The essentials of the Christian’s course are laid out before us in this passage “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (v.1,2)
We have a view of all that is needful from the time of conversion to the period of entrance upon the blessing of everlasting life “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (v.12,13)
We begin with the great deliverance, we pass on the great change, we see the Christian growing in meekness for the inheritance of the saints in light, and when the earthly trials and conflicts are over we see him passing a disciplined soul across the narrow stream of death into the unfading beauties of that life which is everlasting. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (v.22)
Sin may be our master, but as the slave of sin we shall get rewarded in shame and death “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Ja.1:15)
Righteousness or servants of God, we shall have our reward, reward of grace, in the development of holiness, and in the gift of eternal life “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro.6:23)
Let us take a look at what The reign of sin is. Sin is a very demanding master. When we become slaves of sin, we cease being our masters ” Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death,” (v.16)
We lose the dignity of our nature, we lose self-command, we lose will-power and judgment of character “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Ro.1:21)
Our bodies become the instruments of sin, and the lust of the flesh are obeyed. (Lk.15:11,25)
Sin is a very poor paymaster. For ever allowing that it has pleasures to bestow, these are found to be only for a season “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; (Heb.11:25)
After these comes death, the real wages. This means, of course, alienation from God, and when it sets finally into the experience, proves a hopeless and helpless condition “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Lk.16:26)
The sooner all slaves of sin change their master the better. The reign of sin only tends to torment. The soul that sells itself to such a tyrant must be greatly foolish.
He is beside himself, like the prodigal when he does so. He comes to himself when he renounces the tyranny and transfers his allegiance “And when he came to himself, he said, I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,” ” (Lk.15:17,18)
Let us note The reign of grace. We enter of our own free-will into the service of the God of grace.
From the slavery of sin it is possible to pass into the service and company of the Divine.
When we become free from sin, then shall we be at liberty to serve God and be his faithful servant “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jh.8:36) We are not forced into the kingdom of God, we become willing servants of God “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness,” (Ps.110:3)
The service to our Lord is voluntary, it is a yielding of ourselves to the Lord of grace.
We enter our state of grace through obeying from our heart “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (v.17)
This verse refers clearly to the all important doctrine of justification by faith, through the reception of which we get delivered from condemnation, and started on our course of sanctification “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Col.1:10)
We find that in serving a God of grace we secure holiness of character.
For this voluntary and gracious serve implies the dedication of all our powers to God. We lay ourselves as ” living sacrifices” on God’s altar.
We find ourselves in consequence being visited by an increasing sense of consecration.
We learn to live not to ourselves, but unto him who died for us and rose again (I.Cor. 5:14) “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all,” This sense of consecration, becomes habitual.
We feel that we are not our own, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I.Cor. 6:20)
We find this service of grace cause us to be happy as well as holy.
In other words, we find in God an excellent Paymaster. Feeling that we are less than least of all his mercies, feeling that we are at the best but unprofitable servant, we accept joyfully whatever he sends, we feel that he daily loadeth us with his benefits, and then, regarding the great future, he gives us therein eternal life. John said “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” (Rev.4:1)
Doubtless we do not, strictly speaking, deserve such rewards, they are rewards of grace, not of debt, they are free gifts from a gracious Mater “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev.22:17)
Let us, then, renounce the reign of sin, and accept the reign of grace “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (v.6)