“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.” (Romans 6:13)
Years ago, I read about a man who used to stand on the busy street corners of New York City wearing a “sandwich” signboard that read “I am a fool for Christ” on the front. On the back of his signboard was the simple question, “Whose fool are you?”
Whether we like it or not, we are all “slaves.” We are either the slaves of sin or we are the “slaves” of Jesus Christ. With anywhere between a quarter to nearly half of the First Century population of the Roman Empire being slaves, slavery was an illustration that was universally understood. Freedom to do what one wanted was a rare and precious commodity enjoyed by the fortunate few who were born into the right family. Physical freedom was unknown to a great portion of the people to whom the Apostle Paul was writing in the Book of Romans. Now, in Chapter 6, Paul demonstrates that true spiritual freedom, that is, the total ability to do whatever we choose, whether we are physically in slavery or not, is non-existent.
Although the person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ becomes, at least metaphorically, a slave to Christ, we also know that the Lord Jesus Christ is not a “Taskmaster” Who forces anyone to do anything. In Christ we have liberty; we retain the freedom to choose whether we will obey our Lord or not. Sanctification, that condition wherein the child of God walks with the Holy Spirit, obeying the Lord Jesus Christ and living a life pleasing to God, is not automatically conferred upon anyone. As we looked at previously, the Christian has the choice of whether or not he will walk according to the Spirit or according to sin. Those apart from Christ have no choice at all, they can only serve sin.
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)
Herein lies the problem for the child of God and the root of the struggle that we will look at in Romans Chapter 7. When we come to faith in Christ, God gives us a new nature that is capable of serving and obeying God, a new man that has the ability to walk after the Holy Spirit. However, we still retain the old nature that desires to live according to the flesh and serve sin. Every believer must choose which nature he is going to live according to. The unfortunate reality is that a great many who name the name of Jesus Christ attempt to live according to both, and this is where the instability that James mentions originates (James 1:8) . Not wanting to completely abandon the sin which gratifies their flesh, many Christians seek to live with one foot planted in each “nature” and then try to “walk” in two different directions simultaneously.
In order to show just how incongruous it really is for a Christian to continue to serve sin, the Apostle Paul uses the analogy of slavery. For the child of God to continue to serve sin would be like a slave, sold to a new master, but still trying to please his former owner. Once a slave was sold to a new owner, they were completely freed and liberated from the old owner. Imagine a domestic slave, one responsible for performing daily household chores, sneaking off every evening to their former master’s home in order to prepare them dinner. The slave is under no obligation to continue to serve the old master and would actually be neglecting their duty to the new master by doing this. Yet this is a perfect picture of what the child of God does each time they choose to serve sin rather than Christ.
The third step, therefore, listed in Romans 6 for overcoming sin is to yield ourselves (our entire selves: spirit, mind, and body — as indicated by the call to yield every one of our members as instruments of righteousness) to God. This word for yielded will appear again in Romans 12:1 where it is translated “to present our bodies a living sacrifice.” Colossians 1:22 and 1:28 also render it as someone being presented to God. The image comes to mind of a dutiful servant bowing before their master, presenting themselves for the master’s use.
The truth is, we will always present ourselves as the servants of someone (we will be somebody‘s fool or slave, as the signboard suggested), and there are really only two options: sin or Christ. There is no third master to walk after. For the lost sinner, the choice is easy because they only have one choice: sin. But when we come to Jesus Christ, we receive the power to walk with the Holy Spirit and not fulfill the works of the flesh, but we must choose to do so. We must present ourselves daily to God, ready to use everything we have in service to Him. When Christ purchased us by His precious blood, we ceased to be the servants of sin and became His servants. Let us yield ourselves fully to Him that He may use us for His own glory.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,