Christians have debated for centuries over whether a truly saved person can lose their salvation. Probably the strongest Biblical passage for that position is Hebrews 6:4-6. This is what the text says,
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
Now, exactly what does this passage mean? It seems to indicate that a saved person who has experienced all the blessings in vs.4-5 can in the end fall away and be lost. In this blog I want to refer you to two principles of Biblical interpretation:
1) Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture; and
2) Remember that context rules
Scripture Will Never Contradict Scripture:
That first rule of interpretation about Scripture not contradicting Scripture comes into play because there are other passages in Hebrews which seem to teach the opposite position. Let’s take a look at a few other passages which seem to teach that a born again Christian can’t lose their salvation, because they will persevere in faith to the end.
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (Heb. 3:14)
This text speaks about something that has already taken place (have become partakers of Christ) if the following condition is met (we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end). The text is not saying that we will become a partaker of Christ if we go on to hold fast the assurance of our faith until the end. Rather, we have already become partakers of Christ if we go on to persevere in faith. Thus, a person who does not hold fast their assurance firm until the end never became a partaker of Christ. Thus Hebrews 3:14 seems to be saying the exact opposite of Hebrews 6:4-6. Now, two mutually exclusive positions can not both be true. Either one of them is wrong, or both are wrong, but both can’t be true. Either it is possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, or it is not possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, but it is one or the other.
Furthermore, Hebrews 10:14 says, For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (ESV).
If it is true that Jesus’ offering up of Himself on the cross has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified, then it is not possible for those same persons to fall away and lose their salvation. For those who are indwelt, regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit, they possess a perfect standing before God based on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is “for all time”! They were not perfected until they fall away, but for all time.
Hebrews 13:20-21 tells us,
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen
This text mentions the “eternal covenant.” Well, in Jeremiah 32:40 we also read of the “everlasting covenant”, which I would presume refers to the same thing. What is the nature of the everlasting covenant?
I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.
This covenant includes two things:
1) God will not turn away from them to do them good; and
2) Those with whom this everlasting covenant is made will not turn away from God because God will put the fear of Him in their hearts.
Now, if God promises that He will never turn away from them, and that they will never turn away from Him, what is our only conclusion? That these people will never fall away and be lost.
I’ve said all of this to highlight our first principle of Biblical interpretation – “remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture.” It appears that Scripture is contradicting Scripture. But that’s just it. It must be only an appearance of a contradiction. Our understanding of one or more of these texts must be wrong, because God who inspired all of these texts is a God of truth, and doesn’t contradict Himself. So what are we to do? We need to go back to the drawing room, and decide if we have understood Hebrews 6:4-6 correctly.
In order to do that, let’s utilize our second rule of Biblical interpretation – “remember that context rules.” So, let’s go back and look at the context of this passage to see if we can uncover any clues as to its proper interpretation.
Hebrews 5:11-14 – in this section we discover several things about the recipients of this letter.
1) they were dull of hearing
2) they should have advanced to teachers by then
3) instead they needed someone to teach them the elementary principles of the Word of God
4) they were spiritual infants and unable to consume anything except for milk
5) they were spiritually immature.
Now, remember the whole situation in which this letter was written. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were being tempted to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism. That’s why all the way through the author keeps emphasizing the word “better.” Christ is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Aaronic priesthood, He brings in a better covenant, a better hope, better promises, and is a better sacrifice. The author of this letter is urging these new Jewish believers not to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism, for that would mean their spiritual destruction.
Hebrews 6:1-3 – Here the author exhorts his readers to press on to maturity (vs. 1). In other words, they must make progress in their faith. They should have been at the point where they could be teaching others, but were still spiritual babies. They needed to mature.
Hebrews 6:4-6 – Notice that vs. 4 begins with the word “for”, which tells us that the author is giving us a reason why the readers must press on to maturity. It is because if they have received great and precious privileges and blessings, and then have fallen away, they are lost forever. This is a very serious and solemn passage. The author of Hebrews is urgently exhorting his readers to mature in their faith and bear fruit of their salvation, because it is possible that some of them who do not do this may “fall away” and prove that they were never truly saved to begin with.
But you might be thinking, “Brian, how in the world can verses 4-5 be speaking of a person who is not truly saved? Well, let’s look at them. What are these great blessings they had experienced?
2) Tasted of the heavenly gift (probably the gift of the Holy Spirit- Acts 2:38)
3) Partakers of the Holy Spirit
4) Tasted the good word of God
5) Tasted the powers of the age to come
Notice that these readers had “tasted” several of these blessings. Is it possible for someone to taste something, swish it around in their mouth for a while, and then spit it out? Of course it is. No doubt these readers were participating in a Christian church in which the gospel was preached (enlightened, tasted the good word of God), and the power of the Holy Spirit was manifest (tasted the heavenly gift, partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the powers of the age to come). So, if we were to boil down these blessings we could reduce them to two – the gospel was proclaimed and the Spirit was working. And these professing Christians had continually heard the Word and seen the Spirit work. Yet, there was still the possibility that they could “fall away” and find it impossible to be renewed again to repentance.
Many find the expression “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance” to be ironclad proof that these people were truly saved. After all, they had already repented. However, in 2 Cor. 7:10 Paul says, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Evidently there are two kinds of sorrow – one leading to salvation and the other leading to death. Just as there is a saving faith which ushers in a life of good works, and a non-saving faith which does not usher in good works, so there is a true repentance which leads to salvation and a worldly repentance which is merely regret for the misery their sin has caused them.
The author goes on to say, “since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” Note the little word “and.” These people had once put the Son of God to open shame by valuing other things of the world more than Him. Then they professed faith in Christ and conversion. If they fell away after that, they would be doing the same thing they had done originally, by showing that they valued the rituals and laws of Judaism more than Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 6:7-8 – Notice again that vs. 7 begins with the word “for.” That tells us that he is going to explain what he meant in verses 4-6. Here he gives a little parable of two different kinds of fields. Both of these fields received abundant rains. However, only one field brought forth useful vegetation, while the other brought forth only worthless thorns and thistles. The first kind of field receives a blessing from God, while the latter is close to being cursed and ends up being burned. The author is explaining the person in vs. 4-6 who received the abundant rains of hearing the Word of God, and seeing the works of the Spirit. However, if he did not produce fruit in his life his end would be that of being “cursed” and “burned” (Mt.25:41). This brings us to the final piece of context which we need to examine.
Hebrews 6:9-12 – The author says in vs. 9, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” The author believed that his readers were the fruitful and blessed field, not the barren and cursed field. Notice how he puts it – “we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation.” Now, what are the “better things” he’s referring to? Fruitfulness and persevering faith! And, notice that these are the things that “accompany salvation.” When an individual receives salvation, he will produce fruit, and he will persevere to the end, which is exactly what Hebrews 3:14; 10:14; 13:20-21 and Jer. 32:40 all teach.
So, to sum up, I believe that Hebrews 6:4-6 is a strong, sobering, warning for any professing Christian who seems to remain in a spiritually immature condition, rather than pressing on to maturity, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and persevering in faith to the end. To any professing Christian who has heard the Word of God continually, and seen the powers of the Holy Spirit, and then falls away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. Why? Because they have already received all the light they can receive, and then they have turned their backs on it, and deserted Christ to go back from where they came. They have proven that the things of the world are more valuable to them than Jesus. Thus, repentance becomes impossible for them. [ The author seems to outline an unpardonable sin of falling away which seems to contradict the teaching of the Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-31 ]
I hope this blog is more than an exercise in Biblical Hermeneutics for you. I hope it gives us all a needed and sobering reminder that true saving faith always results in a transformed life, and that we “must show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end (Heb.6:11).” None of us want to hear those terrifying words out of the mouth of our Lord, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”!
I experienced an uncomfortable moment recently when someone expressed admiration for my chosen vocation, which was characterized as “saving souls.”
The reason I was uncomfortable is that I don’t do that, and so I couldn’t take credit for it. No, this is not just a typical case of Midwestern modesty, like a firefighter who dashes into a burning building to save a child and then insists he’s not a hero. Shucks, I’m just an ordinary guy doing his job.
Seriously, saving people is not my job. I don’t save souls. Never have, never will. Getting credit for doing so reminds me of the story in Acts 14 where Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for Zeus and Hermes. When the townsfolk bring out on ox to sacrifice to them, the two missionaries frantically plead, “Why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news.”
That’s it exactly. Jesus saves souls — that’s what Easter was all about. Don’t confuse me with the one who saves souls; I’m just a messenger bearing good news. Maybe there shouldn’t be a “just” in that sentence. Being a messenger of the good news is certainly a meaningful vocation. But the fact that bearing good news is my vocation doesn’t make me any more or less worthy of admiration than anyone else.
Not only do I not save souls, but I don’t think it’s helpful language for preachers to talk about saving souls. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive because of the wisdom imparted by parents from the years they spent in the mission field in KwaZulu, South Africa, but it sounds like a condescending, paternalistic way of going about things. Like it’s our job as superior beings to rescue others from their ignorance or intransigence.
I think that, in the past, this one-way-street attitude not only got missionaries in trouble, it got the universal church in trouble. I was asked recently if the traditional Lutheran understanding of mission work is basically that you have to convert them first, and then offer help. I responded that I hope not. When I read the Gospels, I don’t see Jesus focused on converting people; he spends most of his time healing and helping and loving. He does not describe his mission as saving souls and converting people. He does say, “I have come to heal and help folks, especially the poor and the powerless.” And in the process of that, faith incubates and grows, lives are changed and people are saved.
Yes, Jesus asked us to make disciples of all nations, but that isn’t the same as asking us to save souls. There are a lot of Christian believers in our congregations who are not disciples, and it is one of our jobs as preachers to try to make disciples out of them. Why? So that they can heal, help, love and proclaim the good news to others who aren’t disciples.
So while we’re in our pulpits trying to make disciples out of congregation members, we should also be out there being a blessing to others. I can’t see where one goes before the others. You can’t proclaim effectively about the love of God without reflecting that love.
Christians reflect the love of God — love that has the power to heal, to feed and to save. That’s what we do. There is no nobler vocation in the world. If we’re doing it right, that’s what preachers do as well.
Romans chapter 6, and let’s turn in our Bibles back to that chapter and see if we can’t finish our study of this great chapter, at least for this series. And, hopefully, we’ll pursue a personal study for many years yet to come. Now, we’re looking at Romans 6:15-23. Let me read it to you.
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid! 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? But God be thanked, that whereas ye were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In the first three chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he presented the utter sinfulness of sin. He painted a picture that’s horrifying, to put it mildly. And men must understand their sin. They must understand the sinfulness of sin, else they will never be able to understand God’s forgiving grace. Now, when one becomes a Christian, the power of sin is broken. Sin’s tyranny is ended. And we’ve been seeing that here in the sixth chapter of Romans. When Paul presents the great doctrine of justification by faith in chapters 3 and 4, he then launches into an explanation of its results in chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8.
One of those results is the breaking of the power of sin, the breaking of the tyranny of sin, the breaking of the bondage of sin. When you become a Christian, sin’s bondage is broken. And that’s why we see twice in this passage the statement “free from sin.” Free from sin. The good news there in verse 18 and there in verse 22 is that we’ve been made free from sin. Now, the only way that has any meaning to us is to know what it was to be a slave to sin, which he spoke of in verse 17 and again in verse 20.
Let me just remind you. Sin, of course, is the most devastating, the most debilitating, the most degenerating power that ever entered into the human stream. It kills everyone and, ultimately, except by the intervening grace of God, would send everyone to an eternal hell. The Bible calls it “the accursed thing,” Joshua 7:13. It is compared in Scripture to the venom of snakes and the stench of death. It is defined for us in 1 John 3:4 as “transgression of God’s law.” Now, the Scripture characterizes sin in many ways. And I don’t want to go back over some of the ground we’ve covered. But just as a reminder, let me state a few of the ways in which the Bible describes sin.
First of all, it says sin is defiling. It is a pollution of the soul. You might see it as this. It is to the soul what rust is to gold. It is to the soul what scars are to a beautiful face. It is to the soul what a stain is to silk, what smog is to an azure sky. It is a pollution. It makes the soul black with guilt. It is a bloody cloth in Isaiah 30. It is sores from a deadly plague in 1 Kings chapter 8. It is filthy garments in Zechariah chapter 3. And even God, according to Zechariah 11:8, loathes the sinner. Paul calls it, in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” So, sin is defiling.
Secondly, the Bible tells us that sin is rebellion. It tramples God’s Word. It rebels against God’s law. Sin is, as one man said, “God’s would-be murderer.” If sin had its way, it would eliminate God. God would cease to be if the sinner had his choice.
Thirdly, sin is ingratitude. Romans 1 says, “Neither were they thankful.” Like Absalom, who as the son of David, his father the king had kissed him and taken him to his heart, then went out and plotted treason against his own father. Having been the recipient of all of his father’s treasures, he then turned to be a traitor. So the sinner indulges in God’s goodness, indulges in God’s treasures, indulges in God’s blessings in the world around him, and then betrays God by serving Satan, God’s archenemy. The sinner then lives in abuse of all God’s gifts.
Fourthly, the Bible says that sin is incurable. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can the leopard change his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to evil.” In other words, you have more – no more chance of changing your nature than a leopard does his spots or an Ethiopian his skin.
Paul wrote to Titus in chapter 1 verse 15 and says, “Their conscience” – that is the inward part of them, even that which triggers their right behavior – “is defiled.” John Flavel said years ago, “All the tears of a penitent sinner, should he shed as many as there have fallen drops of rain since the creation, cannot wash away sin. The everlasting burnings in hell cannot purify the flaming conscience from the least sin.” Sin is so utterly devastating, it is so utterly destroying, it is so incurable that even the eternity in hell cannot take it away.
The Bible also says that sin is hated by God. In Jeremiah 44, God says, “O do not this abominable thing which I hate.” Sin is also overpowering. It hangs like blackness hangs to night. It dominates the mind, it says in Romans 1:21. It dominates the will, it says in Jeremiah 44:15 to 17. It dominates the affection it says in John 3:19 to 21. And then sin brings Satanic control. Ephesians 2 says that one who is a sinner walks “according to the prince of the power of the air.” He is a child of disobedience. Jesus said in John 8:44, a child of the devil himself.
