Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 6:12a “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal
Since the believer is in fact united with Christ, he must live accordingly. Our spirits should have control over our bodies.
Fortunately, our warfare will not last forever. Paul is careful to note that our bodies are mortal. The body is the dying part of us. It is passing away.
It is comforting to know that someday we will be delivered from our life of flesh and blood. The great missionary, Adoniram Judson, for whom my Grandpa Marshall was named, once said, “I am not tired of my work, neither am I tired of the world. Yet, when Christ calls me Home, I shall go with the gladness of a schoolboy bounding away from school!”
The position of struggle that we believers find ourselves in is only temporary. We are not going to wrestle with evil forever. But until the blessed release comes, we need to be ever mindful of our enemy’s strategy.
Romans 6:12b “. . .that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”
Our mortal bodies serve as evil’s base of attack. The body is not the source or origin of sin, nor is it evil in and of itself. But it is the site where evil manifests itself due to Satan’s temptations.
Our bodies are very susceptible to sin. The Evil one attacks the natural and normal instincts of the body and tries to turn them into lusts. The Tempter takes beautiful God-given desires and tries to make them ugly.
For instance, the sexual drive is normal, and a blessed gift within marriage. But the Devil makes it evil. As our various drives and impulses become perverted, the body becomes a selfish tyrant, quickly enslaving the whole man. The alcoholic hates alcohol, but his body has enslaved him. The cigarette smoker wants to quit, but feels bound by his body to continue. Overeaters have fallen prey to the desires of their mortal bodies.
Many Christians have lost control of their own bodies. Instead of the body being a helper, it is a dictator. What a pity! We should not let the mortal part of us be master over the eternal part of us. God help us not to let a thing that is doomed for the dust rule over us.
Romans 6:13a “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of
unrighteousness unto sin:”
“Members” refers to the parts, limbs, and faculties of our body. It includes our hands, arms, legs, feet; our sense organs; our mind; etc. These things must not be yielded to be instruments of sin. These things must not be yielded to be instruments of sin.
Sin is ever anxious to gain the use of our members. It wants to control them and use them as instruments to achieve its purposes. Sin is a dictator who wants slaves that yield in exact obedience.
But God forbid that we should allow our bodies to promote the devil’s work. We owe nothing to sin. It has done nothing good for us whereby we should feel indebted to it.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Sin has caused all our problems. Sin has made our bodies mortal. We should hate it with a passion. We should ever view it as a hated enemy. Never let it wield any authority over us.
Romans 6:13b “. . .but yield yourselves unto God, as those that
are alive from the dead,”
Notice that we can yield “ourselves” unto God, but not unto evil. Only your members can be yielded to Satan. The essential us can never belong to sin. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (CL 3:3).
Praise God for the deliberate omission of “yourselves” in the first part of this verse. There are no accidents in the Bible. Paul omitted saying it because it is an impossibility.
You have died unto sin once and for all. You are buried with Christ. Hence, you can never again fall under its dominion and tyranny. The power is always available for you to overcome evil.
Romans 6:13c “. . .and your members as instruments of
righteousness unto God.”
You gave “yourselves” to God at conversion, and now He expects you to demonstrate that by giving Him your members. He wants to use them as “instruments,” a word that technically refers to weapons of war. God is looking for weapons to use. He chooses to work through us in the war against evil. The members of our body are meant to be used as weapons in the warfare against evil.
Paul is using a military metaphor to emphasize the ongoing, never ending struggle we wage against sin. Paul is barking out orders like a drill sergeant: “Don’t let sin reign!” “Don’t yield your members to sin!” “Yield yourselves to God!”
God help us never to forget that we are an army of God fighting for the King of Righteousness against the kingdom of evil. We are not to be friendly with the enemy, but must always “fight the good fight of faith” (1TM 6:12).
Unfortunately, “soldierism” is very rare among us. Our attitude is often a sissified, yellow-spined, cowardly, anemic one in which we whine over “the mumps and measles of the soul” (Charles Lamb).
Rather than being in an “attack” posture against the enemy, we are biting each other in the back, and whining about our own whims and desires. Our religion is often totally selfish. We need to quit seeing ourselves primarily as patients in need of a doctor, and view ourselves as mainly being soldiers fighting a war. Only by such thinking can we fully understand such verses as: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like me, be strong” (1COR 16:13); “. . .be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1COR 15:58); “Put on the whole armor of God” (EP 6:11). All of these verses presuppose that the hearer knows he is at war against evil forces. We have been redeemed to receive a new power that energizes us for warfare. Let us learn to be soldiers indeed.
Our Master fought evil to the death, and even through death. He yielded His everything. He gave Himself and His members. He allowed His hands and feet to be nailed; His head was priced by thorns; His back was torn by the lash; His face was slapped; His very life was poured out in the struggle. Every part of His body was hurt, and exercised in the struggle against evil.
I must not expect to do any less. I, too, have been chosen by God to be a warrior against evil:
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.
I do not want Satan to use my eyes and hands and tongue for his advantage. He is my enemy. He caused the death of my Master. I want every ounce of my being to be yielded totally unto God.
That word “yield” is a command which calls for a once-for-all act of commitment. We should decisively present ourselves once and for all as totally yielded weapons for the Master’s use. Do it immediately, and never recant. Once the resolve is there, the Christian lives in the light of it from then on.
When one does this, many temptations are automatically avoided! If you have an uncommitted, ho-hum lackadaisical attitude, your temptations will be innumerably multiplied. The irresolute and indecisive man tempts the Devil to tempt him.
An unflinching determination to serve God whatever the cost is the best starting place in any battle against evil. By one resolute and decisive act many a snare can be avoided.
The time to defeat temptation is before it arises. Temptations lose their power when they are met before they exist. Let me illustrate this truth: Some have to decide every Sunday morning whether or not they are going to church. As long as it is an undecided question, open to consideration each Sunday, you are inviting temptation. But once it is resolved forever, the question does not have to be argued again.
There should be no debate about such a thing as this. Matters of this kind should have been settled long ago, once and forever.