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The Wages of Sin; The Gifts of Righteousness (Romans Sermon 39 of 120)

The Wages of Sin; The Gifts of Righteousness (Romans Sermon 39 of 120)

September 02, 2001 | Andrew Davis
Romans 6:19-23
Righteousness of God, Death & Dying

I. Return on Investment

Look with me at Romans chapter 6. This morning, we're going to be looking at verses 19-23, although in truth, I'm not going to be getting into verse 23 that much. It's just so rich and so deep that we're going to give attention to it more next week. We live in a complex age. We are an urban people. We are a people that watches CNN and we follow the ups and downs, perhaps of the stock market, or other things. And so we would not respond as well to agricultural illustrations as we do, perhaps, financial ones. We talk about investment more than we talk about sowing. We talk about a return on investment more than we talk about reaping. But the fact of the matter is, these same matters are facing us as faced God's people 2,000 years ago. When Paul said to the Galatian believers, he said, "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please the spirit from the spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we'll reap the harvest if we do not give up. Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good." Paul there in Galatians 6 is calling the people of God to make an investment in the Spirit, and to stop investing in the flesh. He's calling on us to stop sowing seeds to our sin nature. And it's the very same thing he's doing here in Romans chapter 6.

Has Sin Ever Done Anything Good for You?

In Romans 6, Paul is trying to talk us out of habits and patterns of sin that do not line up with who we are in Jesus Christ. He's speaking to us in love and as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he's reasoning with us, just as Isaiah did so long ago. Come now, let us reason together. Stop sinning. And here in this passage that we're looking at, he's taking this approach, saying, "What has sin ever done for you?" I was talking to somebody recently who was struggling with sin and wrestling with it, and it was a younger person, and the person was talking to me about it, and said, "I just can't stop. I just keep doing it over and over."

I said, "Imagine, if you would, that we lived in a neighborhood, and there were people that wanted to be your friend. And one of them came out with a big smile on his face and said, 'Come on into my house and we'll be friends together.' And so you walk by, it's a friendly looking person, you go in the house, and the person speaks harshly to you, beats you up, treats you badly and then throws you out in the street. What kind of person would you think that would be?" This child said to me, "Well, a mean person." I said, "That's right. Now, suppose you went and visited that mean person 100 days in a row. Day after day after day after day. What kind of person would you be?" This little person looked and said, "A fool."

I said, "That's right." Isn't that what we do? Has there ever been a time that you look back on your life and say, you know that thing that I did there was clearly sin, but I'm glad I did it. Has there ever been a time like that in your life? That God's word spoke against something that you did, but you are glad looking back that you did that. Has sin ever done anything good for you? And that's exactly Paul's reasoning, he's saying what benefit, what fruit has ever come to you from sin? And so he's reasoning with us. He's talking us out of sin.

II. Context

Now, in context where are we? We're right after that section, which Paul has been explaining to us, the human race, about our need for justification. There is coming a Judgment Day. We will soon be standing before the judgment seat of God. And on that day, we will have to give an account for our lives. And God has a careful, accurate accounting and record of everything that we've ever said and done. And on that day, there will be no escape from the judgment of God, if it's not found in Jesus Christ. So, all of us who have sinned and done evil in His sight, all of us are in need of justification. We're in need of being declared not guilty by the judge of all the earth. There is no issue you face in your life that's more important than that.

And so, we need justification. And in Romans chapter 1, 2 and 3, he goes through, and makes it very clear that all have sinned and lack the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace. So, we've got the bad news of our sin and our need for justification right next to the good news of the fact that it's available through faith in Jesus Christ. Through faith alone, by grace alone through the blood of Jesus Christ. And so Paul works out that argument, and he culminates in chapter 5 a great statement of our total security in Christ. "Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more," so that grace reigns in your life like a king, like an emperor. Sin cannot defeat the reign of grace in your life. And so that carnal nature starts to kick up and say, "Well, if that's the case, I might as well sin, let's sin all the more so that grace may increase." And in chapter 6, Paul is dealing with the issue of sin in the life of a justified Christian. Sin in the life of somebody who's put their faith in Christ.

