Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
Romans 6:15-23 by Robert Dean
Series:Spiritual Life (2000)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 31 secs

To whom are you a slave: Romans 6: 15 – 23 Tape 5.




In the first four chapters he deals with the need for Justification. The end of chapter three and through chapter four the reality of justification, justification is not based on anything we do, it is not based on goodness, our morality, our ethics, it is based solely and exclusively on our possession of righteousness, Jesus Christ's righteousness which is imputed to us at the point of salvation. At that instant God the father imputes Christ's righteousness to us and then when God the Father in his justice looks at that righteousness he declares us to be Just.


Then in Chapter 5, the results of righteousness, is that we have peace with God. That brings the conclusion, that since Grace operated in all of the sinfulness Paul outlined in the first three chapters, that perhaps someone might argue 'Why goodness, if we can have that much grace in the midst of sin, why can't we just continue to sin that grace might increase?' This is the real response of the antinomian who wants to use grace as an excuse to sin, and then there is the legalists who say if you really teach grace then someone is going to abuse it. So let's not teach grace.


  1. Every believer at the moment of salvation has been identified with Christ's death, with His judicial death that is His spiritual substitutional death on the cross, so that in His death we truly judicially died to sin, that is a reality in our life. It is a retroactive reality because at the instant we have faith in Christ in the 1960's, 1970's or whenever it might be for you, then at that moment you died at the cross, retroactively. So that is why it is called retroactive positional truth. We are identified in Christ and that is our position, identified with His death.
  2. We have been buried with Him.
  3. We are resurrected to new life; Paul makes the argument that just as Christ came out the grave and was resurrected to new life, we have been resurrected to new life, a new quality of spiritual life. We can't have a spiritual life prior to salvation, that is one of the major things that is popular today is that everyone talks about spirituality and getting in touch with their spiritual side but really they are just getting in touch with their emotions, or there self absorbed subjectivism.

This is not what the Bible teaches about spirituality, it has to do firstly with a relationship to God, and we can not have a relationship with God until we have been born again, until we are regenerated because we are born with- out a human spirit, we are born soulish (1Cor. 2:12) and it is not until we are given new life which includes a human spirit which enables him to have that new life, that is the spiritual life and it is the growth of that life, because at the instant of salvation we are given this new life in Christ but we are a spiritual infant or baby and growth has to take place and that is based upon nourishment and that nourishment comes from the word of God, which is mandated in 1 Peter 1:2. That is how we grow, by means of the word.

  1. Paul is looking here in his argument; he is focusing on the realities, the judicial realities that take place at the instant of Faith. First we are identified with Christ in His death, second in His burial, third in His resurrection to new life. From that we learn that salvation is not the end but it is the means to an end, we are resurrected so we might pursue a newness of life. This is in verse 4; "…so that we too might walk in newness of life." That is the purpose of our salvation. We are not saved so that we can go to heaven. We are saved so that we can have a new spiritual life and then execute that spiritual life.
  2. This new spiritual life is ours positionally but it does not become ours in experience until we begin to apply the spiritual life mandates, there is a growth process. There is a distinction between what is ours positionally that is just as real but is just not ours experientially. So we have to apply the mandates or the imperatives of the word of God in order to grow and growth in the spiritual life is just like growth in life, it takes time, it doesn't go automatically, it is incremental, and sometimes it's faster than other times.
  3. Paul concludes we are no longer enslaved because 'we are dead to sin,' we are no longer enslaved to the tyranny of the sin nature and that model and metaphor of slavery then becomes the image of the second half of the chapter. He starts off with a rhetorical question then he follows it up with a denial and then he asks the question he asked back in verse 3, "…are you ignorant?" (verse 16) The issue comes back to knowledge.


Last time we got down to verse 13 and we saw that one of the key words in verses 12 – 14 has to do with this word 'presenting' the members of your body to sin and that is the Greek word PAR HISTEMI which has to do with offering or giving.


So Paul brings us to a conclusion in verses 12 – 14 for that first section, he says "… Therefore don't let sin reign [prohibition]..."


 The first command that we find in all of Romans is in verse 11 consider yourselves or reckon or think, it's the word LOGIZOMAI. On the basis of this information therefore, think, 'consider or reckon yourselves to be dead,' that is separate from sin so that it doesn't have control over you but alive to God in Christ. Therefore do not let sin reign, in other words as a believer a real break has taken place so that the sin nature does not have to dominate, domineer and it is no longer the tyrant that it is from birth to salvation.


