"When the Indicative becomes the Imperative"
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Hopefully, when you read the title, you did not roll your eyes and say ugh, I don’t even know what those words mean. This sounds a lot like school---I hated school. It is not that bad I promise, I am just using those terms from grammar to explain what is going on in today’s passage of Romans chapter 6.
Let me begin by defining the first term in the Title-indicative.
Simply put, in grammar the indicative is a statement of fact.
Next we have the other “grammar word in the title” Imperative-
For our purposes and quite simply and imperative is a command-Do this or do that.
We will begin today with an indicative statement, or a statement of fact found in verse 18.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
You have been, and you have become. The two actions in that verse. That is in its most basic form the essence of the Christian life. You have been, and you have become.
The Christian life can be summed up by looking at three stages.
Who you were. What Happened. Who you have become. This is the way we teach people to give testimonies. Who you were, what happened, who you have become. Very simple. It is the basic formula.
Let’s take a minute and look at a couple of quick examples from Scripture. The first is one most of us are familiar with, from John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Remember the story of Lazarus? If you need to refresh your memory, John chapter 11. Basically, for our purposes today the story is that Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, and he got sick, and he died.
So, back to our slide, Who was Lazarus? We may be tempted to add all these other things, like what he did for a living and that he was a friend of Jesus, and a brother of Martha, but simply Lazarus was a dead man.
Now What happened? Remember what Jesus said in John 11:43, In a loud voice Jesus said-Lazarus Come out.
Jesus called. Or he issued an imperative, a command.
What did he become-Then we read in John 11:44, The dead man came out.
What he has become-Alive!
Very basic, very simple, He was a dead man, What happened Jesus called, and then who he has become-Alive.
Now let’s look at another example this one is a little more complicated
This from Mark chapter 2 verses 1 through 12, the paralytic and Jesus, I will read it to refresh you memory Mark chapter 2, verse 1.
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Let’s go back to our slide.
Who he was, What happened, Who is he now.
Who was he-well that’s pretty easy, he was a paralytic. He can’t walk.
He can’t even come to Jesus on his own, I suppose in that respect he is not much different than Lazarus. Both of these people have found themselves in a predicament that they cannot get out of on their own. In fact, he needs his friend to bring him to Jesus.
Now what Happened?-Simply Jesus healed Him. With the imperative, or the command-take up your mat and go home.
Then What he has become-He got up and walked.
However, what makes this passage so powerful, is that the gospel writer doesn’t leave us only with that surface interpretation. Instead, he includes more information that help us see beneath the surface. Let’s look a little deeper.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
The first thing Jesus says to the Paralyzed man is not get up and walk, but Son, your sins are forgiven. This would lead us to believe that the man is not only a paralytic, but a sinner as well, so let’s add that as well.
Now, that brings up plenty of discussion since it since it is God alone who can forgive sins..... Jesus as God can then issue the command or the imperative, but he does not-He instead declares this statement of fact-Your sins are forgiven, The imperative occurs after the man sins are forgiven.
We cannot really see that but Jesus says it happened.
Then Jesus says in verse 2.10
10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
The paralytic is a sinner, this may or may not be obvious to everyone, but is known to the paralytic. This is a statement of fact. Then Jesus issues a call, a command an imperative-Come out, Pick up your mat and walk, Come out,
Now Here is the point. The command issued through and in relation to the gospel.
The imperative comes through faith in the Gospel-Mark 2:5 it was just on the screen-When Jesus saw their faith- He said, son your sins are forgiven.
In the case of John 11, before Jesus issues the command for Lazarus to come out He says this,
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
The issued command is through the Gospel.
It starts with The statement of fact is who we are. Paralyzed, can’t walk, or dead in sin, or sinners, or slaves to sin-That is a fact who we were, The command is issued through the Gospel-Repent, Place your faith in Jesus, Be born again.
Who we have become is the evidence that we have responded to the imperative and that there is a transformation of the indicative. Did you follow that?
One more time-Who we were is transformed into who we have become THROUGH the command issued in the Gospel.
Who we have become is evidence that a transformation has taken place, that the faith was effective. Look-we can’t see that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven-who would we know? We wouldn’t we would just shrug our shoulders and go on our way and say that’s nice-But we can see that he walked-So that you may know that the son on man has power to forgive sins.
How would we know Lazarus has eternal life? He walked out of the grave.