And then sin brings misery to life. In Job 5:7 it says, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” In Romans 8, it says the creature is subject to emptiness, uselessness. It takes away man’s honor, it takes away his peace, it takes away the meaning of his life. Then finally, sin damns the soul to hell. Revelation 20 talks about all those who know not God and Christ being cast into the lake of fire.
Now all of that is just to remind you of what it means to be a slave to sin, a horrible existence. And yet, true of every creature that comes into the world because of the curse, as we saw in the fourth chapter – or rather in the third chapter – in Adam. Now when you understand sin and its sinfulness, then you have an appreciation for what it means to be free from sin. And what a glorious deliverance that is. And that’s Paul’s message in verses 15 to 23. And I don’t want to go back and review all that we’ve seen in chapter 6, but you need to know the whole chapter. So, if you haven’t been here, get those tapes and study the Word of God through this marvelous chapter.
Just remember this. That Paul’s discussion is triggered by an antagonistic question in verse 15 and we said that this was the question of the antagonist. Paul has heard this question before. He’s preaching grace so somebody inevitably comes along and says, “Oh, grace. In other words, we should sin because we’re not under the law but under grace. Is that right? We’re free now. We’re under grace. God forgives our sin so we can just go out and sin all we want.”
And this is always the antagonist’s criticism of the message of grace, that grace leads to lawlessness, grace leads to antinomianism, grace leads to unbounded liberty, grace leads to abuse. And so people say, “You can’t just preach grace. You can’t turn people loose. You’ve got to preach the law and the rules,” and so forth. And so, the question comes shall we sin because we’re not under the law, but under grace? Do people who are under grace just go wild on their sin? The answer is, “God forbid. No, no, no.”
And that’s the second point, the answer. And Paul’s answer is no, absolutely not. Grace is not an excuse for sin. Grace never transforms someone into a free-wheeling sinner. Quite the contrary. And that leads us to the axiom of verse 16. And here is a – a self-evident principle. It’s just a very basic principle. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey.” And you can stop there for a moment. All he’s saying is that look, if you’ve yielded yourself as a servant to God in Christ, then the very definition of that servitude is that you have come to obey Him, not disobey Him. You didn’t willingly yield yourself to Christ to disobedience, you willingly yielded yourself to Him to obedience.
So, we have a new master and it is self-evident in that axiom, in that obvious principle, that when you yielded yourself to Christ, you became obedient unto righteousness, verse 16 says. Now, whether you yielded yourself to sin as in your former life, which resulted in death, or whether you yield yourself to obedience which results in righteousness, it is a self-evident fact when you yield yourself as a slave to someone, you commit yourself to obey.
So, when you become a Christian, you’re not committing yourself to a life of disobedience, you’re committing yourself to a life of obedience. That’s basic to the very definition of terms. And no longer then, according to verse 16, is our master sin. Our new master is obedience. And we are subject to the Lord who produces in us obedience unto righteousness.
Now, listen again. There was something I said last week and I want to reemphasize it. Not only is this an ethical bond, it is a creative miracle. In other words, when you become a Christian, you are not only ethically bound to obedience, you are creatively made into an obedient person. So it is not only an ought that is an imperative, it is a fact. A Christian is characterized by obedience. Jesus said it, “If you love Me, you will” – What? – “keep My commandments.”
And the question comes up in the New Testament, if you don’t do that then, no matter what you say, you don’t know Him, because when you come to Christ you are affirming your identification with the new master and you are creatively transformed into one who obeys. So it is not only an ethical bond, it is a creative miracle. You not only are supposed to obey, you will obey. It is a state.
Now if we were under the bondage to sin before we came to Christ, we are now under the bondage to obedience. Grace, then, gives us a new master. Now, in order to help us understand this, we move to the axiom of verse 16 to the argument of verses 17 to 22. We got into this a little last time, let’s see if we can’t run through it. Here’s his argument. Here’s how he explains the thing that he said in verse 16. It is an extended contrast between the two slaveries. You’re either a slave to sin or a slave to God. You’re either disobedient to God, or obedient. You either do what sin tells you, or you do what God tells you. And we’ll expand on that as we go.
But let’s look at all – look first of all at the position. The contrast flows from position, to practice, to promise. Look at the position of the two people, that is their state. Verse 17, “But God be thanked, that whereas you were the slaves of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered, being then made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.” Now, what he’s saying here is there are basically two positions. You can either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. That’s the position. There are only two families. Every person is in one of these two families. It is either the mark of your life that you obey sin or it is the mark of your life that you obey righteousness. This is identity.
Now notice again, verse 17, what we saw last time. You have been poured into a mold, that form of teaching, form being the idea of a mold. When you became a Christian, you – your old self was melted down and you were re-poured into a new mold, the mold that is constituted by the doctrines of the gospel. And so you were poured into a gospel mold and you were popped out as a new creation. And your lifestyle now will manifest that created miracle and you will then respond no longer as one who is under the lordship of Satan but you will respond as one who is under the lordship of God.
That’s what it means in Ephesians 2:10 when it says you were created unto good works. You’ve been poured into a new mold. The old thing is melted down. It’s gone. And you’ve been redone. Now it doesn’t mean that we admire righteousness. It doesn’t mean that we desire righteousness. It doesn’t mean that we’re attempting to be righteous. It doesn’t mean that we’re trying to practice righteousness in our daily life. It means that we’ve come under the power, and control, and influence of righteousness. We’ve been transformed.
And you have to understand this. People get very confused in this passage if they don’t. Once you were tyrannized by, you were ruled by, you were governed by sin. And now you are tyrannized by, and governed by, and ruled by righteousness. God plants in us the incorruptible seed of righteousness. It becomes our master. And 1 John 3:9-10 says we can’t go on any longer sinning the way we did, so that the question is silly. Shall we continue in sin because we’re under grace? Of course not.
The fact that we’re under grace precludes that as even a possibility. There’s going to have to be a break in our sin. Bless God for our family, because when we came into the family of obedience and righteousness, the family of the Lord, we were made free from sin’s tyranny. That’s very important because what it means, practically, is that you don’t have to sin. That’s what it means. Sin no longer is your master. Did you get that? You don’t have to sin anymore. And that’s what makes it so stupid when we do. We don’t have to do that.
Now before you were a Christian you had to sin because sin was your master and you had no other option. And so, all you did, even your best, was filthy rags. You just sin, sin, sin, sin. And even when you did a good deed, you had a bad motive because it wasn’t to glorify God, it was probably to feel better about yourself or to conform to some ethical standard. And anything short of the glory of God is a sin. So it was sin, sin, sin, sin. When you became a Christian, no longer did sin have the tyranny over you, as we’ve been seeing. Great thought. Now we are slaves of God. Now we are servants of righteousness. Now we are called to obedience.
Are we going to continue in sin and lawlessness? Ridiculous. Listen to this. Before you were a Christian you weren’t free. People say, “Oh, I don’t want to give up my freedom. Boy, I’m not going to become a Christian and get constricted and all that.” You weren’t free. You know what your – you are an absolute bond slave to sin. It’s all you ever do. People think they’re free. They’re not free. That isn’t freedom. When you became a Christian you became free. You’re free for the first time in your life.
Not free to do wrong. But free to do what? Right, for the first time. Get that? Write that one down somewhere. That’s very important, very basic. When you become a Christian you say, “Oh, I have liberty in Christ. Now I can do whatever I want.” No, no. No, you’re not free to sin now, you’re just free for the first time in your life to do what’s right. And that’s a nice freedom. What it means is that before you were saved you had no choice, now you have a choice. And because sin is not your master, you can choose what is right. Isn’t that great?
So, Christians aren’t people who are free to do wrong, they’re people who are free for the first time to do right. Now that – does that give you a different perspective on Christian liberty? People say, “Boy, you know, now you’re a Christian, you’re under grace. We don’t have to worry about this, and we don’t have to worry about that, we can do whatever.” That isn’t the point. In fact, if you live like that, I question whether you’re under grace at all. The great freedom of being a Christian is the freedom to do right for the first time.
So, two slaveries. And we saw their position. One begins at birth and one begins at new birth and you’re either under the bondage to sin or under the bondage to righteousness. And if you’re a Christian, you’ve been freed from sin, you no longer belong to that old master. Righteousness is your master, obedience is your master, the Lord is your master and you’ve been creatively made to obey, and are also ethically bound to obey. You can obey and you should.
Now, let’s look from the position to the practice, verse 19. And this is kind of an interesting beginning. He says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” That’s a most interesting statement. He says I want you to realize that I’m using an analogy here about masters and slaves as an accommodation to your humanness. In other words, folks, it’s hard to put supernatural, eternal, incomprehensible miraculous data into these little puny heads. And Paul says, “I’m trying to accommodate you the best I can. So I’m speaking after the manner of men.”
In other words, “I’m bringing it down to a human analogy of a slave and a master so that I can accommodate the infirmity of your humanness.” And I think it’s important that Paul says that, because in any analogy that you ever find, there always is a breakdown in a human analogy, isn’t there? And some people will be listening to this slave/master deal and they’d be trying to follow that analogy all the way out and they’d get kind of confused. And so he says, “Look, this is an accommodation made necessary by our fallenness. We’re just trying to understand it the best way we can.”
Just as a note, he says, “I speak in this manner because of the infirmity of your flesh.” Now that is a very important word. We’re going to see it again as we go through Romans, very key word. It means “our mortality.” It is a parallel term to the term we saw over in verse 12, “your mortal body,” your mortal body. And that’s where sin finds its bridgehead. And so, he says it’s because of your mortality, your body of sin, your humanness, where sin resides.
Not the new you, the sanctified you that we talked about, not the new resurrected you walking in newness of life, not the new creation fit for eternity, but sin that’s in your mortal body, that’s in your humanness, that’s in your flesh. The flesh is the faculty of man influenced by sin. And even though we’re Christians, as long as we possess humanness, as long as we are wrapped in these bodies that are fallen, we are going to have a struggle with sin. Not sin in the new creation, but sin in the flesh, which encases the new creation until we are glorified. And we saw that earlier in our study. And we’re weak in our understanding. We are weak because of our fallenness. And so Paul is accommodating us with a human analogy.
Now, he moves on in verse 19. “for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” This is a great, great truth. Now he’s not talking about our position anymore, he’s talking about our practice. He has stated already that we have a new master, verse 18, we’ve been freed from sin and become the servants of righteousness. That’s our position. We are the servants of righteousness, we do respond to righteousness, we do respond to obedience, we do respond to God.
And now, most interestingly, he says in verse 19, “As you yielded your members servants to uncleanness in the past, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness.” In other words, he says, “This is who you are,” in verse 18, and now in verse 19 he says, “Now act like it.” Now act like it. Get your practice lined up with your position. He’s not talking about nature, the nature of an individual in verse 19. He was talking about that in verses 17 and 18. You’re either by nature a servant of sin or by the new nature a servant of God.
But he’s now talking about your lifestyle and he is saying your lifestyle must accommodate your nature. Now that you don’t have to be a slave to sin, now that you are a servant of righteousness, act like it. And, of course, the flesh wants to get in the way and we’ll find out when we get to chapter 8 how you deal with the flesh. Paul basically says “kill it.” And we’ll find out how to kill the flesh when we get to chapter 8. But he is saying here since you don’t have to sin, don’t sin. And the picture is very clear.
First of all, “as you yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity;” In the past, that describes the first family, the family of those who are in sin positionally. Their practice is to continually yield their members – again, having to do with your physical faculties, your humanness – to sin. That was their life style. That’s all they can do. They yield their members slaves to uncleanness. That’s basic. That’s life for them.
The word “members” again, remember it means “bodily parts, the flesh, the mortal body.” You see, the person in the state of sin has no choice. He has to yield, and that word means “to present” or “offer.” He gives his body to sin. It even uses the word “uncleanness.” That’s the word of inward pollution. And then, he uses the word “iniquity.” That’s the word of outward lawlessness. So, he says that before you became a Christian, when you were in the family of sin, you were polluted on the inside and you were evil on the outside.
You just continually yielded yourself to that, internally and externally. There’s no choice involved, absolutely no choice. The body of sin in an unregenerate person – listen now – is in complete harmony with the nature of man. The nature of man is sin. And the body of man is sinful. So his nature and his body are in total harmony. His soul and his body are in agreement on sin as his master, and so he just sins, doing evil continually, continually. Now, notice the progression. You yield your bodily parts servants to sin, to uncleanness and iniquity. And then it says, “unto iniquity,” most interesting. Guess what sin leads to? What? Sin. More sin. Sin begets sin. It is cancer, folks, it is cancer. It reproduces itself. It is a cruel master.
Oscar Wilde, great writer, brilliant mind, very esteemed man, secretly was involved in homosexual relationships and other deviant behavior, and he was discovered. And he wrote, “I forgot that what a man is in secret, he will someday shout aloud from the housetop.” Sin begets sin. It’s discovered. There’s no way to stop it.
I always think about Sinclair Lewis, who was the toast of the literary world. And he wanted to mock Christianity so he wrote Elmer Gantry. And Elmer Gantry was a blast at Christian preachers and evangelism, making the featured character a Bible-pounding, Jesus-preaching, alcoholic, fornicator and thief, everything bad. The literary world toasted Sinclair Lewis and few people know that he died an alcoholic in a third-rate clinic somewhere outside the city of Rome, totally devastated. You don’t get away with sin, it just begets itself.
And that’s what he’s saying. You used to be under sin, and as your position was under the bondage of sin, your practice was there as well and sin begat sin, begat sin, begat sin, begat sin, begat sin. And as we’ll see in a moment, there’s an ultimate end to all of that. But he says this, “Now you’ve been translated to a new master.” As you did that in the past – look back at verse 19 – even so now, present, offer, yield your bodily parts servants to righteousness which produces what? Holiness. As your members were 100 percent yielded to sin before Christ, so they should now be 100 percent yielded to righteousness since Christ.
