Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye
are not under the law, but under grace.”
All believers live under grace, which means the Holy Spirit has been placed within their heart. Hence, they have within them the power to defeat evil. Sin will rebel within from time to time, but the Holy Spirit’s presence will keep it from reigning over you.
We must ever keep in mind the fact that our victory is due to God, not ourselves. If we were under Law, and could be saved only through our keeping it, sin would rule over us. We are weak in ourselves, and law provides us absolutely no power to overcome evil.
Law cannot deliver us from sin, and was never meant to. It gives us a knowledge of sin, but not victory over it. As a poet has written,
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.
Romans 6:15 “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under
the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
Paul realizes that he has readers that might misunderstand him. True preaching of grace always causes some to think that such sermons promote sin.
We do have to admit the doctrine of free grace has been much abused. Justification by faith and eternal security have been used by some as a license to sin. These blessed teachings have been perverted by evil men.
However, this does not mean we should discard the teachings of God. Every doctrine we hold has at one time or another been perverted by someone. There will always be those who can draw poison out of flowers, but let us never dispense with flowers. Just because men use ropes to hang themselves, we do not quit using rope. Nor do we quit taking aspirins because some have used that very substance to commit suicide. Even so, let us never forsake the precious truths of grace. No matter how men abuse them, we will not discard them.
Romans 6:16a “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves
servants to obey, his servants ye are to
whom ye obey:”
The New Testament word for servant actually meant slave. It did not refer to someone who was hired, but rather to someone who was owned. His time, life, and deeds were subject to the authority of another.
Paul wants us to see that, in a way, every man is still a slave, obedient to something beyond himself. Men’s lives are dominated by motivating forces mightier than themselves.
Just as a man’s physical body is sustained by forces outside itself (eg. air, food, water), even so his innermost life is animated by forces outside itself. Every heart is a meeting point of good and evil forces, and must be governed by one or the other.
A man can choose which atmosphere will rule his heart, but once he makes his choice, that mindset will control his thoughts and determine everything he does. Either an evil philosophy will dictate his life, or a godly one will.
Man was not made for complete independence. It is an impossibility. Each individual must serve 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 men must choose.
Romans 6:let “. . .whether of sin unto death,”
Rarely will one ever confess slavery to sin. Nevertheless, this is the condition of all who are detached from God.
Sinners usually view themselves as being highly independent. They wrongly view liberty as the right “to do as one pleases.” They desire a state of absolute independence, but there is no such condition.
The more one casts off external restraints, the more he is oppressed by licentiousness and internal tyranny. As one yields more and more to sin, passions become masters in themselves; and the body becomes dictator over the mind.
In the habitual sinner, Satan is king, the body is vice-regent, and the sinner is the court fool. This is ultimate evil. It allows a usurper to be served in a way which maligns the rightful Master.
For those entangled in sin, we have good news. There is a way out. A man can be removed from Satan’s dominion by allowing himself to enter God’s.
Romans 6:16c “. . .or of obedience unto righteousness.”
When one receives Christ, he finds himself in a realm where keeping the law is not essential to salvation. But that does not mean we become lawless.
Conduct is still very important. Obedience leads to the kind of righteous living which God intended for people all along. And herein is found the meaning of true liberty. It is the opportunity to realize one’s 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 more free we become, because we are acting more and more in accordance with what we were intended to be.
Because of the war that wages within the believer, Christian living sometimes “feels” like a bondage. However, in the long run, the pilgrimage to righteousness is the path to liberty. James II, on his deathbed, told his son, “There is no slavery like sin and no liberty like God’s service.”
It is true, my friend. The best life is one which is fully surrendered to Christ.