You have conformed to the mold into which you were poured.
And what is that mold? It is the form of doctrine. What does that mean? You have conformed to the pattern of truth that is the Gospel. You now are a living statue of the reality of the Gospel. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. The Bible makes clear you cannot serve two masters.
More than just common sense, you might say that's a universal law. And we'll examine this important concept today on Grace to You as John MacArthur turns a new corner in our compelling study from Romans 6 and 7, the title, Freedom from Sin. Now, we've already seen how the apostle Paul addressed questions some people were bound to have about his teaching on salvation by grace alone. The first question Paul raised, should we continue to sin that God's grace might abound?
To get us into the second question, here's John MacArthur to introduce today's lesson. As we look at Romans 6, 15 to 23, I want to title this section Free from Sin...Free from Sin. Let me read you verses 15 to 23 so you'll have it in mind as we approach it.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness. But God be thanked that whereas ye were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh. For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I want you to look at this passage.
It's a very simple passage, although on the surface it appears to be perhaps difficult. Let's start with the antagonist. The first antagonist question came in verse 1 and it was shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? And now the question is much like it, shall we sin because we're not under the law but under grace? The idea is the same.
Does the doctrine of salvation by grace give freedom to sin in an unrestrained way? And that is the accusation that is made against this doctrine. So the antagonist is in verse 15 and the answer is in verse 15.
No, no, no, no. But Paul doesn't just give you short answers like that. He explains them. So come to verse 16 with me and let's look at the axiom. The axiom. What is an axiom?
What's the general truth? An axiom is something you don't prove. It's self-evident.
It doesn't need proof because it's obvious. And that is exactly what you have here. You have a very simple axiom stated.
And it starts out by saying, no ye not. The assumption is that you know this. Don't you know this? That to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey. A very simple axiom.
If you sign up to serve a certain master, you're bound to serve that master. Now having looked at the antagonist and the answer and the axiom in verse 16, verses 17 to 22 become the argument in which he unfolds all of his thinking based on the axiom there. And then in verse 23, he finally closes with what I'll call an absolute. We're not going to get through this, but let me just introduce you to the argument in verses 17 to 22.
Just a marvelous, marvelous thing. Paul is now explaining the principle of verse 16, explaining the axiom, applying it to the situation. And he does so by drawing an extended contrast between these two slaveries, the slavery to sin, the slavery to righteousness. He just runs them out. He starts with their position and then their practice and then their promise.
He moves through the three phases, when they started, where they're going, and when they end up. Let's look at the position, first of all, of these two slaveries, verse 17. But God be thanked, that whereas you were the slaves of sin, you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Being then made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.
Now you see both of them there, don't you? On the one hand in verse 17, you were the servants of sin. In verse 18, you have become the servants of righteousness. Now those are the initiating points that we want to look at. This is positional talk and I'll explain that as we go. Look at verse 17, but God be thanked. And this is an important footnote. Whenever you're talking about someone's salvation, who do you have to thank?
Who do you have? God. You didn't come to Christ because you were so intelligent. You didn't come to Christ because you surveyed the field and you said, this is the thing I want to do. You didn't come to Christ because somebody convinced you intellectually because of a whole bunch of data that this is true. You didn't come to Christ for any other reason really than that God brought you. That's right. No man comes unto me except the Father does what?
Draws him. And you always thank God for salvation because He is the author and finisher of our faith. It is God alone who can break the slavery to sin. Salvation is of God and no other. There is no salvation apart from that which God has given. In Romans 1.8 at the very beginning of the epistle, Paul says, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all that your faith is spoken of through all the world. I thank God for what has happened in your life.
That's basic. And by the way, you'll find that same concept all throughout the whole of the New Testament. The transformation that takes us from death to life, from sin to God is one that God works Himself.
Having said that, then let's look at the rest of the contrast here. He then says, you were the servants of sin. That's an imperfect tense verb which means it's a past time of continuous reality.
In other words, in past time you were continually in the past, continually a slave of sin. Now that is the natural condition of every man. People don't want to admit that. They don't like to hear that. What he's saying is, from the start you by nature have been sinners.
Continually. That's your nature. That's your natural condition. Involuntary, forced and harsh dominance has been opposed on you by being born into the world. Do you know where you got all this sin?
