OPENING COMMENT by Robert
Romans 6:19-23: Every man is the servant of the master to whose commands he yields himself; whether it be the sinful dispositions of his heart, in actions which lead to death, or the new and spiritual obedience implanted by regeneration.
The apostle rejoiced now they obeyed from the heart the gospel, into which they were delivered as into a mould . As the same metal becomes a new vessel, when melted and recast in another mould , so the believer has become a new creature.
And there is a great difference in the liberty of mind and spirit, so opposite to the state of slavery, which the true Christian has in the service of his rightful Lord, whom he is enabled to consider as his Father, and himself as his son and heir, by the adoption of grace.
The dominion of sin consists in being willingly slaves thereto, not in being harassed by it as a hated power, struggling for victory. Those who now are the servants of God once were the slaves of sin. The pleasure and profit of sin do not deserve to be called fruit. Sinners are but ploughing iniquity , sowing vanity and reaping the same. Shame came into the world with sin and is still the certain effect of it.
The end of sin is death. Though the way may seem pleasant and inviting, yet it will be bitterness in the latter end. From this condemnation, the believer is set at liberty, when made free from sin.
If the fruit is unto holiness, if there is an active principle of true and growing grace, the end will be everlasting life, a very happy end! Though the way is up-hill, though it is narrow, thorny, and beset, yet everlasting life at the end of it is sure.
The gift of God is eternal life. And this gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, preserves us to it; he is the All in all in our salvation.
At the point we have now reached, the Apostle’s thought pauses for a moment, to resume. He has brought us to self-surrender. We have seen the sacred obligations of our divine and wonderful liberty. We have had the miserable question, “Shall we cling to sin?” answered by an explanation of the rightness and the bliss of giving over our accepted persons, in the fullest liberty of the will, to God, in Christ.
Now he pauses, to illustrate and enforce. And two human relations present themselves for the purpose; the one to show the absoluteness of the surrender, the other its living results. The first is Slavery, the second is Wedlock. For sin shall not have dominion over you; sin shall not put in its claim upon you, the claim which the Lord has met in your Justification; for you are not brought under law but under grace.
Sin shall be no more your tyrant creditor, holding up the broken law in evidence that it has right to lead you off to a pestilential prison, and to death. Your dying Saviour has met your creditor in full for you, and in Him, you have entire discharge in that eternal court where the terrible plea once stood against you. Your dealings as debtors are now not with the enemy who cried for your death, but with the Friend who has bought you out of his power.
The strongest motives against sin, and to enforce holiness, are here stated . Being made free from the reign of sin, alive unto God, and having the prospect of eternal life, it becomes believers to be greatly concerned to advance thereto.
But, as unholy lusts are not quite rooted out in this life, it must be the care of the Christian to resist their motions, earnestly striving, that, through Divine grace, they may not prevail in this mortal state.
Let the thought that this state will soon be at an end, encourage the true Christian, as to the motions of lusts, which so often perplex and distress him. Let us present all our powers to God, as weapons or tools ready for the warfare, and work of righteousness, in his service.
There is strength in the covenant of grace for us. Sin shall not have dominion. God’s promises to us are more powerful and effectual for mortifying sin than our promises to God.
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.
Shall any take occasion from this encouraging doctrine to allow themselves in the practice of any sin? Far be such abominable thoughts, so contrary to the perfections of God, and the design of his gospel, so opposed to being under grace. What can be a stronger motive against sin than the love of Christ? Shall we sin against so much goodness and such love?
The Apostle’s aim is to awaken believers, with the strong, tender touch of his holy reasoning, to articulate their position to themselves.
They have trusted Christ and are in Him. Then, they have entrusted themselves altogether to Him. Then, they have, in effect, surrendered. They have consented to be His property.
They are the bondservants, they are the slaves, of His truth, that is, of Him robed and revealed in His Truth, and shining through it on them in the glory at once of His grace and of His claim.
Nothing less than such an obligation is the fact for them. Let them feel, let them weigh, and then let them embrace, the chain which after all will only prove their pledge of rest and freedom.
So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues as a slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death.
Believers are delivered from the power of the law, which condemns the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from the power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin which dwells in them.
Understand, this is not of the law, as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works, under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses.
The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband. The second marriage is to Christ. By death, we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband.
In our believing powerfully and effectually , we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master’s yoke . The day of our belief is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus.
We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ.
The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right about the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or anything that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any principle can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.