me and going, "Tom, that's fairly obvious what that means." It seems so to me, but there's a lot of disagreement among commentators because they want to be careful not to have Paul saying that the body itself is sinful, and he's not saying that. But nevertheless, if in verse 12, he meant by mortal body these physical bodies we live in, then in verse 13, he means the members, the components, the parts of the human body, and I think that has to be what he means. And Paul uses this word members, and I think it makes it very clear, he uses this word members in the rest of his letters in several very clear ways. He uses the word members of the eyes of the body, hands, feet, ears, head, internal organs, and James uses it of the tongue. So, you get the idea, the limbs, and the members, the parts of the human body. But this Greek word for members also encompasses all of the components of the physical body. So it is not just the external limbs and organs and parts; it also includes the brain which is part of the body with its reasoning capacity, its thoughts, its patterns of thinking, its attitudes, its emotions, its imaginations. So we're talking about everything that has to do with the body, both the obvious and the more immaterial part that the brain produces or that we produce through the brain. So then, Paul is commanding us here then not to put any of those things at the disposal, notice what he says in verse 13, "[Don't put them at the disposal of] . . . sin as instruments of unrighteousness." Again, he personifies sin as a king that's constantly trying to take advantage of us.

Look down at verse 16, "Do you not know that when you present [there's our word when you put yourselves at someone's disposal, it's as] . . . 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." Everyone here is a slave and those are the options. But notice, sin makes us slaves; that's the idea here. It is a serious issue in our lives; don't go on presenting the members of your body to sin that wants to enslave you.

And now, as I've said, the reason he says members of the body is because the body is the base of sin's operation in us as believers. It was true before Christ, go to chapter 7, verse 5; here Paul is talking about us before Christ. He says, "While we were in the flesh." Notice he's not talking about the flesh being in us now; he's talking about the time when we were in the flesh; he's talking about us pre-Christ, when "We were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death." So, before Christ, those cravings used our body as an instrument for them to fulfill themselves. But it doesn't change when you become a Christian; the same struggle is there because your body has not been redeemed. Go to chapter 7, verse 22, now Paul is talking about us as redeemed people and the same problem is there verse 22:

I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my [renewed, redeemed] mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand, I myself with my [renewed] mind [my redeemed soul is changing my thinking] am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

So, both before Christ and after, the body becomes the beachhead for sin because it is unredeemed. It will be someday, but it has not yet been. So, Paul says don't put the members of your physical body, that is, anything related to your physical body, at the disposal of your old master sin. Why? Because of how he's going to use it. Look at verse 13, "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin [because it will be] as instruments of unrighteousness." The word translated instruments here is a word that often means tools. Paul uses it almost exclusively, in fact, there's only one possible exception. And I'm not convinced it's an exception; I think Paul uses this word every other time to refer to weapons. And so, what he's saying is don't put your physical body at sin's disposal or sin will use it as a weapon against you, notice, to produce unrighteousness. That is everything that's opposed to God who is perfect righteousness. If you put your members, you put everything physical or anything physical at sin's disposal, sin will use it as a weapon against you to produce the very opposite of everything God wants you to be.

This is why Peter in 1 Peter 2:11 says this, "Beloved [talking to us as believers] Beloved, I urge you," and he uses almost identical language here; he says, "I urge you…to abstain from [the cravings of the flesh]." And then he says this, "Which wage war against the soul." They wage war against the soul.

If you want to see how sin wages war against your soul, how the flesh given its ground, what it will do, sometime this week, read Galatians 5:19 and following, what Paul calls the "deeds of the flesh," what the flesh will produce in you. It will destroy everything. It wages war against your relationships, against your relationship to God; it wages war in your thinking about sexuality; it wages war in all of those ways and more. If you want to keep sin from reigning like a king in your physical body, Paul says don't keep putting it at sin's disposal.

Now, what does that mean? How do you not do that or how do you do that? Let's consider that for a moment. How is it that we do put our bodies at the disposal of sin? When does this actually happen? Well it happens when, remember James 1, it happens when something external occurs, some bait is hung out there in front of you, and your sinful cravings attach to that bait, and you take the next step. What's the next step? Your will assents to let it stay and remain.

