The Letter to the Romans



20. Slaves to Sin or Righteousness?


Romans 6:15-18


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

16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.

18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)


In this chapter Paul is showing that when we are in Christ, we have a new identity with a new past, new possibilities, and new power. Being a child of God born of the Spirit gives us a completely new standing before God. He no longer sees us as sinners but as righteous, covered with Jesus' righteousness, and he redeems the sins of our past so our wounds become points of strength and growth in His hands. In verses 1-14 he has shown that in Christ we are free from sin's mastery. We are not under law-which points out and magnifies sin, but we are under grace which reigns in us through Christ's covering righteousness.

1. Paul repeats the question in verse 1, "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" If sin is still possible when one is under grace instead of law, what actually happens when our identity changes in Christ? (see Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; John 14:16-17; 5:24; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 4:14)


2. Paul next clarifies that people have two options: they can be slaves to sin, or they can be slaves to obedience. At first glance these comparisons do not look parallel. What does it mean to be a slave to sin? (see verses 6, 12, 14, 17, 20; Romans 5:21; 7:14, 22-23, ,25; Genesis 4:7; Psalm 51:5; 119:133; John 8:34-36; Ephesians 2:1-4; 2 Peter 2:19-21)


3. Paul continues to address the concern that being under grace means not living a "lawful" life. He proposes that the opposite of being a slave to sin is being a slave to obedience. If the law is no longer an issue, to what is a person obedient? (see v. 22; 7:6; 8:4, 6, 9, 13-14; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)


4. In verse 16 Paul contrasts sin with obedience and death with righteousness. On the surface, these comparisons seem backwards. What does the contrast of sin with obedience suggest about the true nature and identity of sin?


5. If our righteousness is really Christ's, not our own, and if we cannot do anything to qualify us as righteous in God's sight, what does Paul mean when he talks about obedience that leads to righteousness? (see verses 21-22; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15; Titus 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:7-10; 13:16-17; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 John 3:21-24; 5:3-5)


6. What is "the form of teaching" to which the Roman believers have been obedient and with which they have been entrusted? (see 2 Timothy2:8-14; 4:2-5; Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:10; 6:3-5)


7. Since sin is still possible in a Christ-followers experience, what does Paul mean when he says, "You have been set free from sin"? (see verses 2, 8-12; 8:1-4, 6-11; Galatians 5:13, 24-25; Colossians 2:11-12)


8. Using the understanding derived from the questions above, explain the paradox of verse 18: we have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.



9.What gut-level reactions do the words "obey" and "obedience" elicit in you?


10. Have you been guilty of using your freedom and security in Christ as an excuse for indulging sinful behaviors? If so, how?


11. What would change in your life if you responded to the Spirit's conviction that you need to be a slave to obedience?


12. Have you responded wholeheartedly to the gospel entrusted to you? Praise God for his sovereign plan to free you from your legacy of sin. Praise Jesus for carrying your sin and for covering your with his blood. Praise the Holy Spirit for mediating righteousness in your life from the inside out.

Copyright (c) 2004 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted April 17, 2004.
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