What role should sin have in our life? And how do you line it up with this doctrine that he's giving us of justification by faith? Romans 6:1, he says, "What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? May it never be." That's Paul's answer. Don't you know that you have been united with Christ in His death? And united with Him also in His resurrection. You have a new life, you're a new person. You're alive to God and dead to sin forever. And he asks the same question again in Romans 6:15. "What then, shall we sin because we're not under law, but under grace?" So, we're dealing with this question.

Shall we sin? Shall we sin? He asks it twice and the answer is, "May it never be." Because we are one with Jesus Christ spiritually, and if you're not one with Jesus Christ spiritually, you're not saved. You're still under judgment. You're still under wrath, but if you have come to faith in Christ you have been united spiritually with Him, and therefore you died to sin, not you should die to sin. It would be good if you could die to sin. He's not saying that at all. He's saying, "You died to sin, once and for all." The person you were in Adam, the person you were born into in sin is dead forever. You have become a new creation in Jesus Christ. So live like it. That's how he's exhorting us toward holiness. 1 John 2:6, John writes this, "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." We must walk in this world as Jesus did. We must be holy. Now, justification is a judicial, a declaration like by a court of law by a judge that you are not guilty of all your sins. He has declared you on the basis of your faith in Jesus Christ that you're not guilty, but actually, nothing has changed in terms of your habit patterns or your lifestyle. Just as I am, you came to Him without one plea, you came and presented yourself to God, and He declared you not guilty because of faith in Jesus Christ.

Then, He rolls up His sleeves and gets to work on your life. It matters a great deal how you live after you have been declared not guilty. You must be holy. You must walk in holiness and the newness of life. 1 John 4:17, "In this world, we are like Him."

III. The Analogy of Slavery: “Just as...So also”

And so, He raises up this image of slavery, which we talked about last time. We used to be slaves to sin but we're no longer slaves to sin. Sin is not our master, but rather God has become our master. Righteousness has become our master. Jesus Christ is our Lord. Read with me along in verses 19 through 23 and let's understand what He says to us. Speaking of this analogy of slavery, He says, "I put this in human terms, because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness, leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefits did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death, but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life, for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So, Paul raises up this picture, this image, this analogy of slavery and there's a comparison, "just as, so also." He's comparing your old way of life in slavery to sin, to your new way of life in slavery to righteousness and he's going to bring out a principle there that's going to help you in your growth in holiness. He's going to talk about that. He says in verse 16, "Don't you know that when you offer yourself to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey." So, he's got this slavery analogy, and from verse 16-18, he's been using this human analogy to explain our present status in Christ, namely, that of slavery.

Now, the Romans understood slavery. As the Roman legions advanced around the world and conquered nations, people would be brought to Rome as slaves and they would have to serve their masters. And that was their understanding. So, Paul uses and picks up this analogy, but in a way, he kind of has to apologize for it. It's not a perfect analogy and he wants to explain why he's using it. There's an aspect of it that's true, but it's not perfect, just like all illustrations and analogies. In verse 18, he says, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." So, just as your past life in sin was a life of slavery to sin, so now your present life in Christ is a life of slavery to righteousness.

That's the analogy. And he acknowledges that this is merely an analogy. Look at verse 19, "I put this in human terms." I speak after a human way of thinking here. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your flesh. You're weak in your natural selves." Why does Paul apologize, it seems, almost for the analogy. Not so much apologize but he wants you to know that there's a limit to the analogy. Well, he uses the analogy, first of all, because he says we are weak. We don't understand spiritual truth. We need, therefore, illustrations. We need analogies. Now, I think, in preaching that illustrations are important but they are not for the purpose of entertainment. I love to listen to stories. I think it's great to listen to one story after another, but all of you who are Christians are in a war and you're going to leave this room and you're going to go back onto the battlefield and you're going to struggle with sin, are you not? As a matter of fact, if you're not struggling with sin, you're not a Christian. You're just a slave to sin. You do the will of sin day after day. So, either you're dead in transgressions and sins and under the wrath of God or you're going to leave this room and go into warfare against your sin nature. And if you're a Christian, you know it's true.