You see most people have a problem with that but the reality is as we look at the sin nature and we understand that the sin nature has an area of weakness that produces personal sin and it also has an area of strength that produces human good and so everything that a person does from the moment of physical birth because they are spiritually dead, because there is nothing spiritual in them at all, the Holy Spirit is not working in them, the only source of everything is the sin nature, all the good that an unbeliever does that comes form the sin nature, all the bad / personal sin comes from the sin nature. There is no choice, they are completely under the domination and tyranny of the sin nature and that is true for every single one of us until we were saved. That's Paul's point here and that's when the power is broken.


Therefore he says, "...don't let sin continue to reign in your mortal body that we should obey its lusts and do not go on presenting..." PAR HISTEMI which means to offer, it has the idea that you have a choice, all these imperatives, (the imperative mood is addressed to our volition), so the point here is that you have the option now as a believer you have a freedom of volition that you never had prior to salvation. You have the same level of volition that Adam had prior to the fall. Because after the fall, even though he still had volition it was tainted because all he could do was personal sin or human good from the sin nature.


But now we have the option of not following the sin nature and so Paul says don't let sin reign and don't go on offering yourself , that is what you are doing every time you sin you are offering yourself to the control of your sin nature. Don't go on offering the members of your body as instruments of unrighteousness but in contrast offer yourselves to God.


Notice that there are only two options, its one or the other, it's not both. When you start thinking in terms of the fact that it can be both it has terrible impact on your understanding of the filling of the Spirit, on confession, on the spiritual life and everything else, because all of a sudden you start subtly shifting to where spirituality is morality and just trying to do things on your own and that's a devastating process. So it is an option of one or the other. You are either presenting your members to unrighteousness or presenting yourself to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.


Conclusion, verse 14, "…For sin shall not be master over you…" This is an ethical imperative and it should be understood in the sense that, sin should not be master over you. You have that option, it is not automatic that sin will not be master over you, you still have volition and you can still put yourself under the tyrannical control of your sin nature anytime you choose. So in verse 14 Paul says, "…For sin should not be master over you for you are not under law but under grace…" Now at this point Paul thinks that maybe they really don't get the point so he stops and reiterates the same point.


Verse 15, "…What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" In the question in 6:1 the question was 'Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?' so the first half of the chapter he challenges the false inference that the believer could sin to get more grace. Here (verse 15) in the second question, the issue is that sin really does not matter anymore because we are under grace. This is a false inference that grace means that we can just sin with impunity without ever having to deal with the consequences. It rejects the idea that grace will somehow overlook or excuse sin. Hebrews 12... He disciplines whom He loves and that will always be true, so grace does not mean that there are no mandates, no absolutes and no imperatives for the spiritual life.


Paul raises the question; should we go on sinning because we are not under the law? Can we get away with it because we are under grace? May it never be! ME GENOITO, this is a strong negation in the Greek, NO! Not at all! Then he raises the question verse 16 'Do you not know?' this is a favourite rhetorical device that Paul uses, he uses it many different times in 1 Corinthians, follows it up the same way so Paul asks the question and follows it with a principle that they should know, so he is going to remind them of the principle and then he will very logically unpack what that principle means and its application for the spiritual life.


Verse 16. "...Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone {as} slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?..."


So he takes a general principle from life; if you go out and offer your services to somebody where you are going to be under their authority then you are making your self a slave to them. We all agree! You are a slave to whomever you obey. You either are going to obey the sin nature and be a slave to your sin nature, resulting in death, or you are going to be a slave to righteousness, putting your self under the authority of God and that will result in righteousness.


Now at that point we need to raise a very important hermeneutical question. When he comes to the end there, we all understand the principle; that if you offer your self to someone to obey them then that makes you a slave to that person (for the time being anyway), and its up to your volition whether you are there or not. But you have two options here again.


Again its only two options, it's not a little bit of both, it's one or the other. It's either slaves of the sin nature or slaves of God, one or the other, you can't serve both at the same time. One results in death and the other results in righteousness! So here is the issue: what does he mean by death or righteousness? Your first inclination is to think that death here is talking about temporal death and righteousness as experiential righteousness. But if you look at the context of the next couple of verses, it's not talking about that. Let's review the doctrine of deaths and the doctrine of righteousness in scripture.


Doctrine of Death:


There are eight different deaths

  1. Spiritual death; this is separation from God in human life. There are two types of spiritual death;

(i)  Human spiritual death which takes place at the moment of birth and it entered into the human race when Adam sinned.

