Romans 6:15-23

6:1-14 stresses freedom from sin and law

6:15-23 stresses the flip side -  slavery to God


There is no neutral ground:

a)      Master #1 – Law and Sin

b)      Master #2 – God


Paul steers carefully here between Legalism and licentiousness.

a)      Some say we need law, but Paul says Christians need to be released from the law to overthrow the power of sin

b)      Some say no law leads to excess sin, but Paul says that we have an obligation of obedience


Again note the indicative and the imperatives. 

The imperative (voice of command) in verse 6:19 is framed with indicatives (voice of reality) in 6:15-18 and 6:20-23.



Begins the same as 6:1

A similar question – grace leads to sin?


Sin in Order to Get more Grace?

The First Question was a response to 5:20 (where sin increases, grace increases supermore so should we sin in order to get more grace?). 

The answer was found in 6:2-14 and said “no, you are free from sin.”


Sin Because of Grace?

The Second Question was a response to the statement in 6:14 (you are not under law so won’t we sin since there is no law to stop us?)

The answer is that we are always obligated to one of two masters.  Give yourself to righteousness and you will receive the fruit of your service.


Grace does two things:

a)      It liberates in 6:1-14

b)      It Constrains in 6:15-23


A lawless live without Grace is sin

A lawless live with Grace is righteousness.



Slavery was used in the Law of Moses to pay debt


John 8:34 committing sin is being a slave to sin


Two sides of our freedom:

a)      Legal – we are not slaves to sin, legally we have been set free

b)      Living Experience – we live as slaves to sin


Calvin says: “Obedience is the mother of true knowledge of God.”


The order would go:

1)      Knowledge about God leads to. . .

2)      Faith and Trust in God which leads us to. . .

3)      Obedience to God, his Word and his Character which means. . .

4)      We now Know God


Moses knew God’s ways; the people knew God’s works.


Consequences of Your Choice of Slaveries

1)      Sin

a.       Physical death

b.      Spiritual death

c.       Death of opportunities

d.      Eternal death

2)      Righteousness

a.       Spiritual

b.      Physical resurrection

c.       Lifestyle

d.      Final Justification


This is a moral (not just legal) righteousness according to 6:13, 17-20.



These people are saved already because Paul writes “Thanks be to God.”

So these verse are not about getting salvation


Obedience of Faith

They have already obeyed when they believed the message:

1)      Acts 6:7

2)      1 Peter 1:2

3)      Romans 1:5

4)      Romans 10:16


handed over to” refers to the Romans having been taught the doctrines of the Apostles.

They are “under” this teaching.  It refers to the transmission of the accepted teaching (1 Corinthians 11:2, 23; 1 5:3)


pattern (“form of”) is Greek word “typos”.  In the scriptures it means:

1)      they are to be examples (patterns) to believers

2)      Here it means “molds” or “forms” given to shape them and refers to the teaching of the Apostles, Romans and Paul.  It all matched the mold or the pattern.



Indicative Mood shows Paul is still stating facts about their new life in the justified state.

Then indicative mood will lead to the command of the imperative in the next verse.


“You have been” is passive


slaves to righteousness” indicates that there is a power in our life driving us to righteous deeds.



Paul’s use of slavery to God can only be used as an illustration of part of the truth of our relationship with God in this new life.


Paul is saying that the concept is hard to understand but the picture of slavery helps to communicate the truth.


We are also called sons, fellow workers, kings, bride and more. 

Here Paul is stressing a particular truth about our relationship and responsibility.


Other options for what Paul is trying to say would include:

1)      The Romans are weak as humans to understand scripture

2)      They are insensitive to truth because they are human

3)      They are living in sin and temptation that hinders their understanding

4)      Paul’s manner of speaking is to use an imperfect analogy to communicate the truth but in so doing certain truths may be misrepresented in the analogy.


Paul continues to use his “weak” or “bad” illustration

It would be considered a “bad” illustration because human slavery includes fear, bondage, oppression and confinement. 

All of these are not true in our relationship with God, yet Paul continues to use the illustration to offer ourselves into this slavery to God and righteousness.



1)      Transfer from sin to righteousness

2)      Leads to Fruit

3)      Which shows sanctification

4)      The  end of which is Eternal life


Three contrasts

1)      The master that is served is either:

a.       Sin

b.      God

2)      The outcome of our service:

a.       Death

b.      Life

3)      Means by which the outcome is obtained:

a.       Wages

b.      Gift