And so, there's no point in me standing and giving a bunch of stories and illustrations that are not going to help you for your warfare, but rather, we need an illustration that's going to help us understand how we can conquer, how we can rise to live the way that God calls us to. And so, that's what He does. And so, He stoops to some degree to our weakness. He uses language we can understand, basic grammar, nouns and verbs and adjectives and participial phrases. And He puts these things together so that we can understand the mind of God. He humbles Himself to speak to us this way. And as you look across the 66 books of the Bible, He uses all different kinds of manner of speech, doesn't He? He uses historical narratives, stories about David and Goliath and Samson and Delilah, we learn those stories, the Exodus and all the events of the book of Genesis.

All of those stories and their historical narratives, and they all happened, but they teach us something about the way of God and His way of thinking. We also have laws, don't we, in which God says, "Thou shalt and thou shalt not," and makes it very clear what His will is in certain matters. He speaks to us in that way. He speaks also to us in poetry. The beautiful Song of Solomon, with its love poetry. He talks to us in Psalms through David and other psalm writers. That's poetical language, and He uses that. He speaks to us in parables, doesn't He? Jesus used parables. The parable of the rich young ruler or the parable of the pearl of great price. The parable of the prodigal son. All of these stories teaching a point. He speaks to us in these ways. He speaks to us also in prophecies that this will happen after 70 years. The people of Israel will come back from Babylon, He lays it out. He speaks to us also in apocalyptic visions that are very difficult to understand. The Book of Revelation, Book of Ezekiel. Future apocalyptic visions. All of this is God's condescending lowering Himself to communicate to us so that we can understand. The greatest form of condescension ever done was the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

"The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And we have seen His glory." And He walked around with us and He lived a life after the same manner of ours, yet without sin. In this way, God condescended to communicate to us in our weakness. And in the middle of that there came a time, once, when a ruler, a leader in Israel, Nicodemus, came to Him at night and wanted to know and understand His spiritual ministry. He tried to understand, he said, "We know you're a teacher come from God because nobody could do the miracles you're doing, if God were not with him." And Jesus looked at him and said, Nicodemus, "you must be born again." Now, what was Jesus doing? He was using something we all experience. We experience it once, ourselves, and then we observe it when other babies are born. The issue of birth. A little baby coming into the world. And Jesus picks up this human way of speaking and says, that just as, what happened to you then was so radical and done to you by the power of another, so also, you must be transformed like a whole new life. You must be born again if you want to go to heaven." But what did Nicodemus think He meant? "How can I get back into my mother's womb a second time and be born? I can't understand your analogy. I can't understand your illustration."

This is what Jesus said, John 3:12, "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe, how then will you understand if I speak of heavenly things?" What is Jesus saying? He's saying, "I'm putting it in human terms. I'm using human speech so that you can understand the spiritual reality." And that's exactly what Paul is doing here with this slavery illustration. He's putting it in a way that the Romans could understand. Now, in one sense, the analogy is right on. We are servants, we are slaves of God. Paul says so, right at the beginning of this book. Romans 1:1 he says, "Paul, a bond slave of Christ Jesus," the best translation. Philippians 1:1, "Paul and Timothy, bond slaves of Christ Jesus." He states that we have been purchased with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, he says, "You are not your own, you are bought at a price; therefore honor God with your body." So we're not our own. A price was paid for us. And then in Romans 14:8, "Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." He owns us. He is our master. In one sense we must therefore think of ourselves in that way. Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you'll find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." He's saying, "Come and let me be your master, but I'm not like your old master sin. I'm a whole different kind of master."

And in that way the analogy is not perfect. And so Paul is somewhat needing to explain the limitations of this analogy. In one sense we must never think of ourselves as slaves. John 15:15, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants or slaves because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead I have called you friends, because everything that I learned from the Father, I have made known to you." So we're not any longer called servants or slaves, we're called friends because He communicates openly with us as friend to friend, like Abraham who was called God's friend. We are God's friends. And He opens His mind to us, He explains what He's doing. He's not treating us as a slave but as a friend. As a matter of fact, Jesus put the two together. In John 15:14 He says, "You are my friends if you obey my commands." So if we are His servants, we are His friends. He puts the two together. And then after the resurrection He goes even further, He says to Mary Magdalene, "Go to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." We're brothers, brothers of Jesus Christ. It says in Hebrews 2, He's not ashamed to call us brothers. That's an incredible thing. Adopted into the very family of God.

