“Wrestling With Romans”
Living Right (Chapter 6 Verses 15-23)
It was the members of our body that gave expression to sin (v19), our feet taking us places they shouldn’t have, our lips speaking words that should never have been spoken, or did not speak when they should have. Our hands were used to commit offences, along with our eyes, our ears, etc. Of course the more we did so, the more entrapped we became and the more wickedness increased. Sin leads to more sin, until God gives us over to our lusts and desires (Romans 1.24). This sin power not only increases in our own lives but affects others around us, the world and society. Well, says Paul, instead, now, offer your members to righteousness in exactly the same way, which will lead to ever-increasing holiness. Our sanctification, unlike our justification, is a progressive business, a lifelong one, and one which we are involved in personally. Yes, it is a work of God too, but we have to play our part in it (Philippians 2.12-13; Hebrews 13.20-21). It is the working of God’s Holy Spirit within us (Romans 8.13), but there is no holiness achieved without the activity of the believer him or herself (Philippians 4.9; 1Corinthians 7.1). There is a sense in which we could say Paul is here telling us to change our habits, instead of sinful ones, righteous, holy ones. It is the putting off and the putting on he speaks of elsewhere, not just negative but positive too, holy living (Matthew 5.48; Romans 12.1; Titus 2.11-15). If we have put on the obedience of faith (v17) then that will inevitably lead to holiness (Romans 6.16; v19), to a life of joyful and delightful obedience (1John 5.3).
When you were in sin you turned your nose up at righteousness (v20), well now that you have been declared righteous by God, do the same with sin. If you have any doubts, if you have forgotten what the old life-style was like, ask yourself this question, what fruit did it bear, what were the benefits (v21)? The answer, none! No not a particle of fruitfulness, nothing but sin leading eventually to eternal and everlasting death. The fruit of the gospel’s good (Galatians 5.22), its light (Ephesians 5.9), righteousness (Philippians 1.11), very beneficial indeed both to yourself and others around you. Its result is life eternal and everlasting (v22). There may have been much we are ashamed of from our past sinful ways, but be assured there is nothing in the gospel life to be ashamed of now (Romans 1.16), at last, in its power, we are living for who, and what, we always should have been.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)