Where did you get it? From your mother and your father. And they go back to Adam and Eve. And so men and women born into this world are born into this tremendous condition of slavery to sin. In Romans 3, in fact, it sort of helps us to see what it means. In verse 10 there's, None righteous know not one. None understands.
None seeks after God. They're all gone out of the way. They're all together gone sour, is what that verb means.
There's none that does good know not one. Their throats an open sepulcher. Their tongues have used to seat the poison of asps.
The sun of their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction, misery in their way. The way of peace have they not known. And there's no fear of God in their eyes. So this is a description of humankind. Slaves of sin. Men don't realize it. You know, they think they're free.
And you inevitably come to somebody with a gospel and you tell them about coming to Jesus Christ. And they're afraid to come to Christ because they're afraid it's some kind of bondage and they think they have such liberty. They don't have any liberty. There's no such thing as freedom to an unregenerate person.
None at all. They're slaves. But he says this, You were slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart. Oh, I love that.
What does that say? Well, it wasn't external, was it? When they came to Christ, it wasn't something they did on the outside. It wasn't some water baptism or some church membership or signing some card or putting their hand up or walking down an aisle or doing some religious rite or saying their beads or lighting a candle or whatever.
Taking a pilgrimage. It wasn't something outside. It was something inside from the heart. And what was it that happened in their heart? They obeyed.
They obeyed. In other words, listen, even though it is the work of God, you're not passively transported from one master to another. You're not just involuntarily picked up and slapped over somewhere else. And people who get into the doctrine of the sovereignty of God very often see people being saved without even knowing it. You can read theologians who say you can be a redeemed person and not even know it because it's happened God already did it.
He just hasn't announced it to you yet. I find that very difficult because you never see salvation occurring apart from the act of commitment to Christ. In this particular context, it's spoken of as obedience...obedience. Gladly and eagerly, with a sense of the slavery to sin, you rushed to make God your new master. And what did you obey? Some nebulous, vague, spiritual thing? No?
This is marvelous. And a lot of people think, oh, I believe. I believe in believing. I believe.
And, you know, you hear that all the time from people. Oh, yes, I'm a believer. What do you believe? Oh, I believe God. I believe... Well, there's more than that. It says this, verse 17, you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine. Isn't that good? It isn't a question, well, I believe. If you just believe, you'll be all right.
No. You believe that form of doctrine, the body of saving truth. Form is tupas. It has a lot of uses. The way it's framed in this verse is marvelous and the authorized has missed the nuance. It should read that you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine into which...get that... into which you were delivered. Not which was delivered to you, into which you were delivered. Boy, that's a tremendous thought.
Let me give you the idea. The word tupas here means mold, a mold, a casting mold. And let's assume that the mold is in the shape of a servant. When you came into this world, you were poured into a mold and you came out after the molten metal cooled and you were lifted from that mold and plunked down in the world, you were a slave of sin. You were a slave statue and your slavery was to sin. But God, be thanked that you responded to the true gospel by obeying the form into which you were poured. And it's as if, in Paul's analogy, when God saw you as a slave to sin by His great grace, He melted you down and reduced you to the basic elements.
And while you were hot and molten, He re-poured you into a new mold. This mold is the form of doctrine into which you were delivered. You can see it, 2 Timothy 1.13, the form of sound doctrine.
That word form is used 16 times in the New Testament. There is form to this. So here you are, you've been melted down by conviction by the beginning work of the redeeming spirit and now you are re-poured into a new mold. And when the metal is cooled and you have hardened and you are lifted out, you're in a new shape. What is your shape? You have conformed to the mold into which you were poured.
And what is that mold? It is the form of doctrine. What does that mean? You have conformed to the pattern of truth that is the gospel. You now are a living statue of the reality of the gospel. Great thought.
You're new, all new. The teaching, and think of it this way, the teaching to which you submit yourself when you become a Christian, stamps you with its image. You want to know, that's a great thought. Have you ever noticed that this is true of everything in life? People live the way they learn to live.