Paul himself limits it. He says in Romans 8:15-16, "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a spirit of adoption. And by Him we cry out Abba, Father." So yes, in one sense we are slaves of Jesus Christ. In one sense we are slaves of righteousness. In another sense, it's an imperfect analogy. And that's why He's saying, "I put it in human terms so that you can understand it." And then He says, I want to describe what happened just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and ever increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. Here's the comparison; just as you used to do this thing on the negative side, bring that principle over now and use it for you. Use it to benefit you so that you can grow in holiness. You used to behave this way and grew in ever increasing wickedness. Now take that principle of presentation to a master and use it now for righteousness and grow on into holiness. That's what He's saying.

We're taking out an aspect of the way you used to live your life and we're saying, "This is right," but now use it to serve the right master. Grow in holiness just like you used to grow in wickedness. That's what He's saying, just as so also.

Well, how was that old slavery? What happened? Well, you presented yourself day after day to your master. You didn't know it. Why didn't you know it? Because sin is a deceiver. Sin is a deceiver, sin is a tricker. Con artist. And sin will come and present itself in a very favorable friendly way. But sin is a tyrant. Sin is a dominating master. And you used to come and present yourself to that dominating master and say, "Here I am, command me." Even though you didn't know that's what you were doing, that's what you did. So you offered the parts of your body to him in slavery, the members of your body. Now, we talked about that last time, the word "member" means all the physical parts of your body and also the internal parts as well. Yes, your hands, yes, your feet and your eyes and your mouth, and every part of your body and all of the natural drives that God has given us. The drive for hunger, the drive for pleasure, the sexual drive. All of these things created by God, but used in service to wickedness. Just as you used to do that, so now we're going to come over and offer them in service to righteousness leading to holiness, that's what He's saying.

Now, slavery, the word "slavery" involves complete submission. We were not employees of sin. We were slaves to sin. We could not change the relationship. A more powerful master, namely grace or Jesus Christ, had to come and break that relationship and He did. Praise God He did. So we're free from sin, but there's a principle that the way that we lived our life back then that He's trying to use now in growth to holiness. He said, "Alright, what happened? You offered parts of your body in slavery to impurity." The word "impurity" means uncleanness or internal corruption. It's the same word used in Romans 1:24, "Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." Impurity, it means things mixed in that shouldn't be there. Impurity. And that's what you used to do, you gave yourself over to impurity. But you know something, with sin, it doesn't stay in one place, does it? It doesn't stay where it's at.

Sin is like a malignant tumor. It's always going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. There's a principle of growth in sin, isn't there? And so it says, in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness, it's always going to grow and grow. You know how it works. Some little thing comes into your life, a thought or something and next thing you know you act on it, it has a certain effect on your character and your memory and your mind. A few days later, you act on it again. After that, a few more times with increasing regularity and next thing you know, you've picked up a habit, haven't you? And with that habit, you continue to feed it and it continues to grow. And it eventually affects who you are. It affects your heart, it affects your character. And as you continue to go on, it's almost like an accelerated... It's like a white water river, and then it just leads you down to death. That's what He's saying. That's the way sin is. It starts out small and gets ever bigger, ever stronger all the time.

The Continual Lust for More

But what He's saying is, the very same thing works in the same way for holiness and sanctification. It starts out small, you start a habit, it starts to grow, it starts to take over your life. The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast hidden in a little amount of flour and it works all the way through the dough, it starts to grow. He's just taking that same principle and using it in holiness. But there is this continual lust for more with sin. Ephesians 4:19, it says, "Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to sensuality, so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more." Think about maybe two young folks going out on a date. Questionable whether they should be alone, they're in a car, first date. And with hearts beating wildly, one of them reaches out and they hold hands. And wow, it's exciting, right? But the date ends, the next time, is holding hands sufficient? No, it's not. It's not going to stay in one place. It's keep growing and growing and growing.

