Romans 6:16 - Who Is Your Master?

Romans 6:16 - Who Is Your Master?

Romans 6:16 (KJV) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves 
servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin 
unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  

Romans 6:16 (AMP) Do you not know that if you continually 
surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him 
whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to 
obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing 
with God)? 

Romans 6:16 (CWR) Don't you know that you become the slave of 
the one you turn your life over to? If you turn your life over to 
sin, it will eventually kill you. If you turn your life over to doing 
what is right, you'll receive eternal life.  

Romans 6:16 (TLB) Don't you realize that you can choose your own 
master? You can choose sin (with death) or else obedience (with 
acquittal). The one to whom you offer yourself--he will take you and be your 
master, and you will be his slave.  


   Servants: "slaves," "bond servants." Among the Greeks and 
Romans a slave was regarded as his master's property, and his owner 
could dispose of him as he pleased. Under a cruel master the lot of 
the slave was most oppressive, and he was sometimes treated worse 
than a beast. Such is the condition of every miserable sinner. He is 
the slave of Satan, and his own evil desires and appetites are his 
relentless taskmasters (v. 12). 
   Paul uses the same word "slave" to describe the servants of 
Christ (see on ch. 1:1). By this he makes it clear that they are indeed 
their Master's property. But since Christ is infinitely good and 
benevolent, His service is actually perfect freedom, for He requires no 
obedience that He does not turn to the eternal advantage of His servants. 

His servants ye are. We show by our conduct which master we are 
serving. No man can serve two masters at the same time [SDA Bible 


Romans 6:1-14: Dead to Sin, Alive to God. [Remnant SOP SB]
Romans 6:15-23: From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God. [Remnant 

In this chapter Paul announced the believer's freedom from sin 
through union with Jesus. To understand Paul's teaching we need to 
realize that the Bible makes a distinction between sin and sins. On the 
one hand, sin is a state or condition. It is the corruption of human 
nature; the warping of the human will, emotions, and understanding. On 
the other hand, sins are specific acts that intentionally or 
unintentionally fall short of God's perfection because of our rebelliousness, 
our evil desires, or our failure to grasp what is right and good. 
The good news that Paul announced in this chapter is that through 
union with Jesus, we have within us the source of perfection! We no 
longer are limited to the choices, desires, or understanding of a 
corrupt nature! In Christ, we can at long last actually be, and do, 
good. Paul did not teach that the old corrupt nature that expressed 
itself in acts of sins is gone. Not at all. Sin is still with us. But 
so is Jesus. And because Jesus is with us, we need no longer commit 
sins. [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] 

The "body of sin" is not the human body per se, but our 
rebellious sin-loving nature inherited from Adam. Though our body willingly 
cooperates with our sinful nature, we must not regard the body as evil. It 
is the sin in us that is evil. And it is this power of sin at work 
in our body that is defeated. Paul has already stated that through 
faith in Christ we stand acquitted, "not guilty," before God. Here 
Paul emphasizes that we need no longer live under sin's power. God 
does not take us out of the world or make us robots--we will still 
feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin. The difference is that 
before we were saved we were slaves to our sinful nature, but now we 
can choose to live for Christ (see Gal. 2:20). [The One Year Bible 
Companion re Rom. 6:6] 

All people have a master and pattern themselves after him. 
Without Jesus, we would have no choice; we would be enslaved to sin, and 
the results would be guilt, suffering, and separation from God. 
Thanks to Jesus, however, we can now choose God as our Master. 
Following him, we can enjoy new life and learn how to work for him. Are 
you still serving your first master, sin? Or have you chosen God? 
[Life Application SB] 