Now remember, the new creation soul is sinless. It’s not I, it’s sin that’s in me, in my humanness. The bodily parts, our mortality, our fallenness, our corruptible humanness must be yielded. And as I said earlier, for the first time we have a choice. That’s our freedom. And so, we come to chapter 12 of Romans as a preview and we hear these familiar words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your” – what? – “bodies.” Where is the problem? It’s the body, isn’t it?
And that’s why he doesn’t say “present your – your soul.” Your soul is a new creation. He doesn’t say “present your inner man.” That’s been transformed. Present your what? Your body. Because that’s where the battleground lies, in your fallenness, in your humanness. And that’s why Paul says also to the Corinthians, “I beat my body to bring it into subjection.” You have to really control it. Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and see how the body tends to drag us into evil.
And so, he says you did yield yourselves that way, “Oh now yield your bodily parts as slaves to righteousness.” You will do this because you’re new, but do it always because you can. You understand that? You will do it, but do it all the time. You will do it sometime. You will do it because you’re new, but do it all the time. In other words – listen now carefully – when you came into salvation in Jesus Christ, God’s grace was not given to you to allow you to do sin and get away with it, but to make it so you would never have to sin. You understand that? Big difference. I don’t think very many people understand that. So, the whole idea of being a Christian isn’t impunity from sin, the whole idea of being a Christian is that you just don’t sin.
You say, “Now wait a minute. Can we do that?” Technically, yes. Practically, no. Because our fallenness gets in the way. But we want to do it more and more. And look at the progression here. “Yield your members servants to righteousness unto” – what? – “holiness.” “Righteousness” means “do right.” Righteousness is doing right. Holiness is a state of perfection. As iniquity leads to iniquity, doing right leads to spiritual perfection, spiritual completion, to being utterly separated from sin. That’s what holiness means.
Martyn Lloyd Jones, who so often captures thoughts in such a graphic way, says this, “As you go on living the righteous life and practicing it with all your might and energy and all your time and everything else, you will find that the process that went on before in which you went from bad to worse and became viler and viler is entirely reversed. You will become cleaner and cleaner and purer and purer and holier and holier, and more and more conformed to the image of the Son of God.” End quote.
Now, see, that’s the difference, isn’t it? That’s the difference of the outworking of that new nature as over against the outworking of the old nature. That’s the difference in the second half of Romans 6 in being under the Master, the Lord, under the master, sin. So we progress to greater and greater purity, greater and greater holiness as sinners go down, down, down, down. Let me add a footnote. Nobody stands still. And Christians who allow themselves sin under the wrong understanding of grace or because they give into the flesh, will find at work in them the same principle that’s at work in an unbeliever. Sin will lead to sin, to sin, to sin, to sin. So each slavery is a developing slavery. Neither stand still.
When Israel was in Egypt – to borrow an analogy if I might – God gave Pharaoh a command. Most people know the command, “Let My people” – what? – “go.” Do you know the rest of it? That wasn’t the whole thing. Listen to what God said. “Let My people go that they may serve Me.” You don’t understand the command if you don’t understand that part. “Let My people go that they may serve Me.” Nobody was ever delivered from bondage to do what they wanted. When we were delivered from bondage, we were to do what God wants. He didn’t say, “Let My people go so they can roam around the rest of their life.”
It was not to let them go to wander at their own whim and do as they please. God’s plan for them was that they might be delivered from the bondage of their cruel masters in Egypt in order to become committed to a new master and serve Him. By the way, it took a whole generation to learn that. So, we haven’t been freed from sin to do what we want, we’ve been freed from sin to do what He wants. So, the question asked in verse 15 is a ridiculous question.
Now, finally, Paul’s contrast goes one more step, and he talks about the promise. Where do these two slaveries end up because they definitely end up in two different places? Look at verse 20. First of all, where does sin end up? “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which you’re now ashamed? For the end of those things is” – what? – “death.”
Notice these two verses. They’re very simple and yet they’re very profound. He says, “When you were the servants or slaves of sin” – in your former life, in that position, yielded to that life – “you were free from righteousness.” You were totally cut loose from righteousness. You had no cause to respond to righteousness. You had no need. Righteousness made no demands on you because you had no capacity. Well, what an incredible statement. You can’t respond to the demands of righteousness. They’re not bound on you.
We’re not to go up and down the street and say, “Now all of you people, you need to abide by God’s laws.” They have no cause for that. They have no need for that. You want to know something else? It won’t do them any good either. They’re free from righteousness. They have no responsibility to righteousness. They’re controlled by, ruled by sin and all they can do is sin. They have one master. Righteousness has no pressure to apply to them, because they have nothing in their nature that can cause them to respond to it. Do you understand that?
That is a tremendous statement. Because there are people who don’t know Christ who think they’re good people. The truth is they’re slaves to sin and they’re totally free from righteousness. Righteousness has no cause to which they must respond. Boy, what a statement. The world is full of people who think they’re good people. They think they do right things and good things and honorable things. And on a human level, they do. But when God starts talking about the standards that are His standards, they are totally free from righteousness. They’re not bound to obey righteousness, they’re not bound to keep the righteous law. There’s no need for that because they have no capacity for that.
In fact, you know, Paul has a good word for self- righteousness, for man doing his best apart from God. Do you know what he called it? Dung. Interesting, isn’t it? If you wonder where that is, it’s Philippians 3:7-8. And so, that – to me, that verse 20 is just a shocking, shocking statement. People without Jesus Christ have no obligation to righteousness at all because they couldn’t – they couldn’t fulfill it. Whoa! So when I say you’re either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness, boy, that is exactly what Paul is saying here. And nobody’s in the middle.
And look what he says in verse 21. “And when you were a slave to sin and totally free from righteousness, what fruit did you have of the things of which you are now ashamed?” What fruit did you have? Well, the answer to that is none. The only fruit you had when you were unregenerate was fruit that you’re now what? Ashamed of. Oh, you know, you see a guy who is without Christ and, boy, he’s talking up a big game. “Boy, you should have heard what I did, man, I did this deal.”
He talks about all of his sin and boasts about all the things. “Boy, I conned so-and-so. I got this little deal here. And I did this to this person.” And he boasts in his sin and, boy, when he comes to Jesus Christ, all of the results and the product of his sin is cause for what? For shame. So, Paul says, “Look, don’t ask such a stupid question as, ‘Now that we’re under grace, do we continue in sin?’” We look back to that period of time and we look at all the fruit of our sin and the only thing it brings to us is what? Shame.”
I always appreciate when somebody’s going to give their testimony and they’ve come to Jesus Christ, and they may have come out of some sinful, horrible, sordid background. And when someone really comes to Jesus Christ, that’s the last thing in the world they want to talk about. Oh, they may want to tell you how the Lord delivered them from drugs, or from crime, or from some evil sin and so forth. But they don’t relish in that sin anymore. It’s a shame to them. So, if that’s true, why would we want to come to Christ and then go on sinning when the only fruit of that is something we were utterly ashamed of?
John Calvin said, “As soon as the godly begin to be enlightened by the Spirit of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, they freely acknowledge that their whole past life, which they lived without Christ, is worthy of condemnation. So far from trying to excuse themselves, they are, in fact, ashamed of themselves. Indeed, they go farther and continually bear their disgrace in mind so that the shame of it may make them more truly and willingly humble before God.” Well, that’s a beautiful statement. The fruit of sin does nothing but fill them with shame.
You’ve had that reaction in your life. You can look back on your life before Jesus Christ and you can see a lot to be ashamed of. You wouldn’t want to talk about that. You don’t glory in that. But the people who don’t know Christ, you see, they glory in the thing you’re ashamed of. And where does it all lead? Verse 21, “The end of those things is death.” Why in the world would a Christian, justified by grace through faith, brought to Jesus Christ and given the choice to do right, ever choose to sin when sin only begets sin and death and shame, from which he was delivered?
You know, Paul was really making a case here, folks. If we sin, we are really stupid. And so, the way the devil tries to get us to sin is to get us not to be what? Thinking. It leads to death. What death is this? Second death, spiritual death and hell, the death of the soul. That’s where sin leads. That’s its fruit. Now if all you can produce with sin is fruit that brings shame and spiritual and eternal death, if sin is a shameful killer of the soul, then what reason to ever offer your body to sin? No reason. No reason.
But what about the second master? Look at verse 22. “But now being made free from sin.” I can’t tell you how I’ve grown to love that statement. I’ve read it many times. I taught Romans – some of you may remember – in 1969 here. We whisked through it at a chapter a whack. Those were in the days when I was young and foolish. I exhausted all my knowledge at that speed. But as I’ve gone over this and over this, “being made free from sin,” oh, that just brings joy to my heart.
And I was thinking back – look with me at chapter 4 verse 6. And Paul says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness apart from works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’” That’s the first part. Oh how blessed that God doesn’t hold our sin against us. That’s one thing. But here in chapter 6, how doubly blessed that not only does God not hold our sin against us, but He frees us from its tyranny. Just to know that I don’t have to sin, I’m no longer a subject, it’s so great.
So, verse 22, “But now being made free from sin” – doesn’t mean you’re free from ever sinning; It just means you’re free from its tyranny; you don’t have to – “and you’ve “become slaves to God.” – there’s that bond slave word again – “Ye have your fruit” – a whole different fruit; fruit means product, fruit means result, and what is our fruit? What is it? – “Holiness.” Now again, that is not only an ought – that is, this is what you ought to do – it is a fact. I believe if you’re truly saved and the divine life is in you and you’re a new creation, holiness is manifest. I believe that, all that. I believe you cannot have a Christian with no fruit at all. Well, you might have to look a long time and find a shriveled grape here and there, but there’s got to be some. Got to be some. Your fruit unto holiness.
I don’t know how you feel about the word “holiness.” It’s a beautiful word. I guess I love it because it’s God’s most glorious attribute. In Isaiah 6 God is said to be holy, holy, holy, and to think that we could be like God, marvelous. We can’t be God, but we can be like Him when we walk in holiness. So we have been made free from sin. It has no claim on us. And we have become bond slaves to God and we have a new product, a new end, and that’s holiness. And to what does that lead? The end, everlasting life. The end in verse 21, what? The end of these things is what? Death, verse 21. The end in verse 22, everlasting life.
This I call the promises. Start with the position, you’re either in slavery to sin or slavery to God. The practice, your life is either progressing viler and viler and viler, or holier and holier and holier. And then the promise, the end over here is death, the end over here is everlasting life. Now, may I just point out here that everlasting life is not so much a quantity of life as a quality of life? It isn’t so much that it means you’re just going to live forever, because it wouldn’t mean anything to live forever unless the quality of life was worth living forever, right? And so it’s a quality of life. We enter into an everlasting kind of life. What it means is a supernatural kind of life, an eternal kind of life that belongs to God. God’s life in us, abundant life. And so, that’s how Paul draws the contrast.
So, he moves through the antagonist, the answer. Then he establishes the axiom in verse 16, then comes the argument in verses 17 to 22. And finally, the absolute. The absolute. And you know this verse, perhaps from a child. Verse 23. Now listen. This is to say there’s a reason why sin as a principle in a person’s life mastering him, leads him to be viler and viler and viler, and ultimately eternal death. And there’s a reason why righteousness in a life leads one to be holier and holier and holier, and entering into the fullness of everlasting life.
And the reason is because there is an absolute law and that law inexorably works. And here it is. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” – and then the coup de grace of the whole chapter – “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That is the inexorable, divine absolute. There is no possibility of a violation. That is how the thing works. And nobody gets around the absolute law. The reason sin adds to sin, adds to sin, ends in death is because the wages of sin is death.
Now what does that mean? The word “wages” is a very interesting word. It is just what it appears. It means something you’ve earned. In fact, the word is used, commonly, of the rations that were given to soldiers for their military service in exchange for their duty. It was just compensation for service rendered. Wages, just like you pick up your check. The idea is this. You earn death. That’s right, you earn it. When God brings to bear on a life eternal death, hell forever, it’s because the person earned that.
It is just, it is fair, it is proper compensation for their sin because there is an inexorable law in the universe that says the pay for sin is death. It’s like any other law. The law of gravity. The law of gravity says you jump off something, you go down. That’s a law. That’s the way the universe is made. And if God made laws in a physical dimension, there can be laws as well in the spiritual. And here’s one of them. The wages of sin is death. The payoff for sin is death, eternal death, spiritual death. It’s what you earned.
In fact, let me say it another way. Justice is obligated to pay it or it would be defrauding the worker of his wages. When God gives eternal death to a soul, He is giving him what he’s worked for, what he’s earned, what he deserves, what is the defined compensation for his life. Let me put it another way. If God didn’t give him eternal hell, it would be unjust. And God can’t be unjust. You earn death by your sin, you’ll get it. And those who hope for pardon and those who hope for deliverance without Christ are hoping that God would be unjust. And God would not be unjust.
There’s another side to the absolute, bless God. It says this, “But the gift of God is eternal life.” Eternal life is not a wage. Did you notice the change? It is a what? A gift. Can you earn eternal life? No, it’s a gift. In fact, literally, it’s a free gift. You could write that there. It says, “The free gift of God.” Just so that nobody gets confused, it is a free gift.
You can’t earn it by your works. You can’t earn it by your religiosity. You can’t earn it, period. And that’s right back to Ephesians 2:8 and 9. “For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is a” – what? – “gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” No merit, no earning, no worthiness. It’s a gift. So if you want what you deserve, God will give it to you. But if you want what you don’t deserve, God will give that to you as well.