There's a desire for more all the time. Sin is relentless, it's restless and it's not going to stay put. So it keeps pushing and pushing. And it works this way in every area of life. And so what He's saying is, in the same way that that's how you used to live your life, now we're going to bring it over into holiness and into righteousness. He talks about a new slavery, just as that so also this. Now remember that we have a new life in Christ, verse 4, "we were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life." We have a new life. We have power to live for God. Power to live in righteousness. So let's live that life. That's what he's saying. Walk in newness of life. So he says in Verse 19, "So now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness." Step by step growth in sanctification.

IV. Old Master: What Pattern, What Benefits, What Destination?

People say, "How can I grow as a Christian?" Well, in effect, Paul here is saying the same way you used to grow as a non-Christian. There you grew in wickedness, now you can grow in holiness. You've been set free from sin and now you can grow into Christ-like maturity. So the common theme is that of a gradual increase as you give yourself in full submission to God. Now, as we look at verse 20-21, we talk about the old master, and he asks, "What pattern was there? What benefits came and what destination?" In verse 20-21 he says, "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death." Jesus said we can't serve two masters. Either he owns you or sin owns you, one or the other.

Well, who owns you if you're a Christian? Jesus does. And He's jealous over you. He's not going to share you with sin. And so therefore He's going to work in the power of the Spirit to get you to stop behaving like you're still a slave to sin, which you're not. And so He's saying, "No one can serve two masters." And verse 16, "Don't you know when you offer yourselves to someone to obey them as slaves, you're slaves to the one you obey." Well, Paul takes that principle, in verse 20, he says, "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness." And what does that mean? Not absolutely free. God can command and you should have obeyed. But the point is, when you were a slave to sin you didn't think about righteousness. When you wanted to do that sin thing, whatever it was, righteousness didn't bother you. It didn't intrude on that. You didn't feel like you owed righteousness anything. Righteousness could command, and you disobeyed and disregarded it. It was like you were deaf to the call of righteousness. He's saying, "Okay, why can't we do that now on the other side?" Now, righteousness is your master. When sin calls, be deaf. Sin has no authority over you. Sin has no right to command you.

And so therefore say, "I'm not a slave to sin anymore, you have no authority over me. You can't make me sin. No." So he says, Just as in the old life, you were a slave to sin, free from the control of righteousness," that's what he said. You had one master. And what kind of life, what pattern of life did you have? Well, it has already been described. He said, "What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? What benefit came?" You lived a certain life in sin. That was the manner of life. It was a growth in impurity, and an ever increasing wickedness. Well, what fruit, the word literally means fruit, what fruit came out of it? What benefit ever came? Can you imagine somebody that committed adultery 10 years later, after having tried the best that he or she could to pick up the pieces, saying, "If I could do it over again, I'd do it so differently. Oh, how it hurts. It hurts to see my children, it hurts to see my spouse, it hurts to walk around in those old places and to realize what could've been if I hadn't done that. What benefit came, what good thing from that sin?" "Anything good? What benefit did I get at that time from those things of which I'm now ashamed?"

Or somebody who struggles with alcohol, wakes up the next morning after yet another bout with drinking. He's about to lose his job, maybe his family. What benefit? What fruit, what good thing coming from sin? Think. They say in the area of psychology and all that, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results every time. Is not sin insanity? You know what I'm talking about? That same thing. I'm going to try it again, but maybe this time a different outcome. No. There is no fruit, no benefit, nothing good from sin. That's what he's saying. What benefit did you reap from those things you're now ashamed of? Now, on this issue of shame, some people believe and say, "We're Christians. We don't need to feel ashamed, we're free forever from shame and guilt and all that." May I tell you? In heaven you'll be free forever from shame and guilt, but we're still in the battle now and we need some help, don't we? Is there still a danger of future sin? Is sin not a relentless, vicious enemy? I believe that shame for past sin is a protection from future sin, is it not? One Puritan writer, Thomas Watson on the Doctrine of Repentance, listed shame for sin as an essential element of repentance.

