Lesson 53 - Chapter 6 verses 21-23

Lesson 53 - Chapter 6 verses 21-23

Verse 21

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the outcome of those things is death.

The Greek word for benefit is “karpos,” which means fruit or production.  In other words, what benefit did you receive from being controlled by your sin nature?  After salvation and spiritual growth, these believers in Rome, who were now ashamed of their former condition, realized that the outcome of that condition was temporal death.   Death in this verse means end or conclusion, which implies that the Roman believers had experienced enough growth to have some experiential victory over the sin nature’s sovereign power in human life. Remember that temporal death for the believer is tantamount to being in a state of reversionism (the prolonged status of carnality).

How does the decline into reversionism begin?  When the rate of forgetting Bible doctrine exceeds the rate of learning, the believer is at risk of reversionism.  To guard against this happening, the reverse must be practiced consistently; the rate of learning Bible doctrine must exceed the rate of forgetting.

When a believer abandons Bible doctrine, it is a short step into the arrogance complex of sins.  These sins are self-justification, self-deception and self-absorption.  Being no longer influenced by the doctrine in their souls, these believers become totally preoccupied with themselves.  This, of course, is a huge distraction to any believer attempting to execute God’s plan.  The arrogance complex leads the believer into all kinds of sin, especially mental attitude sins and eventuates in the early stages of reversionism. 

First, in an attempt to justify his actions, the believer fails to take the responsibility for his own bad decisions. Remember, the end never justify the means in the Christian Way of Life.  Failure to take responsibility for your own actions leads to the next step, self-deception.  Self-deception is exactly what it sounds like, a believer out of fellowship with God, controlled by his sin nature and deceiving himself into believing that his actions are justified.  This mental attitude leads this believer into the next step, self-absorption.  Self-absorption is a total preoccupation with self.  Unable to concentrate on anything other than “my problems,” the believer begins his slide downhill into a state of reversionism.

Verse 22

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life.

We have learned that at salvation all believers are freed from sin and  are slaves to God, positionally.  The benefit of this slavery to God is experiential sanctification.  This does not imply that eternal life belongs only to the mature believer. It just means that eternal life is going to be more rewarding and more beneficial for the maturing believer.  But eternal life belongs to all believers in Jesus Christ.  The ones who are going to enjoy it the most are those who mature spiritually in time.  Remember, eternal life begins the moment you believe in Jesus Christ as Savior.  A maturing believer gets to enjoy some of the benefits of eternal life immediately as long as he advances in his Christian life.  Ultimate sanctification means the maturing believer will exploit the full benefit of eternal life in eternity.

 Verse 23

For the wages of sin is death.

Wages is the Greek word “opsonion,” which means a soldier’s pay or what he earns for his service.  The possession of the sin nature earns us spiritual death.

Spiritual Death

Spiritual death is the penalty of sin and was given as a warning to our original parents, Adam and Eve in Gen 2:17, “dying thou shalt die.”  When they partook of the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually.  The penalty was imposed at the fall of mankind.   The imputation of Adam’s original sin to the genetically-formed sin nature perpetuates spiritual death in the human race.  (Rom 5:12)  The entire human race is born physically alive but spiritually dead.  Mankind is not condemned by the imputation of his personal sins but through the imputation of Adam’s original sin.

At birth, the justice of God imputes Adam’s original sin to the genetically-formed sin nature.  Since Adam was the head of the human race and deliberately chose to sin, we “inherit” our sin nature from our father Adam.   If this seems unfair or unjust on the part of God, think about what would happen if you were not condemned at birth by the imputation of Adam’s original sin.  There would be no opportunity for you to be saved.  You would simply live out your life and then go to Lake of Fire to pay the penalty for your own personal sins. (Romans 5:12-14; I Corinthians 15:21-22; I Timothy 2:13-14)

But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

Free gift is the Greek word “charisma,” which means to freely bestow.  The fact that God’s gift to the believer is free on the basis of His grace means eternal life cannot be earned or deserved.   

Eternal Life

The soul of every human being will live forever.  The question is where will it live?  The answer, of course, is found in God’s Word.  The Bible declares that the soul that sins will surely die and that we all die in Adam.  (Ezekiel 18:20; I Corinthians 15:22)  So there is a seeming contradiction - since the soul of man lives forever - unless you understand that there is more than one kind of death in the Bible.  There are actually seven different kinds of deaths.  It is, therefore, important that we identify to which death these passages are referring.  The seven deaths are physical death, spiritual death, temporal death, second death, positional death, operational death and sexual death.

  1. Physical death – soul and/or spirit leaving the body.  Philippians 1:21; II Corinthians 5:8; Luke 17:22; James 2:26
  2. Spiritual death – separation from God without the ability within yourself to do anything about it.  Ephesians 2:1; Romans 5:12, 6:23
  3. Temporal death – the believer temporarily out of fellowship with God.  Romans 8:6,13; Ephesians 5:14; I Timothy 5:6; James 1:15; Revelation 3:1; I John 3:14; Luke 15:24,32
  4. Second death – perpetuation of spiritual death into eternity for the unbeliever. Revelation 20:12-15
  5. Positional death – the believer being “dead with Christ” in identification with His deaths (spiritual and physical) due to our union with Him. Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 2:12, 3:3
  6. Operational death – lack of divine production in the believer’s life. James 2:26
  7. Sexual death – the inability to procreate. Romans 4:17-21; Hebrews 11:12

If “the soul that sins will surely die” and “we all die in Adam” refers to physical death, we would all be dead.  So this is not referring to physical death.  This death is not the second death since that occurs in eternity, it’s not sexual death and it’s not positional death since we are not identifying with Christ.  So it must be either spiritual death, temporal death or operational death.  Which one?  Since these passages refer to ALL mankind, it cannot be operational or temporal death.  Those refer only to believers.  It is, therefore, spiritual death (separation from God).  And spiritual death is parlayed into the second death in eternity for those who fail to take the salvation solution of faith in Christ.  So the seeming contradiction is solved and we see that those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior will exist forever separated from God.

The person who chooses God’s salvation solution of faith in Christ will live forever with God.   Eternal life is much more than just living forever, however.  This should be obvious, since every person lives forever.  So what exactly is eternal life and what does it entail?

Eternal life is God’s life (one of His attributes), imputed to the human spirit (its home) at the moment of salvation.  This imputation of eternal life occurs simultaneously with the imputation of the human spirit.  Though we possess eternal life the very moment we trust Christ as Savior, we do not use it fully until we enter the eternal state.  Eternal life has more to do with eternity, but it does have something to do with life on earth.  It is the life of God that creates the capacity to receive and appreciate eternal rewards.  Since it is God Who imputes eternal life to the believer, it is a matter of grace.  This means that anyone who has believed in Christ for salvation (regardless of their current spiritual status) possesses eternal life.  It also means that the believer is secure in Christ forever.  (John 5:25-26; 11:25-26; 14:6; I John 5:11-13)

Another result of the imputation of eternal life to the believer is the guarantee of a resurrection body.  Theologically, we call this Ultimate Sanctification and it will occur at the Rapture of the Church.  This resurrection body is said to be like that of Christ’s resurrection body.  This means the believer will no longer possess a sin nature and therefore he is no longer able to produce human good or evil.   In our resurrection bodies we will be able to produce only divine good.  The imputation of eternal life assures the believer of an eternal relationship with God. (Philippians 3:21; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:51-57; I John 3:2)