Romans 6:14-26
Not Under Law, But Under Grace

Truth Contenders Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 09 March 2003

Quite simply, John Piper said this stuff as well as is possible, in my humble opinion. Standing in awe of the clarity of the Truth as Piper delivered it, and unable to do anything but acknowledge the greatness of God's gift to him in expositing this passage, I was reduced almost entirely to quoting him this time. The sermons I quoted from are available online; links are posted at the end of the lesson. I highly recommend them.

Under law: Galatians 4:4-5

"1) Somebody is in deep trouble for being under law, because Paul says Christ needs to redeem them;
 2) Christ was born under law, and so being under the law was not danger or sin for Christ, as it seemed to be for the rest. In other words, being 'under law' is something that we sinful creatures want to avoid at all costs if we can, but that Christ embraced to rescue us from it." - John Piper, sermon on Rom 6:14-19, Part I

The key: whence my righteousness?

"...This is true whether you are trusting God to enable you to keep the law or trusting yourself. It doesnít make any difference when the issue is: What provides the righteousness that justifies me? If it is lawkeeping, I am 'under law.'" - ibid.

Galatians 5:2-4 - fallen from grace

All or nothing

"If you want to provide any of your righteousness as the basis of your right standing with God, you must provide all of it. That is what it means to be 'under law.' Christ did it. We canít. We need his righteousness, not ours." - ibid.

Christ will not share responsibility for our righteousness. We may trust Him to be our righteousness, or we may strive for it on our own, but not both. No man can serve two masters. Luke 16:13

Not Just Decision, But Also Delight

"...people whose Christianity is a group of ideas about Christ, not an experience of the preciousness of Christ. Their Christianity is all truth and no treasure. All 'choices' and no cherishing. All logic about Christ and no love for Christ. All 'decision' and no delight." - ibid.

Sin->Death; Obedience->Righteousness: 3 views of the scope.

John Murray: includes death and righteousness in all their respective aspects:

"What is meant by 'death' in this instance is difficult to determine. Most probably it is used inclusively to refer to death in all its aspects, culminating in that eternal death of 'everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power' (II Thess. 1:9). Sin is deathly and death in every respect follows in its wake. Similarly the righteousness which obedience promotes should also be interpreted inclusively to refer to righteousness in all its aspects, culminating, indeed, in the consummated righteousness of the new heavens and the new earth."1

Charles Hodge: spiritual and eternal death, inward and subjective righteousness:

"The death intended is spiritual and eternal. It is the absolute loss of the life and of the soul, which consists in the favour and fellowship of God, and conformity to his image. What is true of sin is true of holiness. He who by virtue of union with Christ is made obedient to God, becomes ... a slave of obedience.... He is not only bound to obey, but he is made to obey in despite of the resistance of his still imperfectly sanctified nature. He cannot but obey. The point of analogy to which reference is here made, is the certainty of the effect, and the constraining influence by which that effect is secured. In the case both of sin and of holiness, obedience is certain... The more completely God reigns in us, the more completely we are subject to his will...

[Righteousness] must here be taken in its subjective sense. It is inward righteousness, or holiness... The service of God results in ... our being right, completely conformed to the image of God, in which the life of the soul consists."2

William Hendriksen: physical, spiritual, and everlasting death; righteousness of both state and condition:

"The result of this process [of falling into sin's grasp over time], when continued to its end, is death... Paul does not specify whether he means physical, spiritual, or everlasting death. Is it reasonable to leave out any of these?

The opposite of sin is obedience, namely, to God. This leads to righteousness, both of state and condition."3

Justification frees us from sin, binds us to God

"...Our condition as humans is not just that we are guilty for sinning and need forgiveness and the righteousness of Christ to commend us to God, but also that we are in slavery to sin and need to be freed from its power as well as its punishment." - John Piper, sermon on Rom 6:14-19, Part II

"...Even though justifying faith does not produce perfection in this age, it always produces a new direction in this age. It dethrones sin, enthrones God, and makes war on sin in our own hearts and bodies." - ibid.

