by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7 December 12, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
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:
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. The "End".
A. All of Paul's argument in Romans Six ultimately is based upon his perception of the future.
1. He particularly focused upon this perception in the second section (6:15-23).
a. He weighed in on two major facts.
1) We become the servants of the master to whom we submit "from the heart."
2) We experience the results of our bondage.
a) This fact includes our present daily experience.
b) This fact also includes the reality that our daily experience "settles" into an inescapable finality that is characterized by an intense version of the daily reality.
b. He addressed "fruit" as leading to the "telos" (the final end) of actions taken.
1) There is the "telos" of Death rooted in the "fruit" of "lawlessness" that arises because of the twist from being "free from the Law" to being "free to violate the Law."
2) There is the "telos" of Eternal Life rooted in the "fruit" of "holiness" that arises out of the proper approach to "being under grace."
2. The "problem" we have with Paul's words is that we often do not take them seriously in their context.
a. No "saint" is going to enter into the Second Death.
b. No "sinner" is going to enter into Eternal Life.
1) Neither can any "saint" play around with the principles and practices of "sinners" without moving experientially in the direction to which those principles and practices always lead...most significantly "shame", but also other "death" issues.
2) That God will not subject His "saints" to the final reality of the Second Death is no justification for those "saints" to engage in the principles and practices of that Death.
3) The issue of the future is the issue of the "present" being "settled" so that the "future" is what the "present" is. Take the present, without condemnation, and make it the permanent future and you have that about which Paul is most concerned...a finality that is fundamentally characterized by the reality of the present level of "holiness". There is a "glory" to come that far exceeds what the present indicates (Romans 8:18), but there is also a "glory" to be lost by the loveless/faithless present (2 Timothy 2:11-13; 1 Peter 4:13 and 5:1). By way of illustration, consider the example we have in our current experience of the severely handicapped musical savant as opposed to the highly developed musical master. The one has a remarkable "glory" of musical talent alone; the other has the same remarkable "glory of musical skill" alongwith a multitude of other "glorious" experiential benefits. The issue for Paul is not so much the danger of the final Death as it is the reality of the loss of so much of the final Life. In the most unadorned reality, Paul is not holding "Hell" over the heads of the "saints"; rather, he is holding the "loss of Life" over their heads. Consider the quadriplegic: there is no "pain", but neither is there much "ability" to experience.
B. So, why does Paul, having "linked" death and life to "servitude", call the "fruit" of the one "wages" and the "fruit" of the other "the free gift"?
1. He is addressing the "pure states" -- the "lost" and the "saved" -- as in "before, when were the servants of sin and were 'free' of righteousness..." and "now that you have become the servants of righteousness and are 'free' from sin...".
2. In those "pure states" (as opposed to the reality of present experience and practice in a mixed state of being yet involved with the Adamic heritage, but also invested with the heritage of Christ), the principles are "pure": Law leads to Death; Grace leads to Life.
3. Those "principles of purity" must be kept distinct even though there are overlapping principles within the "states". Everyone experiences the Law of the Harvest in some way and no one's "planting" is of only "good seed". Everyone is the servant of someone or something and no one's "faith" produces total loyalty. There is yet a conflict between flesh and spirit and neither "always" trumps the other.
II. In a Nutshell, Romans Six Presents a Methodology of Life Within the Reality of the Actual Purity of the Antithetical "States" and the Actual Impurity of the Present Experience of those "States".
A. This is a direct outworking of the "T"heology of Abraham wherein God declares what is not as though it is because what is not is goingtobe the final state and "believers" need to have that final state firmly in their perspective as they go through the present confusion.
B. The sharper the focus upon the final reality, the greater the beneficial impact of that perspective in the present shadow reality. In the perfect world to come, the heart will only produce genuinely loving motivations and the mind will only produce genuinely true understandings and the spirit/body complex will only produce genuinely righteous actions. But, in this present imperfect world, the better we grasp love and truth and the mechanics of the Spirit in the body, the better we function in righteousness.