Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
September 11, 2016
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1901 ASV Translation:
18 and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members [as] servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members [as] servants to righteousness unto sanctification.
20 For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness.
21 What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- I. "Freedom" From "The Sin".
- A. The idea of "freedom" is, essentially, the idea of being exempted from certain "normal" aspects of whatever "processes" are in view. While Paul clearly says we are free from "law" as a matter of being exempt from God's "Justice" reactions to "sin", he turns around immediately and says we are not, and never shall be exempt from the principles of cause/effect in most, if not all, other aspects of "sinning".
- B. When he applied this notion of "exemption" to "The Sin" (which seeks to act as "king"), he was "exempting" his readers from the power of "fear" and the power of "the spirit that works in the sons of The Disbelief". But, as is clear from the context, many (if not all) "believers" are not consistently "free". So, how shall we take Paul's description?
- 1. First, the participle declaring the "freedom" is directly tied to the "out of heart hearing/yielding to the form of doctrine delivered to them".
- 2. This "connection" means that "at the point when they so heard/yielded out of heart" their exemption was a fact. However, since a return to bondage is presented all over the New Testament as a potential problem, we have to understand that Paul's declaration of freedom is limited to the "from the heart response" to true doctrine. If/when that attitude shifts, so also does the attendant reality. I am only "free" when in a "faith" mode; if I flip into an "unbelieving" mode, my freedom vanishes. James makes this point in James 1:6-7.
- 3. Paul's point: effective living under grace can only be accomplished by "believing".
- II. "Bondage" To "The Righteousness".
- A. The is the opposite reality: freedom from "The Sin" produces bondage to "The Righteousness".
- B. But, this is not a static, it does not matter what/whether one "believes", reality: freedom and bondage go hand in hand with "faith in the form of doctrine delivered by grace". With "faith" the antitheses are in place against "The Sin" and for "The Righteousness", but if "faith" shifts to "doubt", the antitheses swap impacts to bondage to "The Sin" and freedom from "The Righteousness.
- III. The "Human" Issue.
- A. Paul, without any conjunction, immediately describes his "speech". It is as if there is a parenthesis around the text: "...now, having been made free from The Sin, you were made slaves to The Righteousness (I am speaking in a 'human' way on account of the weakness of your flesh...).
- B. The question: what does Paul mean that he is communicating his doctrine in a "human" way because of fleshly weakness?
- 1. What would he have said if there were no "fleshly weakness"?
- a. Paul is wrestling with the reality which he intends to address (in chapter seven) that consists of a profound "weakness" that has its locus in "the flesh" which we obtained from Adam and which is, as yet, unredeemed.
- b. If this "fleshly weakness" did not exist, there would be no need for specific and detailed instructions and explanations to keep "believers" from falling back into their lives of fear and disbelief.
- c. This raises the question as to the nature of this "weakness of the flesh": what is it? Paul does not actually go into the answer at this point, though Romans 7 does address it in detail. In summary, this "weakness" is the continued presence of "the Law of The Sin" in the members that wages war against the law of the mind (7:23). It is significant that the solution to this problem is nothing less than death and resurrection.
- 2. Why does he insert the concept of a need for this instruction because of "fleshly weakness" at this point?
- a. It explains why what "was" (freedom from The Sin at the point of "faith") does not just automatically carry "believers" into that fulness without failure.
- b. What "was" was a genuine reality, but its reality is a contingent one rooted in the presence of active "believing" -- i.e., consistent "presenting" of one's members to God as the tools of The Righteousness.
- 1) This "presenting" had a prior existence and nature. It was a "presenting" (out of the process of hearing/yielding) of the members of one's body to "uncleanness" and to "The Lawlessness unto The Lawlessness".
- 2) In the same vein, "now" (that true faith has arrived in actual experience) "believers" are to present those same members as slaves to The Righteousness unto "sanctification". The issue of "sanctification" is the issue of growing consistency in the practice of the methodology of "faith", since that is where the true freedom/bondage reality exists in one's experience.
- 3) Paul's use of the definite article before "righteousness", turning the phrase into The Righteousness, indicates the antithesis to The Sin. The Righteousness is that which is by faith. Righteous behavior springs only out of "faith" in a substitute Actor; the New Spirit that now works in the sons of "Belief".