It's true. People live the way they learn to live. I mean, after all, you come out of a certain family and you bear the image of that family. It's put you in its mold, hasn't it? That's precisely what it says in Romans 12 too. When it says, don't let the world put you in its mold, you've been poured into a mold of the form of sound teaching regarding the gospel and you've been cooled there and you've been plopped out and you are a living reality. You now are a slave statue all over again, but you're a slave to God. And only God could melt down that old person and pour that ingredients back into a new mold and shape that new person. The one who once was stamped with false teaching is now stamped with the image of the true doctrine of God.
So good. And let me just say it a step further. You have to fit the form, folks. You don't become a Christian by just floating all over the place and believing whatever you want. I had a luncheon the other day when I spoke to the full gospel businessman international luncheon. Afterwards, a man came up to me and he said, I've been in this group for a long time and he said, I'll tell you how I think you get to God. And I said, all right, you tell me. He said, well, you see, there's just a lot of steps.
And this is what he said exactly. And up there at the top there's this door and behind it is this guy named Jesus. And he says, what you really want to do is try like blank to make it up the stairs and to get through the door and have a guy like the guy Jesus let you in. And he says, when you're on the way up the stairs, you've got all these preachers and movements hollering at you, but you just keep going up the stairs. And I call it the stairway of hope.
And that's how I think it is. I said to him, sir, bless your heart, you are not a Christian and your stairway is hopeless. You need to depend on Jesus Christ. You don't even know what it means to be saved.
You see, you can't invent your own mold. You understand that? There's a sound form of doctrine, the teaching of the gospel, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, confess your sins, affirm His lordship, His death, His resurrection. There is a gospel content. There is a form and if you are to come out in the image of the servant of God and to bear His stamp, you will have been poured into His mold. You understand that? So this is the statement of our position. When you came to Christ, you were melted down and poured into a new mold and you have come out a new statue, a new image and you bear the mark of a servant of God.
Isn't that marvelous? Because you obeyed when the gospel call reached your heart. Foolish to try to fight doctrine. By the way, the word obeyed there, I just can't resist this and I think we'll stop at this point, but I can't resist it.
Don't tune out yet, I shouldn't say that. But the word obeyed, it just seems to hit me so strongly. Just in case you haven't noticed, that's the fourth time we've read it in three verses.
That's right. Obey, obey, obey, obey, obey. You see, that is the key concept. The obedience of the faith, that is obeying the gospel. The obedience of life, that is a Christian responding to the word of God.
Believing Jesus Christ is the initial act of obedience and then it becomes a life of obedience, obedience, obedience, obedience. We never get our independence, folks, you hear me? We never do.
We never get to the point like kids do when they burst out of the house and call their own shots. We're always under the master. We're always under the Lord and we're always to obey. And may I suggest to you that there is inherent in that concept the very heart of the meaning of the doctrine of salvation, that a Christian is marked as one who does what? Obeys.
And if you don't, you can't be one, no matter what you say. Obedience is the expression of faith. Obedience says, I believe God. I believe His Word.
I'll act on it. And all true justification produces obedience. And the longer we live with Christ, the more obedient we ought to become.
Titus 2, have you read this recently? Verse 11, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. And what did it do when it came to us? Well, it taught us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.
That's what it did. Verse 14, it says, Jesus Christ gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from iniquity and purify unto Himself a people of His own, zealous of good works. Isn't that good? We were saved to good works. We're saved to purification.
It's very simple. Peter says this, he says in 1 Peter 1, 1-22, Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth. Oh, that's so good. See, when you came to Jesus Christ, it purified your soul. You became a new creation. And a life of obedience is the result. This new casting means a whole new master. And he says it in verse 18, We became free from sin.
Great thought. Oh, not free from sinning. We do that now and then. Not free from temptation, but free from the mastery and the tyranny of sin where we couldn't do anything but sin. You say, you mean before you're a Christian, all you do is sin?
That's right. All you do is sin. Even your good deeds fall into the sin category because they're not for the glory of God. And when men do good deeds just so they can be good men, that's pride. And that's a sin. What amazes me is how much men love their slavery. Have you noticed that? They don't even know they're slaves to sin.
They love it. Men love darkness rather than light. But you've been made free from that and became the servants of righteousness.
And that's a creative alteration, not only an ethical responsibility. We are now free. Now listen to me very carefully. I'm going to close with this thought. We are free for the first time in our life. A sinner's not free. All he can do is what? Sin. Who's the only person who has a choice?
