Romans 6:15-23 Each day I become more and more convinced that the Gospel of Grace is arguably the most Theologically challenging doctrine of the Bible. I am presently praying for, and ministering to a dear friend of mine, who, based on humanly discernable outward appearances which could be wrong, appears to be heading for hell. The problem is that she is a role model for integrity, efficiency, honesty and right behavior. In fact as a young student, her teachers and peers nicknamed her “good child”. Now in her 50’s, it is difficult and almost impossible for her to see herself as a worthless sinner in urgent need of God’s forgiveness, based on His having died for her sins. The Gospel of Grace is a stumbling block for her because it strips her of all her accumulated, socially-imposed values of self-worth outside of Christ, and describes her most righteous works as filthy rags in God’s sight.
Then there is the other person who knows he is at the bottom of the pile of sin, and evil and corruption and wickedness. He has seen enough light to realize that his life lacks the lasting satisfaction he yearns for. He hears of the Gospel of Grace. But it sounds too good to be true. He concludes that it isn’t true, and therefore rejects Jesus.
Then there is the person who analyzes the Gospel of Grace, and mistakenly, but understandably concludes that it is a small price to pay to repent, get God’s forgiveness, be saved by Grace, and then return to the life of sin in which he finds pleasure. This person forgot that the omniscient (all-knowing) God cannot be deceived nor mocked, and it is He who searches and knows the intent of our heart. Conceivably, this may even be a born-again Christian who deviantly believes that “the darker the night, the brighter the light”. To that person Paul speaks in Romans 6:1-2.
Finally there is the born-again Believer in Jesus Christ who is involved in a daily running battle with his old sinful nature, and needs a “leg up”. Like the Apostle Paul, he wants to do good, but finds that evil is always present. It is to him that Paul speaks in all of Romans 6.
A few years ago, I received a lot of push-back when I emphasized that the Believer in Christ is described in the Bible as a slave. Immediately many people, and notably, many of African descent, became unreceptive because of our permanent graphic images of the African Slave Trade that will never be erased. Today, I will simply point to the qualifying verb “offer” as distinct from “sold” in verses 16 & 19.
That said, Paul appeals, not to our spiritual maturity, but to our common sense and reason, because, by definition, the spiritually mature would already have understood his message. Accordingly, he argues that of our two options:
- Obedience to the Devil leads to death (Romans 6:16 )
- Sinful living has only temporary questionable benefits, if any (Romans 6:21)
- Sinful living results in death (Romans 6:21)
- The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
- Obedience to God leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16)
- Obedience to God leads to holiness, resulting in eternal life (Romans 6:22)
- The Gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23)
Obeying and serving God makes sense.
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