In Romans 6:19, it says “so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” Reading through Romans 6, this verse was always something that I felt I understood fully. Like simply just stop doing bad things and be more like Jesus. That is what we are called to do as Christians. While this is technically true, it is not the full picture of what sanctification, sin, and righteousness are. Also, why would Paul be writing about not letting sin reign? Aren’t we dead to sin already as Christians? Sin can’t affect us anymore as believers, right?
When Jesus died for us, His righteousness was placed on us to allow us to be sanctified. What is sanctification? Matthew Henry writes about sanctification saying “In general it has two things in it, mortification and vivification- dying to sin and living to righteousness.” God intended for us to always rely on Him and live free of sin, but as sin entered in through the first man (Gen 3:14-19), what we were created for was pushed aside. We, our desires and lusts, became the center of our life.
Sanctification is the “state of proper functioning” and is the process by the Holy Spirit to bring our heart and mind fully under the reign of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11, Romans 6:13). Our old man was crucified with Christ so that we would no longer be wrapped up in sinning (Romans 6:4, 6-7).
Sin is the ultimate seeker of pleasure and gratification even when it comes at the cost of pain, suffering, and a loss of self-control. Sin ultimately tears us away from our relationship with God to gratification. It always takes you further than you want to go and leaves you more empty than before.
We were created to serve God in relationship with Him and His children
I want us to think about this: Sinning more makes us more inclined to sin again. Presenting ourselves to lawlessness leads to more lawlessness (Romans 6:19) which transforms how we see God. This is why Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” We were created to serve God in relationship with Him and His children.
We will sin and have our advocate in Jesus with grace abounding, but we can’t let ourselves be in unrighteousness or let ourselves consent to sin. When Romans 6:13 says “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness,” it’s talking about more than just sin done in ignorance. As shown in 1 John 1:6, having fellowship with Jesus means walking in the light and not in the darkness.
Darkness looks like the opposite of confession: it is secrets, unrepentant habits, and a willful allegiance to a sin or a group of sins. God is “faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), but if we choose the patterns of this world, we will fall into idolatry.
When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit begins living in us. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit changes our behaviors completely. Running to an addiction, for example, will be harder to justify that addiction as the Spirit convicts you of abusing your body and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:23, Galatians 5:19-21). The pride you’ve shown in your relationships will cause conviction in you because pridefulness is an overconcern with ourselves and a disposition to hide our flaws.
We must steer clear of habitual sin because it ensnares us and has us behold our flesh instead of the glory of the Lord
1 John 3:6 says “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” A born again Christian who is growing in grace will commit a decreasing amount of sin as they progress, not the other way around. We must steer clear of habitual sin because it ensnares us and has us behold our flesh instead of the glory of the Lord.
Loving the world is presenting ourselves to her-by the lust of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life- and leaving our love for God. When we choose to pursue the desires of the flesh, we leave no room for love for God. We make a decision to walk into darkness, away from the Giver of life. If we’ve ever asked “Why can’t I hear God’s voice?”, a lot of times it has to do with us loving and conforming to this world. When we learn to give God our whole selves and live our lives as worship to Him, we’ll find He’s been speaking to us all this time.