   When people become believers in Christ, they are joined to 
Jesus Christ and begin to share in his experience and benefits, 
including his death and resurrection. Their old life dies with Christ, and 
they rise to new life by his power within them (Romans 6:3-14).  
   This is all the work of God, who transforms them by his 
Spirit. Their minds are renewed, their desires and actions change, and 
their lives begin to reflect the fruit of his Spirit (Romans 12:2; 
Galatians 5:22-23). They become different people, gradually growing into 
the likeness of Christ.  
   Believers are also responsible for living out Christ's death 
and resurrection (see Philippians 3:10-14). They are to turn away 
from their old life that was full of darkness and embrace a new life 
full of light (Ephesians 4:17-5:20). Using the imagery of clothing, 
Paul calls believers to "throw off" the old, sinful life driven by 
the devil and to "put on" a new, pure life directed by the Holy 
Spirit. As they do so, they recognize their reliance on God's grace and 
   Believers must actively turn from their old lives to live in 
a new way that pleases God. It is God's gracious working in their 
hearts that gives them the desire and power to do so (Philippians 
2:13). [One Year NLT SB re Romans 6:1-23] 

   Before you were a Christian you were a slave, in bondage to 
sin. Even when you did not want to sin, you were unable to do 
otherwise (Ro 7:15-24). When God saved you, He freed you from sin, but you 
remained a slave. Now, rather than being bound to sin, you are bound to 
righteousness. In every area of your life you are obligated to do what honors 
   There are some who believe that when Christ sets them free, 
they are free to do whatever they want. That is not so. The apostle 
Paul realized that when he began following Christ he became a 
"bondservant" of Christ, and his life was no longer his own (Ro 1:1). Now, 
rather than being enslaved to sin, he was enslaved to God and His 
righteousness. When people mistreated him, he had forfeited the right to 
respond from his natural feelings but was compelled to offer a righteous 
response. When he was tempted, he was no longer free to succumb to his 
feelings. Paul could not enter the workplace and act selfishly. He 
understood that, as a slave of righteousness, he was obligated to live a 
holy life, honoring his Master. 
   Righteous living is not an option for a Christian. Nor is it 
something we must try to do over time. It is an obligation, mandatory for 
every child of God. Our freedom in Christ is not freedom to do what we 
want. It is freedom to live righteously, something we could not do 
when we were in bondage to sin. Now that we are free to live 
righteously, we must allow the Holy Spirit to produce in us a holy, 
sanctified life (1John 3:7). [Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and 
Richard Blackaby] 

   The word slavery conjures up images of drudgery, menial 
tasks, and the forfeiture of self. It reminds us of people bent to the 
will of another, suffering abuse at the hands of those who have 
complete power over them. Why then would the apostle Paul describe both 
sin and righteousness in such terms? Paul knew what it was like to 
live in bondage to sin. Yet he had also watched as his new master 
tore off his chains. Sin offered to destroy his purpose. Yet Jesus 
reached out to him when Paul was blinded and humbled on the road to 
Damascus and set him on a different path - the path of life and freedom. 
Sin enticed Paul with pride and promises of power. Yet Jesus freed 
him from the confines of his self-made prison to embrace the destiny 
God intended for him from the beginning. Having served both masters, 
Paul had learned the secret and couldn't wait to share it: When we 
bow at the feet of Jesus, he is the only master who truly sets us 
   JESUS, I kneel at your feet again today. I ask that you be 
the master of my heart, of my thoughts, of my ambitions, of my time, 
of my life. Thank you for being such a gracious, kind, and merciful 
God. It is in offering my life to you that I find abundant life. It 
is by serving you that I find true freedom! [Praying Through The 
Bible By Fuller re Rom. 6:18] 

   Following Jesus doesn't mean that you're suddenly perfect. We 
will still struggle with sin, but we don't have to be slaves to sin. 
As followers of Christ, we have been set free from the enslaving 
power of sin. "Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the 
law, does that mean we can go on sinning?" Paul asked. Short answer: 
Of course not!  
   Following Jesus means desiring to be like him. It means 
knowing him well enough to have an idea of what he would do in the 
situations we face. Even when we sin, when we fail and flounder, we can 
choose to repent and obey God and pursue his way. We can become slaves 
to righteousness instead of slaves to sin. [The One Year Bible for 
New Believers re Rom. 6:15-18] 

"The strength for our conquering and our victory is drawn 
continually from Christ. The Bible does not teach that sin is completely 
eradicated from Christians in this life, but it does teach that sin shall 
no longer reign over you. The strength and power of sin have been 
broken. The Christian now has resources available to live above and 
beyond this world. The Bible teaches that whosoever is born of God does 
not practice sin. It is like the little girl who said that when the 
devil came knocking with a temptation, she just sent Jesus to the 
door." Billy Graham [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary re Rom. 

