But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. — Romans 6:17-18
The concept of freedom means different things to different people.
Citizens of the United States of America celebrate independence on July 4, looking back to that date in 1776 when the founding fathers declared the thirteen American colonies to be independent of the British monarchy. They deemed their new nation to be self-governing, and felt that God had endowed them with that right, viewing independence from British rule as freedom.
Freedom was a deeply appreciated blessing to the Chris Botofan family when they arrived in Portland, Oregon, on July 5, 1979, and stepped into an Apostolic Faith camp meeting which was in progress. To them, freedom looked like liberty from the oppression they had felt in Communist Romania until just a few months earlier when they left for America. They had a view of freedom which perhaps cannot be fully appreciated by those who have not lived under that type of regime.
Some years ago, two prisoners who escaped from a maximum security institution in New York State were in the news. The inmates were able to cut through the walls of their cells, cross a catwalk to a network of utility tunnels, and cut into a pipe leading to a manhole outside the facility’s walls. Can you imagine how those men must have schemed and planned to make that happen? They had one thing on their minds: escape to freedom! As they crawled four hundred feet through the pipe and approached the manhole cover, adrenaline would have been flowing. No doubt they thought, We’ve almost made it! We’re almost free! However, their joy was short lived. As soon as they crawled out, they began to encounter problems. Their get-away vehicle was not waiting for them, and before long they were on the run. They were “free” for a number of days, but their attempt did not end well. While these two convicts viewed escape from confinement as freedom, what they experienced was not true freedom.
In our focus verses, the Apostle Paul pointed out what true freedom is — being delivered and set free from the bondage and power of sin. Sin harms and destroys; freedom is healing and wholeness of the inner man. Sin brings guilt; freedom brings a clear conscience. Sin causes condemnation and fear; freedom results in peace with God and having no fear of death or eternity.
Those who have made Jesus the Lord of their lives are no longer enslaved by sin — they have the power to live victoriously without sin. They are truly free! Is that your experience today? It can be!
In Romans 6, Paul addressed several foundational doctrines of the Gospel including the nature of sin and its penalty, living without sin, the significance of water baptism, and the necessity of sanctification. The chapter divides naturally into two sections, the first concerning what it means to be free from sin (verses 1-11), and the second focusing on how believers live as servants of righteousness (verses 12-23).
Paul’s opening question in verse 1 in effect asked, “Since we are justified, should we continue in sin in order to reveal how great grace is?” His purpose was to reject the false assumption that salvation by grace allows one to continue in sin, so he provided the answer: a resounding “God forbid.”
The Apostle followed his own emphatic rejection with another question, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” The tense used in the original Greek in the phrase “that are dead to sin,” points to a particular moment in time, indicating that justification is an instantaneous experience.
Paul’s reference in verses 3-5 to being “buried with him [Christ] by baptism into death” and “planted together in the likeness of his death” makes two points related to water baptism. First, the word “burial” presupposes that death has already occurred, teaching that baptism is for believers — those who have already died to sin. Baptism does not take away sin; rather, it bears public witness to a new life in Christ which has already begun. In Rome at that time, submitting to Christian baptism was a clear statement that the believer had died to his old life and was from that point on committed to being identified with the followers of Christ. Second, the verbs “buried” and “planted” both speak to immersion as being the form of baptism practiced by the Early Church. The action of being submerged in water symbolizes dying to sin and being buried with Christ. The action of coming up out of the water illustrates arising to newness of life, just as Christ arose to new life at His resurrection.
Beginning with verses 6-7, Paul addressed the subject of sanctification, stating that “our old man is crucified” that the “body of sin [carnality, the sin nature, or the old man] might be destroyed.” The Greek word translated “sin” in these verses (harmartia) implies an inward condition of sin out of which acts of sin originate. As a result of the crucifixion and death of the old man, the justified individual is “freed from sin” — the inclination or bent toward sinning is eradicated. The Greek word in verse 6 translated destroyed (karatgeo) means “abolish or eradicate,” and thus conclusively proves that the sin nature is not merely suppressed but is done away with at sanctification. Though sin no longer reigns, the justified and sanctified person still must maintain his experiences by living “unto God” (verse 10).
The second portion of the chapter (verses 12-23) contains an exhortation regarding how a justified person is to live as a servant of righteousness: he is to present himself to God in an act of total consecration and to refuse to allow sin to govern him. In essence, the Apostle challenged the believers at Rome, “Put every part of your body and every power of your redeemed nature at the disposal of God.” The word “yield” occurs five times in verses 13-19, and suggests a transfer of ownership. The result of yielding is described in verse 22: the believer will have “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
In verse 15, Paul asked a question similar to the one with which the chapter opened: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” Once again, his emphatic answer, “God forbid,” is proof that it is God’s will for every Christian to live victoriously without sinning. In verse 18 he reiterated, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” The word free — used three times in chapter 5 and six times in this chapter — means “to liberate; to exempt from moral, ceremonial, or mortal liability.”
Verse 23 warns that “the wages of sin is death.” Sin that is not repented of will lead to eternal separation from God and eternal punishment.
(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. God’s plan of salvation
B. God’s remedy
2. Entire sanctification (freedom from inbred sin)
a. Freed from sin (6:1-11)
b. Now submit to righteousness (6:12-23)
While people view freedom in different ways, salvation is what brings true freedom. Freedom from the captivity of sin allows us to offer ourselves as obedient and willing servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.