As one of the Puritans said, "You can't keep a bird from landing on your head [that can happen; you can't keep that from happening] but you can keep it from building a nest there." That's what we're talking about. The way James puts it is this; James talks about lust conceiving. What do you mean lust conceives? Lust conceives when your will assents to it, when your will agrees to let it stay and fester and grow, and you nurse that idea, and you entertain it; you are giving yourself to sin; you're putting yourself at sin's disposal when you let your mind continue to let that craving develop.

You're also letting your body have sin; you're putting your body at sin's disposal when you give in to that sinful lust and you obey it either in your mind or you act it out with your body. In other words, here's what I mean, when you put your imagination at sin's disposal you are violating this command. In other words, when you allow your imagination to enjoy sins that you would never think about committing with your body, you are putting your body at sin's disposal. When you allow your mind to think about things in ways that are contrary to God's revealed will - you know it's not right; you know you shouldn't be thinking those thoughts; you know this is contrary to God's purpose - you are putting your body at sin's disposal. When you allow emotions that Scripture forbids - like outbursts of anger, bitterness, jealousy, worry, fear, other sinful emotions - when you allow those to ruminate, to stay in your mind and you nurse them and you cherish them, you are putting your body at sin's disposal.

So, let's look at the other side of it. How can you keep that from happening? How can you keep from putting your body at the disposal of sin? I am going to give you a little list. I'm not going to spend much time here, this will be on the recording, and it will also be in the PowerPoint that you can access later this week online; so if you don't get it all down, don't worry, but I'm just going to run through them very quickly. Here are some ways you can keep from putting your body at the disposal of sin.

Number one: Remind yourself of who you are in Christ. That's the point of verse 11, right? That's the whole point of this section. Remind yourself you're not the person you used to be; you're a new person in Jesus Christ. Rehearse that; build that into your brain; tell yourself, "Look, the first volume of my life is over. I'm not going to live like that's still me. I'm a new creation in Jesus Christ."

Number two: Don't make provision for sin. Later in Romans 13:14, Paul says that very thing. He says, "Make no provision for the flesh [to fulfill its cravings]." In other words, don't set the table for yourself to sin; don't set the table for your lusts. And you know exactly, we do that in various ways; that's what he is saying, don't do that; don't make provision; don't set the table for sin in your life.

Number three: Run. Second Timothy 2:22, Paul tells Timothy, flee, run from the cravings of youth. Now I think there are times when you have to run mentally. You have to force your mind to run from that temptation, but I think there are also times when you have to run physically; just get out of that situation. Run.

Number four: Give thanks. That may seem like a strange one, but it's interesting. In two passages this is given to us. In Ephesians 5:4, Paul is talking about sexual sin and sexual lust, and he says instead of that, I want you to give thanks. Now that seems odd in the face of it, doesn't it? But think about this for a moment, what is lust? It's craving; it's coveting; it's wanting what you don't have. So, what is the opposite biblical virtue for craving? It's thanksgiving. It's giving God thanks for what you do have, for what He has provided, for the good things that are in your life rather than craving those things that you don't have. Same thing in James 1; it's interesting when he talks about that, he says, don't be deceived; don't let temptation deceive you. Every good gift comes from God. And isn't that what temptation tempts us to do, to think there's something good outside of God? Give thanks.

Number five: Walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not [fulfill or] carry out the desire [cravings] of the flesh." So, what does it mean to walk by the Spirit? It's not some mystical experience where you kind of feel your way along. No! It means this, and I wish I had time to take you to Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and show you this, but let me just give you the definition. Walk by the Spirit is to conduct your life under the direction the Spirit has given in Scripture and with the power the Spirit supplies. Let me say that again. To walk by the Spirit is to conduct your life in keeping with the direction the Spirit has given in Scripture and in the power the Spirit provides. In other words, it's to obey God's Word. You want to keep from allowing your body to be put at sin's disposal? Then walk in obedience to His Word and do so in dependence on the Spirit. Lord, I can't do this on my own, but I'm going to seek to obey you; empower me, help me, because I want to do what pleases you.

Number six: Take radical steps to make sinning hard. Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says:

If your right eye [offend you, pluck it out] . . . If your right hand [offends you] . . . cut it off."

Jesus wasn't saying mutilate your body, other places in Scripture make that very clear, so what was he saying? He was saying be willing to get radical in dealing with your sin. Do whatever you have to do to cut sin out of your life, to make it hard to sin. You know, some people just make it easy to sin. It's all around them and their whole life is sort of situated to make sin easy. Jesus says, no, make it hard to sin. Make it like a hurdle, an obstacle course you've got to get over. What does that mean practically? Well, it depends on your sin, but let me give you an example. You know, I talk to guys who are struggling with pornography and I say, look, make it hard to sin. Get programs/software on your computer and on your devices that's accountability software that lets somebody in your life know what's going on, what you're looking at. And if you can't handle that, put the computer in the middle of the living room where everybody can see what's on it. And if you can't handle that, get rid of it. So, "Well, wait a minute, Tom, nobody can live without the Internet in the modern age." Can you live without your right eye and your right hand? Jesus said, "Cut it off," pluck it out. Do whatever you have to; get radical to make sin hard in your life. So, I've got to move on, do not present the members of your body to sin.

There's a fourth imperative that will also enable us to keep sin from reigning in our bodies: Present yourself to God. Present yourself to God. Notice verse 13 again, "But present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead." Instead of putting the members of your body at the disposal of sin, put yourself at God's disposal. The tense of the Greek verb here implies that this is something you ought to start now, and you ought to continue to do. In other words, this is not a one-time event; this isn't a special act of dedication or surrender. Start doing this now and make it a habit and pattern of your life moving forward. And notice Paul isn't yet saying, he's going to say it in a minute, but he's not saying present the members of your physical body. He says, "present yourselves," the totality of yourself to God. Put yourself at God's disposal for His service. This is the message of the New Testament. Turn over to chapter 14; Paul's dealing with issues of conscience, and he says this in verse 7:

For not one of us [catch that, Christian, not one of us] lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for [whom] the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Turn over to 1 Corinthians 6:19, the context here is sexual sin, and he says in verse 19, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" Listen, Christian, you don't belong to yourself; you don't have any rights over yourself whatsoever. Why? Look at the next line, "For you have been bought with a price." Listen, Christ paid for you; He purchased you with His own blood. You don't belong to yourself anymore. Your life and everything about you belong to Him. "Therefore [verse 20] glorify God in your body." You don't get to decide what you want to do with your body; He does because it belongs to Him.

Turn over to 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, same point, different words. Second Corinthians 5:14, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one [He] died for all." And here the all is all who died; that is all those who died in Christ. He's using the same kind of language as Roman 6. In other words, He died for all those who would believe in Him, all of those who

died with Him, and He died for us all. Notice verse 15, here is the reason: "So that they who live [that's all of us Christians] might no longer live for themselves, but [they would live] for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." Do you understand what this means? This means nothing you are or have is yours. You have been bought. You belong completely to Jesus Christ, and He has every right to tell you what to do with your body; He has every right to tell you what you do with your life. Put yourself at God's disposal. You're His, so put yourself at His disposal.

Now go back to chapter 6 because Paul reminds us of the reason we're to do so, verse 13, "As those alive from the dead." Since it's true that you're spiritually alive from the dead in verse 11, you're spiritually alive to God, present yourself to God. Now we don't have to guess how to apply this because Paul does in one of the most famous passages in Romans. Turn over to Romans 12:1, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, [that is in light of everything I've shared in the first 11 chapters about God's gracious salvation, the gospel] to [here's our word] present your bodies (put your bodies at God's disposal as) a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

But he is not done, verse 2, "And do not be conformed to this world, [a good way to translate that would be, don't allow the world system in which you live, the mindset of the age in which you live, to shape your thinking] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

He's not talking about, you know, some sort of mystical search for what car you should buy or what house you should live in or what person you should marry. He's talking about the revealed will of God in Scripture. Do you know what he is saying? He's saying neither your body nor your mind belongs to you. You have no right to think about anything the way you want to think about it; instead, you need to have your mind renewed and think about it the way He wants you to think about it.

First Corinthians 2:16, "We have [in this book] the mind of Christ." Your mind ought to be His mind about everything. You have no right to do what you want to with your body; it's His; present it to Him; present it to Him; that's the command. In one sense we did that initially at salvation. I mean, Christ demanded it of us, right? You don't get into His kingdom without obeying the command that says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." You presented yourself at salvation. But according to this passage and chapter 12, verse 1, we are now to continually put ourselves at God's disposal or in God's service. And by the way, can I just say, I think this is one of the keys to fighting sin in our lives. It's realizing that we are not our own anymore; we don't belong to us. And instead of offering yourself to your old master, sin, offer yourself to the One who bought you to whom you really belong, offer yourself to God in order to serve Him. Lloyd-Jones again very helpfully writes this:

One of the most fatal things we can ever do in connection with sanctification is to start with ourselves. Our chief reason for being interested in holiness and sanctification is that we're having a terrible battle with sin. What can I do about this problem of sin and evil that is in me? Where can I find relief? [And then he says this.] But holiness is a matter of service. We are meant to be serving the living God with the whole of our being, and no part of us is ever meant to be used and must not be used in the service of sin. We must not fraternize with the enemy. The thought then that should be supreme in our minds is that it is the King and His service that matters.

Is that how you think about holiness? It's not for me; it's not so I feel better about myself so I can be in control again so I'm happier. No, it's because I belong to Him, and He has every right to what truly belongs to Him.

What does this look like, presenting yourself to God? Well, I think it means, in part, offering your entire life to God for Him to use in His service in whatever way He chooses. Have you ever done that, Christian? You ever just gotten alone with God and said, "Here I am. You do with me whatever you want to do. I want my life to serve you in whatever way You choose." I love that song we sing, "All I Have is Christ," and one of the lines in that song, it says, "Oh, Father, use my ransomed life in any way you choose." That's what we're talking about.

But it also means offering ourselves daily to God in His service. Try getting up every day and reminding yourself in the Lord, "Lord, I am not my own; I belong to you; you bought and paid for me with the blood of Your Son. I want to serve you today; I belong to you. Let me glorify you in what happens in this day." Your life, your body, your mind are not yours; they are His. Present yourself to God.

Paul has one final imperative to help keep sin from reigning in our mortal bodies.

Number five: Present your members to God. Verse 13 says, "And [the verb present isn't repeated but is understood, and present] your members as instruments of righteousness to God." Again, that verb present, remember I told you it implies that we are to start this activity and to continue it. Paul says put the members of your physical body, including your mind, at God's disposal and He will use it as an instrument or a weapon to produce righteousness in you.

Look at chapter 6, verse 22, Paul says, "Now [that is now that we're in Christ, we have] having been freed from sin [but we have been] . . . enslaved to God." Listen, everybody in this room is a slave. You're either a slave to your sin or you're a slave to God. There are no truly free people; it doesn't happen. And now that we've been enslaved to God, verse 19, look at the middle of the verse, "Just as you [used to present, you used to put your members at sin's disposal] . . . as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now [I want you to put your members at God's disposal] . . . as slaves to righteousness, resulting in [your] sanctification." Just like you used to be eager to use the members of your body to fulfill your cravings, be just as eager now to use the members of your body to serve God, to pursue righteousness.

So how should you practically apply the reality of your union with Christ in His death and resurrection? There they are – five imperatives: Consider yourself dead to sin, alive to God; do not let sin reign in your mortal body. How do you keep that from happening? Well, do not present the members of your body to sin; present yourself to God, and present your members to God.

Now in verse 14, Paul gives us the theological foundation behind those commands. Look at what he says. He begins it with the little word for meaning because, here's why, because "For sin shall not be master over you." Paul does not mean that, at some point in the future, sin will not be your master; nor is he saying you need to do something. This isn't a command. Instead, it's a promise; it's a statement of reality for every true Christian during this life. It's really a summary of Paul's main point in the first 13 verses. Notice that word master. "Sin shall not be master over you." The Greek word is the verb form of the word that's translated lord throughout the New Testament; it's Kurios. It shall not be your lord; sin shall not be lord over you. It's not going to master you; it's not going to dominate you. The same verb is used back in verse 9 where it says death is no longer master over Jesus. Jesus voluntarily, for a time, allowed death to be His master. No more, never again; and in the same way, sin is never again going to be our master as it once was. Why is that true? Why can sin not be master over us? Well, verse 14 tells us. Notice the second for. "For [here's why sin shall not be your master] you are not under law [anymore] but [you are] under grace."

