Slaves Of God In Christ
Arguments
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 26c of 83


20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:15-23).

[The apostle Paul has been expounding on the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. From verse 15 onwards, he seeks to deal with the suggestion since we are under grace and not under the law, we may sin with impunity. 

His answer may roughly be divided into three parts:

I.     v. 16               Axiom

II.    v. 17-19         Admonishments

III.   v. 20-23         Arguments

We have already considered Paul’s Axiom and Admonishment to seek to be slaves of Christ.

But now, Paul continues with arguments to undergird his admonishment. —JJL]

3.   Arguments

He gives us a 3-point answer.

a.   The first reason why we should not serve sin is because we are not the slaves of sin anymore. “[We] were [once] the [slaves] of sin” (v. 20). We loved sin and all we did were sinful. We had no inclination to do good. “Ye were free from righteousness,” says Paul (v. 20). But today we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been freed from the bondage of sin. The bars are broken. The chains have fallen.

We are free men. We can choose not to sin. The unregenerate has no choice, but we have. The Spirit of Christ has made us free. We no longer belong to sin. We belong to God in Christ. Let us serve Him with all our members.

b.   The second reason why we should not serve sin is that there is absolutely no benefit from serving sin.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

We were once slaves of sin. We lived according to our state and nature. We were not ashamed of how we lived. But today we look back and we see that we did that which we are embarrassed to talk about. We are ashamed of those things.

I cannot see your heart. You cannot see mine. You don’t know how many shameful things I have done, said or thought. I am too ashamed to mention any of them. Many of the things remain in my memory and will probably go down to the grave with me. I am sure you have such memories too. But they are painful memories. We would rather not have done them. What “fruit”, or what benefit did we derive from those deeds?

The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Nothing good! We derived some things indeed. But they were never good. They were carnal pleasures that lead to destruction and death to our souls.

Now, if we derived no benefits from serving sin in our unbelief, what benefits can we derive from engaging in them now? Let us not be fooled into thinking that any acts of sin are beneficial. No, no; whatever immediate gratification we may derive would certainly not be beneficial—not to us, nor to anyone else. Let us rather  serve the Lord wholeheartedly with all our members.

c.   In the third place, and positively, we should serve the LORD for there are great benefits to be enjoyed from serving Him. Says Paul:

 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

As we were once free from righteousness, so we are now freed from sin. We were slaves of sin, but now we are slaves of God in Christ. While we bore no good fruit from serving sin, we have received much from serving God and His righteousness. As we serve God, we are bearing fruit unto holiness. And we are heading towards everlasting life.

Now, this must not be misconstrued to mean that we can have everlasting life by works of righteousness. No, no; Paul has already shown earlier that there is none righteous, no not one. And he has repeated over and over again that it is impossible for us to obtain everlasting life by good works. For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified; and we are not under the Law, but under Grace.

This is also what Paul is seeking to highlight when he says:

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We will take a separate study on this magnificent verse. But briefly this verse contrasts between two masters: God and Sin.

Sin is a master who pays. But it pays with eternal death. He pays what we deserve.

God, on the other hand, is a master who does not pay. Instead, He gives us what we do not deserve. He gives us eternal life. How does He give it to us? Through Jesus Christ our Lord! Christ purchased eternal life for us. He worked for us. We did not lift a finger to make ourselves worthy to receive it.

Is this not a good reason to persist on to serve God rather than sin?

Conclusion

Dearly beloved brethren, are you still living as a captive slave of sin? Or are you living as a grateful slave of God. If you are living as a slave of God, your life will bear fruit unto eternal life. On the other hand, if you are a slave of sin, you will bear fruit of death and destruction by your life. Whose slave are you? If you have been baptised you should be a slave of God. If you are a slave of God then do not give your members to serve Satan and sin.

The slave of God is a good tree that bears good fruit. People are glad to have such good trees around. They are pleasant to look at and they are useful. If you have a garden, you will not mind having such a tree. It will be a blessing to everyone. To the family, to the neighbour, to friends, and to the church.

The slave of Sin, on the other hand, is like a thorny bush. It bears no fruit. It has many dangerous thorns. It is sometimes nice to look at. But they send the chill down your spine if you look at it carefully. If you have a garden, you will want to make sure that such a bush is not planted in it. It may be nice to look at; but it can be dangerous. If your garden has thorny bushes, no one will want to let their children play in your garden. And it brings no blessing to the family, to friends or to the church.

How to be a good fruit tree? King David speaks of the good fruit tree as being one that is planted by the river. A man who is a good fruit tree is drawing water from the everlasting river. This river is both a river of blood—the blood of Christ, as well as a river of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Christ. In other words, you will be a good tree only if you are living in union to Christ.

If so, you will depend on the blood of Christ for forgiveness of sin. You will depend on the Spirit of Christ for strength to bear fruit for Him.

You will obey Christ as your King. Although you are not under the law, but under grace, you will know and love the Law so that you can live as a grateful slave of God in Christ.

You will be a slave of God in Christ. You will not be a slave of Satan.

Do you bear the name of Christ? Have you been baptised? You must be a slave of God rather than a slave of Satan. You must serve Christ rather than Satan. During the Civil War in America there were two armies: the Union and the Confederate. It is said that one of the reasons for the war was that the Union forces were opposed to slavery; whereas the Confederate forces wanted to keep their slaves. But it is interesting to note how some black slaves actually fought willingly with their masters in the Confederate army against the Union forces which were trying to liberate them.

Is that you, dearly beloved? Are you opposing Christ? Are you opposing His Gospel? Are you opposing the means of grace which He has instituted for your liberation? Oh will you not repent of your rebellion against Him.

But finally, I speak to you who are still unconverted. I would remind you that as long as you are outside Christ, you are a slave of Satan and sin. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can free you. Only He can make your life worthwhile and meaningful. Will you not seek after him while He may be found? Will you not be a slave of God in Christ rather than a slave of Satan and sin? Amen.

—JJ Lim