You say, “How do I get that? Boy, what a chapter. I don’t want to be a slave to sin. I don’t want to be free from ever being able to do what’s right. I don’t want to go from sin, to sin, to sin, from being vile to being viler and viler, ultimately ending in eternal death. I don’t want to do that. I want the gift of eternal life. How do I get it? Well, how does the chapter end? What does it say? “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It’s the great climax to the chapter. I mean, the chapter is so powerful, you know that at the end you just need a reminder of how you get this. “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Any other place? No other place. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. No other name. No other name. Jesus said, “I am the door, the only way to enter is through Me.” Jesus said, “No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” The most narrow-minded statement ever made. It also happens to be true. You can be narrow minded if you’re right. Jesus said, “I am the way. I’m the only way.” Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I can’t – I just – I wouldn’t know what else to say to the world to offer them the gift of salvation than to just tell them what’s in this chapter. It’s astounding to me, to be made free from sin, to inherit eternal life, to be delivered from the bondage of sin and guilt and all those things, and free to do what’s right and to glorify God. And instead of looking at a life with things to be ashamed, you look at a life filled with things to be thankful for. Instead of anticipating death, eternal death, you anticipate life, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So the sixth chapter has taught us in the first 14 verses that we are one with Christ because we died with Him, we rose with Him, and as new creations with resurrection life, we walk in newness of life. Therefore, we should yield to that new life principle, yielding our fallenness, our humanness, our mortal bodies to that new life power.
And then in the second half, he uses a different analogy to say the same thing. We were slaves to sin, now we have become slaves to righteousness. So, in one sense we’ve died to walk in newness of life. In another sense, we have a new master. Both saying the same thing; salvation doesn’t free you to sin, it frees you from sin for the first time in your life to do what’s right. Salvation takes unholy men and makes them holy. Salvation is a call from sin to holiness.
And no evangelism can stand without this kind of affirmation. Anything other than this kind of presentation of evangelism, I believe, is cheap grace. I believe we have to say to people, “Look, count the cost. When you come to Jesus Christ, He’s calling you from sin to holiness. And if you’re not willing to come on those terms, there are no other terms available.” Jesus is not looking for people who want to add Him to their sin. He’s not looking for people who want to add Him to their lifestyle. He is calling men who want to die and rise again. He’s calling men and women who want to say no to the present master and yes to a new master. Grace covers sin. That’s right. But it never condones it. And further, it transforms the sinner.
Let me close with this. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, thinker, sometimes was a little far afield, sometimes right on target, wrote this. “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. Costly grace is the grace of Christ Himself now prevailing upon the disciple to leave all and follow Him.”
When he spoke of grace, Luther always implied as a corollary that it cost him his own life, the life which was for the first time subjected to the absolute obedience of Christ. Happy are they who knowing that grace can live in the world without being of it, who by following Jesus Christ are so assured of their heavenly citizenship that they are truly free to live their lives in this world. That’s the kind of grace God calls us to in Christ. What does it mean to be a Christian? Chapter 5 said it meant to be secure. Chapter 6 says it means to be free from sin. Chapter 7 will tell us there’s still a battle. And chapter 8 will tell us how to win it. Let’s pray together.
Lord, we’re so thankful tonight for Your Word. How rich. We are thankful that we’ve been made free from sin. And if we’re indifferent to that tonight, forgive us. Oh, what a glorious gift. And how tritely do we treat priceless treasure, how easily do we allow the flesh its own way and mock our liberty.
Thank You for reminding us, Lord, that we are slaves of obedience, as Paul says in one verse, slaves of righteousness, as he says in another, slaves of God, as he says in another. One and the same, and free from the tyranny of sin. Bless You for that. And may we live out in practice what we are in position and never return to the things that produced shame and death but always those things that produce righteousness, holiness and life.
With your head bowed for just a moment, if you have never come to Jesus Christ, received Him as your Savior and Lord, you are not free from sin and it will kill you. But Jesus offers His freedom to you if you will give Him your life, if you will believe that He, God in human flesh, died and rose again for you. Open your heart right now to Him. Say “I want to be free from sin, and I want to be a slave to righteousness, possessor of eternal life.”
Christian, reaffirm to God your thanks for the freedom He’s given you. Tell Him you’re thankful that you do not have to sin, that you’ve been delivered from the bondage and the tyranny of that old master. And then ask His forgiveness for the times that you obeyed a master who has no claim on you, and in your humanness, you sinned. And then ask Him to lead you in the way of holiness that you might fulfill in your life all that He desires of purity and obedience.
Father, we ask that You’ll do Your work in every heart, that we might come truly to understand what it means to be free, to rejoice in that freedom, that some might even be set free tonight is our prayer. For Christ’s sake. Amen.
Well, tonight we’re going to be looking back at Romans chapter six, and before I formally get into the message, let me just say how deeply appreciative I am of your faithfulness in coming. I have just been thrilled with the full church because this is difficult. It strains us to comprehend it in many ways. We have to think along with the thoughts of the apostle Paul. We have to have our mind in gear. I’m reminded of what Peter said about Paul in 2 Peter 3:16, that in all his epistles he speaks of things which are hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest as they do also the other Scriptures. Paul did say things that were hard to be understood. Peter even confessed to that, and I confess to it, and I know you do as well.
So, it’s been very gratifying to have such faithfulness as we’ve gone through these very, very closely-knit theological discussions of the apostle Paul in the Roman epistle. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 have been very, very intricate, very profound. Theological education in brief, believe me, occurs when one studies these great portions of Scripture.
Now, tonight we come to the second half of Romans 6, and as we look at Romans 6:15 to 23, I want to title this section, “Free from sin. Free from sin.” Let me read you verses 15 to 23 so you’ll have it in mind as we approach it.
“What then? Shall we sin because we’re not under the law but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, His servants ye are whom ye obey, whether to sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness. But God be thanked that whereas ye were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus said in John 8:34, “Whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin.” All men who live a life of committing sin are slaves to that sin. In fact, every person who comes into this world is under the tyranny of sin. It controls their thoughts. It controls their words. It controls their actions. To put in the terminology of Romans 6, verse 17, “Ye were the slaves of sin.” Verse 20, “Ye were – ” again “ – the slaves of sin.” Twice in that passage. He says you used to be slaves, doulos, bondslaves to sin. And the ultimate end of being a slave to sin we found in verse 21 at the end, “For the end of those things is death.” And verse 23, the beginning of the verse, “For the wages of sin is death.” To be a slave of sin is to die. Sin ultimately kills.
And when you think about what it means to be a slave to sin, it’s a horrifying thought. Years ago, Dr. Guthrie’s great words, prosaic words about sin were written. They have become very insightful, even in this society and perhaps will give you a feeling for what it means to be a slave to sin. He wrote this; “Sin is a debt, a burden, a thief, a sickness, a leprosy, a plague, a poison, a serpent, a sting. Everything that man hates, sin is. A load of curses and calamities beneath whose crushing intolerable pressure, the whole creation groans. Who is the undertaker that digs man a grave? Who is the painted temptress that steals his virtue? Who is the murderess that destroys his life? Who is the sorceress that first deceives and then damns his soul? Sin. Who with icy breath blights the fair blossoms of youth? Who breaks the hearts of parents? Who brings old men gray hairs with sorrow to the grave? Sin. Who changes gentle children into vipers, tender mothers into monsters, and their fathers into worse than Herods, the murderers of their own innocence? Sin. Who casts the apple of discord on household hearts? Who lights the torch of war and bears it blazing over trembling lands? Who by division in the church rends Christ’s seamless robe? Sin. Who is this Delilah that sings the Nazarite asleep and delivers up the strength of God into the hands of the uncircumcised? Who, winning smile on her face, honeyed flattery on her tongue, stands in the door to offer the sacred rites of hospitality, and when suspicion sleeps, treacherously pierces our temples with a nail? What fair siren is this who seated on a rock by the deadly pool smiles to deceive, sings to lure, kisses to betray and flings her arms around our neck to leap with us into perdition? Sin. Who turns the soft and gentlest heart to stone? Who hurls reason from her lofty throne and impels sinners mad as Gadarene swine to run down the precipice into a lake of fire? Sin.”
Sin, that terrible life-wrecking, soul-damning reality which clings like incurable cancer to the human breast and ultimately devastates, sin to which men are enslaved. And men cry to be free from sin, but they cannot. They run to flee its guilt, but they cannot find relief. And because men are the slaves of sin, this passage is so marvelous because it says in verse 20, verse 18 and 22, “Being then made free from sin,” and verse 22, “But now being made free from sin.” That this passage becomes to all those haunted by their sin, a promise of deliverance, free from sin. What a great thought. Sin which devastates, sin which destroys, sin which kills.
The greatest gift that God could ever give a human being, bar none, would be to be free from sin, free from sin; to be restored to the place of righteousness, to be able to fulfill all that we were intended to be when God made us before sin invaded our human stream. Free from sin. What a thought! From its penalty, from its power and from its debilitating and killing presence, free! I can’t think of a more wonderful thought than that, can you? So, this masterful passage is all about being free from sin, and you ought to really find a tremendous amount of comfort here and a great cause for rejoicing.
Now, remember that Paul is discussing the great doctrine of sanctification, which is connected to the doctrine of justification. And now having discussed that in chapters 3, 4 and 5, he is showing the result of that, and the result of that we saw in the first half of chapter 6 is to be made holy. And the result of that in the second half of chapter 6 is to be made free from sin. And to be honest with you, folk, they’re one and the same. And Paul is just looking at the same great reality from two angles. And so in this chapter we learn the great reality of what sanctification is, and we also learn the great reality of how it is connected to justification. When we were saved, when we were redeemed and made right with God, it was to make us holy and free from sin. That was the intention.
Now, we learned in the first fourteen verses of the chapter that we’re united with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, and thus we have died to sin and risen to walk in newness of life. The penalty for sin has been paid in that death. The power for sin has been broken, and we walk now in newness of life, alive to God. And now in verses 15 to 23, Paul demonstrates that we are made holy in another analogy. Not only have we died in Christ and risen in Christ and now are walking in a new life, having died to the old one, but we also have become slaves to God and in so doing the slavery to sin which was characteristic of our former life has been broken. So, he really is coming at the same thing from two different perspectives. He shows the believer has a totally new relationship to sin after salvation, different than before because he died in Christ and rose in Christ and because he has a new master which obviates the old master. That’s the thrust of the second half of the chapter. And in both cases, his point is to show that a truly regenerated person cannot go on in the same pattern of sinning that was characteristic of his life before he was saved. Why? Because we are no longer in the same relation to sin. We have died in Christ and risen. We have now, in the second half of the chapter, a new master which means we no longer are under the old master.
So, whether you look at it from the first half or the second half of the chapter, you’re going to see the same thing. A truly justified, redeemed, saved individual is going to have a different relationship to sin than he ever had before. It cannot continue as it was.
Now, I want you to look at this passage, it’s a very simple passage, although on the surface it appears to be perhaps difficult. We’re going to break it down and take a few elements tonight and a few elements next time, but let’s start with the antagonist. We used that same kind of little outline for the first half of the chapter and the second follows the same thought. It begins with a proposed question. We’ll call this the antagonist. And by that, I mean the one who’s antagonistic toward Paul’s doctrine of salvation by grace. The legalist can’t tolerate that, that grace kind of thing. And this is what, typically, they would say, verse 15, “What then?” I mean, if we’re saved by grace, and if as you’ve just said in verse 14 we’re no longer under the law, “Shall we sin then because we’re not under the law but under grace?”
In other words, to some people who are legalistic, grace appears like a license, grace appears like lawlessness. I mean, when you come to a group of people like the Jewish people who all their lifelong have been trying to earn their way into heaven by good works and you say to them, “All your good works are nothing but filthy rags, they don’t mean a single thing. You can be saved by the free gift of God given to unworthy sinners.” That’s very hard for them to handle. It sounds like lawlessness. It sounds like liberty to sin. It sounds like it doesn’t matter how you live, and that’s where the antagonist comes in. He is saying, “Look, if you preach this message of salvation by grace, in other words, that I don’t do anything to get saved, and I can’t do anything to get saved, and none of my goodness matters in my salvation, and it’s all grace and God is going to forgive me, and I’m not under the law and I’m under grace, then, boy, you’ve just turned me loose.”
Well, Paul’s answer in the first half of the chapter is simply this. No, we haven’t turned you loose because God’s put in you a new nature and your new nature, your new creation, your new self, your new identity isn’t going to do that. You understand that? And if you do do that, you indicate that you’re not under grace and you’re not a recreation at all.
So, the first antagonist question came in verse 1 and it was, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And now the question is much like it, “Shall we sin because we’re not under the law but under grace?” The idea is the same. Does the doctrine of salvation by grace give freedom to sin in an unrestrained way? And that is the accusation that is made against this doctrine. And you can imagine that in the context of the Jewish society in which Paul ministered that they would be just saying, “Wait a minute, you can’t go around doing that.” And that’s why, for example, when he preached in Galatia in the cities of that territory known as Galatia, and he preached salvation by grace through faith, the Jewish people followed him along, and they came into all those churches and said, “No, no, no, no, no. You’ve got to be circumcised. You’ve got to keep all the law of Moses, and if you do that, then you can come to Christ.”
And Paul had to write Galatians and say, “Don’t you let anybody bewitch you. Don’t let anybody add works to your gracious salvation. If anybody comes along and preaches that, I don’t care who it is, even an angel, let him be accursed.” The doctrine of grace stands, folks. With all the accusation, it still stands. And there have always been those critics who said the doctrine of grace leads to lawlessness. This is the criticism of the antagonist, and may I say to you what I said earlier in our study? Grace preaching and grace teaching always is liable to this charge. It always is. It always exposes itself to this criticism, but we aren’t going to change it because I’m not afraid of that. I’m not afraid of saying to someone, “You come to Jesus Christ by grace, that is by God’s free gift of salvation independent of anything you’ve ever done and disregarding everything you’ve ever done; you come by grace and I believe if you do, God will create you anew, as the Bible says, and you’re not going to go out and abuse the reality of that grace.” Now, you may abuse it now and then but it isn’t going to be an utter life style.
So, the antagonist asks the question, back at verse 15 again, “Shall we sin?” Deliberately, is the idea, persistently, continuously, habitually. Shall we now who have been delivered from being under the law, and by that he does not mean that we are no longer responsible to obey God’s Word. What he means is under a system of law, righteousness; under a system of law, salvation; under a system of works; righteousness. Since we’ve been delivered from trying to earn our salvation, since it’s a free gift of grace, that’s what under grace means, shall we just go on and sin? Does grace free us to do that?