1 Timothy 6:12 - Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.' (emphasis mine)

"Becoming a Christian is not like standing neutral between two possible slave masters and having the power of ultimate self-determination, and then deciding, from outside any slavery, which we will serve. There are no neutral people. There are only slaves of sin and slaves of God. Becoming a Christian is to have the sovereign captain of the battleship of righteousness commandeer the slave ship of unrighteousness; put the ship-captain, sin, in irons; break the chains of the slaves; and give them such a spiritual sight of grace and glory that they freely serve the new sovereign forever as the irresistible joy and treasure of their lives." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

"...The result of living in slavery to sin is death. But, he says, by contrast in verse 22, the result of being freed from sin and being enslaved to God and then bearing the fruit unto sanctification is eternal life. These steps are not optional. This is the only path that leads to eternal life: being freed from the slavery to sin, enslaved to God, bearing fruit in a life of holiness, and finally eternal life. That is why holiness and the fight against sin in this chapter is so serious. We are not playing games. Eternal life is in the balance." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

The Wages that Sin Pays

"I think most people hear the phrase 'wages of sin' and think the meaning is something like, 'the wages you get when you sin.' So 'wages of sin' they take to mean 'wages of doing sin.' In this picture, 'sin' is the actions done to get the wage. I donít think thatís the picture Paul has in his mind. It doesnít fit the context of verse 22 or the contrast with God in verse 23. "If you take 'wages of sin' that way, you should probably take 'free gift of God' that way. But you can see right away that that doesnít work. 'Free gift of God' means 'free gift that God gives.' So the parallel would be 'wages that sin pays.' In this picture, sin is not what you do to earn wages. It is the master who pays you when you serve him as a slave." - John Piper, sermon on Rom 6:23, Part I (emphasis mine)

"...Sinís demands really do deplete us Ė just like work for wages depletes us, and we hope that the wage will make up for the draining of energy and time. Sin does not restore. It takes and does not give. It takes and takes and takes. Every time you sin, you lose. With every sin, life is being drained out of you." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

"Sin will have absolutely no say and no hand in the gift of eternal life. But God will have total say and a sovereign hand in the wage of eternal death. Here is another great tragedy about sinís slaves. They keep thinking he is a true master because he seems to reward them with things they like. In fact, he is no true master at all, but a pretender to the throne. And in the end he simply disappears and leaves his slaves before the judgment of God. Thatís the real meaning of death, the judgment of God.

"Hell is the wage that sin pays in the same way that a prostituteís venereal disease and prison sentence is the wage that a pimp pays. They donít really pay it. They just lure and deceive and lie and drain and ruin, and then disappear, and leave their slaves sick and guilty" - ibid. (emphasis mine)

The Gift that God Gives

"But all the slaves of God go into eternity with God as their Giver. Thatís what eternal life means. God remains the giver forever and ever. There will never be a time when God is not giving more new joys to his people. God will never run out of gifts and cease to be Giver." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

"...Eternal life is the outcome or the end of sanctification. Or to turn it around, sanctification is the process of becoming more Christ-like from one degree to the next (as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says) which ends in eternal life. You can say it either way. You can say eternal life is the outcome of sanctification. Or you can say sanctification is the path that leads to eternal life." - John Piper, sermon on Rom 6:23, Part II

"...Put the two verses together with this connector that Paul used: Eternal life is the outcome of being freed from sin and enslaved to God and bearing fruit in sanctification, 'for' - because - 'eternal life is a free gift.' ... The statement that eternal life is a free gift and not a wage is the basis for saying that eternal life is the outcome of sanctification. ... If eternal life is the outcome of sanctification (the ticket for the train) and sanctification is not a free gift, then eternal life is not a free gift." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

"God's gift of sanctification is not instead of your doing and choosing and preferring God. God's gift is your doing and choosing and preferring God." - ibid. (emphasis mine)

"...We act and we choose, and this acting and choosing is the gift of God. It is really our act and it is really his gift. It is really our choice and it is really his gift. ... It is really our work and really his gift. It is really our willing and really his gift." Philippians 2:12-13, 3:12 - ibid. (emphasis mine)

John Piper's sermons quoted:
Free from Sin, Slaves of Righteousness: Part One
Free from Sin, Slaves of Righteousness: Part Two
The Free Gift of God Is Eternal Life: Part One
The Free Gift of God Is Eternal Life: Part Two

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL