Romans 6:19-23 — A New Nature! (Bible study notes)

For the video teaching to these notes, click here: Romans 6:19-23 — week 16 — A New Nature!

I. Recap
  • From about Romans 5:18 through all of chapter 6 Paul has been telling us that a nature change took place at the Cross
    • All mankind went from being in Adam (in “the” sin) to IN CHRIST
  • chapter 5 talked about two men — Adam and Christ and how they represented all humanity
    • Adam represented everyone after him up to the Cross — that nature had an expiration date
      • Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son….
    • Christ represented ALL mankind from Adam until the very last human that will ever be born — ALL mankind – no expiration date
  • Chapter 6 began by telling us that those who died to “the” sin (the Adamic nature) could no longer live in it
    • then he tells us how we died to it v. 6 — knowing this that the old self (anthropos = humanity, mankind) was crucified with Him (Jesus) that the body of sin (the Adamic sin nature) might be annulled, that no longer are we enslaved to “the” sin (nature of Adam).
    • and v. 4 says we have been resurrected with Him in His resurrection to walk in newness of life
      • newness is kainos in Greek meaning never before existed like this; a new condition or state of life
    • v. 14 then says that sin will not rule you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
    • Verse 15 then poses a question that might arise based on what he has just said in v. 14 about not being under law but under grace.
      • Romans 6:15: What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid
  • The Jews thought that to not be under law made them as Gentiles — made them sinners!
    • under the law, it was unlawful to associate with anyone not under the law or who couldn’t obey the law
      • they (those not under the law, and those who couldn’t keep the law) were both unclean which in turn made the Jew who was trying to follow the law unclean.
      • what they didn’t realize was that no one could keep the law – because to keep the law you had to obey the WHOLE law, not just part of it, so as a result, it couldn’t make anyone clean.
  • So in verses 15-18 Paul assures them that they won’t be sinners because they aren’t under the law because they’ve been set free from sin and made righteous
    • they’ve had a nature change
      • being without the law won’t make them a sinner because they are set free
      • and they are no longer bound to trying to be made righteous by external rules that they thought would make them clean or unclean.
  • The end of chapter 6 is not an end of a discussion, and then he starts a new conversation in chapter 7 — NO
    • he continues in v. 19-23 to explain this nature change to them in a language they’ll understand and then chapter 7 (which we’ll get to next week) is just a continuation of the same topic
II. Clean or Unclean
Romans 6:19-23:  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. (20) For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. (21) What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. (22) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Passion (v. 19)  I’ve used the familiar terms of a “servant” and a “master” to compensate for your weakness to understand. For just as you surrendered your bodies and souls to impurity and lawlessness, which only brought more lawlessness into your lives, so now surrender yourselves as servants of righteousness, which brings you deeper into true holiness.
  • Don’t read these verses with a “do to be” mentality
  • Don’t forget what Paul had just said in v. 18 — we have been set free from sin and are now slaves to righteousness!
  • Don’t become sin conscious in these verses
    • read them, remembering that you’ve had a nature change at the Cross — all mankind had a nature change at the cross
    • the sin (Adamic nature) NO LONGER has dominion over you
  • All through Romans we’ve been told that we (ALL mankind) has been made righteous by the faith OF Jesus… not by our faith but by His.
  • We’ve been told that we (mankind) are no longer in Adam but are IN CHRIST — this happened at the Cross
  • Don’t let his use of words like slavery and servants cause you to fall back into the mentality of “do to become.”
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh:
  • after the manner of men — men is anthropos; humanity; mankind
  • He says “humanly I speak” — speaking in a language they can understand
  • because of the “weakness of their flesh” — their way of thinking was still weak
    • they understood servanthood; slavery
    • so he had to speak to them in those kinds of terms
  • But to Paul this new life IN CHRIST – this life of righteousness — was liberty!! Freedom! Grace! Not servanthood or slavery
    • we are not servants or slaves but sons!
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
  • Then he tells them just precisely the way they yielded their members as slaves to uncleanness and iniquity they are to now yield their members as slaves to righteousness
  • Remember he’s talking in a language they can understand — using the word slavery, comparing their old nature with their new nature, and using the word yield
  • yielded is paristemi in Greek and means to stand close beside;
    • it is a military word used in a technical sense of giving orders to people who are accustomed to taking orders, trained to obey laws; used in the sense of moving large bodies of troops in a tactical situation;
    • the implication is these troops are trained, organized, recognize power, and can obey and respond to orders under pressure;
    • what we have in the word yield is responding to command under pressure because you acknowledge authority, because you are trained to take commands and obey commands;
    • It means to put yourself under the control of someone; it’s the military term “reporting for duty.”
  • Yield is an order to recognize that the power of the sin nature has been broken and we are now under the authority of grace;
    • it is an aorist indicative verb meaning past tense fact;
    • he is not talking about their lives now
    • he is saying that they used to yield their members to impurity (uncleanness), and lawlessness unto lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4 John says sin is lawlessness)
  • Paul tells them your old life before the cross was enslaved to impurity and lawlessness
    • it was in bondage to avoiding things or people that made you unclean or unholy
  • Unclean because of foods that were forbidden, food sacrificed to idols, diseases, touching the dead, etc.
    • and being unclean restricted your fellowship with God and other people
    • their Law also prohibited them to have friendships with or enter the house of Gentiles; it would make them unclean (Acts 10:28)
  • At the end of chapter 9, Peter was staying in Joppa at the home of a Jewish outcast named Simon, the tanner.
    • Simon, the tanner, was an outcast among the Jews of his day because of his profession — working with dead animals
      • According to the Law that made you unclean.
      • but Peter, walking in the revelation of grace that he had at the time, had no problem staying in his home.
    • Peter was still bound to some of the Jewish laws/customs like clean and unclean foods
      • Acts 10:14: But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.
      • But the ritual uncleanness of a fellow Jew was not a problem for Peter.
      • but God wanted to deepen Peter’s revelation of grace…. he wanted him to experience the FULL freedom that was his in Christ
    • So men from Cornelius’ household came to ask Peter to come to Cornelius’ house
      • Peter had just had a vision from God to call nothing common or unclean that He has cleansed.
      • he went to Cornelius’ home and told them (10:28-29) “while it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with or enter the home of a Gentile man, God has shown me not to call “mankind” (anthropos in Greek) common (ordinary, defiled) or unclean (impure). Therefore, I came without dispute (without hesitation or objection).”
  • Most likely Simon the tanner was a believing Jew which was why Peter stayed with him.
    • Peter had no problem not seeing Simon as unclean because they were both believers and therefore most likely in Peter’s eyes they were clean
    • But Peter still had issues with external things that could make one unclean — foods and Gentiles!
  • We in the church have the same issues
    • we have no problem fellowshipping with other believers no matter how unsavory their past may have been!
    • but when it comes to other externals that we consider “unclean” or “defiled,” we avoid — mainly those we call “unbelievers.”
      • We will associate with them to evangelize them, but we don’t typically fellowship with them or have friendships with them because we see them as sinners; as separated from God (unholy) and that might affect us
    • But just like Peter, God wants us to go deeper in grace — to have a revelation of His views on clean and unclean.
  • Holy Spirit is telling Peter, “I’m going to show you who and what is holy and it’ll shake you up. Everything (EVERYONE) is set apart for God — MADE HOLY!”
    • Being made holy is not because of any externals that we label clean or unclean
    • Being made holy doesn’t happen because we ‘decide’ to believe
  • God called Cornelius clean – He gave Peter a revelation of the purity of ALL mankind
    • Cornelius hadn’t even heard or responded to the Gospel yet
  • What Peter came to understand there on the tanner’s roof was an important spiritual breakthrough enabling him to walk in the FULL freedom that he had been given IN CHRIST
    • the revelation that God sees ALL people… ALL mankind (anthropos) the same
    • that God doesn’t have favorites – some that are set apart and some that aren’t
    • that God doesn’t divide people into ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ or ‘believers and unbelievers’
    • that there are not some ‘holy’ and some ‘unholy.’
    • and that what God has made clean, Peter was not to call ‘unclean.’
  • Peter’s full acceptance… his non-reluctance… to this hyper-grace, to God’s overwhelming goodness to ALL mankind.. resulted in his preaching the Gospel to the first group of Gentiles.
    • What could your full acceptance of this Gospel of Grace, of God’s overwhelming goodness toward ALL mankind at the Cross look like in your life?
    • How could it change the world around you?
  • So Paul, here in verse 19, is saying, “your old life before the Cross was enslaved to external things that focused on holiness… avoidance of things and people that could make you unclean.”
    • That’s who you were before the Cross
  • He’s talking to the transitional generation — to those that had been in Adam before the Cross and after the Cross IN CHRIST.
    • He’s not talking about us as believers before we believed in Jesus
      • he’s not talking about an old man (before we believed) and a new man (after we believed)
    • There’s no reference to Cornelius’ old sinful man before “he believed” — no God called him holy because of the finished work of Jesus — because of grace!
    • He’s talking about who these Jews were before the cross – they were enslaved to sin
      • enslaved to the Adamic nature and a way of thinking that external things (what you did or didn’t do) could make you clean (holy) or unclean (unholy)
  • And then he says so now yield your members in slavery to righteousness unto sanctification
    • Now — because of the finished work of Christ
    • yield your members — your eyes, ears, mouth, hands, mind, etc. — the whole of your person;
      • live your life enslaved to righteousness unto holiness
    • it is an aorist imperative — a command to do this with a specific, definite, decisive action; an urgent action; do this now, at once and once and for all;
      • it isn’t a progressive …. continue to do this command;
      • Romans 6:10 says Christ died to sin once for all and now lives to God
      • we are IN CHRIST, so we are dead to sin (the condition – the nature of sin; the Adamic nature)
  • Paul is saying “your old life before Christ – before the finished work of the Cross – was enslaved to sin and enslaved to focusing on external things that made you holy; NOW you are IN CHRIST and no longer enslaved to sin! NOW live your life “enslaved” to “the” righteousness which has made you holy! You no longer have to focus on outward things to make you right with God. You are NOW right with God!”