Well, the answer again, first point is the antagonist, here’s the second point, the answer. M genoito, verse 15, the Greek says. The Authorized translates it “God forbid.” And it could be translated “No, no, no, not on your life. No way. Impossible, ridiculous, absolutely not.” It is an utterly unacceptable thought. To even ask the question is to prove you’re not a Christian. And believe me, there have been people who have done this.
I can remember that there was a lot of this activity going on about 12 or 13 years ago out here. And I was having conversations with some college students who were saying, “Man, I’ve just gotten into what they were calling `super grace’ and I don’t have to confess my sin, and God doesn’t care what I do and, boy, I’m free in grace and I can live anyway I want to live. And just sow my oats and just I’m under grace.” And the very continued life style which they exhibited was seemingly evidence enough to me that they never did know what it was to be under grace because grace not only grants an undeserved salvation, it transforms a life. And the pattern is changed, the pattern of sin.
So, the antagonist is in verse 15 and the answer is in verse 15. No, no, no, no. But Paul doesn’t just give you short answers like that, he explains them. So, come to verse 16 with me and let’s look at the axiom, the axiom. What is an axiom? It’s a general truth. An axiom is something you don’t prove; it’s self-evident. It doesn’t need proof because it’s obvious, and that is exactly what you have here. You have a very simple axiom stated. And it starts out by saying, “Know ye not?” The assumption is that you know this. “Don’t you know this, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey?” A very simple axiom. If you sign up to serve a certain master, you’re bound to serve that master. I mean, it doesn’t take a brilliant person to figure that axiom out. It is obvious. It is self-evident. It’s simply saying this, a slave is bound to obey his master by the very nature of his slavery. I mean, that’s what slavery is. If you sign up to be a slave to somebody, you sign up to obey them. That’s just axiomatic, and that is the essence of what Paul wants to get across, a very important point. If you give yourself to any master, you become the slave of the master.
Look at it again in verse 16. “To whom you yield yourselves – ” doulos to obey, servants or slaves, “ – his servants ye are whom ye obey.” I mean, you do it because you yielded yourself. Now particularly is that not true when you willingly yielded yourself to that individual. You give yourself to a master, and you become the slave of that master. That’s obvious.
Then he goes on in verse 16 and makes an application. “Whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness.” Now he personifies these two masters. One is sin and one is obedience. Sin, by the way, is disobedience, right? So one could said to be disobedience and the other obedience, and to what standard do we either obey or disobey? God, right? So, the whole issue then is some people yield themselves servants of disobedience to God, and some people yield themselves servants of obedience to God.
To put it in the terms of chapter 5, men are either in Adam or in Christ. To put it in the terms, that’s 5:17, of chapter 5:21, men are either under the reign of sin or the reign of grace. So, in this sense, you’re either serving sin or you’re serving obedience. Now let me just say it as clear as I can. There are only two options, people. That’s all, just two. There’s no middle ground. Two to choose from. You choose to serve sin or you choose to serve obedience. You choose to obey God or you choose not to obey God. And if you don’t obey God, you become the subject or you are naturally the subject of the prince of the power of the air, Satan himself. It is a universal law then that a man becomes a slave of whatever master he commits himself to, just a simple axiomatic principle.
It is also axiomatic in that same principle that you never can serve two masters. You are committed to one or the other. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve – ” what? “ – two masters; for either you love one and hate the other, or you hold to the one and despise the other.” And in that case, he said, you can’t serve God and money. You can’t serve two masters. It is the nature of slavery that you can’t have two people giving you orders if you’re a slave. Once you’ve chosen your master, by the very definition of that act, you become bound in obedience to that master.
Now that’s the basic substantive axiom that the rest of the text flows from. Just as we saw in the first 14 verses, the idea that we were buried with Christ and we’ve risen with Christ. Here, the idea is the slavery analogy. When you became a Christian, what did you say, in effect? I submit myself to whom? To God through Christ.
Now let me put it as simply as I can. There is no salvation apart from such a conscious submission. That would destroy Paul’s whole point here. When you come to Christ, you come as a slave to a master, as a servant to the Lord. No other terms. And when you say, “I come as a slave or a servant to the Lord and Master,” you are affirming your commitment to be subject to Him.
Now if you are – back to verse 16 – if you are the slave of sin, what does it lead to? Death. And we’re going to hear that a few times before we get to verse 23. And if you are the slave of obedience, what does it lead to? Righteousness. Sin leads to sin, leads to sin, leads to sin, leads to death. Sin begets sin, begets sin, begets sin, begets death. “Men,” says Charles Hodge, “hurry on from one degrading service to another until it wreaks their ruin.”
But, on the other hand, if you serve obedience and obedience is personified at this point as if it were a master, if you serve obedience, it leads to righteousness, to righteousness, to righteousness. And as we shall find in verse 23, ultimately to what? Eternal life. So, you have your choice. That’s your choice. You can be a slave to sin which you are by nature, or you can be a slave to God, which you are by new creation.
Now let me say something very important at this juncture. One who comes to God through Christ and says, “I take you as my Savior, Master and Lord,” is not, listen to me, and this is Paul’s whole point here, he is not only ethically bound, he is not only ethically bound to obey, he is creatively made to obey. And that is a very important truth. When you become a Christian, it is not simply that you are ethically bound to obedience; it is that you are creatively made unto obedience.
And if you have any question about that, then you don’t understand Ephesians 2, which says that we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before not wished or not hoped or not wanted but ordained that we should what? Walk in them. Salvation is unto good works, without equivocation. So note that because many people have fouled up in Romans 6 because they don’t understand that concept. Paul here is not talking about an ethical binding, that is a binding of moral conscience. He’s talking about a remaking of the nature of an individual so that the obedience factor is a reality. There is an ethical reality there as well, but it begins with a creative fact and moves to an ethical responsibility.
So, Paul is dealing, now mark this, with a state of being, with a fact; not an ought, not a command. You say, “Well, what you’re trying to say then is that everybody who is saved is transformed.” You got it. In the first 14 verses we saw the transformation through the figure of death and resurrection, right? Here we see the transformation through the analogy of having, in a sense, died to the old slavery to live to the new slavery. In the next chapter, chapter 7, we’re going to see the same analogy, only that time it will be in a marriage situation where you’ve got a former husband and a new husband. And Paul is banging the same thing, that there is a new creation. And even though we are in the presence of our bodies, even though we still possess the flesh, even though we can only experience imperfect holiness, we will obey. We must obey. It is an essential in our new creation.
Now, if you want to see a comparative text on this, Colossians 1:21 would be helpful. “And you – ” that’s us, “ – that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death.” Now when God reconciled us at the cross, something happened. You say, “Yes, He brought us to God.” That’s right, but something else happened, look at this. He reconciled us to present us holy and unblamable and unreprovable – ” where? “ – in His sight.”
Now you can go back to Romans. W hen God redeemed us, that new creation became holy and it will issue in a consequential behavior change. Obedience – listen, I’ll say it another way –obedience is a certainty in the life of a truly justified person. Now that is not to say that there won’t be sin there, and that is not to say that there won’t be times when that sin appears to dominate. But obedience will be there if obscured even at some points.
And so, we can say if a person continues in unmitigated and continued habitual, persistent, willing sin as he did before he supposedly came to Christ that no matter what he thinks, he’s not a Christian. So the very fact of the question asked in verse 15 is ludicrous for someone to say, “Well, then, if we’ve come under grace and we’re not under law, let’s just sin like mad.” You show by asking such a question that you’re not even a Christian. If you continue as a slave to sin, 1 John says you could not belong to God. You couldn’t. First John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with Him and continue to walk in darkness, we – ” what? “ – we lie. We do not the truth.” First John 2:4, “He that says, ‘I know Him,’ and keeps not His commandments, he is a liar, the truth isn’t in him.” 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin. His seed remains in him and he cannot sin because he’s born of God. And this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil. Whosoever does not righteousness is not of God. Neither he that loveth not his brother.”
In other words, if you’re a Christian, you’re going to manifest righteousness; you’re going to manifest obedience. Doesn’t Peter say the same thing in 2 Peter 2:19? “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.” Great principle. Whatever dominates you is indicative of who your master is. And that’s why we say, “You show us a person who lives in an unmitigated life of sin, and it really doesn’t matter what they claim.”
Matthew Henry put it this way, “If we would know to which of these two families we belong, we must inquire to which of these two masters we yield our obedience.” Now, let’s go back to what we said last week, just so you understand it. If you’re a real Christian you may sin, but the real you is going to hate that sin. And you’re going to be where Paul was in Romans 7, you’re going to be saying, “The things I want to do, I don’t do. The things I don’t want to do, I do, O wretched man that I am!”
And so, there are two reasons in this chapter why a believer will not continue in sin under grace. Number one, he’s united to Christ. He’s died to sin; sin has no power over him. Number two, he is a slave of a new master, and he will obey the new master by a very definition of his slavery.
Now, having looked at the antagonist and the answer and the axiom in verse 16, verses 17 to 22 become the argument in which he unfolds all of his thinking based on the axiom there. And then in verse 23, he finally closes with what I’ll call an absolute. We’re not going to get through this, but let me just introduce you to the argument in verse 17 to 22, just a marvelous, marvelous thing.
Paul is now explaining the principle of verse 16, explaining the axiom, applying it to the situation, and he does so by drawing an extended contrast between these two slaveries: the slavery to sin, the slavery to righteousness. He just runs them out. He starts with their position and then their practice and then their promise. He moves through the three phases: when they started, where they’re going, and when they end up.
Let’s look at the position, first of all, of these two slaveries. Verse 17, “But God be thanked that whereas you were the slaves of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered, being then made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.” Now you see both of them there, don’t you? On the one hand, in verse 17, you were the servants of sin. In verse 18, you have become the servants of righteousness. Now those are the initiating points that we want to look at. This is positional talk, and I’ll explain that as we go.
Look at verse 17, “But God be thanked,” and this is an important footnote. Whenever you’re talking about someone’s salvation, who do you have to thank? Who do you have? God. You didn’t come to Christ because you were so intelligent. You didn’t come to Christ because you surveyed the field and you said this is the thing I want to do. You didn’t come to Christ because somebody convinced you intellectually because of a whole bunch of data that this is true. You didn’t come to Christ for any other reason really than that God brought you. That’s right, “No man comes unto Me except the Father does – ” what? “ – draws him.” And you always thank God for salvation because He is the author and finisher of our faith. It is God alone who can break the slavery to sin. Salvation is of God and no other. There is no salvation apart from that which God has given.
In Romans 1:8 at the very beginning of the epistle, Paul says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of through all the world.” I thank God for what has happened in your life. Well, that’s basic. And by the way, you will find that same concept all throughout the whole of the New Testament. The transformation that takes us from death to life, from sin to God, is one that God works Himself.
Having said that, then, let’s look at the rest of the contrast here. He then says, “You were the servants of sin.” That’s an imperfect tense verb which means it’s a past time of continuous reality. In other words, in past times, you were continually in the past, continually a slave of sin. Now that is the natural condition of every man. People don’t want to admit that. They don’t like to hear that. To put it in a very consistent way with the way we’ve been speaking in the last couple of weeks, what he’s saying is, “From the start, you by nature have been sinners, continually. That’s your nature. That’s your natural condition, involuntary forced and harsh dominance has been opposed on you by being born in the world. You know where you got all this sin? Where did you get it? From your mother and your father, and they go back to Adam and Eve.”
And so, men and women born into this world are born into this tremendous condition of slavery to sin. In Romans 3, in fact, it sort of helps us to see what it means. In verse 10, “There is none righteous, no not one, none understands, none seeks after God. They’re all gone out of the way. They’re all together gone sour,” is what that verb means. “There is none that does good, no not one. Their throats an open sepulcher, their tongues have used deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing. Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery in their way. The way of peace have they not known and there’s no fear of God in their eyes.”
So, this is a description of human kind, slaves of sin. Men don’t realize it. You know, they think they’re free. And you inevitably come to somebody with the gospel, and you tell them about coming to Jesus Christ, and they’re afraid to come to Christ because they’re afraid it’s some kind of bondage, and they think they have such liberty. They don’t have any liberty. There’s no such thing as freedom to an unregenerate person, none at all. They’re slaves. But he says this, “You were slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart.” Oh, I love that.
What does that say? Well, it wasn’t external, was it? When they came to Christ, it wasn’t something they did on the outside. It wasn’t some water baptism or some church membership or signing some card or putting their hand up or walking down an aisle or doing some religious rite or saying their beads or lighting a candle or whatever, taking a pilgrimage. It wasn’t something outside; it was something inside from the heart. And what was it that happened in their heart? They obeyed. They obeyed.
In other words, listen, even though it is the work of God, you’re not passively transported from one master to another. You’re not just involuntarily picked up and slapped over somewhere else. And people who get into the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, very often, see people being saved without even knowing it. You can read theologians who say you can be a redeemed person and not even know it because it’s happened. God already did it, He just hasn’t announced it to you yet. I find that very difficult. Because you never see salvation occurring apart from the act of commitment to Christ. In this particular context, it’s spoken of as obedience, obedience. Gladly and eagerly, with a sense of the slavery to sin, you rushed to make God your new master.
And what did you obey? Some nebulous vague spiritual thing? No. This is marvelous, and a lot of people think, “Oh, I believe, I believe in believing, I believe.” And they, you know, you hear that all the time from people. “Oh yes, I’m a believer.” What do you believe? “Oh, I believe God. I believe.” Well, there’s more than that. It says this, verse 17, “You obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine.” Isn’t that good? It isn’t a question. “Well, I believe if you just believe, you’ll be all right.” No. You believe that form of doctrine, the body of saving truth. Form is tupos. It has a lot of uses. The way it’s framed in this verse is marvelous and the Authorized has missed the nuance. It should read that you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine into which, get that, into which you were delivered. Not which was delivered to you, into which you were delivered. Boy, that’s a tremendous thought.
Let me give you the idea. The word tupos here means “mold, a mold, a casting mold.” And let’s assume that the mold is in the shape of a servant. When you came into this world, you were poured into a mold, and you came out after the molten metal cooled, and you were lifted from that mold and plunked down in the world. You were a slave of sin. You were a slave statue and your slavery was to sin.
