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Romans 6:16 – BibleTools.info

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Romans 6:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

To whom ye yield yourselves - Can you suppose that you should continue to be the servants of Christ if ye give way to sin? Is he not the master who exacts the service, and to whom the service is performed? Sin is the service of Satan; righteousness the service of Christ. If ye sin ye are the servants of Satan, and not the servants of God.

The word δουλος, which we translate servant, properly signifies slave; and a slave among the Greeks and Romans was considered as his master's property, and he might dispose of him as he pleased. Under a bad master, the lot of the slave was most oppressive and dreadful; his ease and comfort were never consulted; he was treated worse than a beast; and, in many cases, his life hung on the mere caprice of the master. This state is the state of every poor, miserable sinner; he is the slave of Satan, and his own evil lusts and appetites are his most cruel task-masters. The same word is applied to the servants of Christ, the more forcibly to show that they are their Master's property; and that, as he is infinitely good and benevolent, therefore his service must be perfect freedom. Indeed, he exacts no obedience from them which he does not turn to their eternal advantage; for this master has no self-interest to secure. See on Romans 1:1; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Know ye not … - The objection noticed in Romans 6:15, the apostle answers by a reference to the known laws of servitude or slavery, Romans 6:16-20, and by showing that Christians, who had been the slaves of sin, have now become the servants of righteousness, and were therefore bound by the proper laws of servitude to obey their new master: as if he had said, “I assume that you know: you are acquainted with the laws of servitude; you know what is required in such cases.” This would be known to all who had been either masters or slaves, or who had observed the usual laws and obligations of servitude.

To whom ye yield yourselves - To whom ye give up yourselves for servitude or obedience. The apostle here refers to voluntary servitude; but where this existed, the power of the master over the time and services of the servant was absolute. The argument of the apostle is, that Christians had become the voluntary servants of God, and were therefore bound to obey him entirely. Servitude among the ancients, whether voluntary or involuntary, was rigid, and gave the master an absolute right over his slave, Luke 17:9; John 8:34; John 15:15. To obey. To be obedient; or for the purpose of obeying his commands.

To whom ye obey - To whom ye come under subjection. That is, you are bound to obey his requirements.

Whether of sin - The general law of servitude the apostle now applies to the case before him. If people became the servants of sin, if they gave themselves to its indulgence, they would obey it, let the consequences be what they might. Even with death, and ruin, and condemnation before them; they would obey sin. They give indulgence to their evil passions and desires, and follow them as obedient servants even if they lead them down to hell. Whatever be the consequences of sin. yet he who yields to it must abide by them, even if it leads him down to death and eternal woe.

Or of obedience … - The same law exists in regard to holiness or obedience. The man who becomes the servant of holiness will feel himself bound by the law of servitude to obey, and to pursue it to its regular consequences.

Unto righteousness - Unto justification; that is, unto eternal life. The expression stands contrasted with “death,” and doubtless means that he who thus becomes the voluntary servant of holiness, will feel himself bound to obey it, unto complete and eternal justification and life; compare Romans 6:21-22. The argument is drawn from what the Christian would feel of the nature of obligation. He would obey him to Whom he had devoted himself.

(This would seem to imply that justification is the effect of obedience. Δικαιοσυνη Dikaiosunēhowever, does not signify justification, but righteousness, that is, in this case, personal holiness. The sense is, that while the service of sin leads to death, that of obedience issues in holiness or righteousness. It is no objection to this view that it does not preserve the antithesis, since “justification” is not the opposite of “death,” any more than holiness. “There is no need,” says Mr. Haldane, “that there should be such an exact correspondence in the parts of the antithesis, as is supposed. And there is a most obvious reason why it could not be so. Death is the wages of sin, but life is not the wages of obedience.”)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Every man is the servant of the master to whose commands he yields himself; whether it be the sinful dispositions of his heart, in actions which lead to death, or the new and spiritual obedience implanted by regeneration. The apostle rejoiced now they obeyed from the heart the gospel, into which they were delivered as into a mould. As the same metal becomes a new vessel, when melted and recast in another mould, so the believer has become a new creature. And there is great difference in the liberty of mind and spirit, so opposite to the state of slavery, which the true Christian has in the service of his rightful Lord, whom he is enabled to consider as his Father, and himself as his son and heir, by the adoption of grace. The dominion of sin consists in being willingly slaves thereto, not in being harassed by it as a hated power, struggling for victory. Those who now are the servants of God, once were the slaves of sin.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 442

Very many who profess to be servants of Christ are none of His. They are deceiving their souls to their own destruction. While they profess to be servants of Christ, they are not living in obedience to His will. “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?” Many, while professing to be servants of Christ, are obeying another master, working daily against the Master whom they profess to serve. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” 2T 442.1

Earthly and selfish interests engage the soul, mind, and strength of God's professed followers. To all intents and purposes they are servants of mammon. They have not experienced a crucifixion to the world, with its affections and lusts. But few among the many who profess to be Christ's followers can say in the language of the apostle: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” If willing obedience and true love characterize the lives of the people of God, their light will shine with a holy brightness to the world. 2T 442.2

The words which Christ addressed to His disciples were designed for all who should believe on His name: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.” A profession of godliness without the living principle is as utterly valueless as salt without its saving properties. An unprincipled professed Christian is a byword, a reproach to Christ, a dishonor to His name. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 2T 443.1

