No! We are not free to sin; we are free from sin… and the difference between these two is huge.
In these verses, Paul is explaining what he spoke of in our previous passage when he presented us with a command and a choice. This time, he uses slavery as his illustration.
First, in verse 16 he explains what he meant in his use of the word “offer”.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Of course, in verse 17 he points out that as followers of Christ, we have given ourselves to Him; not to sin, and therefore we are now “slaves” to righteousness (v. 18).
What good ever came from offering ourselves as slaves to sin? No good at all, we earned death. Now, Jesus has set us free from all of that, and we are called upon to offer ourselves as slaves to righteousness (to continue Paul’s metaphor) and righteousness brings eternal life. So now, let’s pause for a moment; remember those phrases from last time; here they are again:
… count yourselves dead to sin … do not let sin reign… Do not offer any part of yourself to sin … offer yourselves to God… offer every part of yourself to him…
Now, remember what they have in common: They are commands that leave us with a choice; follow the command or don’t follow it. What will we decide?
OK, dear reader, let’s sit down and figure it out together: Which way is better: The way of sin that leads to death, or the way of righteousness that leads to eternal life? Here, to help get the conversation started, I’ll throw in my two cents:
Death sucks; I’d much rather have eternal life.
Yes, OK fine; I’ll admit that maybe I’m simplifying things just a bit, but really, it’s a no-brainer.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (6:23)
Paul’s point is so very simple; in fact it is so simple that I’m not sure that many of us really take it seriously enough. Grace has set us free from the sin that once dominated our lives so that we are now free to choose whether to follow the old ways that lead to death or the new way that leads to life. Life is better than death, so choose the new way and receive life. Not really taking this very seriously, this is where we say, “But it’s too hard!”
Before we go any further, what is the point Paul is making in this third main section− anybody remember?
It is that the power of grace gives us complete victory over sin. His first point in proving this is that sin is still relevant. We are in the middle of his second supporting point which is that grace brings us victory over sin. I would say that so far he is doing a good job of making the case that grace gives victory over sin, wouldn’t you? We have not yet finished the second supporting point and there is still a third supporting point, so let’s try not to jump into the “it’s too hard” stuff just yet; that discussion is yet to come.
When we get back together, let’s dive into 7:1-6 where Paul will show us how we can obey God…