Now, there are several potential misunderstandings there. Paul is not saying that Christians don't have any responsibility to keep God's moral law. We'll talk about that when we get to chapter 7. Nor is he saying that we are simply no longer under the Mosaic Law which is what some commentators say. That can't be all Paul means because remember, Paul is writing to a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles in Rome, and those Gentiles were never under the Mosaic Law; they were pagans. In addition, you remember back in chapter 2 where he explained to us that even those without the Scripture were under the law in the sense that the substance of the law was written on every human heart? And even if you go back to the Mosaic economy, true believers under the Mosaic economy were also under grace. Remember? That's the only way they could know God. So, he's not talking here just about the Mosaic Law.

Now Paul is going to explain what he means in detail in chapter 7, so I'm not going into detail here. Let me just summarize it. Every person in this room, every person who has ever lived, is either under law or under grace. If you're under law, it means this – it means you believe in your mind that you can earn your way to heaven by keeping either your own rules, your own law, what you think God will be pleased with, or by striving to obey God's law. And you think that by your own efforts, by your own righteousness, you can earn your way into God's favor; that He will accept you because of your merit, your works, your efforts, your goodness. If that's true of you, you are under the law; you are under the law, and you are hopeless because the law can never deliver us from the guilt and power of sin.

In fact, what does Paul say was the purpose of the law? He says the law, chapter 3, verse 20, was given to show us our sin; chapter 5, verse 20, the law even prompts us to sin more; it awakens sin in us. Chapter 4, verse 15, it entices God's wrath against us because we don't keep it. In Galatians 2:16, "By . . . the Law will no flesh will be justified." Not one person will ever be made right with God by law, by keeping the law, by doing enough good to somehow make themselves acceptable to God. In fact, Galatians 3:10 says if you failed to keep even one commandment, you fall under the curse of the law. Just break one, and the law doesn't make you

righteous; the law damns you; it curses you. And in Galatians 3:24, he says the law was designed to be a tutor to point us to Christ. In fact, Galatians 4:4-5:

[Christ was] born [himself] under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law.

so that we can move from being under the law to being, what, under grace. If you're under grace, it means the opposite of what all I just described. It means that you have moved from thinking that your acceptance with God is based on your own righteousness, your own efforts, your own pleasing of God, your earning God's favor. And instead, you come to realize that your only hope of acceptance with God is based on the righteousness and work of Jesus Christ, on His life, on His substitutionary death, on His resurrection. You have acknowledged your absolute and utter dependence on Jesus Christ alone as your only hope of being right with God. In other words, you've completely turned from every human work, and you're trusting in God's grace alone. You are under grace. And if you're under grace, if you're no longer seeking to be justified by the law but rather by grace, then you have entered what Paul calls in chapter 5, verse 21, the reign of grace. You're under the reign of grace. Grace now reigns in your life just like sin once did, and what does grace produce where it reigns? It produces righteousness.

Christian, do you understand? You're not the person you used to be. You can't continue living in sin. Sin shall not be master over you. Why? Because you are no longer under law, but you're under grace; and where grace reigns, it produces righteousness.

Let's pray together. Father, thank You for these amazingly rich truths. Lord, I pray for those here this morning who are still under the law, who still are hoping that they'll be good enough for You to accept them, to receive them. Lord, strip away their righteousness this morning; show them how they truly stand before You, hopeless, condemned. If they've broken just one of Your laws, they stand under its curse is what You've said. Father, may they see that, and may they long to leave the realm of law and instead enter the realm of grace where their only hope of heaven is in the work of Your Son, in His perfection, in His perfect life lived in their place, in His death, died in their place to meet the demands of Your law against their sin, and His resurrection where You affirmed all that He accomplished by raising Him from the dead. Father give them faith to believe today; give them life.

And Father, for those of us in Christ, help us to understand this passage. Oh, Father, give us ears that truly hear. Help us to think about these things, to meditate on them, and to follow these very practical and yet profoundly rich imperatives that we've studied together. Father help us to live here for a while until we master these truths, individually and personally. We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.