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Ellen G. White
The Sanctified Life, 92

Sanctification is a daily work. Let none deceive themselves with the belief that God will pardon and bless them while they are trampling upon one of His requirements. The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God. Whatever may be the ecstasies of religious feeling, Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him. SL 92.1

“His servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Romans 6:16). If we indulge anger, lust, covetousness, hatred, selfishness, or any other sin, we become servants of sin. “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). If we serve sin, we cannot serve Christ. The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; but the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare. Here is where Christ's help is needed. Human weakness becomes united to divine strength, and faith exclaims, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)! SL 92.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 404

A profession of Christianity without corresponding faith and works will avail nothing. No man can serve two masters. The children of the wicked one are their own master's servants; to whom they yield themselves servants to obey, his servants they are, and they cannot be the servants of God until they renounce the devil and all his works. It cannot be harmless for servants of the heavenly King to engage in the pleasures and amusements which Satan's servants engage in, even though they often repeat that such amusements are harmless. God has revealed sacred and holy truths to separate His people from the ungodly and purify them unto Himself. Seventh-day Adventists should live out their faith. Those who obey the Ten Commandments view the state of the world and religious things from a standpoint altogether different from that of professors who are lovers of pleasure, who shun the cross, and live in violation of the fourth commandment. In the present state of things in society it is no easy task for parents to restrain their children and instruct them according to the Bible rule of right. Professors of religion have so departed from the word of God that when His people return to His sacred word, and would train their children according to its precepts, and like Abraham of old command their households after them, the poor children with such an influence around them think their parents unnecessarily exacting and overcareful in regard to their associates. They naturally desire to follow the example of worldly, pleasure-loving professors. 1T 404.1

In these days, persecution and reproach for Christ's sake are scarcely known. Very little self-denial and sacrifice is necessary in order to put on a form of godliness and have the name upon the church book; but to live in such a manner that our ways will be pleasing to God, and our names registered in the book of life, will require watchfulness and prayer, self-denial and sacrifice on our part. Professed Christians are no example for the youth, only as far as they follow Christ. Right actions are unmistakable fruits of true godliness. The Judge of all the earth will give everyone according to his works. Children who follow Christ have a warfare before them; they have a daily cross to bear in coming out from the world and being separate, and imitating the life of Christ. 1T 405.1

*****

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 105

Sister K, you know not what you are doing; you do not realize that you are warring against your Creator in drawing your husband away from the truth. Your attention is on the advantages that the world gives. You have not cultivated a love for devotion, but are better pleased with the stir and bustle of laboring to acquire wealth. You are absorbed in your desire to be like the world, that you may receive the happiness that the world gives. Your earthly ambitions and interests are greater than your desire for righteousness and for a part in the kingdom of God. 4T 105.1

Your precious probationary time is spent in laboring for your temporal welfare, in dressing, and eating, and drinking after the manner of the world. Oh, how unsatisfying, how meager is the recompense obtained! In your worldly desires and pursuits you are carrying a heavier burden than your Saviour has ever proposed to lay upon you. Your Redeemer invites you: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” My sister, Christ would have you lay down your heavy weight at His feet and submit your stubborn neck to His easy yoke. 4T 105.2

What if your probation should close at this time? How would you bear the investigation of the Master? How have you employed the talents of means and influence lent you of God for wise improvement to His glory? God has given you life and its blessings, not to be devoted to your own pleasure and selfish gratification merely, but that you may benefit others and do good. The Master has entrusted you with talents that you should put out to the exchangers, that when He requires them again He may receive His own with usury. 4T 105.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 453

Those who educate themselves to do their work with dispatch, as well as with economy, will drive their business instead of allowing their business to drive them. They will not be constantly hurried and perplexed because their work is in confusion. Diligence and earnest fidelity are indispensable to success. Every hour's work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. The record of wasted moments and unimproved opportunities must be met when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened and everyone shall be judged according to the things written in the books. Selfishness, envy, pride, jealousy, idleness, or any other sin which is cherished in the heart, will exclude one from the blessedness of heaven. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are.” 4T 453.1

Our offices are suffering for the want of men of stability and firmness. As I was shown from room to room I saw that the work was conducted with indifference. Losses are sustained at every position of trust. The lack of thoroughness is apparent. While some have borne the burdens of care and responsibility, others, instead of sharing these burdens, have pursued a course to increase anxiety and care. Those who have not learned the lesson of economy, and acquired the habit of making the most of their time in childhood and youth will not be prudent and economical in any business in which they engage. It is a sin to neglect to so improve our faculties that they may be used to the glory of God. All have responsibilities to bear; not one can be excused. 4T 453.2

There is a variety of minds, and all need more or less cultivation and training. Every movement in connection with the cause of God should be characterized by caution and decision. Without decision, an individual is fickle and unstable as water, and can never be truly successful. All who profess Christ should be workers. There are no drones in the household of faith. Every member of the family has some task assigned him, some portion of the vineyard of the Lord in which to work. The only way to meet the demand of God is to be constantly persevering in our endeavors for higher usefulness. It is but little we can accomplish at best, but every day's effort will increase our ability to labor effectually and to bear fruit to the glory of God. 4T 454.1

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