Romans 6:16-25

Worst excuses ever:

Late for work: 

-I’m not late, I’m just early for tomorrow. 

-A queen is never late, everyone else is simply early.

For missing the rent. an apartment manager 

-”I forgot.” 

-“Husband got laid off. Kids were sick. I lost the money order.” 

-“I only had half the rent. So I went up to the casino to try to double my money.”

Exercising. “My husband hasn’t been to the gym in over a year. I asked him to come with me. “No,” he said, “I need to lose a few pounds before I go back.”

Dating: “I really value our friendship.” It’s not you, it's me. “I need to focus on myself right now.”

There are no good excuses for not doing what you are supposed to do.

The issue going on in this chapter, is that believers have come up with excuses to not pursue Christ. They have come up with ways to stay in their sin. 6:1 think they can sin so that grace may abound. Now another false view is being dealt with. It has a theological basis. In Christ we are freed from the law. So if we are freed from the law we can do whatever we want. 

Freedom from the law leads to moral anarchy. Freedom from the law does not mean a license to do whatever you want. Believers have been set free from sin and now want to use that freedom to indulge the sinful nature. 

There is never an excuse for sinning. If your theology causes you to do things that do not honor God then your theology is wrong. Following Christ means a complete surrender to Christ in all of life. 

No Excuses

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 

Probably what happened is a person confronted another person, and the response was its not a big deal we are not under law. You kind of wonder what the issue may have been. “Why aren’t you in church on Sunday? Well I'm not under the law. Why aren’t you observing the sabbath and resting? I'm not under the law. Why you telling half truths to your customers? Not under the law. Its grace. Why are you and your girlfriend hanging out by yourselves late at night? Not under law. 

Paul’s point is ok, you are not under law, but you also ought not to sin. 

Look, the people had been freed from the law. All of the law is fulfilled in christ. He obeyed it for us, so that we could be set free. So now the issue is not are we set free from the law, but is our freedom now an excuse to sin. And this is not just an occasional accidental sin or mistake, it is an ongoing pattern of professing to follow Jesus but not actually doing it. 

And the particular issues are not dealt with here. Instead God wants to go deeper and have a bigger view of Christ, his calling, and what it means to follow him. 

Three things about our pursuit of Christ. 

  • A Slave to Righteousness

16 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? 17 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, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6: 16 -17)

The issue is that while we have been freed from the law we have become slaves to Christ. Paul identified himself as a slave of Christ in Rom 1:1. 

It may seem a strange argument. In this day about ⅓ of the population may have experienced slavery. A great many of those would have sold themselves into slavery because of financial problems. There is a famine and you fear you may not make it, then you sell yourself to another and gain their protection. It costs you your freedom, but you gain life, another day. And so you present yourself as a slave to someone, they own you. In Christ, we realized we were under judgment and the law because of sin. So we forsook those for Christ. He is our new master. He is our Lord. That means we are his servant, his slave. 

You can't submit to one as a slave and then take it back. You are a slave to whom you obey. If you are living in sin then Christ is not your master. You aren’t serving him. 

Don’t call him your Lord and then continue to do whatever you want. Confusing. A slave has surrendered their rights, their preferences, their individuality. It's not about what you feel. Don’t feel like working. I have a master. 

I think the greatest problem in our community is not what the world is doing, but the church not aspiring to follow its Lord. 

You are going to be a servant to somebody. Might serve the devil. Might serve the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody. 

But there is also a great reminder that this isn’t just any master, this isn’t a Pharaoh who doubles your brick quota and takes away the straw. 

-Sin leads to death. Christ leads to righteousness. Not just life. 

-Obedience from the heart. Not just bc you have to. 

-Set free from sin. 

Paul speaks of obeying wholeheartedly, the indescribable love of God give to us the one treasure worthy of all our heart and affection. Its voluntary servitude. We know our master is a  good master. He died for us. He cares for us. 

Sin had a power over us. But when we turn to Christ and rest in him that power is broken. No longer controlled by those things. We want to follow him. We realize that slavery to him actually leads to life. Testimony: college and people are doing things contrary to God’s word, relationship. Man, I have no desire for that. There is life in Christ. 

To yield to sin is to be the servant or slave of sin with its consequence—death. 

The grace of God leads us to pursue righteousness, and not an excuse to do what displeases God. There is freedom from the power of sin. 

*Sin might live in us but we don't live in sin. Its power is gone. 

“Sin may struggle in a real believer, and create him a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex him, but it shall not rule over him.” Matthew Henry. 