(ii)  Substitutionary spiritual death, which is the spiritual death of Christ on the cross when he was judiciary separated from God the Father for those three hours between noon and 3pm when all the sins of humanity were poured out on Him.

  1. Physical death; which is the separation of the soul from the body.
  2. The second death; this is the eternal condemnation of all unbelievers (it is for unbelievers alone) and it takes place subsequent to the great white throne judgement. This is the judgement on all unbelievers because they do not possess the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Rev 20:12 – 15, Heb 9: 27 and Rev 2:11.
  3. Sexual death; the only person this is referenced to in the scriptures is Abraham and Sarah. Rom 4:17 – 21 and Heb 11: 11 – 12.
  4. The positional death of the believer; this is what happens at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone when we are (legally/judicially) identified with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection through the baptism of God the Holy Spirit. Rom6:2
  5. The sixth death is carnal or temporal death – this is when the believer is operating out of fellowship in carnality under the control of the sin nature, at that point we are said to be dead. James 1:15 "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." This is the characteristic of the carnal life as opposed to the spiritual life which produces life. That is the capacity for life.
  6. The seventh death is production death or dead works – when we are out of fellowship in carnality we can not produce anything that is of life that counts for eternity. In Hebrews 6:1 and Revelation 3:1, it is called "dead works."
  7. Finally there is the sin unto death – outlined in 1 John 5: 16 which explains the fact that if a believer continues in sin and continues in rebellion and refuses to either (a) confess sin and be restored to fellowship or (b) he decides to use 1 John 1:9 continuously as a license to sin and doesn't grow and doesn't advance but just acts like a boomerang and bounces in and out of fellowship, he spends most of his time out of fellowship. Eventually God takes him through a series of increasingly intense disciplines and if there is no response then God will remove him from this life in a miserable manner that is exemplified by Saul in the Old Testament. 


Doctrine of Righteousness:


There are two kinds of righteousness:

  1. Imputed Righteousness; (previously discussed)
  2. Experiential Righteousness; When the believer produces the fruit of the Spirit under the filling of the Spirit and is called divine good.


When we look at this passage and it mentions death and righteousness, we have to decide which 'death' it is talking about, and which type of 'righteousness' it is talking about.


New American Standard Version:


Verse 16: "Do you not know – that when you present yourselves to someone as a slave for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"


Verse 17: "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,


Verse 18: "and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."


Dean's corrected translation:


Verse 16: "Do you not know – that when you present yourselves to someone as a slave for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death [spiritual death] or of obedience [to the gospel mandate] resulting in righteousness?"


Verse 17: "But thanks be to God that although you were [past tense] slaves of sin, you all obeyed from the heart that category [the gospel] of teaching which was communicated to you,


Verse 18: "when you were freed from sin, you became slaves of [imputed] righteousness."


Paul goes on in verse 19 and recognises that there are some inadequacies with this slavery analogy.

"I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. [Sin nature]. For just as you [past action] presented [PAR HISTEMI] your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness resulting in sanctification."


When you were an unbeliever you had one option, you offered yourself continuously to your sin nature as your master. For just as you did that now that you are a believer and the tyranny of the sin nature has been broken you are to offer your members as slaves to righteousness. The issue is your volition. You are commanded to offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness and what happens, it results in sanctification, [HAGIASMOS].


This gives us the overall process:

Ø  You present i.e. that's your volition.

Ø  You offer yourselves i.e. the members of your body as a slave with reference to righteousness.

Ø  Then you have an ACE plus and accusative which indicates the ultimate goal which is sanctification.


HAGIASMOS is a noun here and that is used 10 times in the New Testament and is usually translated holiness or consecration, but I like sanctification and it means to dedicate or have a life that is useable in service to God, dedicated to God for His service. So this is the process and it is that you make a volitional decision to offer yourselves or to submit to the authority of God.


That is really the issue here; Are you going to be oriented to the authority of God or not? Are you going to do what the word says or are you going to do what I'm going to do? It is very simple.


Then Paul comes back in for another explanation before he goes in for the kill, in verse 20.


"...For when you were [past tense] slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness..."


Here's the point! When you were a slave to sin there was no righteousness in your life. Now you are a slave to righteousness there should not be any sin in your life! See he doesn't leave us with a whole lot of room to manoeuvre here.


Verse 21, "...Therefore what benefit [fruit/production] were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death..."


