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Subjects, Soldiers and Servants

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Subjects, Soldiers, and Slaves (Romans 6:12-23)

There are two great experiences for the Christian on earth. In justification God pronounces you right with Him by faith. In sanctification God makes you right with Him as a fact. The Christian experiences victory over the power of sin. Paul describes that victory under three strong images. As a former subject in the kingdom of sin, the Christian now serves another Master. As subjects we revolt, as soldiers we change sides, and as slaves we change masters.

We Should Revolt as Subjects of Sin

Recognize the personalized reality of sin. In Romans, Paul speaks of sin as a great personality, a personal force of awesome proportions. He does not hesitate to call sin a monarch with subjects and a master with slaves. "Do not let sin reign" (v. 12a) indicates the power and intention of sin. The contemporary world ridicules the very notion of sin. The Christian takes its reality with seriousness.

Realize the realm in which sin operates: "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body." Our body in this sense is the whole of us, every capacity: physically, intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally. That body is mortal, corruptible, subject to decay. There is a word of warning and a word of encouragement about our "mortal body" (v. 12b). The warning: Do not let that which perishes rule your life. The encouragement: we will not always have a mortal body capable of sin. We will one day have a glorified body incapable of sin.

Reaffirm the revolt. For the Christian, sin is a dethroned monarch, a sovereign without a realm, a king without a crown. Sin is like a deposed ruler who constantly wants to reclaim his realm. We must constantly and actively resist and continually revolt against the reestablishment of his throne. We are no longer his subjects.

Reenlist as Soldiers of the Savior

The Christian is one who has changed sides in the battle. Negatively, refuse to give yourself as a weapon to the enemy: "do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness" (v. 13). This speaks of a presentation. We all offer ourselves either to unrighteousness or righteousness. This points to the things presented, parts of your body." The word means your limbs, organs, or any natural capacity. It is used specifically of the eye and the ear (1 Cor. 12:16-18). It speaks of the purpose for which we present ourselves, "instruments." The word literally means "weapons." We flatly refuse to give any part of ourself as a weapon on the side of unrighteousness. The Christian refuses habitually to hand over any part of his life as a weapon to the enemy.

Positively, we reenlist daily in the forces of righteousness. We make a presentation of our whole personality as a weapon on the side of righteousness. The verb emphasizes the once-for-all nature of our decision. As a practical matter, we should present ourselves every day with fresh commitment. You can literally pray, "Lord, today I present my hands, eyes, ears, and all I have as weapons to be used by You for righteousness." Never surrender your weapons back to the enemy.

Respond as a Servant

We are to acknowledge the presence of a Master: "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey?" (v. 16) The question of being free is out of the question. Everyone is mastered by a master. Whatever is the power to which you yield yourself, that power is your master. There are ultimately two alternatives in the matter of a master. You are a slave to sin or you are a slave to obedience. Paul admits that the word "slave" could be misinterpreted (v. 19). He does not know a better word, however, to indicate total belongingness, obligation, commitment, and accountability.

Admit the power of a master. We are slaves to that which we obey, not what we profess. Jesus said, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other" (Luke 16:13, KJV). The slave is the exclusive property of one, and he will serve that one and no other.

Accept the payment of a master. The payoff for serving sin is death. This means inward deadness now and ultimately "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power" (2 Thess. 1:9, KJV). The ultimate payoff for serving obedience is final righteousness. That means that you not only will be declared righteous but will actually be made righteous in the presence of God. Sin is a master that abuses you now and bilks you later. Sin pays off in death. Righteousness is a master that blesses you now and more than blesses you later. Who masters you?

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