And I started studying in scripture and it's right there. Ezra 9:6 is what the priest said, "Oh my God I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens." Can't even look up at you, God. I can't lift my face. Jesus said, Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." When you sin, you should mourn. What happened to Peter when he denied his Savior three times? And when Jesus walked by en route to the next stage, I believe, of his trial, and the cock crowed and he realized that he had called down curses on himself if he knew Jesus. And at that moment the cock crows and at the moment, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus looked at him. What did that look feel like? Can you imagine what it felt like to be Peter? And it was all true, Jesus always tells the truth. He said, "This very night before the rooster crows, you'll disown me three times," and Jesus just providentially walking by at that moment looks at Peter. Didn't say a word, just looked at him. What did Peter do? Went outside and wept bitterly. That weeping was such a cleansing for him. That's what it took to bring him back to repentance. He was in the upper room, the night that Jesus rose from the dead, ready for whatever God had, but he had to go through that weeping.

That sense of shame, a sense that I betrayed my master. Luke 18:13, the tax collector stood at a distance, he wouldn't even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." We are so prideful. Do you sense it? We don't want to say anything like this. "I've been forgiven. I don't ever need to grieve over my sin." We do need to grieve and yes, it's forgiven. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But we are ashamed of our past sins and should be. And by the way, if we shouldn't feel that, then what power or strength ever comes from spiritual discipline, when God disciplines us, why does He discipline us? So that we immediately forget the discipline? No, so that we remember and never do it again. That's the point. That we're supposed to forget immediately all our sins, that are confessed and covered and forgiven, then why would God discipline us? He wants us to remember so that we don't sin, but realize that it has not hindered our relationship with Him. We have confessed, we're restored, we're walking with Him and we're never going to do that again.

What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of, those things result in death. That's a destination. And what is this death? Well, people who aren't Christians, they live in a day after day living spiritual death. We kind of mock it or imitate it when we sin. You can sin your way out of good, healthy fellowship with God. We're alive eternally, once you came to faith in Christ, you have eternal life. But what happens to your prayer life when you sin? What happens to your fruitfulness? There's a sense or a feeling that something's not right in your relationship. Those things result in death, and for the unbeliever, ultimate death forever, eternally in hell.

V. New Master: What Pattern, What Benefits, What Destination?

Well, we have a new master instead, and what pattern, and what benefits, and what destination come there? Our new master is God. Verse 22, "But now that you've been set free from sin, and have become slaves to God," an incredible transformation, but now, we were slaves to sin, but now we're slaves to God, praise God for that.

And we have a new pattern, a pattern of presenting our members to God as instruments of righteousness. And as a result of that, ever increasing holiness, a righteousness that leads to holiness. Now, how important is this? The results is eternal life. The word in Greek, the end, the destination is eternal life. There is no other pattern of life that leads to heaven. You don't walk the aisle, pray a prayer, get baptized, and then live however you want and go to heaven. That's not the life. Rather we repent, come to faith in Christ, we have a new life, and we bring forth fruit day after day of righteousness and holiness. And so, the writer to Hebrews said, Hebrews 12:14, "Make every effort to live at peace with all men and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord." Don't be deceived, walk in newness of life, grow in holiness, the result, the outcome of that life is eternal life. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord, for the wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Now, we're about to have a time of the Lord's supper. And before we go to the Lord's supper, we are urged by Paul in Corinthians to examine our hearts. It could be that as we've been listening to the word, we realize that we've been behaving as though we were slaves to sin, when we're not. If we're Christian, we're free forever from sin, but this is a good time to confess, to repent of that sin, to resolve that we're going to make it right. The time of the Lord's supper is a time of unity in the body of Christ, and a time of thinking about what He's done for us. But also a time of recognition that we must be pure and holy, if we are to be the people of God.

Won't you close with me in prayer? Father, we thank you for the way that Paul is teaching us that we must be holy, and the way that he lifts up this principle, and the way we used to live our lives, we used to present ourselves to sin and to ever increasing wickedness, so now we can present ourselves in slavery to righteousness, leading to holiness. Father, I pray for your people here that they might do it. Father, I pray that you would enable us, Oh Lord, to confess and to humble ourselves under your mighty hand, that you may lift us up. Father, I pray that you would break us of sin, wean us from sin, that we might not be interested in it any longer. Father, we thank you for this time to consider your word. In Jesus' name, amen.

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