This applies to us, what is your statement of fact? What is your indicative? Look at Romans 6:18 .
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
You have been set free from sin-You were a slave to sin, a few verses back in verse 16-and in verse 6 You were a slave. In verse 13 Paul says we were brought from death to life.
We were slaves, and were dead, we were not unlike Lazarus or the the paralytic. That was our indiciaive, our statement of fact about ourselves.
What was it? What had you enslaved? Was it Pride? Did you think you could work your way to Jesus, by doing good. Were you a liar? covering up your own wrongs by denying and lying about what you have been doing? Were you a lustful person desiring other people, or even other things that God did not intend you to have? Enjoying the pleasures of life, over and above the pleasures that God intended for Were you a thief, taking from others in unfair business practice, or by greed hoarding what you have or stealing from God? What enslaved you? What defined you?
The imperative comes to you through the Gospel-Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved-Acts 16:31 or Repent and Be Baptized Acts 2:28-or John 5:24
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
You hear the imperative and through the Gospel you become something new-No longer Slave to sin but instead Slaves to Righteousness. You are given new legs to walk in righteousness, you were called from the grave and to life.
You had this change-being justified by faith in Christ, there was a change that took place- When A change takes place-When Jesus Christ acts in someone’s life to transform who they were-there is evidence of the change- The paralytic walked-Lazarus came out of the grave-
The unseen transformation by Faith in Christ is manifested in visible proof. We can see that the person has been changed.
What is that old Southern Gospel Song made famous by George Yont-Thanks to Calvary I don’t come here anymore- I’m not the man I used to be. I am different
There is a visible proof in the life of someone who has been through the Gospel, and there indicative has been changed. I can think of several people around here. I bet you know them- They are different, they are joyful, there is proof that the gospel has changed them.
This week there was a great example of someone who has been changed by the gospel. I am sure many of you have seen this in the news this week, but maybe you didn’t and this is important enough that we should see it.
Last summer an off duty police officer named Amber Guyger returned home from her shift. Instead of going to her apartment she mistakingly was on the wrong floor and entered Botham Jean’s apartment. Thinking he was an intruder in her she shot and killed Him. She was found guilty, and this week at the sentencing hearing the victims 18 year old brother Brandt Jean had a chance to speak. This is what he said
Brandt Jean clearly has been transformed by the Gospel. He was not going to be paralyzed by anger, or vengeance. Rather he heard the call of the the gospel and is now a Slave to righteousness. The power of the Gospel in His life is apparent by the transformation that has taken place.
This story continues on-there are a lot of threads and more things are happening daily, we are only looking at this aspect at this time. To demonstrate what a changed person looks like.
Now there is a lot of passed tense in those words. Who you were and what happened-That does not do give you the full picture of the Christian life. The Christian life isn’t only past tense-It starts with the past tense but then in moves into the present. We are in Romans chapter 6 after all and we are trying to live out the Christian life. So what we need to do is change the wording a little.
We will change who you were- to Who you ARE.
We change what has happened to what is happening
and we will change who you have become to Who you are becoming.
Now, look at who you are-Maybe now something still has a grip on you. You are going to need to get alone with God, and figure that out-I will have a time of silent prayer here before communion, and you can look at who you are.
Maybe you are paralyzed-Paralyzed by fear or worry of the unknown. Or you are paralyzed addiction to something-finding pleasure in it rather than in God. Maybe lonliness, or depression has a grip on you and your life lacks joy. Maybe you are paralyzed by Pride thinking you got it all figured out, or you are dead to the freedom and joy God offers because you got stuck in your current issues.
Romans 6.19 tells us a little about this it offers us a new imperative.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
Paul says JUST As you used to offer yourself as slaves impurity-Maybe you mulled over worry in your mind, or you mulled over what you did not have from God, either in material things or relationships, Just as you were caught up in your own pride. In the same dedication, and effort you put forth toward sin-Now take that effort and put it forth toward righteousness.
Were you up all night with worry or desires, Now take that time and thank God for the blessings, thank Jesus for all he has given you Thank Jesus for giving you eternal life. Pour over God’s word reading about the blessings God has given you.
Is it pride offer God your knees in prayer, DO NOTHING WITHOUT God. DO Nothing without being absolutely sure the Lord Jesus wants you to do that-Offer your life to God.
Look at who you are, Realize what is happening-God is transforming you by the power of the Holy Spirit so that You are becoming-Slaves to Righteousness.