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Waggoner on Romans

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    Instruments of Righteousness

    April 9, 1896

    Read carefully the first verses of the sixth chapter of Romans, before beginning the study of the remaining verses in this lesson. A few words are sufficient to summarize them. They treat of death with Christ, and burial and resurrection with him. In being crucified with him, we give up our own lives, in order that we may be raised with him in his new life. We are then to continue to live with him, since “Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more.” The lesson closed with the exhortation, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The closing of the previous lesson at verse 11 was purely arbitrary, since there is really no division in the chapter. The present lesson therefore begins withWOR 106.1

    An Exhortation

    “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. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 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 to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 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. Being then made free from sin, ye 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 whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye 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.” Romans 6:12-13.WOR 106.2

    Questioning the Text

    How have we learned that we are to regard ourselves?WOR 107.1

    “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”WOR 107.2

    If dead to sin but alive unto God, how are we to stand related to sin?WOR 107.3

    “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.”WOR 107.4

    If sin reign in our body, what do we do?WOR 107.5

    “Obey it in the lusts thereof.”WOR 107.6

    What further exhortation is given?WOR 107.7

    “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.”WOR 107.8

    To what are we to yield ourselves?WOR 107.9

    “Yield yourselves unto God.”WOR 107.10

    In what way?WOR 107.11

    “As those that are alive from the dead.”WOR 107.12

    And what are our members to be?WOR 107.13

    “Instruments of righteousness unto God.”WOR 107.14

    If we thus yield ourselves as instruments of righteousness unto God, what will be the result?WOR 107.15

    “Sin shall not have dominion over you.”WOR 107.16

    Why will sin not have dominion over us?WOR 107.17

    “For ye are not under the law, but under grace.”WOR 107.18

    “What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?”WOR 107.19

    “God forbid.” Not by any means,-far from it.WOR 107.20

    Whose servants are we?WOR 107.21

    “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are.”WOR 107.22

    What were we formerly, when not under grace?WOR 108.1

    “The servants of sin.”WOR 108.2

    But what has now been done for us?WOR 108.3

    “Made free from sin.”WOR 108.4

    How was it that we were made free from sin?WOR 108.5

    “Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”WOR 108.6

    Being made free from sin, what have we become?WOR 108.7

    “The servants of righteousness.”WOR 108.8

    How are we now to yield our members servants to righteousness?WOR 108.9

    “As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity.”WOR 108.10

    When we were the servants of sin, from what were we free?WOR 108.11

    “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.”WOR 108.12

    What is the fruit of those things of which we are or should be ashamed?WOR 108.13

    “The end of those things is death.”WOR 108.14

    But what now that we are made free from sin, and are the servants of God?WOR 108.15

    “Ye have your fruit unto holiness.”WOR 108.16

    And what is the end?WOR 108.17

    “The end everlasting life.”WOR 108.18

    What is the wages of sin?WOR 108.19

    “The wages of sin is death.”WOR 108.20

    And what the gift of God?WOR 108.21

    “The gift of God is eternal life.”WOR 108.22

    Through whom?WOR 108.23

    “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”WOR 108.24

    The Reign of Sin.-In the fifth chapter we learned that the reign of sin is the reign of death, because death comes by sin. But we also learned that the gift of life is offered to all, so that whoever has Christ has life. Instead of death reigning over such, they themselves “shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.” The exhortation, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body,” is therefore equal to an exhortation to abide in Christ, or to keep his life. We gained the life by faith, and so we are to keep it.WOR 109.1

    Whose Servants? -That is very easy to answer. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey.” If we yield ourselves to sin, then we are the servants of sin, for “whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34. But if we yield ourselves to righteousness, then we are the servants of righteousness. “No man can serve two masters.” Matthew 6:24. We can not serve both sin and righteousness at the same time. No man can at once be both a sinner and a righteous man. Either sin or righteousness must rule.WOR 109.2