Was there any production there? No it was all human good, it was all sin. There is no production there whatsoever. Remember what I was saying when I went through the 8 categories of death? There were two that were going to apply in the passage. First there was spiritual death referenced to death back in verse 16, and the second is carnal death. Carnal death is when we are separated from God and we produce wood, hay and straw. The outcome of those things is carnal death, the outcome of operating as a believer on the basis of the sin nature produces dead works. It produces death, it produces carnality, it produces no good and it is self  destructive. Contrast in verse 22.


New American Standard Version:


Verse 22; "But now having been [past tense] freed from the sin nature and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit [fruit/production], resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."


 Dean's Corrected translation:


Verse 22; "But now because you have been freed from sin and because you have been enslaved to God, [principle established at the instant of salvation] you have your fruit/production toward sanctification, and the goal of the process is eternal life.


Production is distinct from sanctification they are not the same thing. It is that fruit, i.e. the fruit of the spirit. In John 15 we talked about that we have to abide in Christ or be in fellowship with Christ in order to produce fruit. In Galatians 5 we had an extended study where we saw that we had to walk by means of the Spirit in order to produce fruit. In John 15 it is apparent that the primary purpose of the believer's relationship with Christ is to produce fruit. So fruit is a key. Fruit is always measured in terms of character. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control against such things there is no law' Gal 5:22 – 23. So it is character, it is the character of Jesus Christ.

  1. First of all our volition is engaged to actuate our belief in the principle. You are to reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (verse 11)
  2. Then as we learn the word and apply it under the fillingministry of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit then produces character, which is fruit.
  3. This is towards the goal of making us sanctified or usable to God in His service.


Verse 22, "But now because you have been freed from sin and because you have been enslaved to God, [principle established at the instant of salvation] you have your fruit/production toward sanctification, and the goal of the process is eternal life.


Now that does not mean that we do not have a sin nature, it means we are freed from the tyranny of the sin nature. Freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your fruit towards (ACE plus the accusative always indicates goal), towards the goal of HAGIASMOS, sanctification.


Then you have a very interesting phrase. And the outcome or TELOS, which has to do with the end result, the goal, the verb form means bringing something to completion or maturity. TELOS indicates the end result. The goal of the process is eternal life. The problem for most of us is that we equate eternal life with avoiding hell. But that is not what the word means in many contexts. It is not just not going to hell and avoiding judgement, it has to do with the capacity and quality of life that is ours as a believer as the result of spiritual maturity.


Jesus said 'I came to give Life [life without end, that is salvation phase 1] and to give it abundantly [depth and quality, which is the ability to appreciate everything that God has given us and the happiness and the joy that God has for us as part of the spiritual life, all of that is part of that process]. When Paul is talking here, he has already gotten them saved back in Romans 3 and Romans 4 with imputation. He is in spiritual life here, so eternal life here is not avoiding hell and damnation, eternal life here is the quality of life that God has for us as spiritually mature believers. Life begins with maturity; it really does not begin at birth.


Verse 23; "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."


This is a verse that we always quote and apply in terms of a gospel witness but what's the context? Are we talking about salvation phase1 here? The payment you receive for your work is a wage, if you are living in carnality under the power of the sin nature still presenting your self as a slave to the sin nature, then the payment you are going to get is carnal death. This is not spiritual death here. This is carnal death. This is the fact that you are going to be a failure in life and you are going to be miserable, you are going to be unhappy, and you are always going to be on a frantic search for happiness.


Verse 23b "…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord... "


Notice once again that it is a free gift of God, it is not earned, it's not by works and we are talking about the spiritual life sanctification phase 2. It's not by works, it's a free gift and the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is not really a salvation verse. This is really a verse that is talking about the quality of our life that we have in Christ Jesus.


We are in Christ Jesus because we have been baptised into His death, burial and resurrection. So that concludes Paul's argument that he started in Romans 6:1 that we have been identified with His death, burial and  resurrection and because of that we can walk in newness of life that is that eternal life that he is talking about. It is not salvation phase 1 eternal life here, this is talking about the quality and capacity of life for the mature believer. That is ours, it is potential from salvation and is actuated by understanding that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ and we have to grow to spiritual maturity. 


Father, we do thank you that our life is based on grace and not by law. That you have provided such a fantastic system of salvation for us that it is dependant solely and exclusively on what Jesus Christ did for us and not on who we are or what we have done. Father, we pray that you would help us to understand the freedom that we have in Christ, that we are freed from the power of the sin – nature and that we have been made at the instant of salvation slaves to righteousness and slaves to you and we are to live as slaves to righteousness and not put ourselves back under the dominion of the sin – nature. Father, we pray that you would challenge us with these truths. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.