   Ray Stedman says "a common sight in the Roman Empire, where 
human beings were offered for sale to anyone who would pay the price. 
Here we were, bound as slaves. Into this slave pit, Jesus came, and 
he struck off our fetters and set us free."  
   Liberation means that God accepts and loves us. We're his 
children, in whom he's well pleased. That becomes our identity, and we can 
accept ourselves. When we're beset by guilt, we need to open ourselves 
to God and accept his forgiveness.  
   Ray Stedman preaches it this way: "Once you sense you're 
forgiven, healed, whole in God's sight, that your sin has been set aside 
and you're a wholesome person made in the image of God, you want to 
sing and rejoice and dance and shout to the heavens that you've been 
set free. You never want to go back and add to that load of guilt 
   Lord Jesus, thank you for setting me free. Thank you for your 
love for me. When I fail, help me to quickly turn to you for fresh 
cleansing and a renewal of your Spirit so I can do what is pleasing in 
your sight. [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra] 


Christian, what hast thou to do with sin? Hath it not cost thee 
enough already? Burnt child, wilt thou play with the fire? What! when 
thou hast already been between the jaws of the lion, wilt thou step a 
second time into his den? Hast thou not had enough of the old serpent? 
Did he not poison all thy veins once, and wilt thou play upon the 
hole of the asp, and put thy hand upon the cockatrice's den a second 
time? Oh, be not so mad! so foolish! Did sin ever yield thee real 
pleasure? Didst thou find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to 
thine old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delight thee. But 
inasmuch as sin did never give thee what it promised to bestow, but 
deluded thee with lies, be not a second time snared by the old fowler- 
be free, and let the remembrance of thy ancient bondage forbid thee 
to enter the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal 
love, which all have an eye to thy purity and holiness; therefore run 
not counter to the purposes of thy Lord. Another thought should 
restrain thee from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a 
heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, 
obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the 
soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin. There is yet a 
higher argument: each time you "serve sin" you have "Crucified the Lord 
afresh, and put him to an open shame." Can you bear that thought? Oh! if 
you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be my 
Master has sent this admonition this evening, to bring you back before 
you have backslidden very far. Turn thee to Jesus anew; he has not 
forgotten his love to thee; his grace is still the same. With weeping and 
repentance, come thou to his footstool, and thou shalt be once more received 
into his heart; thou shalt be set upon a rock again, and thy goings 
shall be established. [Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon re 
Romans 6:6] 

Freedom does not mean I am able to do whatever I want to do. 
That's the worst kind of bondage. Freedom means I have been set free to 
become all that God wants me to be, to achieve all that God wants me to 
achieve, to enjoy all that God wants me to enjoy. Warren W. Wiersbe (b. 

It's hard to imagine why anyone who genuinely loves Christ would 
want to live for the very sins that cost Jesus His life. How could 
any real believer glory in what God abhors? [Life Principles SB By 
Charles Stanley mod] 