    Instruments.-We have in this chapter two terms to describe people, namely, servants and instruments. It takes both to illustrate our relation to sin and righteousness. Sin and righteousness are rulers. We are but instruments in their hands. The kind of work a given instrument will do depends entirely upon the one who uses it. For instance, here is a good pen; what kind of work will it do? It will do good work if it is in the hands of a skilful penman, but in the hands of a bungler its work will be poor. Or, in the hands of a good man it will write only what is good; but in the hands of a bad man it will exhibit that which is evil. But man is not a mere tool. No, not by any means. There is this difference between men and ordinary instruments: the latter have no choice as to who shall use them, while the former have full choice as to whom they will serve. They must yield themselves, not once only, but all the time. If they yield to sin, they will commit sin. If they yield to God, to be instruments in his hands, they can do nothing else but good so long as they are yielded to him.WOR 109.3

    A Parallel.-In the nineteenth verse we are exhorted to yield ourselves as servants of righteousness just as we have yielded ourselves servants to sin. This being done, we are assured in the following verses that just as surely as the fruit was sin and death when we were yielded to sin, so surely will the fruit be holiness when we yield ourselves servants to righteousness. Yea, even more sure; for “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Righteousness is stronger than sin, even as God is stronger than Satan. God can pluck out of the hands of Satan the soul that cries out for deliverance; but none can pluck God’s children out of his hand.WOR 109.4

    Not under the Law.-Many people are fond of quoting this expression, thinking that it forever absolves them from any observance of the law of God. Strange to say, this expression is used as a cover only for non-observance of the fourth commandment. Repeat the fourth commandment to a man who objects to keeping the Sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day, and he will say, “We are not under the law.” Yet that same man will quote the third commandment to a man whom he hears swearing, or the first and second against the heathen, and will acknowledge the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. Thus it appears that men do not really believe that the statement that we are not under the law means that we are at liberty to break it. Let us study the whole verse, and its different parts.WOR 109.5

    What Is Sin? -“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. “All unrighteousness is sin.” 1 John 5:17. This is definite; let us hold it well in our minds.WOR 110.1

    What Is Righteousness? -Righteousness is the opposite of sin, because “all unrighteousness is sin.” But “sin is the transgression of the law.” Therefore righteousness is the keeping of the law. So when we are exhorted to yield our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, it is the same as telling us to yield ourselves to obedience to the law.WOR 110.2

    The Dominion of Sin.-Sin has no dominion over those who yield themselves servants to righteousness, or to obedience to the law; because sin is the transgression of the law. Now read the whole of the fourteenth verse: “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” That is to say, transgression of the law has no place in them who are not under the law. Then those who are not under the law are those who obey the law. Those who break it, are under it. Nothing can be plainer.WOR 110.3

    Under Grace.-“Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” We have seen that those who are not under the law are the ones who are keeping the law. Those therefore who are under the law are the ones who are breaking it, and who are therefore under its condemnation. But “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Grace delivers from sin. Distressed by the threatenings of the law which we have broken, we flee for refuge to Christ, who is “full of grace and truth.” There we find freedom from sin. In him we not only find grace to cover all our sin, but we find the righteousness of the law because he is full of truth, and the law is the truth. Psalm 119:142. Grace “reigns” through righteousness or obedience to the law, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.WOR 110.4

    The Wages of Sin.-In the second chapter we learned that those who reject the goodness of God are treasuring up to themselves wrath. Now wrath comes only on the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6. Those who sin are laying up wages for themselves. “The wages of sin is death.” Sin has death in it, therefore “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” There can be no other end to sin than death, because sin is the absence of righteousness, and righteousness is the life and character of God. Persistent and final choice of sin is therefore choice of complete separation from the life of God, and so from all life, since he is the only source of life. Christ, who is the wisdom of God, says, “All they that hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:36. Those who suffer death at last will be only those who have worked for it.WOR 110.5

    The Gift of God.-But we do not work for eternal life. No works that we could do would make the smallest part of payment towards it. It is the gift of God. True, it comes only through righteousness, but righteousness is a gift. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (prepared) that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10. “O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” Psalm 31:19. When people sin, God gives them only what they have bargained for. But if any yield themselves as servants of righteousness, he provides the righteousness for them, and gives them eternal life with it, all as a free gift. “The way of the transgressor is hard,” but the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden is light. WOR 111.1

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