Living Under Grace
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 614 For sin shall not have dominion over you for ye are not under
the law, but under grace.
All believers live under grace. The Holy Spirit, undeserved by us, has been placed in our hearts. As a result, we have in us the power to defeat evil. Sin rebels in us from time to time, but the Holy Spirits presence keeps it from reigning over us.
Our victory is due to God, not us. If we were under Law, and could be saved only through keeping it, sin would rule over us, because we are weak in ourselves, and law provides us zero power to overcome evil. A poet wrote,
Do this and live, the law commands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word the gospel brings.
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Law cannot deliver us from sin, and was never meant to. It gives us the knowledge of sin, but not victory over it.
Romans 615 What then Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but
under grace God forbid.
Paul realized we might misunderstand him. True preaching of grace can cause some to think our sermons promote sin.
We admit, the doctrine of free grace has been abused. Justification by faith and eternal security have been perverted, used as a license to sin.
This does not mean we should discard Gods teachings. Someone has at one time or another misused every doctrine we hold. People can draw poison out of flowers, but we do not dispense with flowers. Nor do we quit taking aspirins because some have used them to commit suicide. Never forsake the precious truths of grace. No matter how much people abuse them, we must not discard them.
Romans 616a Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to
obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey
The word for servant meant slave. It referred not to people hired, but to people owned. Their time, life, and activities were subject to the authority of another.
Paul wanted us to see in a way, every person is a slave, obedient to something beyond themselves. Our lives are dominated by motivating forces mightier than us.
Forces outside our physical body sustain it (e.g. air, food, water). Similarly, forces outside our innermost life sustain it. Every heart is a meeting point of good and evil forces, and will be governed by one or the other.
A person can choose which atmosphere will rule the heart, but once the choice is made, that mindset controls thoughts and deeds. Either an evil philosophy will dictate life, or a godly one will.
We were not made for total independence. It is impossible to achieve. Each individual serves one of two masters. And since a disobedient slave is a contradiction in terms, we prove who our master is by what we do.
We choose our own master, and demonstrate which master we have chosen by the life we live. Our lives, not our lips, ultimately profess our true allegiance.
Now let us examine the two masters between which we must choose.
Romans 6l6b . . .whether of sin unto death,
Rarely would anyone consciously choose slavery to sin. Nevertheless, this is the condition of all who are separated from God. Sinners usually view themselves as highly independent, wrongly thinking liberty means the right to do as I please. They crave a state of absolute independence, but no such condition exists.
The more we cast off external restraints, the more we are oppressed by internal tyranny. As we yield more and more to sin, passions become masters in themselves and the body becomes dictator over the mind.
In a habitual sinner, Satan is king, the body is vice-regent, and the sinner is the court fool. It is ultimate evil to let a usurper be served in a way that maligns the rightful Master.
For those entangled in sin, we have good news. There is a way out. A person can be removed from Satans dominion by entering Gods Kingdom.
Romans 616c . . .or of obedience unto righteousness.
When we receive Jesus, we enter a realm where keeping Law is not essential to salvation, but this does not mean we become lawless. Conduct is still vital.
Obedience leads to the righteous living that God intended for people all along. True liberty is the opportunity to realize ones full potential as directed by God. Leo the Great said, That man has true peace and liberty whose flesh is controlled by the judgment of his mind, as his mind is directed by the government of God.
The more completely we subject ourselves to the rule of Christ, the freer we become, because we act more and more in accord with what we were intended to be.
Because of the war raging in the believer, Christian living sometimes feels like bondage, but in the long run, the pilgrimage to righteousness is our path to liberty. James II, on his deathbed, told his son, There is no slavery like sin and no liberty like Gods service. Truly, the best life is one fully surrendered to Christ.
Romans 617a But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin,
Paul was grateful that believers left lostness behind. It was a thing of the past. Paul will now emphasize changes that should occur in us due to our conversion.
Romans 617b . . .but ye have obeyed from the heart. . . .
The Roman Christians were obeying Gods words. It was an obedience from the heart, rendered freely, not grudgingly or reluctantly.
Christians should not feel the life we are to live is restrictive. We should not see ourselves as chained, but ought to rejoice in the opportunity to serve a living loving God. Philip Doddridge captured the true spirit of Christian living
My gracious Lord, I own Thy right
To every service I can pay
And call it my supreme delight
To hear Thy dictates and obey.
A part of the new birth is receiving a desire to serve God. Previous attitudes are altered. The inner workings of grace make us weary of sin. We come more and more to hate it and its temporary pleasures.
Love for God becomes an inner constraining power impelling us upward. It makes us want to always be attaining ever-higher virtues. Obedience the law could not previously compel us to do is henceforth done because of love.
Saved sinners realize Jesus is our dearest friend. Since sin crucified Him, believers shrink from sin. It hurts us to think of living in the thing that slew Jesus.
Few things are worse than affronting and offending a friends kindnesses. The new birth results in our not wanting to abuse the love Jesus showed.
From the heart we want to obey Him. Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all (Isaac Watts).