Just Don't Jump
   Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say about this passage, "When 
the old captain shouts, just don't jump!" 
   Dr. Barnhouse was a master at finding illustrations to make 
the most complex concepts simple and clear. We surely need that gift 
to help us with Romans 6. What's all this about "the body of sin" 
being "rendered powerless"? And "death no longer having mastery" over 
us? How do we explain "count yourselves dead to sin but alive to 
   Barnhouse would say we're like the crew of a ship at sea. We 
took orders from our captain, body of sin. But then one day while we 
were still at sea, that captain was replaced, and authority passed to 
a new captain, God. So body of sin was rendered powerless, with no 
right of mastery over us at all. God is the only One we have to obey. 
   The trouble is, the old captain is still on board the ship, 
and even though he has no authority, he keeps on shouting orders. 
Because we're so familiar with his voice, we all too often find 
ourselves jumping to obey him. What we have to do, Barnhouse said, is to 
"count yourselves dead" to the old captain's orders, and just don't 
jump to obey his commands. 
   I always liked the illustration. Isn't it great that we don't 
have to jump when a sinful thought urges us on to sin? What fun to 
tell sin to go jump instead! [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary re 
Romans 6:1-14] 

Living Under Grace
   Keith Green grew up a seeker. He had a Jewish background but 
spent many hours reading the New Testament. His rebellious nature led 
him into the growing drug culture, the sexual revolution, and a 
variety of dead-end religions. Jesus was at the bottom of his list. But 
when he was twenty one, Keith bought a cross, put it on, and through 
desperate tears prayed, "Jesus, if you're there, show yourself to me." And 
Jesus did.  
   As a young musician, Keith sought stardom. After he came to 
faith in Christ, though, his quest for the spotlight ended. He still 
wanted to make music, but his desire was to give glory to the One in 
whom he'd placed his faith. He made records but didn't feel right 
selling them, and often he gave them away instead. He sang for huge 
crowds but wasn't comfortable with applause. At times he seemed to do 
anything to avoid it-sometimes not stopping between one song and the 
next, other times preaching until the concert became more sermon than 
   Keith struggled personally with the balance between grace and 
the law. More Old Testament prophet than modern artist, he was hard 
on himself and hard on others. As he grew in his faith, he sorted 
it out and shared it frequently, talking-and singing-about the 
sufficiency and freedom of God's grace.  
   Though a plane crash took his life when he was only 
twenty-eight - just seven years after coming to faith-Keith's work was 
complete. He had loved God with his whole heart, which is all any of us is 
called to do. Keith said, "Loving him is to be our cause. He can take 
care of a lot of other causes without us, but he can't make us love 
him with all our heart. That's the work we must do."  
   Keith Green (1953 -1982), Christian performer, songwriter, 
and activist, was husband to Melody and father to Josiah, Bethany, 
Rebekah, and Rachel. [The One Year Bible Live Verse Devotional re Rom. 

Vagabond King
   Eugene Peterson describes the life of Jesus this way: "He 
talked like a king and acted like a slave."  
   Jesus indeed talked like a king. He said he could call down 
legions of angels. He declared that he and his Father were one. He said 
he had come to free the captives. Yet he washed his disciples' 
   Peterson adds, "He preached with high authority and lived 
like a vagabond."  
   What Would Jesus Do? Though the question has been somewhat 
trivialized by its use as a bracelet and T-shirt slogan, it nonetheless 
strikes at the heart of what is essential in our following Jesus Christ. 
   What did Jesus do? If he had the power to call down angels 
and conquer Rome or to do whatever he wished, why did he act like a 
slave and a vagabond? Instead of taking the opportunities to conquer 
and control, he purposely passed them all by.  
   What was his strategy? 
   Jesus was very clear that his will and his actions were in 
tune with his heavenly Father's. In fact, he said he could do nothing 
without the Father. What did Jesus do? He prayed to the Father-and we 
can do the same.  
   If we want to know what Jesus would do in our circumstances, 
we should first do what he did-fervently pray to our Father in 
heaven. We should share our concerns, confess our dependence, and seek 
his guidance.  
   Will the Father guide us to great success? Perhaps. But maybe 
he will guide us to a success unrecognized by the world or by our 
friends. We may find that our success looks more like the success that 
Jesus had-in self-sacrifice, concern for others, and obedience to God 
the Father.  
   Heavenly Father, so many times I wonder what I should do. 
Help me now to listen intently to what your Spirit is saying. Give me 
the strength and courage to act on what you command and to share 
your love.  [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra re 
Rom. 6:4] 







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