But God be thanked that you responded to the true gospel by obeying the form into which you were poured. And it’s as if, in Paul’s analogy, when God saw you as a slave to sin, by His great grace, He melted you down and reduced you to the basic elements. And while you were hot and molten, He re-poured you into a new mold. This mold is the form of doctrine into which you were delivered. You can see it, 2 Timothy 1:13, the form of sound doctrine. That word “form” is used 16 times in the New Testament. There is form to this.
So, here you are. You’ve been melted down by conviction, by the beginning work of the redeeming Spirit and now you are re-poured into a new mold. And when the metal is cooled and you have hardened and you are lifted out, you’re in a new shape. What is your shape? You have conformed to the mold into which you were poured, and what is that mold? It is the form of doctrine. What does that mean? You have conformed to the pattern of truth that is the gospel. You now are a living statue of the reality of the gospel. Great thought. You’re new, all new. The teaching, and think of it this way, the teaching to which you submit yourself when you become a Christian stamps you with its image. You ought to know that’s a great thought.
Have you ever noticed – this is true of everything in life? People live the way they learn to live. It’s true. People live the way they learn to live. You come to Grace Church long enough, and we’ll pour you into our mold. We really will. And you’ll go bouncing out like a little “Gracite.” That’s it, it happens! And that’s all right because it says Jesus said, “And when a man is fully discipled, he’ll be like his teacher.” That’s okay, that’s okay. I mean, after all, you come out of a certain family, and you bear the image of that family. It’s put you in its mold, hasn’t it? That’s precisely what it says in Romans 12:2 when it says, “Don’t let the world put you in its mold.” You’ve been poured into a mold of the form of sound teaching regarding the gospel, and you’ve been cooled there, and you’ve been plopped out, and you are a living reality. You now are a slave statue all over again, but you’re a slave to God. And only God could melt down that old person and pour that ingredients back into a new mold and shape that new person. The one who once was stamped with false teaching is now stamped with the image of the true doctrine of God. So good.
And let me just take it a step further. You have to fit the form, folks. You don’t become a Christian by just floating all over the place and believing whatever you want. I had a luncheon the other day when I spoke to The Full Gospel Business Men International Luncheon. Afterwards, a man came up to me and he said, “I’ve been in this group for a long time,” and he said, “I’ll tell you how I think you get to God.” And I said, “All right, you tell me.” He said, “Well, you see, there’s just a lot of steps.” And this is what he said exactly, “And up there at the top there’s this door, and behind it is this guy name Jesus.” And he says, “What you really want to do is try like `blank’ to make it up the stairs and to get through the door, have a guy like the guy Jesus let you in.” And he says, “When you’re on the way up the stairs, you’ve got all these preachers and movements hollering at you but you just keep going up the stairs, and I call it the stairway of hope. That’s how I think it is.”
I said to him, “Sir, bless your heart, you are not a Christian, and your stairway is hopeless. You need to depend on Jesus Christ. You don’t even know what it means to be saved.” You see, you can’t invent your own mold. You understand that? There’s a sound form of doctrine, the teaching of the gospel, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, confess your sins, affirm His Lordship, His death, His resurrection. There is a gospel content. There is a form, and if you are to come out in the image of the servant of God and to bear His stamp, you will have been poured into His mold. You understand that?
So, this is the statement of our position. When you came to Christ, you were melted down and poured into a new mold, and you have come out a new statue, a new image and you bear the mark of a servant of God. Isn’t that marvelous? Because you obeyed when the gospel call an reached your heart. Foolish to try to fight doctrine.
By the way, the word “obeyed” there, I just can’t resist this, and I think we’ll stop at this point, but I can’t resist. Don’t tune out yet. I shouldn’t say that. But the word “obeyed,” it just seems to hit me so strongly. Just in case you haven’t noticed, that’s the fourth time we’ve read it in three verses. That’s right; obey, obey, obey, obey, obey. You see, that is the key concept; the obedience of the faith. That is obeying the gospel. The obedience of life; that is a Christian responding to the Word of God. Believing Jesus Christ is the initial act of obedience, and then it becomes a life of obedience, obedience, obedience, obedience. We never get our independence, folks. You hear me? We never do. We never get to the point like kids do when they burst out of the house and call their own shots. We’re always under the Master. We’re always under the Lord, and we’re always to obey.
And may I suggest to you that there is inherent in that concept, the very heart of the meaning of the doctrine of salvation that a Christian is marked as one who does what? Obeys. And if you don’t, you can’t be one no matter what you say. Obedience is the expression of faith. Obedience says I believe God, I believe His Word, I’ll act on it. And all true justification produces obedience. And the longer we live with Christ, the more obedient we ought to become.
Titus 2, have you read this recently? Verse 11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” And what did it do when it came to us? “Well, it taught us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.” That’s what it did. Verse 14, it says, “Jesus Christ gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from iniquity and purify unto Himself a people of His own zealous of good works.” Isn’t that good? We were saved to good works. We’re saved to purification. It’s very simple.
Peter says this. He says in 1 Peter 1:22, “Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” Oh, that’s so good. See, when you came to Jesus Christ it purified your soul. You became a new creation and a life of obedience is the result. This new casting means a whole new master, and he says it in verse 18, “We became free from sin.” Great thought. Oh, not free from sinning. We do that now and then. Not free from temptation, but free from the mastery and the tyranny of sin where we couldn’t do anything but sin.
You say, “You mean, before you’re a Christian all you do is sin?” That’s right. All you do is sin. Even your good deeds fall into the sin category because they’re not for the glory of God, and when men do good deeds just so they can be good men, that’s pride, and that’s a sin. What amazes me is how much men love their slavery. Have you noticed that? They don’t even know they’re slaves to sin. They love it. Men love darkness rather than light.
But you’ve been made free from that and became the servants of righteousness. And that’s a creative alteration, not only an ethical responsibility. We are now free. Now, listen to me very carefully, I’m going to close with this thought. We are free for the first time in our life. A sinner is not free. All he can do is what? Sin. Who’s the only person who has a choice? A Christian. So for the first time in your life, you’re free. Not free to do wrong. Oh, no, no, you’ve done that a long time. For the first time in your life, you’re free to do what? Right. That’s Christian freedom. And the people who go around saying Christian liberty gives me the freedom to do wrong, do not understand Christian liberty. Christian liberty, the liberation of the soul, is for the first time in my life I can do right! Marvelous thought.
Well, there we see the initiation, the position, the difference between the servant of sin, the servant of righteousness. One has no freedom. One has freedom to do right. Now, we’ll go from there next time to see the progress of these lives and the promise. One ends in death and one in life. Let’s pray.
Lord, thank You for our teaching time tonight and thank You so much, Father, for Your grace to these dear people in saving them. Thank You for the hunger in their hearts for the Word. We know this is not entertainment, and we know it’s taxing and the body is weary and the mind as well, sometimes. And, Father, I just thank You for their loving support, for their hunger for Your Word that makes them set aside the time and prepare the heart and the mind to receive the deep things of God. And, O Father, bless them, fill their cup with the water for which they thirst. Fill their spiritual stomach with the food for which they hunger. Thank You that we’re free from sin, for the first time free to do right, free to do Your will because there’s a new life principle in us that does righteousness. Thank You, Father, that You didn’t just save us and write it in a book but You changed us that we may enjoy the reality of that salvation in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And all of this causes us to thank You for Christ, our Redeemer. We pray in His name. Amen.
We need patience, and the key ingredient to grow patience is through love. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. Yet, our state is that of a new babe which needs tender loving care and nourishment. love enables nourishing this quality of patience in us.
When do we really need patience?
1. In times of trouble, when everyone and everything seems to go against us we need to learn to wait on the Lord. (Luke 21:8-19) 2. When we labour for the kingdom of God, setting our hearts in Christ, then to bear much fruit (Luke 8:15) we will need to wait patiently. 3. Through tribulation alone can we enter into the kingdom of God. Waiting patiently enables us to gain experience too (Romans 5:4). 4. A patient walk helps us to walk by faith to receive the hope we cannot see right now, but know very is true and perfect because God is a God of hope (Romans 8:24-27). 5. We need to be patient while ministering in any capacity – big or small (2 Corinthians 12:12/6:4).
If we don’t have patience for the things that need to get done for the kingdom of God or live with the people who enter our world (family, friends, work) then it’s not Godly love.
We do not have the ability to do anything good. It’s all grace and God’s gift of love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5) through the Holy Spirit. When we learn to wait and give room for God to work in us, wonders and miracles follow our lives because we believe.
In Christ, you are on the right path. Hold on, be patient, this light affliction will reap in eternal glory with Jesus forever. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
A man hiking a mountain road saw an Indian lying in the road — ear pressed to the ground.
– The Indian was talking.
He mumbled: “Truck, Chevy truck, Chevy pick-up truck, large tires, man driving, German Shepherd in front seat, loaded with firewood, California license plate — UBH123.
– The hiker was astounded: “That’s unbelievable! You know all that just by listening to the ground?”
– The Indian said, “No! Truck ran over me 30 minutes ago.”
Life’s like that.
– We don’t always see what’s coming — when it does, it runs over us.
Worse, no matter how you try, you can’t keep from having a bad hair day.
– You can plan, prepare, do all you know to avoid those days, but they come anyway.
A train was going through a town — it wasn’t scheduled to stop.
– A very short passenger wanted off — He’d have to pay $100 to taxi back.
The man next to him said, “The train slows down to pick up a mailbag. When it slows I’ll hold you out the window. I’ll drop you and you start running so you won’t fall on your face — simply run to a stop.”
The train slowed — the man dropped his friend out the window.
– The little man was running along the platform waving, thanks for his help.
A man in the next car saw the little man running and waving.
– He reached out — grabbed him, pulled him through the window, and said, “This is your lucky day, you almost missed the train!”
1. Life’s filled with bad hair days, even bad hair months, or bad hair years.
Remember Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
– God’s given us 3 truths for a bad hair day.
– They’re promise, providence, and purpose.
– 3 words are important to understand.
1st is “We.”
Paul said, “And WE know that God causes all things work together for good.”
– Who is “WE?”
– “We’re the ones who ‘love God’ and are ‘called.’”
2 kinds of people — those who love God, and those who don’t.
– Not everyone claiming to love God, loves God. — John 14:21 — “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
But, “We” are the ones who are “called.”
– God calls those who love Him to be part of His family — those who surrender to Jesus become children of God.
God’s Promises are for His children.
– Not everybody can say, “Don’t worry, everything will work out.”
– Everything doesn’t work out for everybody.
– Everything only works out for God’s children.
Some think, “I’m not a child of God, and everything’s working out for me.”
– If you die, and spend eternity without God, things didn’t work out for you.
2nd word is, “Know.”
– Paul said, “and we know that all things work together for good.”
– There are a lot of things about God, the Bible and life, we don’t know.
Romans 8:26 — In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
We don’t always know how to pray.
– What Jesus looks like.
– When He’s coming back.
– What’s going to happen in the next 5 minutes.
It’s dishonest to claim you don’t know what you do know.
– It’s foolish to claim you do know what you don’t know.
– No one should hesitate claiming to know what they do know — this you can know.
You might not like or understand what God’s doing.
– But you can KNOW God’s making things work together for your good.
3rd word “ALL.” — We know that ALL things work together for good.”
If Paul had said, “few,” or “some,” or “most” we’d not argue.
– He said, “ALL things work together for good……..”
He didn’t say, God works all things out for our good most of the time, nor most things out for good all of the time.
– He said, “God works all things out together for our good ALL of the time.”
It doesn’t say “we see all things work together for good.”
– You can know — whether you see it or not!
– Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean God can’t see it.
How could the plane crash on May 18, killing 10 pastors and wives in Cuba work out for good?
– Jim Elliot and 4 other missionaries martyred in 1956…………..
– Never doubt in the dark what God’s told you in the light.
2. REMEMBER GOD’S PROVIDENCE OVER YOU.
– Behind every promise is the providence of God.
– The oldest manuscripts say: “God works all things together for good.”
— IT’S TRUE!
Do you understand what providence means?
– It’s from 2 words: pro meaning “before,” and video meaning “to see.”
– Providence means, “To see beforehand and to provide for what’s seen.”
“Provide” is in “providence.”
– The providence of God means God sees everything before it happens, and provides for it and sees that it fits His Plan for your life.
There are no accidents in a Christian’s life — just appointments?
– Disappointments are really “His appointments.”
– Often what we think is a rock of disappointment, turns to be a boulder of blessing.
A man was shipwrecked on an uninhabited island.
– He gathered his few belongings that washed ashore and built a hut to shelter himself and his things.
For weeks all he had was hot sun, cold rain, and dark nights.
– He prayed a ship would come — nothing came.
– One evening he went looking for food, and saw smoke rising from his hut.
– He ran back — his hut was engulfed in flames!
His campfire had set the hut on fire and burned everything he had.
– He went to sleep crying to God, “Why has this happened to me? Why’d you let my hut burn? – Why’d you cause me to lose everything?”
Next morning he woke to find a ship anchored off the island, the rescue he’d prayed for was there.
– He heard footsteps and turned — men from that ship had come to rescue him.
He asked, “How’d you find me?”
– “We were passing by, saw your signal fire and came to rescue you.”
God can take a fire and turn it into a light that delivers you from darkness.
– He can take a flood and turn it to a river of blessing.
The Greek for “work together” gives the English word “synergy.”
– Synergy is what happens when individual parts of something come together into a whole, making a greater and a better effect than each individual part could’ve on its own.
Think about it: Every moment of every day is one individual piece of the puzzle of God’s Plan for your life.
– God can reach into a bag of circumstances any given day, pull out any piece, fit it perfectly
in the puzzle of His Plan for you.
That doesn’t mean everything that happens to us is good.
Everything isn’t good, but everything will ultimately work together for your good.
I’ve watched Marty bake cakes.
– Eat any of those individual ingredients and they’re not too tasty.
– Do you enjoy eating flour?
– Would you like a meal of baking powder?
– How about a cup of Crisco?
– Or a glass of raw eggs?
Those things by themselves taste awful and are harmful.
She takes those ingredients, mixes them together, puts them in the oven and out comes a cake.