III. Servants of sin
v. 20 — For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
  • You were slaves of sin— imperfect indicative verb referring to continual past behavior
    • their behavior before the Cross — when they were in Adam — they were enslaved to that condition
    • they were free from righteousness — again an imperfect indicative verb referring to continual past behavior
  • In that previous condition of sin (in Adam) they were not enslaved to righteousness (no nature change had taken place)
  • This is talking to them — the transitional generation – NOT US BORN AFTER THE CROSS
v. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
  • The fruit or the actions they had — imperfect indicative verb referring to continual past behavior; before the Cross
    • The actions they continually had before the Cross because of their enslavement to sin… because of their Adamic nature which enslaved them to sin
  • Those actions of which they were now ashamed
    • ashamed is epaischunomai in Greek meaning disgraced; wrongly identifying with something that brings shame.
    • those actions wrongly identified with, that brought shame, it’s purpose or end goal was death.
  • This is talking to them — the transitional generation – NOT US BORN AFTER THE CROSS
IV. But now!
v. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
  • I love the “But now’s.”
    • they interrupt what was just said — who you used to be before the Cross
    • and pull your attention to what is about to be said – which is always the good news of the Gospel – who you are now IN CHRIST!
    • But Now is talking about the change the Cross made in the condition of mankind
  • He says NOW you have been made free (liberated, unshackled and unbound) from sin
    • aorist tense – not referring to continual action but a one time, single, successful action
    • it is passive meaning it happened to us… we had nothing to do with its work in our lives
    • the finished work of Christ – through the Cross and Resurrection – freed ALL mankind from “the sin” – the condition or position that Adam put mankind in before the Cross.
  • The next part says having become slaves to God
    • still in the context of NOW
    • again aorist passive tense — not continual ongoing action but a one time, single, SUCCESSFUL, action done to us — required nothing on our part
  • Because of being freed from the enslavement to sin and being enslaved to God (a nature change – no more in Adam but IN CHRIST) — because of that nature change that took place at the Cross
    • you no longer have fruit or actions that you wrongly identify with that produce shame in you and whose end goal is death!
    • You now have holy fruit whose end goal is zoe life — Christ life!
  • No longer does anyone have to focus on external behavior to produce holy fruit – as they did before the Cross – calling things unclean or clean
  • BUT NOW — after the Cross — after being freed from sin (the Adamic nature) and becoming servants to God (being in Christ) you have “the” fruit unto holiness
    • have is echo in Greek meaning to possess; to own; to hold possession of;
    • this fruit we (ALL mankind) now possess because of the finished work of the Cross — we might not all be walking in it because of unawareness of what is ours, BUT it’s ours nonetheless – we own it, we hold possession of it.
    • it also says “the” fruit
    • it didn’t say that in the previous verse when it was referring to fruit of things they were ashamed of when they were slaves to sin (the nature of Adam)
    • here in this verse, it says “the fruit” — referring to specific fruit. What fruit?
      • It’s the fruit of Holy Spirit — love, joy (grace), peace (co-union, oneness), long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (self-mastery)
  • The fruit of Holy Spirit is the fruit we NOW possess and are free to walk in because we are no longer under Law but under grace – Spirit-led.
v. 23 for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord
  • wages is opsonion in Greek meaning payment
    • under sin’s dominion before the Cross, the payment a person received was death – the effects of death
      • sickness, disease, poverty, lack, fear, depression, addiction, etc.
  • BUT the grace gift (charisma in Greek) of God is eternal, unending life IN CHRIST
  • without end!!
    • God’s free gift to us through the finished work of the Cross is unending life IN CHRIST.
  • Remember again — he’s talking to that transitional generation
    • we (born after the Cross) were never slaves to sin, under its rule or dominion
      • we were born free IN CHRIST
    • death had no power over us — its effects of sickness, disease, poverty, lack, fear, etc. never had or has authority over us
      • A wrong understanding of who we are may cause those things to look like they have power over us… it is an illegal power — they have been stripped of all power – we are no longer in Adam!
    • That’s why it’s crucial that we understand who we are IN CHRIST.
V. In Conclusion
  • Next week we start chapter 7 which isn’t a new chapter but merely a continuation of what Paul has been saying — ALL mankind was in Adam before the Cross, and then after the Cross, that same ALL mankind were in Christ
    • talking about the nature change that took place at the Cross — NOT when we decided to believe or answered an altar call or prayed a prayer of salvation
    • It’s time to go deeper in our revelation of grace — to realize that the one event of the Cross changed ALL mankind forever
  • That one event created a new humanity — one that is IN CHRIST
    • Isaiah prophesied of it in Isaiah 66:8: “Will the earth be brought forth in one day? Can a nation be born in a moment?”
    • Hosea also saw it; He saw that in Jesus’ resurrection on the third day, God would co-quicken humankind and co-raise us together with him!
      • Hosea 6:2 on the third day he will raise us up!
    • if we don’t also see it, we’ll read chapter 7 and believe we have a nature struggle on the inside of us

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