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
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
CONTEXT & INTRODUCTION
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
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
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]
EXAMPLES & ILLUSTRATIONS
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
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
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.
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
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
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
MINI-VIDEO DEVOTIONALS ON THIS PASSAGE BY PASTOR SHAWN BOONSTRA:
EXCELLENT VIDEO SERIES ON EXPERIENCING GOD:
GREAT SITE FOR CHRIST CENTERED BIBLE STUDIES:
Lifting Up Jesus: http://www.liftingupjesus.net/