– It isn’t what goes into the bowl that matters; it’s what comes out of the oven that counts.
You won’t always enjoy the ingredients God puts into your life.
– But when He’s finished baking it, you’ll have “Romans 8:28 cake,” — the taste will be unbelievable!
Every day we eat 2 deadly poisons — sodium and chloride.
– Either taken alone can kill you — together they form sodium chloride — salt!
– Either one without the other can poison you — both together can bless you.
If we take 2 things that are bad and make something good, surely God can take everything that’s bad and make it into good.
3. Remember God’s PURPOSE. — God’s purpose for you is “good.”
That doesn’t mean things will turn out like you think they should — certain things that are bad at the time really are good.
– Lyle fell and sprained his ankle at Pastor’s Retreat. It was painful and curtailed some of his activities he wanted to do.
– When he went to the doctor he found his blood pressure was so high that he was about to have a stroke.
– What seemed bad at the time turned out to be good because it probably saved his life.
Normally, thanking God for a sprained ankle or a flat tire seems crazy, but we give thanks “in all things.”
– Good doesn’t necessarily mean health — not all Christians are healthy.
– It doesn’t necessarily mean wealth — not all Christians are wealthy.
– God’s purpose for you isn’t to be healthy, happy, rich or famous.
His purpose is found in Romans 8:29 — For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
– Paul said, we’ve been “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
– The word, “predestined,” scares a lot of Christians. We were all chosen (predestined) to go to Heaven (John 3:16), but we have the power of choice to choose back…………….
– God’s purpose is that you be like Jesus.
The best thing that can happen isn’t to be a millionaire, or be famous, to live in a mansion, or drive a Mercedes.
– The best thing that can happen is to us is to become like Jesus.
Only God knows what’s good for you.
– What’s good isn’t necessarily what you think is best.
– God’s “good” always is better than your “best.”
In 1971, Ravi Zacharias, ministered in Vietnam.
– His interpreter was Hein Pham, a young Christian who was a translator with the American Military and with missionaries.
Zacharias left Vietnam — within 4 years Vietnam fell and Zacharias didn’t hear about Hein Pham’s fate.
– 17 years later in 1988, Hein Pham called Ravi Zacharias to say he was in the US.
– The story can only be explained by the promise, providence, and purpose of God.
After Vietnam fell to the Communists, Hein was arrested for aiding the American cause.
– He was in and out of prison for several years.
During one long jail term, the sole purpose was to turn him against Democratic ideals and his Christian faith.
– He couldn’t read anything in English, only Communist propaganda in French or Vietnamese.
– Every day he was forced to read Marx, Engels, and other Communist philosophers.
He began to buckle under the pressure.
– “Maybe,” he thought, “I’ve been lied to — maybe God doesn’t exist. Maybe God is a farce.”
He decided he’d never again pray or think of his Christian faith.
– Next day he was assigned to clean the latrines in the prison.
– No one wanted that job — distressed, he began cleaning toilets.
As he cleaned a tin can filled to overflowing with toilet paper, he saw something in English printed on a piece of paper.
– He washed it off and slipped it into his pocket.
– That night he pulled out a flashlight and shined it on the paper.
– He read at the top corner, “Romans chapter 8.”
– Trembling, he read — Romans 8:28
Hein began to weep. He knew his Bible.
– There wasn’t a more relevant passage of conviction, encouragement and strength for
someone in his position.
– He cried for God’s forgiveness saying he’d never again turn his back on Christ.
Hein asked the Commander if he could clean the latrine again.
– An unusual request, but they let him do it — every day he cleaned the latrines.
Some official was using the Bible as toilet paper.
– Every day Hein found a Scripture, cleaned it, and read it in his devotions.
The day finally came for his release.
– He began making plans to escape from the country.
After several unsuccessful attempts he began building a boat in secret.
– 53 people planned to escape with him.
Everything was fine until 4 Viet Cong knocked on Hein’s door.
– When he opened it, they said they’d heard he was trying to escape. “Is it true?”
– Hein denied it, and made up a story about what he was doing.
They turned and left — Hein was relieved, but disappointed in himself.
He said, “Here I go again, Lord, trying to manipulate my own destiny, rather than letting You work all things out together for my good.”
He made a promise he hoped God wouldn’t make him keep — if the Viet Cong came back, he’d tell the truth.
– Hours before they were to leave, there was another knock.
– He opened the door and found the same 4 Viet Cong.
They said, “We have our sources, we know you’re trying to escape. Is it true?”
– He said, “Yes, I’m with 53 others. Are you going to imprison me?”
They said, “No, we want to go with you!”
– In an incredible escape plan, all 58 found themselves on the high seas engulfed by a violent storm.
Hein cried to God, “Did You bring us here to die?”
– Then he said, “Brother Ravi, those 4 Viet Cong said, ‘didn’t you know we were sailors?’”
– He said, “If it hadn’t been for their sailing ability we’d never have made it.”
When Peter Marshall was Chaplain of the U. S. Senate, he prayed some of the greatest prayers recorded.
– On June 6, 1947, he prayed before the United States Senate:
Oh God, our Heavenly Father, restore our faith in the ultimate triumph of Thy plan for the world Thou hast made. In spite of present difficulties, reassure us that Thou art still in control. When we become frustrated and give up, remind us that Thou art holding things together waiting, and working, and watching. When we make mistakes, help us to remember that Thou dost not give up on us. Forbid it, Lord that we should give up on Thee, and forget that all things work together for them that love Thee. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
David MacKenzie said: To act out the principle of turning prayers over to God, we took a paper bag, wrote “God” on it, and taped it up high on the back of our kitchen door. As I prayed about matters such as my career, my role as a father, my abilities to be a good husband, I would write down each concern on a piece of paper. Then those pieces of paper would go in the bag. The rule was that if you start worrying about a matter of prayer that you’ve turned over to God, you have to climb up on a chair and fish it out of the bag. I don’t want to admit how much time I spent sifting through those scraps of paper.
I read how you can tell when it’s going to be a rotten day:
You wake up face down on the pavement.
You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.
You see a “60 Minutes” news team waiting in your office.
Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.
Your twin sister forgot your birthday.
Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.
Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.
You wake up and your braces are locked together.
You call your answering service and they tell you it’s none of your business.
Your income tax check bounces.
You put both contact lenses in the same eye.
Your wife says, “Good morning, Sam”, and your name is George.
We can joke about bad days, but when I’m having a bad day I want to rely on the fact that Jesus is there to help me through it.
And that He promises it will work out for my good.
He’s promised the same thing to you.
– Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior?
IF NOT, WHY NOT? ACCEPT HIM NOW!
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For seven years, Julie Mellor left the red New Testament on the top shelf untouched. When the Gideons Bibles was dropped off in her classroom, Julie was hostile.
“I was an atheist; I didn’t have any time or need for God,” she says on a Jesus Peeps video. “I thought the Gideons were taking up my class time and I thought spreading fairy tales amongst the kids”
Julie, a native of Melbourne, Australia, was a highly educated schoolteacher. She got her Master’s degree from Cambridge University in England.
While she didn’t believe in God, she did explore the New Age Movement.
But then trouble came into her life.
“I went through a traumatic period in my life, and I thought my life was ruined and beyond repair,” she says. “I was actually considering suicide. God I’m going to believe and pray to you for a month, and you got to show me the goods.”
She remembered the shelved and neglected New Testament. At least, she hadn’t thrown it out.
“I must have been touched somewhere in my soul,” she says. “I took one of their red testaments and I put it on my shelf, and it stayed there for 6-7 years untouched.”
In her “no-obligation 30-day free trial,” she thumbed through the verses that can be found at the back of the Gideon’s New Testament. Every single one ministered to her.
“The list just jumped out to my heart,” she says.
Intrigued, she delved into the Gospel of Matthew.
“These were the words I exactly needed someone to say to me, so reassuring,” Julie says. “I instantly understood that Jesus was what everybody is searching for.
“Here I was, I found Him. I mocked Him my entire adult life and yet He yanked me out of this dark place!” she says.
Today, Julie is married to Australian international healing evangelist John Mellor, who first went to the aboriginals in the hinterlands and prayed and fasted for miracles to validate his message. An outpouring of supernatural healings brought revival to the region. Even the local witch doctor admitted he was outdone.
They have also ministered in Scotland, where they witnessed an eruption of miraculous healing that caught people’s attention and brought hundreds to Christ.
The couple have written books and now minister out of their Christian Outreach Centre based in Buderim, Queensland.
In a Palm Sunday sermon titled “Chosen for Him,” California pastor and author John MacArthur warned that America is already experiencing the judgment of God, in part for its sexual sins. Like the Old Testament Israelites and the Jews of Jesus’ day, he said, “It is too late. Judgment is already in motion.” Only for a “remnant,” or “the elect,” is that not the case, MacArthur added.
The controversial preacher, who has repeatedly pushed back against coronavirus-related church closures, spoke Sunday at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. His main text for the hour-long sermon was the parable of the vineyard owner in Mark 12, a parable MacArthur labeled as one of judgment and destruction. In that story, the tenants kill the landowner’s servants—and even his beloved son, the heir.
The Judgment of God: Destroyed Due to Willing Unbelief
The chapter preceding that parable features Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as well as his cursing of the barren fig tree and his clearing of the moneychangers’ tables in the temple courts. Those acts of cursing and clearing are the opposite of what people would have expected from Jesus on Palm Sunday, MacArthur said. “The people welcomed Jesus as a king; he came as a judge. The people wanted him to bless them; he cursed them. The people thought they were the people of God; Jesus described them as the children of the devil.”
Although the people of Jesus’ generation received signs, said MacArthur, many still refused to believe (John 12:37). In the final verses of Acts, the Apostle Paul also describes willing unbelief, noted MacArthur, resulting in God’s salvation being sent instead to the Gentiles.
In his sermon, MacArthur also referenced Isaiah chapter 1 and its series of “woes.” God, as the vineyard owner, sent numerous Old Testament prophets to warn his people, but the Israelites rejected them all, and vengeance resulted.
“A generation of people can come too late to Christ,” MacArthur said, adding that it was too late for the Old Testament Israelites, who were taken into captivity in Babylon, and also too late for first-century Jews, who endured the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and had to scatter. “It can be too late for every nation,” MacArthur said, pointing to Acts 14:16, which says God allows all nations to “go their own way.”
Both Isaiah’s generation and Jesus’ generation “had their opportunities,” MacArthur noted, but for both it became too late. “The temple was never rebuilt, the priesthood was never recovered. No sacrifices, no ceremonies, no Sadducees, no Pharisees, no priests, no chief priests to this day. The whole system ended.” Meanwhile, the rejected “stone”—Jesus Christ—became the cornerstone, which is “marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10-11).
John MacArthur: This Also Applies Today
Next, MacArthur turned to Romans 1:18, which refers to wicked people suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. “How do you know when a nation passes the point where salvation is possible for a people?” asked the pastor. “When any society suppresses the truth continually, it can go past the point where God will hear. It can be too late.”
Citing other verses in Romans 1, MacArthur said, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, a non-functioning mind. When you see a nation deep in sexual sin, pervasively affirming of homosexuality, and the insanity of a reprobate mind, where they make laws to criminalize righteousness and to legalize gross evil, you know that nation’s under judgment.”
For Christians, said MacArthur, our message to America is this: “It’s too late” because “we’re under judgment” already. “Judgment has been unleashed. You can hear, but not understand. You can see, but not perceive.” But, the pastor added, “It’s not too late for the elect.” Though most Americans’ hearts have been hardened by God, a remnant remains. “God has his people,” MacArthur said. “So we warn, because we don’t know who those people are, and we also offer the grace of the Gospel. That’s our calling.”
Previous Warnings Against Moral Decline
Warnings about immorality, unbelief, and the judgment of God aren’t new for MacArthur. While appearing on Laura Ingraham’s show last November, the pastor proclaimed, “America is in a moral free-fall.” He said, “This is a nation so far down in the sewer of immorality and wickedness that nothing surprises me.” A month later, MacArthur preached about the state of the world, saying it “appears to be perfectly suited for the Antichrist to come.”
In a 2012 sermon titled “Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality,” MacArthur said, “Romans 2 says the Law of God is written in the heart. But when man abandons God as revealed in creation; when man abandons God as revealed in conscience; when man abandons God as revealed in Holy Scripture, suppressing the truth, God judges that society. And though that society may consider itself to be wise, it is, in reality, the ultimate ship of fools. The heart becomes darkened when God is abandoned, and then God abandons the darkened heart.”
Later in that sermon, MacArthur said America’s Democratic Party has made “the sins of Romans 1” its “agenda.” He continued, “The Democratic Party has become the anti-God party, the sin-promoting party”—but then rejected the claim that he was being political. “Romans 1 is not politics,” said the pastor. “The Bible is not politics.”
As for the consequences facing America from the judgment of God, MacArthur stated: “If you want to see a picture of God’s attitude toward homosexuality, what’s going to happen when Romans 1 reaches its ultimate culmination and judgment comes, or when God does what he said he was going to do, in the writings of Moses, to nations that are defiled, that he would bring about their spewing out, here’s an illustration in Genesis 19.”
He then described how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, adding, “That’s an illustration of how God feels about a society that affirms homosexuality and people that conduct themselves this way.” Homosexuality, MacArthur added, “is always a deadly sin, and always a defining sin, and always a damning sin.”
I am confident of this: that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
The Bible teaches not only does Jesus save us, but He keeps us in the faith. It teaches God not only gives eternal life, but will preserve us in that life. It is not life until we sin again, it is not life until we feel differently, it is not life until times get tough and our faith grows weak, it is eternal life which will never end. Scripture is filled with the assurance that our salvation is secure.
Many people, however, tend to doubt their salvation. Here are five reasons why:
1. They have a faulty understanding of how they are saved.
If a person thinks he is saved by good works, then it stands to reason he would think his salvation could be lost by bad works. This is the problem with many people today. They feel they can lose their salvation. They say, “If I could earn it, I could lose it. If I could deserve it, I could desert it.” But this is incorrect. The truth of the matter is since we cannot earn it, since it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast, then we did not deserve it in the first place.
