“Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12 – 14)
What the apostle Paul means (as it was explained to me by Barnes) it that Christians no longer appeal to the law for justification but seek refuge in the Divine’s grace. The law that was established by the commandments is no longer their guide but the law as modeled by Jesus. Now remember beloved reader that Jesus example went beyond what was expected by the law, so that does not mean the Christians are to try to “get away with things. Paul says,
“What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Verse 15)
Neither does it mean that we will not be tempted by sin. Paul expects, however, that knowledge of the Lord God’s grace will take away the temptation – in that Paul is not seeing humanity as clearly as he ought. Temptation is not taken away – that is, taken out of the human being, spirit, soul, and psyche. Would that it were.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Verses 16 – 18)
I find it interesting, beloved reader & especially in regards to the protests in our current society, that Paul makes clear he is using the analogy of slavery not because that is the format of human relationship to the Divine but because it is an analogy that is easily understood. We too understand that inherent lack of control a slave has when under servitude to a master. Paul is saying just as a slave has no control of input in how he/she is treated by the master, humanity through Christ is bound to the state of righteousness.
“ I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.” (Verse 19)
Again, Paul is being optimistic as to how the gift of salvation would negate the impulse. It is still a choice, beloved reader, as to whether we will commit sin or follow the guidance and direction of the Divine. The history of humankind from the time of Paul to present day is ample proof that humanity will sin when sinfulness is an option.
“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” (Verse 20)
Another explanation is needed here. To quote Barnes – “That is, in your former state, you were not at all under the influence of righteousness. You were entirely devoted to sin; a strong expression of total depravity. It settles the question; and proves that they had no native goodness. The argument which is implied here rather than expressed is, that now they ought to be equally free from sin, since they had become released from their former bondage, and had become the servants of another master.” Again, beloved reader, were that is was this way.
“So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Verses 21 – 23)
Can we, that is humanity, keep our eye on the end result and leave behind the temptation of sin without looking back to see what we have missed? Paul would say, yes we can. Optimistic apostle that he is. The reality is, if this were true, human will would have been “redempted” and “salvationed” out of us. And that was not the Divine’s plan. That is evident enough even from the creation story. No, the actual situation is that we (meaning humanity) are just as tempted and just as fallible as before Christ’s death on the cross. And I think Paul really does know that. What has changed is the option for another way of living, and the opportunity to “hit” refresh when we acknowledge our sins and mistakes. The “auspice” of the Divine means that we don’t have to be dragged down a path to death because we have made mistakes. A clear example of Christian living is set before us, and a Helpmate to guide us along the way. The difference, beloved reader, between pre-Jesus and the coming of Christ and the Auspice of the Divine . . . . is the difference between death and life eternal. Shalom & Selah!