*You are a slave to the one you submit to. If sin then to sin if Christ then to Christ. Bob Dylan, famous line, You might serve the devil or you might serve Jesus, but you gotta serve somebody. If you haven’t submitted your life to Christ it is not that you are in a neutral position. It is that you are submitted to sin. That is the option being presented here. There is no neutral or agnostic position. V16. 

Became obedient to the teaching handed to you. V17. It is not an arbitrary submission to God. The form of teaching handed to us is the revelation of Jesus Christ commissioned by the apostles. It is the word of God. Read the word, know the word, follow the word. 

There is a form. There is a body of knowledge. There is a description of what it means and looks like to honor God. We are not under law, but we are under obligation. Willful obligation. Set free from law so that we might observe with the heart. Often a disdain for law reveals where our hearts are at.

There is a change in our heart. I know I am freed from the law, but I am a slave to Christ. I have given myself over to him. Surrendered. And there is no place I would rather be. I remember getting married and people saying things like “ah, you're getting an old ball and chain.” And I thought no way. There is nowhere else I would rather be. 20 years of marriage is the same thing. 

  • Ever Increasing Pursuit

19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6: 19)

He now puts this in human terms. Take away the spiritual jargon. Not going to use church talk. Let me just If he has not persuaded you with Christological connection then perhaps he will with this. 

Just as you used to present yourselves to sin, so now present them to Christ. How intently do you pursue career goals, image, etc. So now redirect all your energy into a god honoring direction. 

Me and my pursuit of… clever. Constantly thinking. How to achieve things. Lots of creativity. 

“Ever increasing righteousness”. Constant growth. You never get to a point you are satisfied. You want more. And the more you have the more you want. 

Jonathan Edwards, great pastor theologian, memorized long portions of Scripture on horse rides. He was making the most of that time. Wasn't playing games. Mindless distraction. He was thinking creatively about his day. 

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? (Romans 6: 20-21)

I have a lot of regrets in life. I don’t ever regret pursuing God. Certainly things that didn't go the way I wanted. Hoped would look different than it did. Lots of regret when I was going my own way. When I disregarded his commands. 

Shame. Shame is a big word today. Hear in counseling. Hearing in dealing with addictions. It is the sense of guilt, embarrassment, fear of humiliation. Shame happened when Adam and Eve sinned. They also sewed fig leaves to hide their shame and nakedness. It is inadequate. Say I am a failure and mistake-ridden. 

Psalm 34:5 says those who look to the Lord will be radiant, their faces will never be ashamed. The hope we have in Christ.

Consider the things that you want to run back to. Where did pursuing those things get you? What benefit did you gain? If they brought shame before, why continue to desire them?

Pursue Christ. Full steam ahead. Ever increasing. 

What is your mindset in pursuing Christ? Good enough mindset or ever increasing? Ever increasing or an excuse to indulge? Kids, dad is this good enough?

When we did whole 30. Thought would do and then could go back and eat twice as much junk as we did before. What I found is that the healthier I ate, the less tolerant my body was to junk. It was disappointing, but life giving. I found that I felt so much better as I made healthier choices. 

In the same way. We don't make excuses for sin. We also don't see a plateau and say I am pursuing him enough, let's indulge for a bit. There is also a sense in which, when we taste what God has for us, we don’t want to continue doing the sin we were doing before. 

Ever increasing righteousness. The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn shining brighter and brighter till the full of day. Prov 4:18

How do you think about the basic disciples Jesus calls us to be?

How are you reading his word

How committed to church are you (parts of a body, bricks of a wall, branch to a vine) vital, real, spiritual. 

Financial giving. 

Know the end of all things.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (V23)

For the end of those things is death. (V22)

Where are you going? What is the path that you are on? If you have not submitted to Christ then you are going against him. You are living against him and the grand scheme of all you do is that it will end in death. 

Martin Luther had two days on his calendar. Today and that day. 

What is your return on investment for pursuing sin? Not just a zero but death. That is a bad deal. We walk a path of rejecting Christ and we get where it leads. 

This is a very pointed summary. 

A wage is something you earn. Contract to pay you X amount of dollars and you do that so you deserve your pay. What is the wage of sin and life without God, it is death: physical, spiritual, temporal and eternal. 

There is a day of judgment coming. 

Influence others. Pursue him. Not a little but as slaves to righteousness, with an ever increasing desire, and with the end in mind. 

How are you pursuing Christ? Are you making excuses or going hard after him? 

It is too easy to make excuses for not following Jesus. It is what most of our culture is doing. Not really interested in church, Bible study, praying in groups, too busy with other stuff. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What excuses do you make for not pursuing Jesus?
  2. How intent is your pursuit of Jesus? Do you have a “good enough” mind set or “an ever-increasing” mindset?
  3. What is a next step you should take in following Christ?