Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
In verse 15 God directed the apostle Paul to go back to the question of verse 1. Does salvation by grace give license to sin? The answer is the same as it was back in verse 2. We can go back to Jesus’ own words:
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Jesus Christ did not come to destroy the law. He embodied the law and He fulfilled the law. Those who are saved live by His righteousness. Those who are saved do not need a copy of the law hanging on their wall that they check off every day. They live by the righteousness of God that is the work of His grace applied to the repentant sinner’s heart.
The same argument that is so common today, was also a problem in Paul’s day. The Judaizers and the Pharisees demanded absolute obedience to the law that they could not even keep. Those, like the carnal Corinthians, wanted to forsake the law and just live according to their feelings. God stated that His children need to live righteous lives. God provides all that is needed for His children to live righteous lives. The true child of God needs to understand that the only way we can live righteous lives is if we walk in the Spirit. If we walk in the flesh we will sin. That is a fact. It is also a fact that God will not allow His child to continue to walk in the flesh.
In verse 16 we are reminded that we are all servants. We identify whose servant we are by how we live. We will obey our master. The lost person is under the direction of the devil. Jesus stated:
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
The Jews that Jesus was speaking to there were not possessed of the devil. They were lost and had yielded themselves to serving the devil and that is why they were out to destroy Jesus. Those Jews hated Jesus for exposing them, but what He said was true.
In our text, Paul reminds us that those who are servants of sin are dead and will face destruction. Those who are servants of obedience will live righteous lives and will be rewarded with a righteous end.
In verse 17 Paul reminded the saints that they “were” the servants of sin. They had been saved. They were no longer servants of sin. Christians can and will sin. However, as the Bible makes abundantly clear, Christians cannot live in sin. It is contrary to the new nature. It is contrary to the gift of salvation that God provides to those who turn to Him in repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
What made the change? “Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Here we have that “ugly” word “doctrine”. That word is despised by the New Evangelical crowd. Doctrine is “right teaching”. Jesus commanded the saints to teach all nations. He further commanded the saints to continue to teach those who are saved. Those who are saved need to be taught “to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.”
That is not law keeping. That is learning how to live righteously. That has to do with living in obedience. It is not the obedience that saves. It is the obedience that proves that you have been saved. How can someone know if you are a born again Christian? You need to testify to that fact. However, words alone will not do. You need to live according to what the Word of God declares a born again Christian will look like.
Bible doctrine is something that cannot be altered. It is God’s authoritative and settled Word. It is the same in our generation as it was when Paul was on this earth. I can testify to the fact that the doctrine that I was taught as a child is much different than the doctrine that is taught today in the religion I was raised in. What changed? God did not change. What changed is that that religion was already off course when I was young, but they have gone right off the rails for an number of years.
The same is true of the religion my wife was raised in. That religion was also off track when she was young, but it is completely off the rails now. When we do not take God’s Word as our authority, there is no way to keep the corruption from getting worse and worse.
In verse 18 we are reminded that those who are saved have been MADE FREE FROM SIN. We did not make ourselves free from sin. We did not work our way into this freedom. We received this freedom as a gift from God. When the repentant sinner trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, he is made free from sin. That is part of the Work of God in the heart of the repentant sinner. It is His Work. Those who are saved receive the gift. What happened at that same time? We became servants of righteousness. Did you know that? Did the person who was instrumental in leading you to Christ not tell you that? Did they just tell you to believe in Jesus and that was all? Or did they urge you to pray a prayer after them and that would settle it? Is the church you attend teaching you that you are a servant of righteousness if you are saved?
Those who are truly born again need to be taught first of all of the importance of the Gospel of Christ that we learned of in chapter 1. They need to be careful to help the lost person to know what God provides in salvation.
In car sales, the salesman is taught to highlight the good things about the car. He or she is taught to listen carefully to what the buyer is interested in. They cannot have one memorized sales pitch for every customer. Every customer has different tastes and different things they are interested in. The salesman needs to listen carefully to the concerns of the customer and then address those concerns as he or she tries to sell that car. If the person is successful in convincing the buyer, they will get the sale. If they ignore the interests of the customer, they will not make the sale.
When it comes to salvation, the message is from God. We do not skip over repentance or the matter of sin and just talk of the love of Jesus. We need to present the Gospel carefully and clearly. We do not use the tactics of a salesperson. We listen to the person we are talking to. If they ask questions, we address the questions honestly without trying to hide the truth from them. We function at a level far above the average salesperson. I know that Jack Hyles taught a model like a salesperson. He and his followers have been quite successful in gaining a following. However, what is the end result of that following? No one will stand before Jack Hyles on judgment day. Each person will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. The saved will be at the judgment seat of Christ. They will stand there because they came under the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and they were truly saved. The lost will be at the great white throne judgment. They will have rejected the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in their heart. They may have been deceived by a smooth talking sales pitch, but they never truly turned to God in repentance and were saved. The truth may have been glossed over and they may have been given a “feel good” sales pitch. They liked what they heard because it made them feel good.
No body is saved by feelings. We were made free from sin as part of the gift of God’s salvation. We were made servants of righteousness at the same time. That is Biblical salvation. That is why the true child of God will grow in the Lord. The fraud will pretend, but his heart will not be where God wants him to be. His “salesman” will need to tip toe around him to make sure he does not offend the sensitivities of this person.
Those who are genuinely saved have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. They love the lost far too much to try to deceive them. They want to be careful to obey God’s Word and make sure they give a clear teaching of the Gospel of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit Who brings the person to salvation. It is not my smooth talking that makes the difference. I cannot be rude, but I must teach the truth.
If the listener rejects what I say to them, I can ask God to help me to review what I have said. If I was Scripturally wrong, I can correct that. If the power and holiness of God’s Word offended the listener, I dare not try to get away from the truth. The soul of the sinner is far too precious for me to mishandle God’s Word and leave that sinner deceived. The love of God moves me to carefully teach the sinner the truth and then to trust God to use His Word to continue to work in the heart and life of that sinner. When that person is truly listening to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as he needs to, he will get saved. Jesus stated that He wanted His followers to produce fruit that remains. That is what every true child of God wants. We want to be sure that the person we are talking to comes to know God’s salvation because when they receive that, they have eternal life. They have a home in heaven. They will be changed and they will be changing as they live from that moment on. They will be servants of righteousness. It is a blessing to observe a true child of God growing in the Lord. That is what Paul desired to see. As we have noted, that is what Jesus Christ desires to see.