A Christian. So for the first time in your life, you're free. Not free to do wrong.
Oh, no, no. You've done that a long time. For the first time in your life, you're free to do what? Right. That's Christian freedom. And the people who go around saying, Christian liberty gives me the freedom to do wrong, do not understand Christian liberty. The liberation of the soul is for the first time in my life I can do right. Marvelous thought.
Well, there we see the initiation, the position, the difference between the servant of sin, the servant of righteousness. One has no freedom. One has freedom to do right. Let's pray. Thank You so much, Father, for Your grace to these dear people in saving them. Thank You for the hunger in their hearts for the Word.
We know this is not entertainment. And we know it's taxing and the body is weary and the mind is well sometimes. Father, I just thank You for their loving support, for their hunger for Your Word that makes them set aside the time and prepare the heart and the mind to receive the deep things of God. And, oh Father, bless them. Fill their cup with the water for which they thirst.
Fill their spiritual stomach with the food for which they hunger. Thank You that we're free from sin for the first time, free to do right, free to do Your will because there's a new life principle in us that does righteousness. Thank You, Father, that You didn't just save us and write it in a book, but You changed us, that we may enjoy the reality of that salvation in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And all of this causes us to thank You for Christ, our Redeemer. We pray in His name.
Amen. And with that, John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, concludes today's installment from the compelling study, Freedom from Sin, here on Grace To You. John, as you've addressed this issue of being a slave to sin and what that says about whether our faith is genuine or not, some of our listeners might be wondering, how do we handle that information? Is it up to us to judge the salvation of other people, people that we're close to, family members, friends, the people in our church?
Well, I think it's going to be obvious to us that we will do that. When the Bible says, Judge not lest you be judged, it's not saying what most people would like it to be saying. Well, you can't criticize me. It's not saying that. What it is saying is you're not the final judge. You're not the final judge. You don't render the final verdict.
You may not like something someone's doing. You may want to pass a verdict on their spiritual condition, but you're not the final judge. However, it's also very clear in that same Sermon on the Mount that Jesus said, Buy their fruits, you shall know them. And he even dug a little bit deeper and said, Check their fruits. Bitter tree doesn't produce sweet fruit. So we do have to assess the fruit of people.
Why? Not to render a final verdict on their life, but to help them be honest and truthful about their spiritual condition. The apostle Paul did that in Second Corinthians 13 when he said, Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith.
That's inspecting fruit. He's saying, Look at your life and see if there's evidence that you are genuinely a converted person. And now, in order to know the answer to that question, even in your own case, you've got to understand what the gospel is and what the Bible says it will produce.
So I want to mention a book that really would help you. Its title is The Gospel According to the Apostles. The Gospel According to the Apostles. This book is going to arm you to be discerning about your own life and the lives of people around you so that you can help them assess their spiritual condition. It examines the nature of salvation by grace through faith alone and the role that good works plays in the life of the believer. The book, again, The Gospel According to the Apostles. It talks about justification, sanctification, the myth of a carnal Christian, how to explain the gospel to children, and even our struggle with sin. Again, The Gospel According to the Apostles. You need to get a copy of this very foundational doctrinal truth. You can order one today from Grace To You. Price is always very reasonable.
Right. And, friend, this book takes an in-depth look at how God saves His people and how He transforms them into the image of His Son. Right now, it's available at 25% off the normal price. To purchase The Gospel According to the Apostles, contact us today.
To order, call toll-free 800-55-GRACE or visit our website, gty.org. Along with The Gospel According to the Apostles, you might also want to pick up another book in the series like The Gospel According to Jesus, The Gospel According to Paul, and The Gospel According to God. All of those books are 25% off the normal price. Learn more about those books and you can purchase them at gty.org or give us a call at 800-55-GRACE. And keep in mind, those books are just a few of the hundreds of Bible study tools that are available right now for 25% off our regular prices. That includes our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible. Its 25,000 study notes from John MacArthur explain practically every verse in the Bible. To take advantage of this sale, go to gty.org or call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today, and join us tomorrow when John encourages you with the amazing reality that if you're a Christian, you have been freed from the penalty and the power of sin. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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