This is why a proper theological understanding of salvation is important. God chose to save us, not based on our merits or what we deserved. Rather, He chose to save us in spite of who we are and contrary to what we deserved. Salvation is based on His goodness and grace, not on our merit. When we get a proper understanding of that, when we get a clear picture of how bad our sins are and how great God’s grace is, it will give us a new and deeper appreciation for our salvation.
2. They do not have a biblical understanding of perseverance.
Instead of realizing what God has said and trusting He will be faithful to His Word, many people have based their beliefs on what someone has told them, how they feel, on faulty interpretation, or something other than the revelation in God’s Word. This is the fundamental problem with all doctrinal error, that people have not rightly divided the Word of God and have based their belief on a view which is not biblical.
Many people base their beliefs on experience. They might say something like this: “I knew a person who was a great Christian for many years, but then one day he decided to walk away from the faith and leave God behind. He just laid down his salvation and abandoned God.” Scripture gives insight into such cases: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19). If we are truly saved, we will persevere in our salvation to the end.
3. They are ignorant of God’s promises in His Word.
The level of biblical illiteracy today is astonishing. Many professing Christians know more about their favorite sports teams than they do the doctrines of the faith. It is no wonder why so many of us are so easily led astray by every wind of doctrine which blows across the ecclesiological landscape.
The antidote for this is simple: get grounded and rooted in the Word of God, and learn what it says about who God is. God’s Word tells us He gives eternal life: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13).
4. They are out of fellowship with God and do not sense His presence.
There are many Christians today who experience doubts about their salvation for no other reason than they are out of fellowship with God. Our salvation is all about relationship. It is about walking and talking, breathing and being; it is about practicing the presence of God in our lives. But many Christians have allowed sin to remain in their lives, unconfessed and unaddressed. They have grieved the Holy Spirit of God and are no longer sensitive to His presence in their lives, nor are they aware of His movement around them. It is little wonder why people in such a state doubt their salvation.
The solution for this is simple: Get right with God. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
5. They are not saved and sense they are lost because they really are.
One of the reasons people doubt their salvation is simply because they are not saved. They may have knowledge of the church. They may have knowledge of Scripture. They may have grown up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian friends and family, but at the end of the day, they cannot say they have ever experienced a transformation of their life, the kind of transformation which only Jesus can bring when He gives a person a new heart and a new mind.
It is to this end that Paul tells the Christians at Corinth: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The reason many people will go to hell from a church pew is because they never gave themselves a spiritual examination. They never stopped to consider whether or not they were really saved. If you are truly saved, you should know it. God does not want you to be paralyzed by fear or doubts, which are ungrounded or unfounded.
The solution is clear: know what God’s Word says about your salvation. Stand on the truth that it is Jesus who saves you and not anything you have done. Ground yourself in good doctrine. Remember your salvation is a reflection and an extension of God’s character. Let Him show you if there is any sin in your life and stop for a moment to examine yourself spiritually to see if you are truly in the faith: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
January 11, 2021, Governor Ducey gave his State of the State address in which he outlined his plans and goals for Arizona.
This is the time of the year when the President of the United States usually gives the State of the Union Address to the Nation. In it we hear the President’s views of how things are going in America and how he wishes for them to go in the future.
Joe Biden hasn’t addressed our Nation yet. It was thought he’d make that speech in early February, then maybe on February 23. It hasn’t happened and now it looks as though he isn’t going to make that speech at all.
I certainly wouldn’t want to upstage the Governor or the President, but today I want to give you God’s State of the World Address.
The State of the World is a topic much more important than the State of the State or the State of the Union.
– It’s more important because it involves the welfare of not just the 328.2 million people in The United States, but includes the 7.8 billion people in the whole world.
More people skipped Doug Ducey’s message than heard it, but God’s message is a message you can’t afford to skip.
– Because it’s Jesus’ assessment of the world, not mine.
– Also, because it has to do not just with economics, or education, but with Eternity.
– Its primary concern isn’t peace among nations, but peace with GOD
The State of the World’s Population
GOD would remind us there are more souls than ever needing the Gospel today.
– World population is 7.8 billion, with the highest growth in developing nations.
– Global outreach opportunities have never been greater — Christians are concerned about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, tending the sick, and educating the illiterate.
That’s why we dig wells in Africa, buy blankets in Iraq, help the down-trodden in India, feed and care for the homeless in America………….when we do these things we’re doing them for/to Christ!
The State of the World’s Morality
What in the world has happened to our world?
What a dysfunctional mess we have on our hands!
Our culture is losing its moral and ethical roots!
People are redefining the meaning of moral in order to justify their self-indulgent, hedonistic behaviors and lifestyles.
Principles of Americans have become rotten as the moral compass of America continues to decay.
Not only our Christian moral standards, but our political system.
This can be seen by the newly elected members of Congress who are Socialist Democrats.
These anti-Americans are injecting poison into this country pushing for the same socialist policies that destroyed Venezuela.
I believe the moral decay in the United States is the direct result of our country increasingly opposing God over the years in favor of secular humanism.
As we continue to reject God and push Him out of our nation, we’re swinging our doors open and welcoming corruption, hatred and violence in our country with open arms.
In Edward Gibbon’s final volume of “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” we see 3 of the 5 major causes he sites as destroying Rome that are clearly apparent in America right now.
They are: The breakdown of the family, an insatiable craving for pleasure, and the decay of religion.
We’ve become a nation as wicked, or even more wicked, than Sodom and Gomorrah, as evidenced by the increased acceptance of sexual immorality and the gruesome abortion laws that have been enacted.
We as a nation and as a world are steering off course onto the broad road leading to destruction.
We need a spiritual revival! We need to repent and turn back to God while we still can!
Ronald Reagan warned, “Without God, there is no virtue because there’s no prompting of the conscience. And without God, democracy will not and cannot endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
The State of the World’s Crises
Jesus would direct our attention to the widespread crises we’re facing today.
– These are heartbreaking times.
– With more people come more diseases and greater mortality rates.
Globally, about 10% of the world’s population has gotten Covid 19 (Coronavirus).
– In one year it’s reported that 3 million people died from this pandemic.
Vaccines have been developed to combat this disease, but their lasting effects are still undetermined. Doctors live in fear of a new virulent, unstoppable epidemic.
In addition, there are millions of people at war today, and thousands upon thousands are dying.
– Rogue states are developing nuclear capabilities, and shadowy terrorist organizations are seeking weapons of mass destruction.
– President Biden has repaved the way for Iran to get Nuclear Power which is kind of like feeding a tiger so it’ll have strength enough to attack and eat you.
– Radical Muslims are taking over the Mid-East and have set their sights on Israel and America!
– They plan a world-wide Caliphate with Shira Law which will destroy anyone who refuses to convert to Islam.
Russia’s are moving towards an invasion of Israel.
GOD warned Iran (Persia), with Russia (Magog), and a coalition of allies (including Turkey, Libya, Syria, Sudan) will go to war and will invade Israel.
Ezekiel 38-39 warns this coming war between Iran (Persia) and Israel will take place sometime after Israel has been re-gathered into her land as a nation (fulfilled on May 14, 1948)
This prophetic war hasn’t taken place yet…
THIS WAR will be unlike any other war in history … this war will unleash a series of IRREVERSIBLEevents which will change the world forever.
– God set aside two whole chapters in the Bible to warn us of this coming war…
According to the Bible, Israel must stand alone … with God.
Someone will ask, “Well, won’t the United States be there to back Israel, aren’t we allies?”
– When this coming war does finally start, the United States will be unwilling (or unable) to help Israel defend herself.
– We’ve already witnessed President Biden and his Government have cooled relations with Israel.
– Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will stand alone if need be.
The Bible warns the invading armies will ultimately be destroyed by God, it’ll be a devastating war for both Israel and the whole world. (Read Ezekiel 38 and 39)
Bible scholars are divided as to whether this coming war is part of the prophetic battle of Armageddon or will just precede Armageddon to prepare a way for the Antichrist.
– This will trigger the final prophetic 7-Year Tribulation which God has set aside for Israel and the World which is sometimes called the “Apocalypse” …
THE WHOLE WORLD should be sitting on the edge of their seats with white knuckles watching this terrible prophecy slowly start to unfold.
– Those who call themselves Christians are to “examine” themselves in the Word and in their faith to make sure they’re not just ‘almost’ Christians.
Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Too many Christians are “lukewarm” in their faith in Jesus and knowledge of God’s Word.
Revelation 3:14-16 14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Jesus warned us in, Luke 21:36 — “Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
The Bible promises that faithful Christians who are alive at that time and have endured in their faith in God’s Word are not “appointed” to this coming time of “God’s wrath” that’ll be “poured out” upon the “whole world.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11–For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Any day could bring the world to the edge of Apocalypse.
There are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, drought, fires, blizzards, and all kinds of natural disasters as God tries to get our attention.
WAKE UP! IT’S TIME TO GET SERIOUS IN YOUR COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST!
The State of the World’s Technology
Daniel 12:4 — But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”
Daniel received some of the most sweeping prophecies found in the Bible.
Daniel’s prophecies take us from the days of the Babylonian captivity (which Daniel was part of) to the very end of this age . . .
It’s fascinating to see how God told Daniel, after giving him some of the most remarkable prophecies found in the Bible, to “shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end” and then gives Daniel two signs that would help us identify “the time of the end”…
#1. The ability to travel from one place to another would be unlike anything seen before in history.
It’s interesting to note that from the time Daniel wrote this book until almost the 20th century, the speed man could travel remained fairly constant … limited to the speed of foot, horse, and boat.
#2. ][ And knowledge would increase at a rate … and to a point … unlike any time in history.
It’s interesting how many reports and articles now brag how the sum total of man’s knowledge is doubling at a rate unlike anything ever found in the history of mankind . . .
Are you having a hard time believing in God? Just watch the news.
– Read your Bible it will become clear … Why? God is warning us . . .
The rapid development of technology is another distinctive sign of our age.
– Instant communication, entertainment-on-demand, and nanotechnology are daily changing the world so fast that we can’t keep up.
If you buy a new computer it is obsolete by the time you get it home and set-up.
Internet connections have created a global economy — the world’s open for business 24/7.
– The changes aren’t all good.
– In addition to online pornography and Internet gambling, there’s the danger posed to children by a lifetime of staring at screens.
The World Bankers are planning to do away with cash and the government is figuring ways to confiscate your savings to pay National Debt and then they can better control your earning and spending……….MARK OF THE BEAST!
There is a global push now to get rid of cash. And Revelation 13 tells us why. God warned us in Revelation 13 that the day would come when certain laws would be enforced and anyone who refused to go along with those laws would no longer be able to ‘buy or sell’.
Revelation 13:16-17 16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.
The World Bankis calling for governments to work together to implement standardized, cost-effective identity management solutions … Moreover, the nature of the deployments has required an economically feasible solution, and has demonstrated that reliable, biometric ID cards can affordably be used on a large scale. It offers hope for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of getting legal ID into the hands of everyone in the world by the year 2030 with its Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative.”
– You will notice that this refugee crisis in Europe is making the push for a global ID system even stronger.
So what does Satan need to do in order to successfully enforce the mark of the beast?
– Get rid of cash and make the financial system purely electronic, so that those in control
will simply be able to press a button and stop God’s people who refuse the mark from being able to buy and sell.
PAY ATTENTION! GOD SAID THIS WOULD HAPPEN AT THE END OF THE AGE!
5. The State of the World’s Religions
Jesus would be mindful of the state of the world’s great faiths.
On line reports indicate that there are 2.4 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims (24%) (the fastest growing religion), 535 million Buddhists, 1.2 billion Hindus, and 16% of the world’s population claim no religion at all.
One Muslim leader proclaimed: “We aim to establish Allah’s religion in its entirety, in every soul and upon every inch of this earth, in every home, institution, and society.”
At the same time, persecution against Christians is widespread and underreported, occurring in 183 nations of the world.
– Latin America is now the largest continent of Christians, and the church in Africa is the fastest growing.
Meanwhile Pope Francis is traveling the world recruiting leading Evangelical pastors, Hindus, Muslims, and whoever else he can talk into forming a “ONE-WORLD RELIGION!”
– He recently proclaimed that Jehovah and Allah are the same God!
Pope Francis decreed that 2016 was a Holy Year and priests may absolve women of the “sin of a procured abortion” during a Holy Year. At the close of 2016, he made permanent the permission that he had provisionally given priests to forgive the “sin of a procuring abortion” through the sacrament of reconciliation, more commonly known as “confession.”
In Catholic teaching, it was normally only bishops or the Pope himself who may absolve the faithful of the sin of abortion, which led to excommunication from the Church.
In keeping with his ministry of mercy, however, Pope Francis extended his powers of forgiveness to those “missionaries of mercy” priests who will visit Catholic dioceses and parishes.
Only Christ can forgive sins!
Pope says, those who believe they have the absolute truth, (which would be genuine born again Christians who know nobody can absolve sins and get us to Heaven except Jesus Christ,) and go on condemning others through slander and defamation are in the wrong.
He is saying, Religious fundamentalism must be combated.
The Pope is trying hard to replace God in today’s world.
6. The State of the World Shouldn’t Surprise Us
If God was giving a “State of the World” address, are these the observations He’d would make?
Actually, Jesus did give us a “State of the World” message that transcends the centuries.
We call it “The Olivet Discourse” because He spoke it on the Mount of Olives shortly before ascending to heaven.
In Matthew 24:6-14 Jesus described the state of affairs that would dominate the world between His ascension and His return: 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. 9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
Well, there you have it!
– God’s message about the State of the World isn’t very hopeful right now, but a new, greatly improved world with new leadership is on the way!
Jesus knew history in advance, and He’s still in control.
The problems of this world won’t be answered in peace initiatives, political movements, climate change seminars, or world religions.
The State of this World won’t be redeemed by medical advances or modern technology.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer, and the return of Jesus Christ is the only hope.
If you’re disturbed by today’s headlines and tomorrow’s uncertainties, look to Jesus.
Trust His unfailing predictions, and lean on His unchangeable promises.
He told us in Luke 21:28 — “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”