For some time now, and especially in Romans 6, Paul has made it abundantly clear that we are no longer “under sin”.
- We have been placed into the dominion of grace and life.
- A dominion that Paul grounded in our union with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
“To judge that one is dead to sin and alive to God is not an example of mind over matter; instead, the judgment is based on what is true by virtue of being incorporated into Christ” – Tom Schreiner.
This is a powerful reality for the believer.
- It should transform how we see ourselves and how we live.
But here is the problem:
- Until the Kingdom of God is fully consummated, “the temptation to live in Adam always remains” – Douglas Moo.
- Or to put another way, though believers are in a new dominion, it “does not mean that believers are unable to sin” – Tom Schreiner.
And this leads us to Paul’s admonition in our text today:
- Where Paul moves “from thought to action” – Douglas Moo.
- Romans 6:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
So the power and dominion of sin are over in the life of the believer.
- But how is this to play out on a practical level?
Paul seems abandon his indicatives in favor of the imperative – of commands.
- “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (vs. 12).
What exactly is Paul telling us here?
- Is he throwing all his dominion talk under the bus?
- Does it all just boil down to, “Hey you, stop sinning”?
- There are good answers to these questions.
Still Dominion Language:
First, we have to see that Paul is still using dominion language here.
- In fact, verse 12 is essentially what we should conclude after we have “considered” or “reckoned” the powerful reality of our new dominion.
- As Paul told us to do in verse 11.
I love how Douglas Moo paraphrases Paul’s words in verse 12.
- “Do not let sin’s reign—which leads to obedience to the body’s sinful passions [acts of sin]—occupy your lives” – Douglas Moo.
So this is still primarily dominion language.
- We are no longer powerless to sin – we are in a new domain.
- But to fail to “consider” and “reckon” our new domain makes us vulnerable.
- Vulnerable to our old master – the power of sin.
And how are we, who have been led out of Garden Exile by Christ, vulnerable to the power of sin?
- The short answer from Paul is our “passions” or desires.
So what are these passions?
- Passions here, are “desires that are in conflict with the will of God” – Douglas Moo.
- We still have these and the power of sin seeks to harness them for its purposes.
James speaks of our passions in this way:
- James 4:1–3 (ESV) — 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Paul elsewhere says:
- Colossians 3:5 (ESV) — 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
So, Paul says our “mortal body”, the whole person (Douglas Moo), is vulnerable because of our passions.
- Although our whole person, “has been severed from its servitude to sin…”
- We “…still participate in the weakness, suffering, and dissolution of this age” – Douglas Moo.
- Why? – Because we live in the “not yet” – we aren’t in our glorified resurrection bodies.
So at the point of this weak link…
- Paul says our old master tries to make us “obey its passions” (vs. 12).
This is why it is so important that we “consider” as we discussed last week.
- We need to think deeply on our new dominion and how Christ put us there.
- We need to calculate what our participation in Christ does for us.
As usual, though, Paul takes it up a notch.
Spiritual Warfare Language:
Having properly considered our union with Christ and our domain transfer…
- Paul, then, asks that we make a choice about how we “present” our “instruments”.
Paul fleshes this out as follows:
- “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (vs. 13).
This is spiritual warfare language!
- The gist here is that citizens of a new domain are to no longer fight for their old master.
- How do we know this?
- Two words: “present” and “instruments”.
What is “present”?
- The idea with “present” is simply to put a thing at something or someone else’s disposal – BDAG.
- In other words, how a thing is used in relationship to another – EDNT.
What is “instruments”?
- The Greek word here literally means “weapons”.
It is the same word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 6:7.
- Paul spells out how we are to commend ourselves as servants of God.
- 2 Corinthians 6:7 (ESV) — 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
It is the same word used by John of Judas:
- John 18:3 (ESV) — 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
The point with Paul in our text, then…
- Is that our person, our life, our actions are weapons.
- Of either sin or righteousness.
So when Paul says, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness” (vs. 13):
- This is his way of telling us what the outcome of our “consider” from verse 11 should be.
We are to not fight on the side of sin.
- Our life is NOT to be a weapon in service of our old master.
- As citizens of grace, we are NOT to let our works be put at the disposal of sin to be used as a weapon for its cause.
The dominion of sin is at work against God’s kingdom.
- Paul says don’t be its henchman.
And we don’t have to be!
Paul says those who “have been brought form death to life” (vs. 13)…
- Those who have been brought out of Garden Exile – out of the domain of sin and death…
- Are to be about a different business.
Our weapons are to be at the disposal of God and His kingdom building.
- “But present yourselves to God…and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (vs. 13).
We are in battle!
- We who “were previously at the disposal of impurity” are to be about the business of righteousness – EDNT.
“The ‘members’ that were once used as ‘weapons’ in the service of sin and for unrighteous purposes are now to be used as weapons in God’s service, for righteous purposes” – Douglas Moo.
Paul puts it this way to Timothy:
- 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV) — 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
This is Paul’s imperative.
- It is a dominion imperative first and foremost.
- New dominion is new power.
- We are to know and embrace this.
But, Paul’s “present” language also clearly entails our works – our actions.
- “Paul stresses that we must actualize in daily experience the freedom from sin’s lordship that is ours ‘in Christ Jesus’” – Douglas Moo.
We are to fight sin!
- But, not because to do so saves us, or makes our salvation more secure.
- But, because to fight sin is to fight for our new master!
- It is to acknowledge our new Lord!
- And importantly, it is to fight against our old master – the dominion of sin.
Can we have success in our battle?
Paul tells us why in our final verse:
- Romans 6:14 (ESV) — 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Just in case we are tempted to get all “works” headed.
- Paul brings everything right back to dominion talk and back to the indicatives of the Gospel.
- The things that have already been done for us.
- Namely, our transfer from being “under law” to “under grace”.
- More on “under law” next week.
The implication of this reminder from Paul is significant.
- Paul is not asking of us something we are powerless to do!
- “The responsibility to obey is a serious one (vv. 12–13) and it cannot be shirked, but even this obedience is a gift of God’s grace and power” – Tom Schreiner.
Sin, he says, has “no dominion” over us (vs. 14).
- We are “under grace” (vs. 14)!
- In Christ, our fight is not only made possible but will ultimately be made perfect.